04 June 2008
  women in film
so i don't know if anyone's been reading awards daily's coverage of the state of women-driven films lately, but it's something about which i've been meaning to write. with the success of sex and the city this past weekend and the release of the trailer for diane english's the women this morning, it seems like a lot of people in the blogosphere have been thinking about the topic.

this whole issue really blew up back in october when that idiot president at warner issued a memo to his production staff saying that the company would not be making any more female-driven films. rather than attributing any of the blame for the failure of jodie foster's the brave one and nicole kidman's invasion on the (male) directors behind them, robinov decided that it was the female stars' fault.

right after that, several columnists started publishing info and stats they pieced together on the place of women in the film world. the writers at xkcd put together this interesting piece on women-driven films over the past five years. In 2007, none of the top 20 highest grossing films featured a female lead, and since 2004, only five top 20 movies were female-driven. Also, none of the top 20 biggest movies over the past 20 years and none of the top 20 movies on imdb have women at the helm.

women and hollywood, a really great entertainment blog i enjoy, followed this up with their own study on the issue. they write that in 2006 only 3 of the top FIFTY movies starred women and of the over 300 movies eligible for oscars, less than a dozen were female-driven. Of the last 150 movies nominated for best picture oscars, less than six had female leads, and only a quarter of all speaking roles in these films were women. The find also that women make up just 15 percent of all producers, directors, cinematographers and editors working on the top 250 highest-grossing films of all time are women. (it is hard not to notice this last statistic each year at oscar time. no woman has ever won a best director oscar, and only three women have even been nominated!)

still, despite what robinov thinks, there have been a lot of great movies starring women, even in the past couple years, and some of them *gasp* have even made money. besides sex and the city, there was the devil wears prada a couple years ago. and this year tina fey's baby mama won its weekend. a lot of my favorite movies are at least one half female driven: beaches, fried green tomatoes, steel magnolias, a league of their own, the end of the affair, far from heaven. . . these movies all made money and/or garnered critical success. the folks at awards daily have put together an even longer list of successful female-driven flicks.

so this leads to the question: should we just stop making movie starring women, because they aren't making enough money at the ticket counter, or should filmmakers maybe just try a little harder to make better films and write better parts. the answer should be obvious. how often are you watching a movie with a great (usually over 40) actress and you say to yourself, wow she is really great. why doesn't she do more? i think we say that a lot more about female rather than male actors. there just aren't many roles out there for (especially older) women. e.g. julianne moore. honestly, i think sometimes that she does crap like freedomland and the forgotten, because there just isn't anything else out there. the stats above prove this.

and now we have coming up the women. the cast looks incredible, but will anyone go see it? honestly i think a lot depends on whether or not it is any good. seeing the trailer, i have a bit of hesitation, but i am hopeful. as long as it doesn't devolve into some estrogeney festival of weeping and wailing about unfaithful husbands and pregnancy (honestly, is this all the women do?) then i think it has definite potential. in any case, i think it is time for film goers to really start rallying behind (good) female driven movies or else they just might stop making them altogether.
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