In the 85-year-long history of the Academy Awards, only four women have been nominated for Best Director. That's absurd.
This year, the 77 percent male, 94 percent white Academy made it clear that they weren't ready to recognize a woman twice for outstanding directorial work when they snubbed Kathryn Bigelow for her work on Zero Dark Thirty. Bigelow became the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar in 2009 for The Hurt Locker. Her new film, based on true events leading up to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, snagged nods for Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Screenwriter, but Oscar left no love for Bigelow herself.
Let's get this straight: While Hollywood is still male-dominated, lots of women made excellent films this year. In stark contrast to the Oscars, women filmmakers had huge success at last month's Sundance Film Festival. The lopsidedness of this year's Oscar nominees underscores the challenges faced by women working in the world of blockbuster films.
The problem here is not the quality of films made by women. The problem is Oscar economics.
It's not that Silver Linings Playbook fails at what it's trying to do, exactly. It's easy to see why the film racked up Oscar nominations, including a Best Actress nod for Jennifer Lawrence. But a movie that includes mental illness, family function and dysfunction, football, romance, and sparkly dance costumes is biting off a bit more than it can chew.
Attractive couple, adorable child, affluent neighborhood, perfect life - it must be too good to be true. And so begins Afternoon Delight, which centers on the restless interior life of Rachel, a hipster-suburban mother and wife who goes from being a passive link in a chain of interlocking relationships to the one that yanks it violently out of its comfort zone.
The gist: Couple in a rut goes to a strip club for kicks. Wife gets a lapdance. Wife brings stripper home to live with them. Complications ensue.
Part buddy comedy, part campy mumblecore, Fully Loaded straps us into the backseat of a mom-mobile to listen in on a girl's night out set to a rocking soundtrack affectionately known as the "Mommy Mix." Paula (Paula Killen) and Lisa (Lisa Orkin), are best friends on the run from a hookup that's gone south in a parking lot. Retreat to their van, the pair screech out onto L.A.'s neverending streets, telling jokes to break the tension. Before long, we're listening in on their lives, reviewing breakups and divorces, problems with parenting, and other assorted midlife crises (cancer) and questions (can you be a feminist if you also want to be taken care of?).
Poor Judd Apatow. He's a marquee name in Hollywood, has a gorgeous wife and adorably precocious daughters, and recently got to guest-edit Vanity Fair's annual Comedy Issue and interview personal heroes like Albert Brooks. The one thing he can't do, it seems, is get everybody feeling the pain of a wealthy white guy's midlife crisis.
While I ended my last post by snarkily suggesting that pop culture's fascination with fathers might give way to an interest in motherhood, the truth is a lot of messages about moms are already encoded in these male-centric narratives.
I'd read conflicting accounts of What to Expect When You're Expecting: while Bitch's own Andi and Kelsey previously pointed out many of its flaws, Bitchflicks called it an "unexpected gem". Having watched it, I understand the conflicting feminist opinions: the movie's so tonally inconsistent and stuffed full of characters, it's open to a range of interpretations. There's a lot to hate about it, from its heteronormativity (gay people and single people have babies too!) to its racial troping (a minor character calls Latino couple Holly and Alex "spicy"; Vic (Chris Rock) and his wife have more children than everyone else, and they're all named after professional athletes...). A subplot pitting Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) against her younger, more glamorous stepmother Skyler (Brooklyn Decker), who is also pregnant, felt hackneyed: why not subvert the idea that women are all jealous of models by having them support each other, instead?
But the film has some surprisingly realistic moments, especially compared to traditional romantic comedies where pregnancy and labor are portrayed as a breeze. After Rosie (Anna Kendrick) becomes unexpectedly pregnant, she had Marco (Chace Crawford), who she's barely started dating, become a cozy couple. But then she miscarries, is sunk into depression, and their too-much too-soon relationship falls apart; all of which felt surprising and pretty revolutionary for a big-budget (alleged) comedy.