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‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ a big winner at 2016 Academy Awards with six Oscars

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George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” was a huge winner at the 2016 Academy Awards Sunday evening, taking home six Oscars to net the most trophies of any film of the year, but losing out in its bid for Best Picture to “Spotlight,” during a night that will be remembered both for the way it highlighted Hollywood’s diversity problems and for the end it brought to the long drought of Leonardo DiCaprio — who finally took home his much-anticipated first Best Actor award for his role in “The Revenant.”

“Mad Max: Fury Road” won Oscars for Costume Design, Production Design & Set Direction, Makeup & Hairstyling, Film Editing, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing, bringing a slew of the film’s creators into the spotlight. The awards came in quick succession, with costume designer Jenny Beavan being the first to be called to the stage, where she remarked “What another lovely day,” before warning that without better treatment of the environment, the dystopian future of “Fury Road” could become a reality — a topic DiCaprio would also hit on in his speech (albeit without mentioning the dystopia).

“Mad Max” won so many awards that Louis C.K. even joked that they had taken the prize for Best Documentary (Short Subject).

After no actors of color were nominated for this year’s Awards, Hollywood’s hotly discussed diversity problem was a through-line to the entire event. Host Chris Rock opened the show by opening the conversation, calling the industry not racist-racist, but sorority-racist, in a perspective-raising monologue. From there, the issue of inclusivity became a recurring motif. When Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson won the award for Best Production Design & Set Direction for their work on “Mad Max,” the first Oscar win for each, Gibson turned his acceptance speech into a nod to the larger theme.

“It never ceases to annoy me how many it people it takes to make me look competent,” Gibson said, “To get one of these it gives you an idea of the multitude of Australians, New Zealanders, Brits Americans South Africans, Namibians, who all came together under [director] George [Miller]’s vision to bring you a tale about a man with mental health issues, an amputee Amazon and five runaway sex slaves — so I’d like to chalk this one up as the first Oscar for diversity.”

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“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which had earned five nominations, was shut out of the awards, although it still had a tangible presence during the evening. J.J. Abrams presented the Best Director award, and C-3P0, R2-D2 and BB-8 took the stage at one point to argue about seating, compare Threepio’s likeness to the Oscar, and pay homage to legendary composer John Williams.

Williams has been nominated for fifty Academy Awards and won five, leading Threepio to observe that it’s “no wonder he has a good seat.” His work on “Episode VII” was nominated for Best Original Score, but lost out to Ennio Morricone, who won the first Oscar of his venerable career for his work on Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.” According to critic Mark Harris, the 87 year-old Morricone is the oldest person to ever win a competitive Academy Award. Morricone very graciously singled out the work of Williams during his acceptance speech.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” were both bested in the Visual Effects category by “Ex Machina,”which starred Poe Dameron (and Apocalypse) himself, Oscar Isaac, as well as Alicia Vikander, who won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role in “The Danish Girl.” “Scott Pilgrim” alum Brie Larson won Best Actress for her work in “Room.”

Science fiction was well-represented throughout the night, as Leonard Nimoy, the actor and director most famous for his portrayal of Spock throughout decades of “Star Trek” series and movies, was the final deceased filmmaker to be celebrated by the In Memoriam segment, which featured Dave Grohl playing Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird.”

Sam Smith won Best Song for the Bond theme he penned for “Spectre,” “Writing’s on the Wall.”

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For his work on “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,” “Aladdin” and “The Fifth Element,” as well as “Fury Road,” Mark Mangini had been nominated by the Academy four times, and it was the first for David White, but and the pair shared their pride when they won in the category of Sound Editing.

“George Miller would tell us, ‘”Mad Max” is a film we see with our ears,'” Mangini said. “I knew sound could tell my story, but nothing quite like this. Sound artists are storytellers.”

White turned down the volume in his thanks, saying, “I’m so proud, so proud, to work on this loud, loud, loud film that actually had silence in it!”

The gala saw a stampede of goodwill for the Charlize Theron/Tom Hardy blockbuster.

“‘Mad Max’ was the best reviewed film of 2015, audiences loved it, and to be honored tonight is just more than we could have ever hoped for,” said Margaret Sixel, while accepting her award for Best Editing. “But it took enormous creative courage and guts to make this film,” she said, going on to thank director George Miller, producer Doug Mitchell, “and the whole crew that endured six months in that Namibian desert to bring back the most amazing footage.”

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“Mad Max: Fury Road” was lauded for the surprising depth it exhibited, despite being popcorn-friendly summer fare. Its success, and the rising social tide for more equal representation in media, could mean more original stories starring fresh characters from the major studios. One thing is for sure, though–with their six wins out of ten nominations, George Miller’s cast and crew can afford to leave the blood bags behind. After they’re done celebrating, they might be better off finding one of those hangover-curing IV drips.

Comments

  • armadillo

    Definitely more to be happy about this year’s show than most. Which, given the representation uproar, was no easy task. Kudos to Chris Rock and the producers who kept the show going at a good even pace (at least for the first couple of hours).

  • armadillo

    Definitely more to be happy about this year’s show than most. Which, given the representation uproar, was no easy task. Kudos to Chris Rock and the producers who kept the show going at a good even pace (at least for the first couple of hours).

  • Mike Elsner

    I can’t wait to see what the Daily Show and Colbert’s Late Show will say about Fox News’s reaction to the Oscars.

  • Red_Five_Standing_By

    John Williams didn’t deserve a reward for Episode VII. It was a really forgettable soundtrack.

  • beefsquatch

    Congratulations go out to all those involved. However, I feel like I’m the only persona in the world who really hated Fury Road. I saw it in theaters and came out feeling as empty as that desert wasteland.

    Maybe I didn’t “get it” or something. To me, it felt like all flash and no substance. Is there some hidden depth or meaty character/plot growth that I somehow missed? I wonder. I’m going to have to watch it again and see if the second viewing will make me a convert.

  • beefsquatch

    Congratulations go out to all those involved. However, I feel like I’m the only persona in the world who really hated Fury Road. I saw it in theaters and came out feeling as empty as that desert wasteland.

    Maybe I didn’t “get it” or something. To me, it felt like all flash and no substance. Is there some hidden depth or meaty character/plot growth that I somehow missed? I wonder. I’m going to have to watch it again and see if the second viewing will make me a convert.

  • Bl00dwerK

    No, it was suppossed to be flash. You don’t watch Mad Max for substance…

  • Bl00dwerK

    Agreed. I can’t remember one theme well-enough to hum it…

  • Bl00dwerK

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t black people have their own awards show?

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  • red vector

    Leonardo DiCaprio celebrated his Oscar win by eating a live goat.

  • Jimmy

    I may be in the minority but I just finally watched Mad Max Fury Road… I don’t get all the fuss. It was loud, there was a barely there story, hell Thunderdome was way better in my opinion and it can still be fun to watch today!

  • Disasterpiece

    yep… so do Latinos, Asians, gays/lesbians and other groups of people that are overlooked in American society at large. Since this is a comic book site, i don’t suggest we delve into socio-political discussions, but who is the most prominent Asian character on Marvel/DC? Gay character? Latino character? Female of Color? Most superheroes are white males… I recall the uproar when the new Thor and Captain Marvel were made women or when Captain America was made black…

  • Disasterpiece

    yep… so do Latinos, Asians, gays/lesbians and other groups of people that are overlooked in American society at large. Since this is a comic book site, i don’t suggest we delve into socio-political discussions, but who is the most prominent Asian character on Marvel/DC? Gay character? Latino character? Female of Color? Most superheroes are white males… I recall the uproar when the new Thor and Captain Marvel were made women or when Captain America was made black…

  • Bl00dwerK

    Shang-Chi or Amedaus Cho, Iceman, Northstar, Hulkling, or Wiccan, don’t know about latinos, and Storm. Named most all of them for ya. Do you think, for a minute, if blacks believed they were properly represented they would cancel all their race-specific shows and shutdown all their networks and organizations? Not a chance. The movies and people are nominated based on their work, not what color they are. Just because they don’t show up on lists and win every time doesn’t mean they were excluded…

  • Disasterpiece

    Your argument fails for a number of reasons. The reason that blacks, Latinos, gays, etc create their own tv shows, music, artistry, award shows, etc is because they are excluded in the first place. If you saw “Beasts of No Nation” you wonder how did Idris Elba, who had been lauded by the industry and nominated at every other award show, not at the minimum get nominated for an Oscar. There are other examples, but the point is the academy nomination process is occupied by older white industry people and actors who tend to only recognize their own. Just like the characters you mentioned, they were created by mostly white, straight guys. How can a white heterosexual male identify with Wiccan? Hulking? Northstar? Etc. How can a man identify with a female character? Every comic book female character looks like supermodel… With a slim waist and very large breasts. This is what men want to see so they make fictional women like that. It’s misogyny. It’s not realistic and just plain wrong.
    I hate the word “diversity” because now it is just a talking piece. The Oscars, Grammys, Tonys, are supposedly awards that are inclusive and based on merit… But it’s obvious not everyone is getting an unbiased shot.
    I personally don’t care about it because these are rich people problems; however, let’s not pretend that the status quo is accurate. If you want to maintain the status quo, we wouldn’t have civil rights or gay marriage or gays in the military. It’s quite obvious that change has to be force-fed from time to time… This is one of those times. Inclusion is the name of the game.

  • Bl00dwerK

    You appearantly haven’t been reading many comics lately. The industry has changed, and is continuing to change. Also, just because a person isn’t black, gay, female, what-have-you, doesn’t mean they can’t write those characters. By that logic we couldn’t have team books, like The Avengers or X-Men, because we’d have to have a team of writers to write each of the characters according to their own race, gender, and sexual preference.

    On the subject of awards shows: I don’t agree at all. I don’t think films and actors are being excluded. The work speaks for itself. The main people who always seem to have a problem with who wins what are blacks. If they aren’t dominating they claim they’re being treated unfairly. What about sports? The NBA? Do you hear white people complaining about the sport being, what, 99% black? Do you think whites are being excluded or that owners and coaches are putting the best players on the court?

    Folks really need to get over the color of their skin, what’s between their legs, and which one of those parts they like to lick on. We’ve got a bunch of different people in the world today and everyone needs to stop crying get over themselves…

  • Disasterpiece

    You are absolutely right, people do need to get over themselves. Native Americans sure needed to get over themselves to let the European colonists take over their home and send them on the Trail of Tears. Koreans should forgive and forget what the Japanese did to them during WW1. Same thing for Aboriginal Australians and countless others who have been ostracized and stripped of their rights and heritage at a place they call home. God knows gay/lesbians have always had equal rights. Those Jews in Germany should’ve just left if they weren’t wanted during WW2. And those damn “blacks” (as you say) should stop complaining because there has always been and will continue to be complete justice and fair, equal accessibility to ALL Americans.
    And, yes, I do read comics, mainly X-Men. Stan Lee has hinted many times the X-Men could be see as an allegory for the struggles of “minorities,” especially during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Are comics more diverse now?? Of course they are!! If people did not complain and take note, the Avengers would look like the Justice League (one woman, one minority)… wait a minute… it does!! Americans writing comics make New York City the attacked place in the world. God knows there aren’t other world cities that are just a important as NYC…
    But you know what, let’s agree to disagree, because one thing white heterosexual men (including Caitlyn Jenner) in America all have in common is the inability to empathize with the struggles of others that don’t have what they have. Everyone should be satisfied with what they have or recognize that only hard work, nothing else, will get you to where you want to be… Networking, accessibility, and opportunity be damned!! If you can’t see that there is social injustice for a myriad of groups out there and think that they should “get over themselves…” this discussion is pointless. Say whatever helps you sleep at night buddy. Peace.