What 'Mad Max's Wins Do For Women Even In The Shadow Of 'The Revenant'
The Oscars aren't exactly known for being the most unpredictable show, and yet the 2016 Academy Awards were exactly that, with Spotlight beating The Revenant for Best Picture, Sylvester Stallone losing Best Supporting Actor to Mark Rylance, and Jacob Tremblay out-Jacob Tremblaying himself with previously unseen levels of cuteness. One of the most exciting surprises from this year's show was the amount of Oscars that Mad Max: Fury Road won; although the blockbuster was expected to win big at the ceremony, no one could've predicted just how big that'd be. And while Mad Max's wins were undoubtedly great for the filmmakers, it's what they meant for women that made the movie winning so many prizes an even sweeter occasion.
While three out of the eight Best Picture nominees star women (four, if you count the ensemble drama Spotlight), the majority of the films that won at Sunday night's show had male leads: The Revenant, Bridge of Spies, The Big Short, Spectre, etc. Sure, some female-led movies picked up prizes, like Room and Amy, but, like most years, the Oscars felt predominantly male-oriented — that is, until Mad Max came into the picture. The Charlize Theron-starring action film (let's face it, Tom Hardy played second fiddle) picked up a whopping six Oscars, along with four more nominations. That's the largest number of Oscars won by any movie at the 2016 show, even The Revenant or Spotlight — and they went to a film all about women, made by a largely female crew.
As viewers saw during the ceremony, many of the people who won for Mad Max were women, with Lesley Vanderwalt and Elka Wardega winning for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Lisa Thompson winning for Best Production Design, Jenny Beaven winning for Best Costume Design and Margaret Sixel winning for Best Film Editing. Seeing so many women onstage to accept Oscars was truly remarkable considering the dismal state of female filmmakers in Hollywood, and it just made the existence of Mad Max, a hugely feminist movie, feel even more important. In a year when male-led films like The Revenant and The Big Short seemed to dominate the conversation, it was wonderful to see Mad Max prove that female-driven and female-made films can win just as much acclaim as — if not more than — their male-led peers.
Of course, the movie's Oscar wins don't mean that the film industry is suddenly welcoming to women and not in need of major change when it comes to gender equality, because clearly, that's far from the truth. Yet there's no denying that seeing an unabashedly feminist movie like Mad Max find such success, both in theaters and with critics, is incredibly important, and hopefully, it'll act as a reminder to studios that the world desperately needs more films just like it.
Image: Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle