Two unbelievable things have happened in Hollywood of late. Neither of them have anything to do with giant blue cat people from Pandora that give me the horn.
First, Sandra Bullock became the first actress to have a film reach $200 million at the box office based on her name alone (The Blind Side, the first female to do so. Second, and as recently as this weekend, Kathryn Bigelow became the first female to win the prestigious Directors Guild of America award for Outstanding Directorial Effort In Feature Film.
Is this the glass ceiling of Hollywood being broken? Don’t bet on it.
While I may not be a bra-burning man/lesbian and I’m certainly not the most politically correct person in the world (see the use of “bra-burning man/lesbian” contained within this very sentence) I do find some of the statistics to come out of Hollywood regarding the fairest of the sexes to be at best questionable, at worst downright offensive.
1) The percentage of women writers in Hollywood is 18%.
2) Only 6% of directors are women.
3) No woman has ever won the Best Director Oscar.
4) Only 3 have ever been nominated.
When a women makes a good film it’s an event rather than just someone clocking into their job and excelling. The Hurt Locker is not only one of the best films of last year, it’s quite possibly the best film made on the subject of Iraq. As intense a film as you’re ever likely to see, but what are the majority of magazine features about ‘The Hurt Locker’ concerned with? Chiefly, in asking, ‘How the hell did a woman make an action movie?’ And ‘Didn’t she used to be married to James Cameron?’
So behind the scenes women get a bum wrap, shock horror. How about in front of the camera? You only have to glance at some of the women-centric films of the past couple of years to feel like you’ve just squeezed a baby out of a very small opening without the aid of aspirin.
Sex and The City, P.S I Love You, Confessions Of A Shopaholic? Wall to wall ‘Shoes and Cock’ every last one of them. The most offensive offering was probably the most well-intentioned, coming in the shape of the completely female-driven The Women, a re-make of the classic Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford starrer. It too went with the idea that fashion and fucking are the only things on women’s minds. If I had a vagina I’d consider it permanantly closed as protest. Then again, I think my beard might put most men off.
So is there hope, is there an inclination that balance may tip from bias? Not if this memo from Warner Brothers written in late 2007 is to be believed.
Thankfully the majority of non-males aren’t giving up easily. Just a glance at the cinema-listings shows a healthier than normal amount of ladies taking their fair share. Nancy Myers (It’s Complicated), Sam Taylor Wood (Nowhere Boy), even Alvin And The Chipmunks The Squeakuel is directed by one Betty Thomas (although I’m probably not helping the cause by mentioning that last one).
Two of the biggest literary adaptations of recent times have come from female authors (Audrey Niffenegger and Alice Sebold). And the Best British Film of the year, Fish Tank, was written and directed by Andrea Arnold, probably the most promising film-maker from our shores since Shane Meadows. And that’s the point I suppose, one day she may be thought of as a great British film-maker or better still just simply a great film-maker, no longer prefixed by the word female.
So here’s to Katheryn Bigelow on Oscar night. In the most unpatronising way possible, You go girl!
Owen Nicholls is the Editor of thisfilmison, a website devoted to film news, reviews and whatever is pissing him off at the present moment.