‘Inception’ Wins Big at the Oscar Nominations: A ‘Dark Knight’ Apology?

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I’m surely not the only one who remembers the bitter aftertaste of January, 2009, when Christopher Nolan’s bleak, brilliant The Dark Knight was snubbed an Oscar nomination. One of the most popular and critically lauded films of the year, all but ignored on nomination morning, there was something of an open revolt online: How could the Academy screw this one up?

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Shortly after the 2009 awards, the Academy attempted to quell the unrest: They expanded the best picture category to include 10 nominees, in theory allowing voters to avoid skipping over as many prominent works. Those new rules took effect last winter, with 10 nominees. Now, one year later, Christopher Nolan – the man whose snub started it all – finally appears to be getting his due.

Inception — the mind bending dream thriller that had me fawning back last summer — was a prominent name mentioned in Tuesday morning’s Oscar nominations. Alongside the likes of the Facebook film The Social Network (which Techland also loved) and nerdy best actor nominee Jesse Eisenberg, it might even be safe to say that there will be a healthy geek/fanboy contingent at the 2011 awards.

Yes, Inception came up big in eight different categories Tuesday morning: Best picture, screenplay (I’ll be writing more in the lead up to the Oscars about what Nolan’s script gives away about the film’s much-debated ending) music, art design, cinematography, sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects.

Given how reluctant the Academy usually is to reward summer blockbusters, or to honor sci-fi (remember that Star Wars lost people), Inception’s turnout Tuesday seems like something a coup. What do you think: Deserved? Overkill? A public apology to the Dark Knight contingent.

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