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Heroines of Cinema: An A-Z of Women in Film in 2012

By Matthew Hammett Knott | Indiewire December 20, 2012 at 11:33AM

Given the difficulty in characterising a single year in film, even through a specific prism such as gender, I have opted for the catalogue format of an A-Z review.
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"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"
"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"
O is for Older Women
It is never easy for actresses of a certain age in Hollywood, but their leading lights at least have had a good year. 63 year old Meryl Streep claimed her sixth $100 million hit (worldwide) in as many years with "Hope Springs", 77 year old Judi Dench led "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" to a $134 million worldwide gross whilst showing the Bond girls how to do it in $900-million-and-counting mega blockbuster "Skyfall", and the makers of "Hitchcock" were so confident of the star power of 67 year old Helen Mirren they placed her front and centre in their advertising, in favour of the more obvious (and less edifying) image of Scarlett Johannson naked in the shower.

READ MORE: Heroines of Cinema: Can you be a Bond Girl and a good feminist?

P is for Paparazzi
Kristen Stewart's woes are well documented, but this month it was Anne Hathaway who was forced to crown a triumphant year with the ignominy of an exposing up-skirt shot at the "Les Miserables" premiere that was rapidly beamed around the world. Worse than the suggestions that she had done it on purpose to help her Oscar campaign, or the female blogs instructing her to start wearing underwear, was Matt Lauer's creepy questioning on the incident during Hathaway's appearance on the Today Show. Her classy response - bemoaning "a culture that commodifies the sexuality of unwilling participants" - was the perfect antidote to his misjudged intervention.

Q is for Quvenzhane Wallis
Everyone loves a breakout star, and you don't get much more breakout than Quvenzhane Wallis, the nine year old star of indie hit "Beasts of the Southern Wild", who was just five when cast in the lead role of Behm Zeitlin's debut. Wild critical acclaim was matched by eviscerating critiques from the likes of bell hooks, but few doubted the star quality of Wallis, which may yet make her the youngest ever acting Oscar nominee come February.

"Beasts Of The Southern Wild."
"Beasts Of The Southern Wild."
R is for Reed Morano
The paucity of female cinematographers on high profile projects did not abate in 2012, but look a little harder and one rising star stands out in the form of Reed Morano. After shooting the multi-Oscar-nominated "Frozen River" in 2009, she has seen multiple features released this year, including Rob Reiner's "The Magic of Belle Isle". Currently shooting Kristen Wiig in "The Skeleton Twins", she is set to start 2013 with a bang when Daniel Radcliffe's turn as Alan Ginsberg in John Krokidas' "Kill your Darlings" premieres at Sundance.

S is for Sally Field
Despite being among the elite field of two-time Best Actress Oscar winners, Sally Field had to fight tooth and nail to be cast as Mary Todd Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's long-gestating biopic. A decade older than her co-star Daniel Day-Lewis and two decades older than the character, she eventually convinced Day-Lewis to screen-test alongside her - unheard of for an actor of his stature - and got the part. Rave reviews and a dead-cert Oscar nomination are set to follow.

T is for Take this Waltz
It may not have won over all the critics, but there were many who insisted that writer / director Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz" was among the best films of the year. Certain news outlets got all in a lather over a nude shower scene featuring stars Michelle Williams and Sarah Silverman -- a reaction somewhat at odds with the scene's intensely natural, everyday nature.

This article is related to: Heroines of Cinema, Kathryn Bigelow, Ava DuVernay, Sarah Polley, Brenda Chapman, Ursula Meier, Marion Cotillard, Lynn Shelton, Nicole Kidman, Sally Field, Helen Hunt, Anne Hathaway, Emmanuelle Riva, Lauren Greenfield, Greta Gerwig, Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence





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