Miller woken by Mad Max Oscar news

George Miller and Margaret Sixel were asleep in their Sydney home when, just before 1am, a torrent of text messages, emails and phone calls from wellwishers lit up their phones.

Jan 15, 2016, updated Jan 15, 2016

The husband-and-wife filmmakers quickly discovered their film, Mad Max: Fury Road, had made Australian film history with 10 Oscar nominations.

Not only did Miller score directing and, as producer, best picture nods, but Sixel was nominated for her editing and 11 other Aussies crew members were among the nominees for their work on the post-apocalyptic action-adventure.

“It’s quite nice to be woken up at 1am with text messages and phone calls to be told our film has been nominated and to have so many Australians,” Miller told AAP.

Only the Alejandro Inarritu-Leonardo DiCaprio collaboration The Revenant, with 12, scored more nominations than Mad Max: Fury Road at Thursday’s (12.30am Friday AEDT) Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ceremony in Beverly Hills.

Adding to the Australian Oscar haul was Cate Blanchett, nominated for best actress for her romantic-drama Carol, a lesbian love story set in  1950s New York and based on a book by American author Patricia Highsmith.

Veteran Queensland-born filmmaker Miller had planned to shoot Fury Road in the Australian outback, but when unseasonal rain turned the arid landscape into beautiful wildflowers he was forced to move it to the west African nation of Namibia.

It didn’t stop the 70-year-old from taking a mostly Australian crew to Africa for the arduous shoot on what was the fourth chapter of his Mad Max franchise.

Miller says he has two possible Mad Max films in the works, but plans to make a “smaller and quicker” film before then.

“We have two more (Mad Max) stories and it’s certainly a conversation, definitely, because we have a platform for the films and awareness for it,” he said.

Mad Max: Fury Road was also partly shot at Fox Studios in Sydney and some other locations in the harbour city.

Miller coaxed the great Australian cinematographer John Seale out of retirement to film Fury Road and Seale was rewarded with a fifth Oscar nomination of his career.

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Seale won in 1997 for The English Patient and picked up other nominations for Rain Man, Witness and Cold Mountain.

Miller is also no stranger to the Oscars, winning best animated feature for Happy Feet in 2007 and being nominated three other times: for best picture and adapted screenplay with Babe in 1996 and original screenplay in 1993 for Lorenzo’s Oil.

Miller’s longtime producing partner, Doug Mitchell, shared this year’s best-picture nomination on Thursday and Miller will compete with Inarritu for best director.

The other best picture nominees are: The Revenant, The Martian, Room, Spotlight, Brooklyn, The Big Short and Bridge of Spies.

Among the best picture snubs were blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Carol, for which Blanchett also served as executive producer.

The Force Awakens earned five nominations in technical categories.

Other Australian Fury Road nominees were: production designers Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson; sound mixer Ben Osmo; sound editor David White; makeup and hairstyling Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin; and visual effects Andrew Jackson and Dan Oliver.

Australia’s previous record for nominees was in 2002 when Baz Lurhmann’s Moulin Rouge made up most of a 13-strong Australian contingent.

“Even the cats are up running around so we might have a cup of tea and then get back to bed,” laughed Miller around 2am today, when asked about his plans for the rest of the night.

The 88th Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on February 28.


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