2015 has been an interesting year for Oscar contenders. Most of the biggest contenders are only just now being released, having left the field wide open early on in the year. The general consensus of critics seems to have the shortlist down to movies like The Martian, Bridge of Spies, and Beasts of No Nation. Despite all this, there’s plenty of room for one surprise contender: Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller’s masterful follow-up decades after his last Mad Max movie proved to be his best work ever, and it was everything the action genre has needed.
More than that, Fury Road is proof positive that you don’t need a touching biopic or a dramatic think-piece to enter into the Oscar conversation. Warner Bros. is apparently well aware of this fact, and as a result is pushing hard to get it the consideration it so rightly deserves. It has even gone so far as to direct an ad right at the Academy, suggesting nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, and Actress. Is it a longshot? Of course. But Warner’s push sends a clear message: The Academy Awards could use a shake-up. So why should the Academy listen?
Fury Road is the most progressive action movie Hollywood has ever seen
2015 has been an interesting year for women in cinema. Virtually every major blockbuster has led to the same discussion: the treatment of female characters. Jurassic World sparked the infamous “running in heels” debate. Age of Ultron pigeonholed its only female hero into a romantic subplot. Fury Road proved itself to be above this fray, thanks to its overtly empowering story. “We are not things” became the rallying cry for the movie’s feminist lean and, in turn, showed that a woman can be the dominant character in an action movie just as effectively as any man.
Stunning practical effects
CGI has taken over modern cinema, and it’s made it that much harder for everyone when an entire film is set against a green screen. Fury Road ran in the other direction from this, building its horde of post-apocalyptic death-cars from scratch, shooting on location, and holding back nothing in terms of cohesive and spectacular action sequences. From a visual standpoint, the movie has no equal in the 2015 crop of Best Picture contenders, and it’s not even close. Hollywood could use a step back from its addiction to CGI, and there’s no better way to kick this off than by rewarding a movie that doubled-down on this idea.
One word: Furiosa
The movie may be called Mad Max, but Charlize Theron’s Furiosa was the real star. Tom Hardy’s titular hero spent a fair amount of time as a passive observer, with Theron dominating the action as the most empowered and competent character in the entire film. A Best Actress nod would go a long way toward encouraging more filmmakers to follow suit in the creation of empowered female leads.
There are tons of films yet to even be released that deserve recognition at the Oscars this year. There are none in that group though that shifted the landscape of filmmaking in quite the same way as Fury Road. The conversation concerning feminism in cinema found its most visible staging ground in Miller’s masterpiece, and that alone puts it atop the list of 2015’s best movies. Now it’s up to the Academy to recognize these accomplishments.
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