With the Academy Awards coming up at the end of this month, everyone is letting fly their Oscar predictions as to which artists will be taking home those coveted golden statues.
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:
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/153064188
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.