Mad Max: Fury Road is still on track to receive ample nominations, especially in the technical categories and Best Picture. This article focuses on Best Actress contender Charlize Theron.
I am chagrined that the initial heat generated by Charlize Theron’s blistering performance in Fury Road has died down. Some publications are still reminding the public of the great work that she did (Entertainment Weekly and Rogerebert.com chief among them), but overall, the Oscar buzz (which, admittedly, was always faint) has almost completely disappeared. For my money, that is a shame. Theron, already an Oscar winner for 2003’s Monster, creates a career-defining portrayal of Imperator Furiosa in George Miller’s feminist action movie. Theron resists the temptation to overplay all throughout. She wields her face so expressively as to suggest a multitude of sharp feelings hidden inside. She and Tom Hardy seem to have entire conversations without saying anything and it’s glorious to watch. Action movies (a derivative term for Mad Max, I know) are usually so free of subtext that playing a video game could engage you more emotionally. Here, however, Theron’s role in and of itself makes Fury Road a cut above normal action fare. And Theron handles the actual action scenes beautifully, as well, more than holding her own in various scenes that include hand-to-hand combat, handling firearms, and, of course, driving a huge rig with focused concentration. Mad Max will most likely be up for many of the technical awards and probably for Best Picture as well, but none of those things would have been received so well without the beating heart underneath it all: Charlize Theron’s gritty and outstanding performance.
[See our first Oscar Watch article on Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario]