'One year from now,' will we be talking about 'Interstellar' in the Oscar race?

Posted by · 10:17 am · December 14th, 2013


The teaser trailer for Christopher Nolan’s first foray into filmmaking with the “Dark Knight” trilogy firmly in his rear view mirror landed today, and it’s certainly a tease. Fleeting images of America’s space race populate it, from Bell X-1 aircraft dropping into the atmosphere for collision course with the sound barrier to Walter Cronkite removing his glasses in awed disbelief after Neil Armstrong, the alien, set foot on the moon. Matthew McConaughey’s voice over reflects a world that has left that innovation behind, and with it, the spirit to achieve wonders.

This is a thematic thread I’m very, very interested in, and where once “Interstellar” was a genre curiosity – well, more than that, a sci-fi excursion I was very much looking forward to from an immensely talented commercial filmmaker and a charismatic, revived leading man fronting an amazing cast – it has now taken on a whole new hue for me. This could be an extremely meaningful portrait at a time when NASA is seemingly funded just enough to keep the lights on, when that eagerness to “make the unknown known” has given way to global concerns that are often times necessary, others merely a distraction.

Basically, this could pop as more than mere entertainment, and given the film’s prime Oscar season release date – Nov. 7, “one year from now,” as the trailer says – we could very well be talking about it in an awards context this time next year. Nolan has managed it before, landing major nominations (and four trophies) for “Inception” three years ago. And the Oscar race is what it is today largely because of “The Dark Knight’s” shunning in 2008.

But there has still been aversion. “Inception” somehow – SOMEHOW – couldn’t find any love from the editors branch, let alone the directors branch. This year’s “Gravity” seems like a film guaranteed major success across the board, but you know what? Who knows? The Academy’s history with sci-fi has been complex to say the least, but I’m suddenly way more intrigued by the promise of this film. It seems to have something absolutely vital to say and I hope it nails that thematic construct. We have lost our awe. Funny that the movies are always there to help us get it back.

And again, I’m really stoked to see how McConaughey plays out in this ensemble. It was a shrewd move for Nolan to tap him for this project, though as the actor told me back in October, he’s keeping his perspective amid the excitement.

“What I’ve gotten out of the last two years that’s been so rewarding to me is I’ve been getting these experiences, man, just feeling like I’m in the clay, man,” he said at the time. “So going into a big movie I had a bit of fear, going like, ‘Was it so much of a machine that I’m going to still be able to have an experience?’ So that’s what I’m working on, that I am getting. Because I’m holding on and saying, ‘No, I’m still going to have an experience today. I still had an experience on Friday.’ I’m serving [Nolan’s] story but I’m still having a personal experience. And that was my biggest fear, or biggest trepidation going into it, but I have to say, I’m getting one out of it.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch that new Blu-ray of “The Right Stuff.”

“Interstellar” opens on Nov. 7, 2014.

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