Now that the dust has settled from the early December precursor awards and nominations, the underdog awards-season movie of 2015 is … “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
The Warner Bros. tentpole, which has grossed $375 million worldwide, not only landed best picture prize from last week’s National Board of Review, it was the runner-up pick (after “Spotlight”) for best film of the year by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. More importantly, on Thursday morning, it popped up on the Golden Globes’ list for best picture drama (edging out the Fox Searchlight favorite “Brooklyn”) and George Miller grabbed a best director nod (over such heavyweights as Steven Spielberg for “Bridge of Spies” and Quentin Tarantino for “Hateful Eight”).
When the Academy unveils its nominations next month, it’s looking very likely that “Mad Max” will make a big showing at the Oscars. The expanded best picture race, which includes up to 10 films, will make it a likely bet there, where it would be the first time a “Mad Max” movie competed for Hollywood’s top prize. And its looking possible that the director’s race could include Miller, who is well-loved in the director’s branch, alongside potential nominees Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”), Ridley Scott (“The Martian”), Todd Haynes (“Carol”) and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“The Revenant”).
Meanwhile, “Fury Road” is virtually guaranteed recognition in the technical categories such as editing, cinematography, production design, sound mixing, costume, sound editing, visual effects and makeup. (In the best actress race, Charlize Theron is a longshot pick.)
If voters are especially generous, that would bring “Mad Max” up to a whopping 10 Oscars nominations. Will any awards-season contender top that? It’s hard to say. But don’t be surprised if, in a few weeks, “Mad Max” suddenly finds itself with the more nominations than conventional Oscar contenders like “Carol,” “Spotlight” and “Room.”
Could “Mad Max” actually win? That seems much less likely. But it’s still early in the Oscar-season betting game—and one lesson from Wednesday’s SAG nominations is that this is a very unusual year. “Mad Max” is the awards season darkhorse that keeps gaining speed, and it might not be stopped.
Watch below: Interview with “Mad Max” director George Miller