Britannia Awards: Christopher Nolan

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Betty White | Jeff Bridges | Christopher Nolan | Michael Sheen | Scott Free Prods.

It is rare for a director to be the center of attention every moviegoing year, let alone to continually out-do himself. But Christopher Nolan, this year’s John Schlesinger Britannia Award recipient for artistic excellence in directing, wowed again with his mind-bending “Inception,” which has grossed more than $800 million worldwide while also becoming one of the year’s most buzzed-about films.

“Nolan’s genius is he manages to make intricate art-house movies posing as multimillion-dollar action blockbusters,” says BBC critic Mark Kermode. “His success (proves) that big-budget movies don’t have to be stupid.”

A writing partnership with younger brother Jonathan, co-scripter on five films, has been most fruitful. They brought the “Batman” franchise back to life with the tentpole “Batman Begins,” and the dynamic duo is now prepping the series’ third film. Nolan will also be shepherding, but not directing, a “Superman” reboot.

While some have been put off by what they perceive as Nolan’s emphasis on concept over the human element, each work has been undeniably provocative. And “Inception,” which inspired watercooler debates everywhere, signaled a new direction for Nolan’s career.

“Nolan somehow circled the square (with ‘Inception’) like none of his contemporaries have,” says AV Club film critic Scott Tobias. “As long as he continues to produce arresting images and large-scale set-pieces, he’s free to explore concepts that would normally be too complex for mainstream — and arthouse — audiences to digest.”

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