I've waxed rhapsodic at length about Mad Max: Fury Road, and the Golden Globes feel like the culmination of something like a summer fling. Who could have foreseen, back in May, that great as it is, the movie would be nominated for two Golden Globes — Best Director and Best Motion Picture, Drama? Finally, it's earned the recognition that it deserves, appearing on screen among other great movies of 2015 like Room and Spotlight, and alongside directors of George Miller's caliber like Tom McCarthy and Alejandro Iñárritu. Still, fans knew it was a long shot that the movie would actually come away with a prize at the end of the night — after all, it's still billed as an action flick, albeit a brilliant, feminist, fast-paced, genre-defying flick. As expected, Mad Max: Fury Road was snubbed for Best Director and Best Motion Picture, Drama — losing in favor of Alejandro Iñárritu for The Revenant in both cases.
True, its competitors in the Best Picture category, like Carol and Spotlight and even The Revenant, which, before Sunday night, was an underdog, are worthy films. It would have been something of a coup for Mad Max: Fury Road to win the grand prize, yet it had all the elements of a winner. The Best Motion Picture, Drama, prize honors the film whose different parts come together seamlessly to create an immersive visual experience. While Mad Max: Fury Road wouldn't have been the most likely pick coming into the summer — it kicked off a season known for its big-budget blockbusters, but not for its artistry — the movie is populated by a surreal cast of characters in a gorgeous, post-apocalyptic wasteland. Everything — from set, costume, casting, production, cinematography, to the diegetic score — is immaculately planned and executed. Plus, it features some of the best performances of the year for Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron (who was, in my humble opinion, definitely snubbed for a nomination).
As for director, it's understandable why Alejandro Iñárritu won the prize — The Revenant is a gorgeous cinematic feat. Yet George Miller's return to Mad Max after 30 years of dormancy, having worked in the interim on children's movies like Happy Feet and Babe: Pig in the City, proves that the director has still got it with regards to his most famous franchise. Mad Max: Fury Road isn't simply a rehashing of the old Mel Gibson stalwart; it's even more about Theron's character than Hardy's. Fury Road evidences that the hand of the director is really the most crucial part of this franchise — it focuses more on his vision for this world he created, rather than an individual character or actor who depicts him.
Though it lost to a film that was, itself, a dark horse in the category, Mad Max: Fury Road should be recognized for the ground it broke: slipping in a feminist, elaborately constructed world in a moment, and a genre, where those things are typically at odds. I'm not one to question the wisdom of the Hollywood Foreign Press (OK, that's only partly true), but Mad Max: Fury Road would have been as worthy a winner as any.
Images: Warner Bros; Giphy