Top 5: Reasons “Mad Max Fury Road” Does & Doesn’t Deserve Film of the Year

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With the 2016 Oscars just around the corner, the media is abuzz with predicting which movies and their casts will take home the coveted awards.  One of this year’s biggest surprise hits turned out to be none other than Mad Max: Fury Road, which was met with widespread critical acclaim. Averaging a staggering 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film also grossed over $375 million at the box office, making it the highest grossing Mad Max film to date.

Keeping all this in mind, it comes as no surprise that Fury Road has begun receiving nominations for best picture, best director, and best cinematography just to name a few. On top of the numerous Oscar nominations, the National Board of Review has already awarded Fury Road as the best picture of the year, much to the joy of the film’s fan base.  However, to those throwing their doubt into the wind, believing Fury Road to be an all-around perfect masterpiece, might be a little more than disappointed if the judges decide against it.

5 Reasons It DOES Deserve Film of the Year

5.) Great Cinematography

From the opening shot of a beautifully grim Australian wasteland, you know exactly what kind movie you’re going to get. Thanks to the excellent cinematography shots of John Seale, and the equally important direction of George Miller, each scene feels like well-crafted art.  No expenses were spared in creating a vivid, yet insane, wonderland of insanity for the viewers to behold, and it shows.

4.) Lead Dynamics

How do you match one of the most recognized hero names in modern cinema? By pairing him up with an equally ferocious and strong heroine, it appears. Charlize Theron’s Furiosa character is the yin to Tom Hardy’s yang, and their on screen chemistry together is so intense, that if one were to leave half way through the movie, critics would be panning this film instead of praising it.  You’ll have a blast in their early attempts of trying to kill one another, and back them up when they finally pair together to fight a greater menace.  What more could you ask for, than two main characters working so well together?

3.) Strong Supporting Cast

Who’d have thought I’d end up enjoying the sub plot just as much as I enjoyed the main plot, let alone from a pale skinned nut job such as Nicholas Hoult’s Nux character?  Not only did I enjoy his blossoming romance with one of the slave girls, but I also pitied his brainwashed heart and mind with every failure he’s suffered.  Even the background characters you see once or twice are giving this film their all. Even if it’s just a guy wielding a flamethrower guitar, they all own it.

2.) Well Crafted Action Sequences

In an industry dominated by CGI, it’s nice to see a fresh change of pace in the action front, thanks to Fury Road relying more on practical effects.  Not only does it make the action more satisfying and believable, but it shows just how much time, care, and effort was put into making this movie as good as it could possibly be.  You don’t see that kind of love nowadays, and George Miller treating his franchise with the love it deserves is a breath of fresh air.

1.) Strong Female Characters

Despite the fact that a group of women in Fury Road are literally meant as sex objects in the narrative, they are anything but the stereotypical “damsels in distress”. Many film critics have noted Fury Road as one of the strongest feminist flicks in a long time, on part thanks to the Furiosa character, but the slaves themselves served just as important a role.  From the moment Max and Furiosa meet and begin fighting, the group doesn’t just stand by and watch helplessly.  They actually get in on the fight and try to hinder Max to the best of their abilities. It’s just one surprisingly strong way to treat your female characters with respect.

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5 Reasons It DOESN’T Deserve Film of the Year

5.) Most Best Picture Winners are Heavy Dramas

While Mad Max Fury Road certainly has its dramatic moments laced in between the spectacular action set pieces, would it be so easy to classify the film as a drama first and foremost? As an example, previous “Best Picture” winners include titles such as: Crash, Argo, 12 Years a Slave, and Birdman.

All of these films are more along the lines of a “heavy drama” than anything else, and Mad Max Fury Road certainly doesn’t fit into the same genre.  Although breaking from the mold can’t be a positive thing, it’s certainly valid to question if Fury Road can hold a candle to the likes of its best picture predecessors.

4.) Tom Hardy Type Casting

Was Tom Hardy the perfect casting as the successor for Max? Many fans and critics would argue, yes.  However, was it because he’s considered a good actor capable enough for the part, or was it because he just fits the “gruff, silent” character so well? Much like John Wayne being associated with cowboy movies, or Adam Sandler associated with anything terrible, some could argue that Tom Hardy has achieved his own type casting with these types of roles. While Hardy certainly gave the role his all, and appears to be the best fit for Max for this generation, some could argue it’s more because he’s just the best fitting shell.

3.) Newcomers May Be Confused

For those new to the Mad Max franchise, who just happen to decide that Fury Road will be their starting point in the universe, might not be able to understand everything as smoothly as the fans. If generations from now, audiences were to start with Fury Road, if in the case it does go on to win best picture, unlike any other film in the franchise, certain details aren’t really going to make sense. For example, a child appears in Max’s visions a couple times throughout the run time, and all that’s really known is that the child is dead.  Other than that, the only way to know who exactly the child was is through a Google search, where you find it’s a child Max couldn’t save.  Perhaps it’s just a nit-pick, but shouldn’t the definitive best picture of the year have as coherent of a narrative as possible, and not require you having seen previous films to understand everything?

2.) Questionable Plot Choices

You know what’s a really interesting premise? A no nonsense rogue heroine and a silent badass lead a group of sex slaves out of their personal hell and into a supposed salvation.  You know what’s a good way to hurt such a narrative? Going right back the way you came once the paradise is no more.  It makes you question what the whole point of the journey was in the first place, but “Fury Road” oddly embraces this story line like it was the best decision possible. As smooth and exciting as the rest of the story goes, it’s a shame such a hole could hurt the logistics of an otherwise creative story.

1.) Weak Antagonist

This point may garner a lot of angry fan reactions (good, I’ve always encouraged film discussion) but it’s hard pressed to say the main antagonist of Fury Road is fitting with the best picture nomination.  What are his motivations behind being such an all-around asshole? When did he start viewing women more as property than anything else? It’s never really addressed. One could argue that “He’s just a bad guy for the sake of being a villain you can completely hate”, but this is a best picture award we’re talking about.  Doesn’t a greedy bad guy with no reason for being the villain, sound more fitting for a Disney animated flick? (I’m looking at you Clayton, what’d those apes ever do to you!?)

Either way, whether you fall in line with the majority and love Mad Max Fury Road, or find yourself outcast in the group of dissenters, be sure to follow the upcoming Oscar awards in February. Fury Road may just end up becoming one of the oddball more “Best Picture” winners in recent memory.

​Donald Strohman is a Pennsylvania State University film graduate currently residing in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. Before being a part of The Young Folks team, he contributed to GameDeck and the satire website The Black Sheep. He also writes for the game journalism site GameSkinny. When he's not trying to fulfill his life long dream of becoming the "Hash Slinging Slasher", Donald enjoys watching movies, playing video games, and writing; sometimes all at once.
  • Skylar White

    Preposterous!!

    5.) Most Best Picture Winners are Heavy Dramas – This objection can be dismissed out of hand. There is nothing that says a “Best Picture” winner has to be from a certain genre. “The Hurt Locker” “The Departed” “Return of the King” “Gladiator” “The Silence of the Lambs” “Rocky”. All these, while having dramatic elements, transcended the “Heavy Drama” genre.

    4.) Tom Hardy Type Casting – The number of actors who could have taken on the Max mantle from Mel Gibson is short. Hardy has proven that he has the chops to act in a variety of roles and Max Rockatansky is a very nuanced character.

    3.) Newcomers May Be Confused – I challenge you this: give me one story point or character development that is lost on the first time Mad Max viewer in Fury Road that is integral to the telling of the story. Do it. Give me one. I would argue that Fury Road stands on its own and does not depend on the three previous films.

    2.) Questionable Plot Choices – I may concede this point in part. There are, however, a raft of movies that return from where they came. In Fury Road, the return to Joe’s home is completely unexpected and comes exactly when it is needed: at the beginning of the third act and allows the pay off of all the plot points that had been teased in the first two acts.

    1.) Weak Antagonist – First of all, Immotan Joe is everything you want out of a fantastical nemesis. He has a limitless supply of bodies to throw at the heroes and he is definitively the biggest douche on the planet. You could also make the argument that Max and his wrestling with his own demons and desire to leave Furiosa and the brides in their time of need represents the real conflict in the story. But at this point…WHO CARES! Let’s run the list: great cinematography; outstanding dynamics between the protagonist and the anti-hero; strong supporting cast; well-crafted action sequences; strong female characters; Oscar winning costume design; Oscar winning production design; Oscar winning makeup & hairstyling; Oscar winning film editing; Oscar winning sound mixing and editing. What do you need more out of a deserving “Best Picture?”