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Talking Movies: Mad Max: Fury Road For Director And Picture?

The online roundtable scenario this time around gave me the opportunity to crack some eggs that have seldom been touched upon this awards season. The various possible prospects of where the Oscars are going for Best Picture and Best Director has been a constantly altering recipe in the last couple of months. Joining me to bring a steady, serious contender to the boil is Al Robinson, Asif Khan, and Tobi Ogunyemi.

Robin:   Hi team.
Tobi:   Hi!
Asif:   Hi. So we are discussing World of Tomorrow. The no 1 Film of 2015.
Al:   I think we’re already off topic.
Tobi:   Shit, I still need to see it. Also, Carol has me under contract for that title, so my hands are tied there.
Asif:   Why is Robin so quiet? Is it just us four? Am I only talking to myself here?
Robin:   Okay, let me start this then. Basically for a long, long time I have kept my cards close to my chest with regards to predictions, as I have had a strong but sneaking suspicion that Mad Max: Fury Road could be a huge contender for both Best Director and Best Picture. I know if you follow the tide of awards season recently, and don’t think outside the box of the bloggers and so-called experts, then it was Spotlight for months, then The Revenant for a couple of days, then The Big Short (which Sasha Stone of Awards Daily seemingly called before anyone else), and now it appears to be a Spotlight / The Big Short double-bill, see-saw ride. Right?
Asif:   Yeah, I have had a strong feeling for George Miller. Right from December I had him for Best Director. Expected critics groups to go all for him.
Robin:   Right. So, let me ask you all right now, Yes or No, two simple questions: Can Miller win Best Director Oscar? I’m saying Yes.
Tobi:   Yes.
Asif:   Yes.
Al:   I think so. No, I hope so.
Robin:   Can Mad Max win Best Picture? Again, Yes.
Al:   Probably not.
Asif:   No.
Tobi:   Yes.
Robin:   Ooooh.
Al:   It’s going to be either The Big Short or Spotlight.
Asif:   Spotlight has the Spotlight.
Tobi:   I think Mad Max can, I don’t think it will.
Robin:   Okay guys, what is stopping Mad Max winning Best Director? The DGA is crucial here, but not certain judging by how this race has gone. And fucking BAFTA!
Asif:   Indeed. Weird, weird year. Not sure in anything. I think Miller will get DGA.
Al:   I think if Miller wins the DGA, Miller will at least win Best Director Oscar. Still not sure it can overtake for Best Picture.
Tobi:   The thing about BAFTA is that it’s not a pure indicator of what the Oscars will do, but just a guideline of where it might go. As far the DGA goes, I think Miller has a fairly good shot at it.
Al:   By The Way, first off, what are your guys’ feelings about The Big Short?
Robin:   It’s a solid movie, funny, slick, important, but not a Best Picture winner for me. Similarly with Spotlight, which I prefer marginally.
Asif:   But is the film as massively loved by the Academy? I mean across the board, and not just directing branch.
Al:   I had Ian Thomas’ review in my head what I saw The Big Short. He thought it was fucking terrible. I kind of agree it wasn’t that good.
Robin:   But it wasn’t horrible, far from it.
Asif:   The Big Short is a fine film. Spotlight is actually quite great.
Robin:   I agree.
Al:   But The Big Short is not Best Picture worthy. Mad Max on the other hand…
Tobi:   I’m in on The Big Short, and Spotlight and Mad Max are in my top ten of 2015.
Asif:   I so hope Mad Max wins.
Robin:   Listen, I was daydreaming a few months ago, imagining watching the Oscars in a few years time, and they did a montage of Best Picture winners, and I saw clips of rapid, sandy action sequences from Mad Max: Fury Road. Not exactly crystal ball, but it just looked right.
Al:   As you all know, I like The Revenant and The Martian even more, but I’d be very happy if Mad Max wins Picture and Director.
Asif:   The Big Short or The Revenant winning will piss me off. It will mess with me. I will go on a rampage.
Tobi:   Mad Max would be a worthy Best Picture winner, but The Revenant is really cock-blocking it.
Asif:   I can visualize that Theron scene being played. Silent scream. Cut to people in tears.
Robin:   The Revenant feels like it peaked quickly, and has now gone quiet, regardless of the nominations tally. I even think some voters don’t associate Leonardo DiCaprio with The Revenant – they are voting for the “overdue” actor rather than the film.
Asif:   That’s pretty much it.
Tobi:   Sure, but as we’ve seen before, that’s more than enough to get the win.
Asif:   It is all a game.
Tobi:   A game of shadows?!
Asif:   Hate how this DiCaprio thing has turned out.
Robin:   I think The Revenant is a visual feast, but stand it alongside Mad Max and Miller’s film beats it in most categories – you could even say Cinematography.
Tobi:   I can see that. I might give The Revenant a slight edge though on the Cinematography front.
Robin:   Remember Saving Private Ryan beating The Thin Red Line for Cinematography? And then The Tree of Life losing too. What the fuck.
Asif:   The Tree of Life losing was horrendous. I lost it completely then.
Robin:   Especially as Emmanuel Lubezki has won 20 Oscars since.
Asif:   They are making up for their mistake. 
Tobi:   Completely understandable though, it fits within my Cannes Theory. I noticed it back in 2007. If you want your film to do well at the Oscars, doing well at Cannes is the worst thing for you then.
Robin:   Yeah that can happen.
Al:   Can I ask you guys a question? When you think Best Picture, what comes to mind in general?Meaning, what’s your definition of Best Picture?
Robin:   Best Picture is the best flavor of the moment more than it is the best film of the year.
Asif:   Best Film of the year. My no.1 pick. World of Tomorrow. But it’s not nominated. So Mad Max.
Robin:   Are you asking what we choose for our Best Picture, or what it really means with Oscars?
Tobi:   My definition isn’t the same as the Academy, but in what we get in actuality, it’s what the industry wants to uphold as the best to portray to their target audience as the best. And even then, they don’t get that right.
Asif:   Academy has different definition. They go for the desirable film to award rather than awarding the best.
Robin:   They do what they are told. (laughs)
Al:   See, that’s why I asked. It has a definition that most people like us don’t agree to or agree with.
Tobi:   Awarding the best isn’t in their agenda.
Robin:   Nope.
Tobi:   Frankly, I don’t blame them although it’s what I want them to do.
Al:   I think in keeping in line with the AMPAS definition of Best Picture, then it needs to go to Mad Max: Fury Road or Spotlight.
Asif:   Even critics do it these days, and it infuriates me.
Tobi:   The word “best” is in their awards, so just fucking do that. But alas.
Robin:   Okay, so is Mad Max going to win four or more technical category Oscars?
Al:   I think Mad Max will at least be this year’s Gravity.
Robin:   I was just going to say that.
Tobi:   Really, The Big Short, Mad Max, Spotlight are all worthy contenders. Better than what we’ve gotten recently really.
Asif:   Editing, both Sounds, Art Direction. Cinematography though? The Revenant?
Robin:   12 Years a Slave was fucking brilliant, but its importance played a huge part in beating Gravity for Picture. Do we have an important film that can beat Mad Max and The Revenant?
Tobi:   I still think The Revenant and Mad Max are going to block each other since they compete in a lot of the same categories. A lot can split between them or go either way. The Big Short and Spotlight are the important features.
Asif:   Spotlight for sure, Robin. They’ll vote for it that way. Some will for The Big Short.
Robin:   I think Mad Max trumps The Revenant, and AMPAS voting will show this overall, I honestly believe that.
Asif:   From your mouth…
Al:   I don’t think Spotlight or The Big Short have a message more important frankly. Spotlight’s is a bit dated now. The Big Short was about the economy, but that’s always relevant.
Tobi:   Being dated could actually help with The Academy. (laughs)
Al:   Mad Max was both well made and fun to watch.
Robin:   Look at The Revenant. Editing Oscar? Set? Costume? Sound? I seriously doubt it. Mad Max is top of the game across the board, The Revenant is a stunning canvas and gritty acting, but it does not compete with Mad Max in most categories.
Al:   Plus, it took Miller like a million years to make it.
Asif:   Miller took more risks than anyone else. More creation and expression.
Al:   Exactly Asif. It’s wholly original.
Asif:   Entire world. I mean that film is just… it’s own thing. Crazy effing genius.
Tobi:   The Industry seems to love The Revenant though, I wouldn’t overlook it. Then again, it can be like Lincoln in 2012; shit load of awards but only getting two with Actor and a below the line award.
Robin:   I think the industry lavished The Revenant on its release, I don’t think they love it.
Tobi:   Possibly, Robin.
Robin:   Al has a point about Mad Max being fun. I would watch it 10 times, I wont watch The Revenant twice more likely.
Tobi:   A lot of scenarios are on the table.
Robin:   Imagine the Academy re-watching films now. Mad Max for example.
Tobi:   Don’t think the Academy cares about re-watchability. (laughs)
Al:   The Revenant is a toughie, no doubt. I just saw it again Saturday night.
Asif:   They hardly watch it one time.
Robin:   Right.
Tobi:   Wouldn’t surprise me.
Al:   Oscars think too much about right now, and not about a year or two from now.
Robin:   They hardly think at all.
Asif:   They think about themselves and their industry so of course. They hardly evolve from their B.S.
Robin:   If Mad Max screeners went out now (remember Crash?) I am telling you it could be game over. They need to re-watch sometimes, they need reminding. We don’t, we know the quality of Miller’s movie right now.
Al:   Problem with the Oscars is they don’t like genre films. But every film is some kind of genre.
Asif:   I hope Mad Max does for action what The Lord of the Rings did for fantasy at the Oscars. Or The Silence of the Lambs for horror.
Tobi:   My mindset is always they actually do like genre films to a degree, they just award them. But then again, it doesn’t matter who wins really, so yeah. 1991 and 2003 were horrendous years for the Oscars, so that won’t happen here this year. Thankfully.
Robin:   They sent out instructions to watch The Revenant online rather than actual DVDs – did you know that? Let me ask you this – how many of the voters that helped give The Revenant its huge nominations tally do you think had actually seen it when they voted? Honestly.
Al:   Maybe 50 – 70 %.
Tobi:   Don’t know, that’s hard to tell, and wouldn’t do much anyway.
Robin:   So imagine the other 30 – 50% watching The Revenant and half of them don’t care for it. Can it still win the big prize?
Asif:   I like how you are thinking Robin
Tobi:   With the weighed ballot, absolutely.
Al:   Oh yeah, that weight ballot. I forgot about that.
Tobi:   I wouldn’t put anything past the ballot system.
Robin:   Yeah, that is a huge part of the problem too.
Al:   Too bad Marshall Flores is not here to talk about the ballots.
Robin:   Nah, we would never finish if Marshall brought that to the table too.
Al:   The reason I’d love to see Mad Max win Best Picture is because it’s got a female lead.
Tobi:   Oscars? Female lead? You’re tripping, homie.
Al:   Yup
Robin:   I don’t think The Revenant has the stamina is what I am saying.
Asif:   The Big Short has the bubble bath though.
Al:   That condescending moment was so stupid.
Robin:   Yeah but it was a great fucking scene
Tobi:   I loved it.
Al:   (sighs) I’d rather see Crash win again maybe. It’s not that scene for me anyway. The whole movie just didn’t work on me.
Tobi:   Listen, if you can’t enjoy Margot Robbie in a bubble bath, I don’t know what to tell you.
Robin:   Okay let me spin the argument around then a little. If we picked 50 bloggers, 50 people off the street, 50 people from AMPAS, 50 from BAFTA, 50 film critics etc etc, and asked them for their top 10 films of the year, which film do you think would appear in the most lists? I’d bet my house it would be Mad Max.
Asif:   We are all dreaming. Fantasizing.
Tobi:   I can see Mad Max being in there.
Asif:   Nobody knows for sure.
Al:   I think it would be Mad Max followed by Room.
Tobi:   Same with Star Wars too, possibly.
Asif:   We’ll go mad discussing this.
Robin:   Spotlight would be in loads of lists too.
Tobi:   Right, Asif
Robin:   That’s how you have to think sometimes. We will go mad, but I am standing by my hunch
Al:   What is your hunch again?
Robin:   That Mad Max can win Best Picture and Best Director. Miller has to win DGA.
Asif:   He will.
Al:   Right. Right now I predict: DGA – Miller, Oscars Picture – Big Short, Director – Miller.
Robin:   PGA was a huge red herring. BAFTA might fuck this up, but I don’t believe they have the influence everyone seems to think.
Tobi:   They don’t. And I love the BAFTAs.
Robin:   I do. I have to, I’m British.
Tobi:   And I wish I was British, so yeah!
Asif:    Picture and Screenplay – Spotlight. Adapted – The Big Short. Actor and Cinematography – The Revenant. Fury Road wins the most.
Robin:   I agree with Asif’s predictions.
Tobi:   I can buy that scenario,
Robin:   But boy will I be betting on Mad Max.
Tobi:   My money’s still on Carol breaking in, so whatevs.
Asif:   BAFTA killed it last year with Boyhood. But they effed it up the most this time.
Robin:   If Mad Max gets a little bit more momentum, remember it’s been around since Cannes and went apeshit with the critics, then you never know – momentum is huge in Hollywood. Imagine going through the ballot, ticking the boxes, Mad Max, Mad Max, Mad Max, now Director, Mad Max, Best Picture, hmmm, Mad Max?
Al:   Is there momentum right now for Mad Max? Seems it’s all with The Big Short.
Asif:   Momentum hasn’t stopped for it. Others are gaining or losing momentum around it.
Robin:   There’s been steady momentum for Mad Max for months and months, but not quite the winning momentum it needs. But that’s partly due to a lot of what we read every day – slightly brainwashed we have become.
Al:   Stuff like Gold Derby? And the Oscar pundits?
Asif:   The Revenant love and PGA falling for Big Short. That stuff.
Robin:   Yeah, Gold Derby. They take the piss with predictions.
Al:   Maybe too much.
Robin:   They change their top spot based on the fucking sunshine and wind direction.
Al:   Which way their fart blows.
Asif:   They are funny sometimes. Like unintentionally. I do trust Sasha Stone of course.
Robin:   Sasha was the only one with The Big Short at no.1 by the way a few weeks ago, then the PGA hit and everyone jumped on board. It was hilariously embarrassing.
Asif:   Yeah. She had it at no 1 for Oscar the moment she watched it. Sasha is both passionate and cares for stats.
Al:   And yet people criticize her on Twitter for liking it so much.
Robin:   And she does what she has to do, she has to write some of that stuff, that’s her job. People get confused with personal opinion and general outlooking. So, The Big Short and Spotlight – can the votes spit and neither wins?
Tobi:   Very possible!
Al:   Oooh! I hadn’t thought of that.
Asif:   It’s a probability.
Robin:   It’s all I think about. (laughs)
Al:   But would The Revenant benefit over Mad Max?
Robin:   Perhaps. Which of Mad Max and The Revenant is the crowd-pleaser?
Al:   Mad Max.
Robin:   Which is better technically in all areas?
Al:   Mad Max.
Robin:   Which film are AMPAS likely to throw into their DVDs?
Al:   The Martian and Mad Max.
Robin:   Which is the easier viewing?
Tobi:   Brooklyn. Er, I mean, Mad Max, yeah.
Asif:   They really care about easy viewing?
Al:   Not sure. The Martian is the easiest of all to watch.
Asif:   Argo was a real crowd-pleaser.
Al:   I still think of the Academy as those who went the easy pick with The Artist.
Asif:   For hard stuff they just vote for it based on what they had heard rather than watching it themselves. 12 Years a Slave.
Robin:   Yeah, 12 Years a Slave won and a lot of those wimps admitted they didn’t see it.
Al:   I’d still rather watch The Revenant, but it’s almost a tie.
Robin:   Nah. Mad Max ever time for me, but that is me, just me. I wonder how many voters are like me. We are all voters imagine, Best Picture, which film you picking?
Al:   The Revenant.
Robin:   Mad Max. Maybe Brooklyn.
Asif:   Mad Max.
Al:   Or I’d split my vote of The Revenant and Mad Max, and vote for The Martian.
Robin:   Publishing this very post, and sharing the shit out of it may well get around to Academy voters and make all the difference you know. (laughs) Tobi, The Revenant or Mad Max for you?
Tobi:   Between those two, Mad Max.
Asif:   Mad Max wins this group’s Oscar then. 
Robin:   Hmmm, so imagine we represented the Academy, Mad Max wins Best Director and Best Picture. Nothing here, as good as this discussion is, has knocked me off my perch in regard to the possibility that Mad Max could do that.
Asif:   Director is its best bet in my opinion.
Robin:   What a Best Picture winner, nobody would cry about that. Great stuff people. Anything else you want to add?
Al:   So, when is the DGA again?
Tobi:   Just wanted to add the top four pictures in contention will make worthy winners overall. I’m good either way this shakes down, which will be interesting to see for sure. Viva La Carol!
Al:   Saturday Feb 6. Imagine what we’ll know then.
Asif:   Miller.
Robin:   Last time then, can Mad Max win Best Picture? Can it?
Asif:   That’s the dream, Robin.
Al:   I think it can. DGA and onward.
Asif:   It can, but it won’t. Spotlight will.
Tobi:   They don’t need your awards, son!
Asif:   It will win director though.
Robin:   I do hope so. Hey what is Mel Gibson announces Best Picture at the Oscars? Game over.
Al:   Let me pose one last question. What if Ex Machina was in the race for both Picture and Director. Would it / could it upset?
Asif:   No way Al.
Robin:   Ex Machina I love, but I didn’t expect AMPAS to go beyond the love they gave it.
Tobi:   They have it 2 nominations. That’s fucking huge.
Robin:   Great stuff. Last thing then, imagine the Academy are reading this, and you want them to vote Mad Max for Best Picture – what do you tell them?
Tobi:   “WITNESS ME!”
Robin:   We are not things!
Asif:   Yeah that.
Al:   I tell them to vote for Mad Max or else they will regret it.
Asif:   Make it a lovely day, pals.
Tobi:   “Who destroyed the world then?!” “Oh God, it was us after we changed Best Picture, it was us!”.
Robin:   Good luck George and good luck Mad Max. Thanks for your time guys.
Tobi:   I would just tell them that Mad Max has a chance to a worthy winner that could last beyond the years.
Al:   Amen.
Tobi:   Peace!
(the road-runners disappear into the dusty horizon)
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  1. Al Robinson Al Robinson February 2, 2016

    .I just read this officially. This is so great. I'm honored to have been apart of it. Great job guys. I think it's both informative and entertaining.

  2. Craig Kennedy Craig Kennedy February 2, 2016

    Ask me again after the DGA award is handed out, but for now I think The Big Short's PGA win is too big too ignore especially in tandem with the ACE win. The SAG win for Spotlight is a little bit meaningless. SAG Ensemble has a poor correlation with Best Picture. It's not measuring the same thing for starters, and it's a wildly different group of people than AMPAS even though there is some overlap. Mad Max's ACE win is a little more meaningful potentially.

    But, ACE+PGA (Big Short) is much stronger than ACE+DGA (Mad Max) or SAG+DGA (Spotlight). I'm pretty sure we can forget about The Revenant except for Leo's win.

    If Miller wins DGA then Mad Max is certainly back in the conversation at least for Best Director and since I don't like to predict splits, it's a contender for BP. If McCarthy wins, then maybe Spotlight/McCarthy has a shot Oscar night but I still think it's advantage Big Short.

    All of the above is predicated on the idea that McKay doesn't win DGA and right now I actually am predicting he will. Miller seems to be in the conversation because the internet wills it to be so. It's the narrative everyone is hot for. But then a few weeks ago a lot of people were hot for the Ridley is Due narrative and that crashed and burned.

  3. Steve Schweighofer Steve Schweighofer February 3, 2016

    (re-posted properly this time)
    Good conversation, guys – sorry I missed it.

    Personally, I was a bit worried that Mad Max might have been too rough for the sensibilities of Oscar and could have missed the nomination, but that wasn't the case. They recognized what is probably the best-crafted film of the year. Can it win, though?

    In my 50 years of Oscar watching, I've noticed that when confronted by more than one worthy film, voters tend to go with the “bigger” product, especially if there is an emotional connection to the film.

    I think that under normal circumstances you could say that The Big Short or Spotlight look like probable winners, but the two bigger films, Mad Max and The Revenant, have all the makings for going all the way. Gladiator over Traffic, Titanic over LA Confidential – you get the picture. All the Presidents Men – great film about a current newsworthy topic – fell to the more emotional Rocky. Last year Birdman was not a big film on the grand scale, but was bigger than its only rival, Boyhood.

    Oscar chooses the film that they want to represent them and their past year in movies. There is a good argument for a split between director and picture this year, so I would call it thus:

    Best Director – George Miller

    Best Picture – The Revenant

    (but then, I'm seldom right)

  4. Lloyd Marken Lloyd Marken February 25, 2017

    Great stuff again, man Asif picked it like a dirty nose. Pretty cool prediction.

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