There were so many great movies in 2015, but the one I'll be rooting for tonight is Mad Max: Fury Road. Witness me!
In an era where movies feel more and more like television, and television feels more cinematic than the movies, Mad Max: Fury Road is a movie that reminds us why we go to the theatre in the first place. George Miller's gritty steampunk song of junk metal and patriarchy and capitalism was the most exciting and fun I've had at the movies all year, not to mention a visionary piece of filmmaking.
I don't think I took a single breath for the first 30 minutes of the film. Oh for sure, it's spectacle at its most definitive, but it's not spectacle alone. There's tough meat here, plenty of it, and it's fun to chew.
I've heard it described as "an A-plus B-movie." This being the case, the fact that it found its way on the Best Picture noms list is fairly surprising - the Academy hasn't really been okay with certain genres being considered "art." It seems this is reflective of audience tastes as well - we're comfortable with thrillers, period dramas, historical dramas, political dramas, social dramas, etc. being "prestige" pics, but action movies? Well, action has been relegated to a lesser genre, for reasons that I wish were inexplicable, but they have names (which are Superhero flicks and anything to do with a "transporter.")
But I like what Fury Road is doing for its genre. I like to see the Academy swallowing its snobbery a bit to admit action can be art, too. (And did we ever forget about Diehard? which is a mighty fine action film, emphasis on film.)
Fury Road is a masterclass in visual storytelling, and in creating a new universe as epic as the Star Wars universe. I said it.
But it's not going to win tonight. It will be beat by something classier (The Revenant, beautiful, a bit lifeless) or more important (Spotlight, actually pretty wonderful).
But I'm encouraged to see a turn in this direction. It's a bold, important reinvention of its genre.