1. Mad Max: Fury Road
"I exist in this wasteland," says Tom Hardy's Max Rockatansky in this summer's Fury Road, "reduced to one instinct: survive." In telling a simple story of endurance, 70-year-old writer-director George Miller kicks up a roaring dust cloud of poetic and political meaning, letting viewers interpret the film's swirling thematic storm as they see fit. Is it really about feminism? Climate change? The relative merits of attaching a flamethrower to your guitar? Like all great works of art, it's open to endless close readings but also blessed with a singular sense of purpose, a searching quality that never lets up.
And let's be real: this movie goes. Once it takes off, Miller's punk fever-dream keeps its gnarled fingers on the skull-enshrined throttle, staging elegant set-pieces that put the incoherent action sequences from blockbusters like Jurassic World, The Avengers, and Furious 7 to shame. Anchored by Charlize Theron's emotionally raw performance as the fearless Imperator Furiosa, the movie flips the grim "one sad bro-dude wanders the scorched landscape" script of most apocalyptic narratives, instead presenting a vision of a fallen world where equality is still achievable through collaboration, trust, and heaps of scrap metal. Believe the GIFs: oh, what a movie! What a lovely movie!
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