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We're not going to get very far in this list if we don't start with the grand daddy of them all. And while nearly every Christopher Nolan movie ever made could be on this list, let's just narrow it down to this one and move on. Inception is a dizzyingly complex film that challenges the viewers right from its mystifying opening shot to that last infuriating final frame. What do we see? Is it real or not? Curse you, Nolan! Tell us what it is. Dominick "Dom" Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) leads a crafty team of thieves, stealing information by entering the dreams of their targets. Now though, they are challenged to do the opposite and incept an idea in hopes of . . . well, we're not going to spoil it. Watch the movie, and when the credits roll and you scratch your head wondering why the heck just your brain is a little twitchy, let us be the first to say, "hello, and welcome to the rest of us." Google awaits.
It's an age-old question: is this real life or a dream? How can we tell? And does it matter? Well, leave it to pioneer filmmaker Richard Linklater to bring this head-wringing adult animated film to the big screen and try to answer those questions. Sort of. Actually, it ends up asking more than answering. Either way, it's a heck of a ride. It centers on a unnamed young man who seems caught in a limbo of the real and unreal, an existential plane that allows him to observe and then engage in philosophical discussions on all manner of topics concerning free will and the meaning of life. Rendered in breathtaking rotoscope animation, it stars an ensemble of recognizable faces alongside many unknowns, giving this an ethereal feel that itself feels like a mix of real and unreal. In a series of intelligent and probing conversations, brought to vivid life in an art style that grows more diverse and absurd as it progresses, we explore much that will leave you almost numb with awe. Trippy barely comes close to describing this one.