This was a very interesting year for writing about issues related to women in entertainment. On the one hand, I feel very hopeful and think we may have hit a tipping point with the box-office success of The Heat and Frozen, Catching Fire and Gravity. At the same time, I am depressed that we are knee-deep in an Oscar season where probably not a single film nominated for Best Picture will be directed by a woman.
As we close out this year, I thought it might be useful to tease out some of the high and low points and give shout-outs to a couple of people who have touched us this year.
Women-Centric Films Triumph at the Box Office – Will we finally be able to see more of these on a consistent basis? When can we stop talking about these hits as flukes and have them be trends? Gravity and Catching Fire are in the top 10 grossing films worldwide for this year. And let’s not forget the great year Melissa McCarthy had, too.
Women Rule the Academy – there have already been very visible changes with the increase in women and minorities as members and the return of Ellen DeGeneres as Oscar host. The upcoming Academy Awards will be new Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs’ first big test.
The Push for Women Directors – from groundbreaking research from Sundance and Women in Film to new women-focused funding groups like Tangerine Entertainment and Gamechanger, there is a new, proactive understanding that this issue will not be resolved without some type of positive, forward-thinking, outside-the-box action. There was also an unprecedented meeting about the status of women directors at the DGA.
The Europeans – The Swedes pushed back against the lack of women onscreen by instituting a Bechdel Rating, while French women filmmakers got a charter passed demanding gender equity in the film business.
Jane Got a Gun and Lynne Ramsay – This story highlights the institutional sexism that women directors experience. One can only hope that Lynne Ramsay won’t get stuck in directing jail. She is far too talented for that and it would be such a waste.
Women Onscreen Fall to a Five-Year Low – Don’t be fooled into thinking things are okay just because a couple of films that star women do well. The reality is that there are still much fewer females onscreen than men. According to research from the Annenberg School of Communications, in 2012 “out of 4,475 speaking characters onscreen, only 28.4% are female.”
SOME WOMEN I AM IN AWE OF
Angelina Jolie – for creating a much-needed conversation about the genetic issues related to breast cancer and then moving on right away back into the director’s chair for her second film Unbroken.
Geena Davis – for being the clarion voice and leader in the much-needed conversation about gender equity in the entertainment business.
Haifaa al-Mansour – for being the first woman to direct in Saudia Arabia, for doing it in a van and for making the glorious Wadjda, about a girl who wants something so simple: to ride a bike. Al-Mansour was robbed by not getting on the Oscar shortlist for best foreign-language film.
Jenji Kohan – for boldly shaking up TV with Orange is the New Black
Ava DuVernay – she has shook up the business with her bold vision for AFFRM and for her unwavering support for films by men and women of color.
As the year comes to a close, there are so many people to thank who help make Women and Hollywood possible. First, Kerensa Cadenas, who has gone to greener pastures, worked on the site for a year and a half and I deeply appreciate all her help. Inkoo Kang has taken up the baton and has been a delight to work with these last couple of months and I look forward to her helping push the site to the next level. Laura Berger is the woman who works tirelessly each week to bring you your weekly email of films opening. She is a spectacular intern.
I also want to thank Alyssa Rosenberg, our TV columnist, and Susan Wloszczyna, our Oscar columnist, for bringing their expert perspectives to the readers.
I thank all the people who participated in interviews and all the people who write guest posts. Your voices enhance the site and make it stronger. This site is about women AND Hollywood, not women in Hollywood, so we appreciate the voices from all over the world that make the work stronger.
A big thanks to our funder the Dobkin Family Foundation, whose support allows all the work of Women and Hollywood, including the publication and promotion of my book In Her Voice: Women Directors Talk Directing, to happen.
And lastly, Women and Hollywood would not be anywhere without the readers of the site. You have stuck with me for over 6 years now, and I am so excited to see where 2014 will lead all of us.
Happy New Year.