Even Fandor video essayist Kevin B. Lee has a few of his own -- or rather, a few reflections on the work of the 5 nominees for Best Director, Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), Lenny Abrahamson (Room), Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant), Adam McKay (The Big Short), and George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road).
Check out Lee's video below:
I'm not really in the business of trying to predict Oscar winners, but Lee brings a lot of great insight about what works and doesn't work in each of these directors' films. Spotlight, for example, hops on the prosperous TV train with its narrative -- ripe with a great story and dialog, but unfortunately rides that train a little too far with its repetitive (and eventually predictable and boring) shot-reverse shot cinematography, which is common in TV shows.
But hey -- I guess I'll take a swing at this predicting business.
The interesting thing about this year's nominees is that the film I adamantly refused to go see in the theater is the one I'm kind of rooting for -- Mad Max: Fury Road. My reaction nowadays to series, sequels, remixes, and reboots has become Pavlovian. "They're going to be horrible. They're going to ruin what I love. They are soulless cogs in the movie money-making machine." I wasn't willing to watch a movie that I assumed would put a modern (read: soul-stripping) spin on my beloved Road Warrior. (Yeah, I know The Road Warrior is a sequel, and yes, I get the irony. But hold on.)
But Fury Road surprised me quite a bit. It was -- good. Great even. It was full of soul, and reminded me of why I love The Road Warrior so much. And it's an action flick to boot -- those things rarely get nominated at all. (The Oscars are also genre-biasedThe choreography, the cinematography, the costumes -- outrageous, but near-perfectly so. The world that George Miller put us in didn't feel heavy-handed or ham-fisted (cough-Avatar-cough), in fact, it reminded me of those classic action movies from the 80s and 90s -- you know, the ones that didn't take themselves too seriously or rely on explosions to wow their audiences.
"Um...Fury Road is nothing but explosions, though."
Oh, sweetheart. There's a whole lot more. The explosions, the flames, the guitars -- the guitar that shoots flames atop explosions, are all just a part of the carefully choreographed chaos of the George Miller universe. The spectacle is in the rhythm of the film, not in the visuals.
Do I think Miller will win Best Director? I don't know. To be honest, my guess is that it'll go to Lenny Abrahamson for his impeccable work on Room, and it'd be well-deserved. But, Miller certainly deserves something for pumping so much life into the action genre, instead of just lighting a match, setting the fuse, and waiting to sift through the fiery debris for dollar bills once the explosions die down.