Mad Max: How a sequel gained so much Oscar Buzz

I had never heard of the Mad Max: Fury Road until February 26th, 2016.  In fact, I had never heard of the Mad Max franchise, let alone Fury Road, until that night, when that very movie seemingly dominated the 88th Academy Awards in production nods.  I remember thinking to myself, “This does not look like an Oscar contender.”  Sure, it had Oscar favorites like Charlize Theron, but this film didn’t have what is considered to be typical Oscar fodder.

Mad Max: Fury Road, a sequel/reboot hybrid film, was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and won six Awards that night: Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing.  They were the SECOND highest nominated film of the evening, and even more, this was the first Mad Max film to receive recognition from the Academy.

This film capitalized on creativity and efficiency in its narrative, taking advantage of new technology in film, letting the cinematography tell the story.  Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, as well as many other accomplished actors, expertly handle the material (The New York Times writes, “Ms. Theron could be a silent-movie heroine, despite the noise that surrounds her”), and the film chooses the story over expensive (and unneeded) special effects. CGI was used sparingly; something that honestly surprised me when I found out after I watched the film.

But its highest achievement is the message that it sends: the film is very cleverly written, tying in its themes of survival and redemption.  It is a thought-provoking film disguised as an action-packed journey (or you could say, the two go hand-in-hand), and that is where Mad Max: Fury Road is its most ingenious.


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