Monday, May 19, 2014

The "Interstellar" Trailer Shows the Return of the Mysterious, Exciting Nolan

If there is one truth to be made, I am a huge fan of director Christopher Nolan. While I admit that The Dark Knight Rises was a conflicting conclusion to the trilogy, he knows how to execute an engrossing story. After two years from the scene and free from dealing with Batman, we have his follow-up: Interstellar. Up until last week, very little was known about the film except of Matthew McConaughey driving through a corn field. With the launch of the trailer, we have definitive ideas of what to expect this Fall from the director, and it looks great.

The last time that we saw Nolan tackle sci-fi, it gave us Inception. Much like every other audience member, it was a film that impacted my 2010 summer with its cryptic nature and now iconic (yet cliche) Hans Zimmer score. Nobody has really forgotten about that film and it is actually ingrained into our culture. In fact, the mysterious approach to the first trailer recalls where director J.J. Abrams went from with last year's Star Trek Into Darkness. Where he beat around the bush and hid details, Nolan is upfront with what he wants you to know. He gives beautiful work and reason to care.

Just look at the trailer below:

Looks great, doesn't it? The question is how audiences are going to respond with the recent success of space movies. With last year's Gravity proving to be an unprecedented hit, it seems like audiences are slowly becoming more invested in the world beyond Earth. While this film feels a little like director Robert Zemeckis' Contact, it also feels like it is going for loftier goals. The trailer reveals what we need to know, but we don't really know what's to come beyond this. Space looks gorgeous, but is Nolan about to drop some aliens on us? Or is it going to be more of a psychological thriller?

Here's the plot synopsis according to IMDb:

"A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage."
Whether or not the film is a success, I feel like Nolan has mastered his gimmick. What does this mean? Ever since The Prestige, he has had to have a reveal or twist at the end that makes for thought provoking conversation over the credits. This isn't a problem, except it likely kept many from appreciating The Dark Knight Rises as a definitive capper. Maybe this film will suffer from it and be excessive. However, as a Nolan apologist, I cannot deny my excitement for the film at this point.

Onto the core of this post: Is Interstellar actually a logical Oscar contender? Yes, sci-fi has never done well when it has come to major categories. However, considering the recent trend, we are likely to see a shift. With Gravity earning Alfonso Cuaron a Best Director statue, there is a growing respect for more technical, scientifically-oriented directors. The Academy is starting to recognize big budgeted blockbusters as something more than filler. That alone is a great sign for Interstellar. Add in that Nolan made it into the Best Picture race with Inception, there is a great chance that things can work out.

What would need to get done? The film just has to be embraced by audiences. While many consider that the director has been ignored for The Dark Knight (understandable) and The Dark Knight Rises (less so), there is no need to debate hostility. The film is opening in prime Oscar season. This is evident from last year's output of films, which saw every Best Picture nominee released after October. This is an egregious embarrassment to the other months of the year, but with it falling in prestige area, all it has to do is create enthusiasm and people will likely pay attention. Provided that the film is a great exploration, it may even finally get Nolan the Best Director nomination that many feel is overdue.

I cannot judge on the acting or score pedigree just yet. The trailer offers very little in that department. For the time being, I will just assume that McConaughey, coming off of Best Actor win for Dallas Buyers Club, will likely be high in contention and maybe even boost the film's chances. Add in Anne Hathaway who recently won Best Supporting Actress for Les Miserables and it is an Oscar pedigree film on implicit level. There is a great chance that this film could get beyond technical categories. It is only a matter of seeing where things go from here.

Is Interstellar going to continue the Academy's interest in outer space? Will the pedigree cast help its chances? Is the film doomed to be simply nominated in technical fields?

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