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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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"Sister"
"Sister"
U is for Ursula Meier
Though not a box office smash, one of the best-reviewed films of the year was Ursula Meier's "Sister". Since claiming the Silver Bear at Berlin in February, it has been picking up a steady stream of awards for its Swiss writer / director. By coincidence, Brenda Davis's harrowing childbirth documentary of the same name has been doing the festival rounds to similar acclaim.

V is for Valdis Oskardottir
She may not have been a big name as far as this year's releases were concerned, but one of my highlights of 2012 was the appearance of the legendary Icelandic editor of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" at the Reykjavik Film Festival. Her comments - which are transcribed here - gave short thrift to the many director egos she has had to deal with over the years, and make for highly refreshing reading.

W is for Women Audiences
Every year female audiences are ignored by studio executives, and every year they prove the market is there for the taking. It is a cliche to assume that all women want to watch romantic comedies, but it was a female demographic that drove Rachel McAdams weepy "The Vow" to a $125 million gross, despite being less than spectacular viewing. Meanwhile "Magic Mike", produced for just $7 million, took home $165 million, whilst the successes of "Breaking Dawn", "The Hunger Games" and "Brave" are documented above. Despite all this, the year's offerings as a whole continued to be dominated by deeply male-oriented fare.

READ MORE: Heroines of Cinema: Ten $100 million Hits Starring Women Over 50

Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemarie DeWitt in "Your Sister's Sister"
Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemarie DeWitt in "Your Sister's Sister"
X is for Project X
Anyone worried that misogyny was not alive and well in 2012 could do worse than watch "Project X", a grotesquely sexist and depressing sleeper hit. Imagine a film displaying a similar attitude by women towards men, and you realise how far we have to go.

Y is for Your Sister's Sister
Box office returns may have been modest, but writer / director Lynn Shelton delivered a compelling story and two brilliant, complex characters for stars Emily Blunt and Rosemary DeWitt, inspiring Gawker to nominate her as the "next great American director".

Z is for Zero Dark Thirty
Saving the best til last - if the critics are anything to go by - Kathryn Bigelow has succeeded in following up the Oscar-winning "The Hurt Locker" with what many are calling a superior piece of work. The questions of gender that surround Bigelow and her ouevre are compelling and important, but Bigelow herself has always been understandably keen to be recognised as nothing other than a brilliant filmmaker. With "Zero Dark Thirty", it appears the battle has been conclusively won.

Matthew Hammett Knott is a London-based filmmaker and writer and contributor to Indiewire's Lost Boys blog. Follow him on Twitter.

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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