Tuesday, February 16, 2016


The role of director is something I always have a little trouble putting my finger on. There's so much of a film that is the domain of other artists as has been already covered, but, obviously, things ultimately come to rest upon the director. Who, truly, takes the credit for, say, center-framing Mad Max: Fury Road. Is it the cinematographer who captured the video, the editor who was sure to crop and assemble them as such, or the director whose edict the other two followed? As per last year, I'm going to keep this a little brief because so much that I'll talk about here will be about the totality of the film, and I want to save some material for the Best Picture category.

  • Adam McKay for The Big Short
  • George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant
  • Lenny Abrahamson for Room
  • Tom McCarthy or Spotlight

Don't trust this man. He looks shifty. He looks like the sort of guy who might collapse the housing market all on his own. Instead, however, he took a mundane and convoluted story of bank fraud that Time called "horribly confusing [that] even people like us, with a combined 65 years of writing about business, have never seen anything like" and somehow spun a necessary, energetic, and entertaining exposition on "the complete unraveling of the world's financial system."

George Miller's last film for adults was 1992's Lorenzo's Oil, not that he hadn't tried. He was tied to a Justice League film in 2007, a decade earlier than it's actually going to come out. Then, a writers strike ultimately cancelled the project. In the intervening nearly three decades between Mad Max films, then, Miller directed almost entirely a collection of children's movies. Here he is with his Academy Award for best animated feature in Happy Feet. Seemingly, he took those 28 years between releases to define exactly what he wanted for Fury Road, and the strength of this film truly lies in his creative vision.

Thank you Ińárritu for once again breaking the stranglehold white men have on directing accolades. Go ahead and laugh it off with all those statues you're collecting. While The Revenant is definitely a magnificent undertaking, it certainly isn't Iñárritu's best work which, until he gives me something to the contrary, I will always maintain is one of his Spanish-language films, Amores Perros or Biutiful.

Your guess is as good as mine which one of those is actually Lenny Abrahamson and which is just a pretty face. Room had perhaps my favorite first half of any film this year, but its second half suffered from what seemed to be a lack of cohesion between the creatives on the crew. Ultimately, both that height as well as that failing fall on Abrahamson. 

Tom McCarthy looks like the sort of guy who just heard DJ Khaled's "All I Do Is Win" for the first time and is a little too confident in himself. Building emotional resonance out of a script as spread out as Spotlight is quite the accomplishment, somehow even more so than making a movie about child molestation that people want to watch.

Adam McKay might have had the most difficult job in making something both informative and palatable out of the underpinnings of the Great Recession. On the other hand, George Miller's vision is ultimately every single reason Fury Road is worthwhile. Then, still, is the developing powerhouse of hispanic directors finally getting their recognition from the American audience which this year is led by Iñárritu. Personally, I like Miller's thorough vision, but I suspect it will be the other Tom Hardy film that nets its director his second straight statuette.

Should win: George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road
Will win: Alejandro González Iñárritu

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