Oscar Bait – Bridge of Spies / Mad Max: Fury Road

Title: Bridge of Spies
Director: Steven Spielberg
Year: 2015
Country: USA

I think it is fair to categorically say that Bridge of Spies is one of those films that really benefited from the expansion of the Best Picture nominations to the maximum of 10. I can not see this being a nominated film otherwise. Then again, where is Carol, Creed or Inside Out? Well, you have a pro-America film that is directed by Steven Spielberg, penned by the Coen Brothers and starring Tom Hanks. I bet this pedigree alone gave it votes.

I’m being unfair. Bridge of Spies is a really good spy thriller with genuine moments of Coen-style absurdity. Tom Hanks puts in an always great performance as a real-life character who embodies the American ideal, despite the fact that the Americans who surround him are very much acting like idea Americans.

What helps this film along is the knowledge that it really happened. Sure there will be a few embellishments to help along the story, but this prisoner swap between the US with East Germany and the Soviet Union is real. Considering that, everything you see on the screen is actually pretty amazing.

It is a toss up between this and Brooklyn for what I liked more. Both are films of two halves spent in different counties, and it is in this scenery change where Bridge of Spies just edges out Brooklyn. Where Bridge of Spies was able to ramp up the tension and intrigue (even though the brilliant Russian spy played by Mark Rylance is absent), Brookyln stalled ever so slightly.

mad max fury road
Title: Mad Max: Fury Road
Director: George Miller
Year: 2015
Country: Australia/USA

Talk about leaving one of the best until last. My husband specifically wanted to see this one, so things being as they are it was the one I got around to last. It made for a brilliant finale to this list of eight.

I, like many people, was both pleased and surprised to see Mad Max: Fury Road nominated for Best Picture. It’s rare to see an action sci-fi film getting the nod at the Oscars. It’s even rarer to have a film like this picking up a lot of Best Picture awards from other organisations on the way. I hope it marks a sea change.

When stacked against the other seven films that have been nominated Mad Max: Fury Road really does stand out. It’s easily the one with the least scripted lines and most cuts per minute. Having recently seen the original Mad Max (and neither of the two movies in between) the world is vastly different. No, not just because Tom Hardy makes for a better looking lead.

Then again, Charlize Theron is the real lead here, isn’t she? Her role as the amputee road warrior Imperator Furiosa just steals it. I have yet to see most of the best Actress nominees in action (still need to see Carol, Joy and 45 Years) and yet I have a hard time seeing why Charlize Theron would not be nominated. It would have added a different slant to the current rhetoric of the Academy not nominating any African-American for an acting nod.

Anyway, the thing that put me off seeing this in the cinema is that I just foresaw this as being one long car chase. Now that I have seen this on DVD… it is still one long car chase. But what a car chase it is! I can not remember the last time I have seen such amazing special effects that were not CGI.

Same goes for sheer imagination. When looking at this mythology that George Miller has created in this post-apocalyptic Earth… well there are very few films (or even video games for that matter) that come close.

I could go on, but I won’t. Writing these posts does make me want to talk to someone about these films. So, anyone who has seen all eight films, please comment – I’m keen to see your rankings too.

Current Rankings
1) Spotlight
2) Room
3) Mad Max: Fury Road
4) The Big Short
5) The Martian
6) Bridge of Spies
7) Brooklyn

8) The Revenant

List Item: Watch all Best Picture Winners (to date)

Now that I that I have seen all eight movies I think I can call this a check off in advance of the ceremony itself.

Progress: 83/89


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