'Mad Max' Speeds Into The Oscar Race

The post-apocalyptic thriller Mad Max: Fury Road isn't the usual talky drama or refined period piece that the Academy lives to celebrate. But perhaps the mold has finally been broken; Mad Max: Fury Road was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. Nominations were announced Thursday morning by 13 Hours actor John Krasinski and directors Ang Lee and Guillermo Del Toro. Krasinski and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs read off the films who'll vie for the biggest award of the night, including Mad Max among fellow nominees The Big Short, Bridge Of Spies, Brooklyn, The Revenant, Room, and Spotlight. Mad Max also received nods for its direction and for a number of technical categories, including Best Editing and Best Visual Effects.

Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy star in Mad Max, a mile-a-minute escape adventure that resets the Mel Gibson-fronted franchise of the '70s and '80s. In the reboot, Max is just along for the ride. The movie has the distinction of being widely regarded as one of the most feminist of this (or any) year. Theron's character Imperator Furiosa is literally in the driver's seat for most of the film as a former lieutenant of cruel despot Immortan Joe, who aids in the escape of Joe's harem of "wives." Also a former prisoner of Immortan Joe, Max winds up in the War Rig with this group of warrior women driving towards "the Green Place" and their freedom.

Mad Max is one of the best-reviewed releases of 2015, boasting a 97 percent Fresh rating on the critical aggregate site RottenTomatoes. The Best Picture nod may be the crowning glory for Mad Max, but it comes after the movie has already been showered with awards and nominations. The movie is the American Film Institute's Movie Of The Year, is up for 13 trophies at the Critics Choice Awards, and sits atop many a reviewer's Top 10 list. Mad Max and director George Miller lost out to The Revenant and Alejandro González Iñárritu at the Golden Globes last Sunday, which could foreshadow a loss on Oscar night. Regardless, the heap of nominations for a feminist film like Mad Max is something to be celebrated.

This news comes right on the heels of Miller's announcement that he won't be directing any more Mad Max films. It seems the critical acclaim and awards season recognition just aren't worth the hassle it takes to produce something as visually stunning and unique as Mad Max: Fury Road. He told Page Six after the Golden Globes loss,

I won’t make more Mad Max movies. Fury Road...was forever getting completed. If you finish one a year, it’s considered a leap of faith. Start, stop, start again...Those Mad Maxes take forever.

The franchise will likely continue with another director, who may or may not hit the "prestige action" target that Miller did with this film. And with Mad Max: Fury Road vying for Best Picture at the 2016 Academy Awards, a sequel has a serious pedigree to live up to.

Images: Warner Bros. Pictures; Giphy (2)