The Film: Mad Max: Fury Road
The Pitch: Wacky Races on acid
Number of Nominations: Ten
Which Categories? Best Picture. Best Director. Best Cinematography. Best Production Design. Best Costume Design. Best Visual Effects. Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Best Editing. Best Sound Mixing. Best Sound Editing.
Will it Win? It’s almost certain to win the technical awards (sound, VFX) and by rights should win for Editing, Production Design, Costumes, and Makeup.
John Seale is a sentimental choice for Cinematogaphy. Director George Miller lured him out of retirement to shoot Mad Max: Fury Road. Whatever the reason, though, his work in the film is brilliant.
Likewise, the editing is so skilful that at no point in the film’s two hours is the viewer confused about who is doing what, and where, and for an action film, that’s a very rare thing.
But all anyone wants to know is will George Miller win for directing this modern action masterpiece? And will the film win Best Picture?
A few weeks ago I predicted Yes to the first question; No to the second. I now think that the movie is going to lose out in both categories, because the various guilds have chosen things like The Revenant, The Big Short and Spotlight for the two big awards.
Which is a shame. The Revenant, The Big Short and Spotlight are all decent, worthwhile films, none of which will be watched much in fifty years.
Mad Max: Fury Road, however, is a cinematic triumph, not just the best Hollywood film of 2015, but the best action movie in a long, long time.
It deserves all the accolades it has received because while it can be argued that the plot is silly, the film is not. It is an important film and you need to see it. On the biggest screen you can find. And with decent sound.
It would be a wonderful surprise, therefore, if Miller was given an Oscar, even though he is probably simply happy that Mad Max: Fury Road exists.
I have seen Mad Max: Fury Road several times, and with each viewing I notice something new (a sign of how much has gone into its design), and I haven’t had as much fun in the cinema in years.*
It is by far my favourite movie of 2015, and it reawakened my long-dormant joy in cinema. I left the movie theatre after my first screening of it last May as exhilirated as I was at age eleven coming out of the Savoy in Dublin after seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark.
By now there have been so many reviews, think-pieces and arguments about Mad Max: Fury Road, I’m not sure I have anything to add that hasn’t already been said.
The story is nothing but a two-hour car chase … and it’s boring.
The story is nothing but a two-hour car chase … and it’s awesome!
In terms of Oscar snubs, it’s a shame that Charlize Theron has not been nominated for her performance. “What? Nominate an actor for an action film? What nonsense!” I hear you whine. But remember, Sigourney Weaver was nominated for Aliens. And let’s not forget Leo in The Revenant.
Likewise, it would have been nice to see Nicholas Hoult recognised for his work as Nux, a character who has a surprisingly moving narrative arc.
Whatever about the film’s massive achievements, I do think it is telling that the film has not been nominated for Best Screenplay or Best Original Score. The plot is, after all, very simple, and while that is refreshing in an age of bloated, overlong, ponderous films, I can understand why the Academy would rather recognise other films.
The bombastic, drum and guitar-heavy score by Junkie XL works perfectly in the film. But try listening to the album on its own. Two hours of DUH DUH DUH DUH BWAAAM BWAAAM SCREECH SCREECH BOOMBOOMBOOM is a bit much.
Verdict: Five Bitchin’ Flame-Throwing Guitars out of Five
* Full disclosure: I was high the first time I saw it.