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'Mad Max' Steamrolls Critics' Choice Awards. Just Give It The Oscar Already

By Petr Knava | Industry | January 18, 2016 |

By Petr Knava | Industry | January 18, 2016 |

That little Mad Max movie that came out last year and pleased some people quite a bit has plowed its way through the Critics’ Choice Awards in Santa Monica, losing out to Spotlight for Best Picture, but taking home nine other awards, including Best Director.

The other gongs it scooped up were:

- Editing
- Production design
- Visual effects
- Costume design
- Hair and makeup
- Best action movie
- Best actress in an action movie for Charlize Theron.
- Best actor in an action movie for Tom Hardy

You can read the full list of winners here.

George Miller’s effervescent masterpiece also picked up the Film of the Year and Director of the Year honours at the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards last night.

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We are now in the home straight leading up to the Academy Awards on the 28th February, where Fury Road has also, somehow, been nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award despite it being the kind of movie — irreverent, hyper-inventive, non-Oscar-bait-y — that the staid and greying Academy hates. It did pick up nine other nominations, but the Academy is relatively comfortable giving the prizes for its non-flagpole/anything-but-Best-Picture categories to the kind of movies that don’t necessarily conform to its echo chamber fantasy world. So Mad Max gatecrashing this Best Picture party is a lovely and unexpected thing to behold.

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The way things are going, and the way the buzz and the momentum are building, it’s likely that the films to beat will be Tom McCarthy’s by all accounts excellent Spotlight, and Leo and Alejandro’s is-this-a-movie-or-an-endurance-test, The Revenant (which also doubles as Leo’s go for broke Oscars audition tape. He tries so damn hard, guys.)

Now here’s the thing: the Oscars don’t matter, except that they do, and Mad Max winning would be such a lovely coup (oh what a lovely coup!) for the wild genius freak outsider brigade that it would almost (almost) make up for the travesty of 2006 (you know what you did, Crash!) The Academy knows what they are doing. By giving the nod to Miller’s molotov cocktail of a movie, they have made the awards interesting this year. They have set up a David VS Goliath type situation. Mad Max VS Oscar Bait.

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Mad Max will almost definitely not win the Best Picture award. But Mad Max absolutely should win that award. Because Mad Max isn’t just a movie — it’s a minor miracle. George Miller delivered unto us a half-mad and yet supremely focused vision: an art-house meditation on society, gender relations, the apocalypse, and the very concepts of motion and movement; all dressed up in the flashy disguise of a whizz-bang action movie. And it wasn’t an impostor in either of those fields either; it belonged fully to both. It understood that to convey complex ideas you don’t always need a lengthy Sorkin-esque spiel; that this isn’t theatre, dammit, this is cinema — show, don’t tell. It was a meditation, but a meditation set on fire and kicked rolling down a forty-five degree slope at breakneck speed. Its characters were complete and whole — sometimes communicating with each other and the audience with barely a word; and each had a fully realised arc within the essentially one extended scene that comprised the whole movie. Every action and reaction served to propel the plot forward while at the same time deepening your understanding of this broken world and those struggling to inhabit it. It was beyond gorgeous, and the work done by the cameras to simultaneously keep the audience in the frantic fray, and precisely appraised of all the moving parts and their relation to each other, was dazzling.

In short, Mad Max: Fury Road absolutely should win that Best Picture award because Mad Max: Fury Road isn’t just a movie — it’s an experience the likes of which is only witnessed, at most, a few times in a person’s cinema-going lifetime.


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Petr is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.