oscars stunt category

Mad Max: Fury Road

While The French Connection and Bullitt deserve to be on any list covering this topic, for me, the pinnacle of car chase cinema came to us in 2015 with Mad Max: Fury Road. The entire film is one extended car chase, never once holding back on high speed drama and impeccable probably-shoulda-been-nominated-for-an-Oscar stunt work. Every few years, a movie is released in which the action is so fantastically executed that legitimate hype surrounds the behind-the-scenes work just so that we can learn HOW they pulled it all off, and that’s true of Fury Road. The final climax of the movie is emblematic of something few modern car chases seem to get right these days: Awe & Wonderment. In the era of video games, a few jumps and an explosion aren’t going to cut it for an exciting car sequence (something the Fast & the Furious franchise figured out and smartly adapted to). What a big Hollywood blockbuster should (at the very least) strive to deliver is a sequence so astounding it leaves you wondering just exactly HOW they pulled it off, and with its practical stunt work and fever dream visuals, Mad Max: Fury Road and its massive car chases delivers every time. (CJ Simonson)

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It’s hard to narrow down a favorite action scene from Mad Max: Fury Road, but I’m going to go with the final sequence. The sheer logistics of each action beat are insane. For fun, just follow Max. I think the best action sequences are like a mini three act film. It all builds beautifully to the gas rig explosion, and then we have a little boss battle that ends with that glorious guitar close-up. With modern special effects, it seems harder to be blown away by action scenes, but Fury Road sets a new standard. The fact that this movie was even made today feels like a miracle. (Chad Doescher)

The Matrix Reloaded

Say what you will about the Matrix sequels, but the freeway chase scene in The Matrix Reloaded is still flat-out incredible. Not only is there the standard car-chasing-car, but you have Kung Fu fights happening within the cars, you have motorcycles driving into oncoming traffic, and a big showdown on top of a semi. Add in the concept that an Agent can overtake any human’s body in the Matrix itself, and you have a potential enemy in every vehicle our heroes pass. There’s a reason why Morpheus considers the freeway to be suicide.

The mechanics of how it was shot only adds to its genius. Warner Bros. built a mile and a half long freeway set, the biggest set in movie history at that time (2003). The motorcycle scenes featured shots with cameramen on motorcycles driving directly behind the actors. And there is a great mix of practical and computer generated cars, some of which are still hard to pick out almost fifteen years later. It is 14 minutes of pure entertainment. (Chase Dunnette)

Ronin

This is an underrated heist movie that has one of the more visceral car chases in recent action movie memory.  It was made before the use of extensive CGI, so there isn’t much by way of special effects, but I have a fondness for the car chase. It’s also nice to see two real cars used – I love Gone in 60 Seconds, but the likelihood of a GT500 being used in a car chase seems far-flung. Its also great to see the shot-on-location feel of the movie, with the car chase going through the narrow streets of old Europe. I believe the movie is especially underrated and features some great performances. (Nestor Marante)

What’s Up Doc?

The car chase in Peter Bogdanovich’s screwball comedy What’s Up Doc? is my favorite of all time. The whole movie is full of quirky characters, visual gags and witty dialogue, all of which is on display in the car chase scene where all the different characters and stories collide in a hilarious mix.

The scene takes place on the streets – and steps – of downtown San Francisco, involving a taxi, a delivery bike, and a Chinese dragon, not to mention the cars themselves. Additionally, the whole sequence is peppered with outrageous scenes involving bystanders as the chase swirls around them. The madcap chase plays up humor and satire at every turn and the manic pace never lets up until everyone literally ends up in the San Francisco Bay. (Ronn Jenkins)

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