By Benin Lemus
The 88th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday—Oscar Night for many, but I won’t be watching. I will be at the Hudson Theater to see the staging of Another Evening with the Sistahs – Sheroes. As a writer, filmmaker and Black woman, the Oscars disappointed me again by being not only so White, but so male.
My continued indifference to this year’s awards ceremony began when Creed, one of my favorite films of the year didn’t get nominated in any of the prized categories. To know Ryan Coogler’s work is to love and appreciate his talent as a writer-director and as an example of inclusiveness on screen and off. Still feeling the burn from Selma in 2014, I thought for sure that the thunderous objection to its lack of nominations would see a reversal with this year’s crop of talented actors and films. Not so.
Alas, Mad Max: Fury Road, one of my favorite films of 2015, maybe even ever, received nominations for 10 Academy Awards, but not for Best Screenplay or Best Actress, Charlize Theron. Before anyone says, “Well, there isn’t much dialogue in the film,” let me gently remind readers that The Artist swept the 2012 awards with no spoken dialogue. In my film lover’s heart, I will root for Mad Max to win Best Picture.
As Imperator Furiosa, Charlize Theron embodies what it means to be a woman in search of her freedom. She chooses to liberate herself and other young women. Ms. Theron won an Oscar in 2004 for her role in Monster, a film which, while showcasing her strong acting skills, falls in line with other female winners. Imperator Furiosa isn’t someone’s wife, mother, or in need of rescuing. She does the rescuing.
I love Mad Max. After seeing it with my husband, I took two of my best friends to see it. When it arrived on Blu-Ray DVD, I bought a copy. Max touches on the issues of a woman’s right for self-determination, the peril of exploiting the earth’s natural resources, finding community and home–wrapped in a raucous soundtrack, replete with car chases, and desert marauders seeking entrance to heaven through martyrdom.
I won’t speculate why the Academy snubbed Ms. Theron. Her post-apocalyptic Moses is as delicate as she is fiery. Her determination to save other young women, her quest to return to the land of her mother, her fixation on revenge on the man who took so much from her, and finally, redemption: to rise as the leader of a motherless tribe is brilliant poetry as cinema. She is a s/hero for the ages. Maybe some voters couldn’t handle all that female energy.
I will catch Chris Rock’s performance on Twitter and I hope that he will bring the pain, so to speak. Congratulations to Reginald Hudlin, who is co-producing the event. I will be in a cozy 99-seat theater in Hollywood watching an all-female cast perform a series of vignettes about famous — and not-so famous — women. Maybe I will see Ms. Theron there.
Show starts at 7 p.m.