Why can’t a movie like Mad Max: Fury Road win Best Picture?
It’s a question that has been plaguing me since I first saw the film in theaters. Very rarely do these kind of action films get the kind of love with the Academy. Usually they get downplayed to only the Visual Effects/Sound Design categories and nothing else. The Dark Knight is the only most recent film where a ‘ludicrous’ premise in comparison to other Oscar winners got involved with Best Picture and Actor categories. But when we talk about that film there is so much more to that than just a Batman v. Joker story. But back to Mad Max: Does its most recent entry deserve Academy gold?
Honestly, it should get heavy consideration for many of the top tier categories. The most obvious, to me anyways, should go towards the Directing and Cinematography aspects of the film. With such a labor of love George Miller needs to have some sort of compensation for his troubles. This is a film that took DECADES to complete and it shows in every frame. Every backstory the character has to the insane amount of action happening in each scene can only be choreographed by a brilliant mind such as Miller. But Cinematographer John Seale needs just as much love as Miller. He translated his, and co-writer’s Brendan McCarthy’s visions into reality. This is a dude that came out of retirement to film such amazing scenes such as Max initial escape from the War Boys to the greatest intro to a character ever in Coma the Doof Warrior.
Scenes like Doof’s introduction probably hurts its chances because of how ridiculous it is. But that’s the thing: Fury Road KNOWS it’s ridiculous from jump street and webs a complex universe from said ridiculousness. I’m not saying the Academy can’t vote or nominate such heavy topics for their awards but there’s more to movies than that. For every Schindler’s List we have The Matrix and for every The Deer Hunter we have The Avengers. Movies are usually about getting us out of our own lives and blend into whatever bullshit a filmmaker wants us to be in. Not saying anything about Miller’s modern classic is bullshit in a bad way…But when you have a scene where a group of sicken/ashen people are spouting religious thoughts over a steering wheel you know you aren’t witnessing Shakespeare.
(By the way: I love Doof so much I showed him twice. Take that!)
Even if the movie overall isn’t Shakespeare it does create a modern miracle. George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris created one of, if not the best, representation of a strong female role in Imperator Furiosa. Who would have thought that a woman with the gimpiest looking robotic arm could kick so much ass? Much has to do with how Charlize Theron goes for broke. She has no problem getting (incredibly) dirty with her goals and this film does not want to romanticize her in any way. Furiosa does the majority of the talking too which is surprising. You would think with a guy like Tom Hardy, who is also no slouch in this, would really be the main focus of this film. But because he plays the strong, silent type he kind of stays in the background for the most part while we focus on Furiosa’s main mission. It’s such a relief to see filmmakers actually give a damn in creating such a great character that I hope this movie becomes a template for future endeavors to keep it going.
Does Fury Road have a shot at Best Picture? Honestly I don’t see why not. Everything about this film is damn near perfect and just because it’s a ‘stupid popcorn’ flick doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be celebrated. Plus with the notion that up to TEN films can be nominated kind of gives the Academy no excuses. But I have a bad suspicion that the Academy WILL find a way to make excuses. There is a wealth of gold in this flick that I don’t think the Academy is aware of how brilliant it is. When they see the scene involving Doof it kind of sums it all up in a way doesn’t it? Who would have thought a man in a red gimp suit spouting fire out of his guitar would be someone’s downfall?