A Lovely Day for Mad Max

A summertime thrill ride that has served as a resurgence for a thirty year old action franchise got a big Oscar boost today when Mad Max: Fury Road won the National Board of Review (NBR) award for Best Picture. This was an upset. While George Miller’s return to kinetic and wild adventure set pieces earned universal critical acclaim, it’s not really been looked at as a given for a Picture nod at the Academy Awards. The NBR attention does nothing but help.

Over this century, the NBR’s Picture winner has been nominated for the big race at the Oscars 14 out of 16 times (the exceptions were 2000’s Quills and last year’s A Most Violent Year). On the other hand, only two of the past 16 NBR honorees have won the Academy’s honor (2007’s No Country for Old Men and 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire).

I would still say that Fury Road is no shoo in for a nomination, but its chances no doubt increased with the announcement this afternoon. I also believe a scenario (and maybe a stronger one) exists where Miller gets a directing nomination with the film being left off of the Best Picture group come announcement time.

The NBR also names an additional nine favorite movies of the year. They were: Bridge of Spies, Creed, The Hateful Eight, Inside Out, The Martian, Room, Sicario, Spotlight, and Straight Outta Compton. Of these films, Sicario and Compton are seen as least likely to receive Oscar attention. Both are still possible and Creed‘s stock keeps rising.

High profile Oscar contenders left off? The Revenant, Steve Jobs, Joy, Anomalisa, Brooklyn, and Carol. However, the NBR list and the Academy list never match and expect some of these titles to be included in the big race.

Besides Max, the other pic to get a huge NBR boost is The Martian, where Ridley Scott won Best Director and Matt Damon won Best Actor. Again, neither are shoo ins for Oscar nods but their inclusion is seeming more and more probable.

As for the other acting categories, Brie Larson’s work in Room marked her first win in what could be several and her Oscar nod seems assured. Sylvester Stallone was victorious in Supporting Actor for Creed and it would now be a surprise if Oscar doesn’t call his name among the five nominees. The same is likely for Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight, who won Supporting Actress.

This day really marked the official beginning of the awards season and there’ll be much more to chew on (other critics group, Golden Globes, SAG Awards) before the Academy reveals their choices. And this blog will be following and keeping you up to date all the way. Stay tuned!


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