Cannes: Is ‘Mad Max’ Oscar-Worthy?

At the official press screening on Thursday of Mad Max: Fury Road, the audience broke into spontaneous applause three times during the course of the film.

With 94 reviews tallied on as of late Thursday Cannes time, it’s racked up an enthusiastic 99 percent approval rating. Any other movie bowing in Cannes to that sort of swooning reception would immediately be hailed as a real Oscar contender.

But George Miller’s action epic faces an uphill battle. Never mind that the critics are piling superlatives on the movie, in which Tom Hardy steps into the biker boots originally worn by Mel Gibson: The New York Times’ A.O. Scott complimented Miller on his “great action film making.” And THR’s Todd McCarthy called it a “madly entertaining new action extravaganza.”

But Fury Road still has to overcome the fact that it has genre-movie roots, even if Miller has upped the imaginative ante and also given his series a feminist makeover with the addition of Charlize Theron’s woman warrior Furiosa. For the Academy rarely takes genre movies seriously.

Since the best picture category was opened up to as many as ten nominees in 2009, there have been only a handful of what could be described as popcorn movies that have made the cut: 2009’s Avatar and District 9, 2010’s Inception, and 2013’s Gravity.

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