"You put me in a broken plane!" wails Denzel Washington's character, secret alcoholic pilot Whip Whitaker, in Flight, after crash-landing a malfunctioning 737. Replace "plane" with "movie," and he's exactly right.
The Oscars are handed out next week and Flight was inexplicably nominated for best writing after mildcriticalacclaim, Flight, directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by John Gatins, is not a good movie. But let's be real: I saw Flight because I wanted to see a commercial airliner fly upside-down. I didn't expect it to be good. I also didn't expect it to be rife with misogyny, so when it opened with gratuitous female full-frontal nudity, I was a little confused. I had been promised harrowing turbulence! When, I wondered, would the real story begin?
Spoiler alert: A good story never begins. But the objectification soldiers on, bolstered by stale sexist tropes that Gatins seems to have all but copied and pasted from old standbys of the romance and horror genres.
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.
Remember what a douchebag Johnny Depp was last year when he compared his many celebrity photoshoots to instances of rape? You'd think his fellow actors would have learned from his mistake that "rape" is not a word that can be thrown about to describe any mildly uncomfortable situation, but some actors obviously did not get the message. Earlier this week actress Kim Novak, star of the 1958 Hitchcock Classic Vertigo, took out a full-page ad in Variety magazine to blast new film The Artist for ripping off Bernard Hermann's famous love score from Vertigo. While Novak could have expressed her disdain for the film's creative choices with any manner of unoffensive language, she instead used the full-page rant to accuse the film of "raping" her.
In an effort to cast a net beyond the sea of my own opinions (most of which involve reality television and hilarious animal photos) I asked for reader feedback on this week's Douchebag Decree. The nominations were many, and all were deserving: The Itawamba School District, for its attempts to ban gay couples from attending the prom. Eric Massa, for allegedly sexually harassing employees in his Congressional office. Ken Cuccinelli, for his letter advising public universities to retreat from their policies against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Ben Roethlisberger, for yet another alleged sexual assault. Douchebags are running amok!
However, one nominee rose to the top of the list for me, especially once I realized this Douche Supreme has never been awarded The Decree before. (I guess it was too obvious?) Congratulations, Howard "Douchemeister" Stern.
Even before I did my stint in a graduate film program, I was a pretty big fan of the Academy Awards. Though I've gotten increasingly less glamorous in my old age, I still enjoy the consistency of the red carpet style. But in terms of the environmental effects of the Academy Awards, I can only shake my head. The crazy electrical bills? The grotesque waste? The blood diamonds paraded around on loan from celebrity jewelers? All aspects I can do without. However, there were a few bright spots in terms of eco-powered celeb moments.
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.