Why Mad Max: Fury Road is the Best Picture Winner We Need
If you’ve already forgotten which movies were nominated for an Oscar amidst all of the (much-needed) controversy, you aren’t alone. It’s easy to dismiss this year’s awards as a wash devoid of innovation or progress, but then that would be doing a disservice to a movie that has helped redefine conventional and longstanding expectations for best picture nominees. For anyone who needs a refresher, the eight films up for the big award include: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, and Spotlight.
The standout film isn’t the two-hour wig commercial The Big Short, or the grandparent-pleasing Bridge of Spies. Nor is it The Revenant or Room—though those two are almost guaranteed to secure Oscar wins for Leonardo DiCaprio and Brie Larson in the acting categories. As wonderfully engaging as the other films may have been, no movie broke down the barriers of filmmaking more than 70-year-old directing legend George Miller‘s dystopian epic, Mad Max: Fury Road.
Through some stroke of genius, a movie that should have been relegated to just another pretty summer blockbuster became the most feminist and groundbreaking movie of the year. With a 97% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a worldwide box office gross of $375,836,354, it’s been an incontestable success. While everyone was flipping their shit over DiCaprio’s softcore nude scene with an animal carcass for his role in The Revenant, Mad Max—a movie in which one character’s entire role consisted of playing a flame-spewing, badass electric guitar on top of a monster truck while chained to 20-foot-tall speakers and wearing a Christmas onesie—somehow snuck into the nominations. And that character isn’t even one of the top ten reasons why this movie deserves to win either. I just wanted everyone to bask in how absolutely glorious he is.
The real reason that Mad Max deserves to win is because, of all the tropes and stereotypes that it could’ve fallen victim to, it overcame the limits of the action movie genre. Mad Max showed a genuinely new approach to creating an edge-of-your-seat dystopian epic, embracing strong women and quashing the prevailing expectations for a movie about people named Mad Max, Imperator Furiosa, and Immortan Joe. Moviegoers went into theaters expecting a testosterone-fueled bro movie about beautiful explosions, badass vehicles, and Tom Hardy kicking people in the face. And yeah, that all happened, but it was so much more than that.
The movie wasn’t even really about Max; it was about Charlize Theron’s Furiosa, and her fight to retain her humanity amidst all of the carnage and destruction that men unleashed on the wasteland. The movie is about beautiful women like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoë Kravitz, and the other sex slaves overcoming the stereotype of damsels in distress, becoming the warriors they were destined to be. Oh and speaking of female warriors, what other best picture nominee can say that they featured a group of elderly women who ride motorcycles, shoot guns, and did their own stunts? Or that the writer of The Vagina Monologues—Eve Ensler—was the consultant on set? The answer is none of them.
All of the other nominated films are certainly incredible, with outstanding acting and scriptwriting. Some will go on to be classics in their respective genres and one may even win the best picture award, but no film deserves the Oscar more than Mad Max. Luckily, an overwhelming majority of movie critics seem to agree, because Mad Max: Fury Road is currently sittin’ pretty at the top of year-end top ten lists. With the Oscars a little more than a month away, we’ll be keeping an eye on all the awards that the movie’s been racking up, while simultaneously smearing motor oil on our faces and sharpening our spears for the big night.
Stay tuned to Milk for more Oscar madness.
Images via Warner Bros. Pictures.