September and its fart train of awful movies is over for another year, which means one thing: Oscar season is right around the corner. It’s a time of year that frustrates a lot of people, because they see it as a bunch of frenetic whirligigs building up a critical mass of hype around something that is ultimately pretty pointless. Which: True.
Personally, I quite like Oscar season all the same, because between the heightened emotions, the obsessive tracking of guild awards, and everyone who’s ever watched a movie pretending to be armchair Roger Ebert (I don’t exempt myself from that), it’s essentially fantasy football for film nerds. It’s fun as long as you can keep yourself from getting too emotionally invested. To that end, with countless bloggers poising their itchy trigger fingers over the “publish” button on prediction posts, I think it’s a good time to mention:
You know Mad Max: Fury Road isn’t going to win Oscars, yeah?
I mean, visual effects, sound editing, sound mixing—okay. I can see George Miller’s magnum opus getting nominated there, and even winning. Because it deserves to, and because the tech categories are historically the ones where the Academy doesn’t shy away from genre films. They’re the reasons the Transformers franchise has been nominated for seven Oscars.
But I’ve seen a good number of posts talking about Fury Road’s chances to pick up noms for Best Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay. Best Picture, even. For Your Consideration screening emails have gone out, and from them we know that Warner Bros. is campaigning for nominations in 15 categories (including all the ones mentioned above, plus Best Actor and Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Production Design, Editing, Costume Design, Makeup & Hair, and Score.) God bless their cotton socks. I want to see Tom Hardy win Best Actor, because I am 99% convinced he will bring a dog on-stage with him.
But… look, let’s not kid ourselves. I was prepared to throw statuettes at George Miller’s head about five minutes into Fury Road, but the Oscars, for the most part, has a “type” of movie, and Fury Road is not it. It’s not about white dude who’s good at his job, it wasn’t written by Aaron Sorkin, it’s not being distributed by The Weinstein Company. Give it up.
In 2009, the Oscars tried to open up the Best Picture field to include more popular films by changing the rules so that up to ten films could be nominated. As an experiment, it hasn’t worked; with a few exceptions, those extra spots have been mostly relegated to the same old sorts of films by the same old sorts of directors. And those films are: Not genre, and not action, and certainly not both. Look, it’d be great if Mad Max: Fury Road got the District 9 spot, but it won’t. If anything, The Martian, which also deserves it, does, because it’s a more Oscar-y film that was directed by an Oscar-less Ridley Scott. You can smell the comeback narrative from here. And the Oscars—which didn’t nominate The Dark Knight, didn’t nominate Alien or Blade Runner, didn’t nominate Children of Men—recognising two genre films in the Best Picture category? In the same year? No. I wish they would, and I would be extremely happy to be proven wrong, but no.
So let’s just get this over with now. It doesn’t how much you want a shaven-head Charlize Theron to stalk onto the stage at the Dolby Theatre and snatch the Oscar from the hand of a quivering Eddie Redmayne, and it doesn’t matter how much she may deserve it. It’s not impossible, but it’s not impossible in the same way T.K. and Steven Lloyd Wilson coming around to the comedic brilliance of Wet Hot American Summer isn’t impossible. Barring Theron pulling a Heath Ledger and literally dying, our Best Actress winner come February 28th, 2016 is going to be someone who has never headbutted a single person.