Big news from the NAACP Image Awards at the end of last week: women took top honors in the film directing and writing categories.Gina Prince-Bythewood won the prize for Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture for The Secret Life of Bees, while Jenny Lumet took home honors for Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture for Rachel Getting Married. Best Picture honors also went to The Secret Life Bees. What's more, women were represented almost equally in the writing and directing categories, with Prince-Bythewood earning a nomination for writing, and Darnell Martin earning writing and directing nods for Cadillac Records.
This is great news during the awards season homestretch. While the media is busy contemplating Kate Winslet's potential acceptance speech meltdown, it's a welcome sight to see more recognition of women who are MAKING films.
Many of you have heard of Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani woman who was gang raped in 2002 as revenge for an honor crime, an act that was authorized by her village elders. Mukhtar spoke out about the crime and prosecuted her attackers - and won. That is, until an appeals court overturned the convictions. Mukhtar has been waging a legal battle in Pakistan in the years since, and, as a result, her safety has been constantly in jeopardy. Despite that, she started the Mukhtar Mai Women's Welfare Organization to help support and education Pakistani women and girls, and has been an outspoken advocate for women's rights.
Her story was included in the 2006 documentary Land, Gold and Women. Now her story will be the subject of a feature film, too. However, she still hasn't gotten justice in her legal battle.
More info on the film and a call to action after the jump...
At the end of last week, New Line Cinema made it official: a sequel to Sex and the City is on the way. Although no script has been developed yet, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis have all signed on for the film, and Michael Patrick King is back to write and direct.
The sequel is further confirmation that studios are really starting to bank on the box office power of women audiences, yet I know many people have mixed feelings about the success of the first film. Ready yourself now for a fairly endless amount of speculation and would-be spoilers as the film moves closer to shooting, but in the meantime, I'd like to hear your take on it...
One of the most exciting events of New York Comic Con this year was the world premiere of the new Wonder Woman animated film that will be available on DVD March 3, 2009. No, it's not the big screen action film that Wonder Woman deserves. A whole mess of people - including Joss Whedon - have tried to make that film over the past several years, and all have failed. But this Wonder Woman adaptation is an important milestone for the title, as it joins the ranks of Superman: Doomsday and Batman: Gotham Knight as the fourth installment of the highly successful line of direct-to-DVD movies created by DC and Warner Bros.
A week prior to the film's release, the marketing team for He's Just Not That Into You has released a video of three of film's male stars - Justin Long, Bradley Cooper, and Kevin Connolly - trying to persuade men to see the film. The reason they think men might actually like the film? Because, they claim, He's Just Not That Into You avoids the top 10 cliches of chick flicks.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. is developing a new film adaptation of the popular Tomb Raider video game. In line with approach J.J. Abrams has taken for the new Star Trek movie, this new Tomb Raider picture would not be a sequel to the first two films in the Tomb Raider series starring Angelina Jolie, but a reboot featuring an all-new origin story for Lara Croft. It's a good bet that Jolie won't be starring in the new film.
Should we be excited about a new Tomb Raider movie? Well, sorta. More after the jump....
Big news from the Sundance Film Festival this past weekend: for only the third time in the festival's 25-year history, the Sundance jury and the audience awarded their top honors to the same film. Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire (a title designed, no doubt, to distinguish the film from the sci-fi action film of the same name starring Dakota Fanning that hits theaters later this year) won the Grand Jury Prize as well as the Audience Award. Comedienne Mo'Nique also received a Special Jury Prize for Acting for her dramatic performance in the film. Push is an adaptation of author and performance poet Sapphire's powerful story about a young African-American woman who struggles to overcome incredible obstacles, including illiteracy and a harrowing history of abuse. The film's star, newcomer Gabourey Sidibe is receiving rave reviews, as well as her co-stars Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, and Lenny Kravitz. Unfortunately, all of this momentum may not translate into a chance at the box office.
As a big horror fan, I've been excited to see what My Bloody Valentine 3D would do for the genre, which trades primarily on thrills and spectacle. But even if I wasn't into horror, the film would be worth taking note of because it's one of the first contemporary films shot in 3D that is not a family picture (and not animated, at that). The film's success will no doubt be a benchmark for studios considering shooting other films in 3D. So I'm disappointed to report that, while the film is something of a technological marvel, its (mis)treatment of its female characters is nothing to be excited about.
It's hard not to feel ambivalent about the Oscars. The nominations and winners are decided by a set of disparate criteria (artistic achievement, industry clout, reputation, studio alignment, marketing dollars) and a voting body that is largely irrelevant to most moviegoers. Still, getting nominated - and winning! - contributes handily to the artistic credibility and financial success of those lucky enough to receive a nod. Oscars also play a big part in helping studios decide what and whom to finance. Which is why it's really no surprise that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button cleaned up in the nominations this year: it's just another Forrest Gump.
So what's there to cheer and jeer about in the Oscars this year? Some thoughts after the jump...