These Woman Directors Have Been Overlooked By The Academy

Tomorrow night is the Academy Awards and yet again, no women have been nominated for Best Director. In 85 years, only four women have received a Best Director nomination and only one — Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker — has won. Bigelow was overlooked this year for her film Zero Dark Thirty, along with numerous other women directors. The blog Women & Hollywood put together a video to highlight ladies in the director’s chair who have been ignored.

  • Brenda Chapman (with Mark Andrews) for Brave
  • Lana Wachowski (with Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer) for Cloud Atlas
  • Jennifer Westfeldt for Friends With Kids
  • Ava DuVernay for Middle Of Nowhere
  • Aurora Guerrero for Mosquita Y Mari 
  • Valerie Faris (with Jonathan Dayton) for Ruby Sparks
  • Sarah Polley for Take This Waltz
  • Lynne Shelton for Your Sister’s Sister

According to the 2012 statistics from the Center for the Study of Women in Television, women only directed 9% of the top 250 domestic grossing films. Clearly, the problem of women’s representation as directors is two-fold: they need to be hired to direct in the first place, then they need to be acknowledged and encouraged by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for their work. Otherwise the Oscars’ Best Director category will be the same sausagefest, year after year.  

Watch Women In Hollwyood’s video "To The Academy: Consider The Women" below: 

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Trolling the Oscars: Why None of These Movies Deserve to Win Best Picture

Welcome to the internet, where all of my opinions are right. You know what’s so great about being able to log into a CMS account and self-publish my thoughts and ideas? No matter how I actually feel, everything I write online comes across as completely sincere and competent, even when the things I write are neither of those things! It’s a brave new world we’re living in, when tweets can be art and art can be criticized by any person with an idea for a clever hashtag. Naturally, it’s time to harness this power by showing you exactly why none of the nine nominees for Best Picture deserve to win a goddamn thing. Let’s go!

Amour

Oh, come on. You didn’t see Amour. You know how I know this? Because I didn’t see Amour. I didn’t see this movie because I could just call my grandparents and ask them to speak to me in French for two hours. At least the phone call would be free! And hey, maybe I’d get twenty bucks out of it or somewhere, whereas Amour would cost me at least thirteen dollars and bring with it a lot of emotional anxiety. Anyway, this movie should not win, but I kind of wish it would if only so I can quickly take screenshots of midwestern teenagers tweeting about how they don’t know what Amour is. That’s how blogging works!

Argo

Ugh, Argo. Argofuckyourself, indeed, Argo! The major point about Argo was that Ben Affleck can direct a movie, which comes as a surprise to literally no one because he has already directed two movies that people liked a lot. The other reason Argo was made was so Ben Affleck could take off his shirt in another movie. Oh, and you know another thing that sucked about Argo? The fact that none of the women in Argo were allowed to speak to each other on camera. Sorry, Clea Duvall; you get to be in a Big Motion Picture, but you may only open your mouth when in the presence of Victor Garber. And don’t you dare make eye contact with Ben Affleck! 

Beasts of the Southern Wild

I do love a movie with a precocious child as much as the next guy, but how awkward do you feel about the fact that some white people from New York City went down to New Orleans to make a movie about magical negroes? I’m surprised there weren’t any animated bears and foxes floating along the river, or that those giant titular beasts didn’t burst into "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." 

Django Unchained

This one is simple: Django Unchained should not win Best Picture because it is not Jackie Brown and Jackie Brown is the only Quentin Tarantino movie that deserves to win Best Picture. 

Les Misérables

A friend of mine described this movie with the following: "It was like in acting classes when one person started crying and then everyone else in class cried harder and louder and uglier." This is one of the few movies in which everyone was dead at the end and I thought, "You know what? I’m OK with this." That is until the ghost of Anne Hathaway showed up again with that chopped-off hair and sad dress, which made me depressed. I really hate that it’s a known fact that your apperance when you die is what you’ll look like in Heaven. Really sucks for people who get run over by trucks, huh? 

Life of Pi

Spoiler alert: Pi is the tiger, and the tiger is Pi, and the eggman is Paul, I think, and maybe we ought to remake Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band but with 3D CGI, but I’m getting distracted. Life of Pi is a cartoon movie for adults who are still making their way through Oprah’s Book Club.

Lincoln

Oh, I’m sorry, is this category called Best Way to Nap? Lincoln was terrible. Remember how fun TV miniseries used to be? They were long, yes, but they were campy as hell, had a lot of awkward sex not normally seen during primetime, and were stuffed with lots of recognizable people who were not really famous but still possessed a certain level celebrity that you’d still be excited if you saw them on the street. Lincoln was just a really expensive TV-miniseries, but without the sex. Or the fun. And with overwritten dialogue by Tony Kushner. I got a screener of Lincoln, and it’s best uses so far have been as a coaster and as a substitute for Ambien.

Silver Linings Playbook

I can’t for the life of me figure out why people love this movie so much. Is it because we’re so desperate to see Ben Stiller act in a dramatic performance that we could substitute in Bradley Cooper and just go with it? Is it because it’s nice to see Julia Stiles back in action? Is it because of Jacki Weaver saying "crabby snacks and homemades?" Is it because of Dancing With the Stars? Is it because As Good as It Gets was too subtle and we needed a subpar version of that to really hone in the idea of what mental illness is? Or is it because everyone is crazy? If everyone is crazy, no one is crazy. 

Zero Dark Thirty

JUST KIDDING! While you were all being emotionally waterboarded by the rest of what Hollywood had to offer, you guys completely missed the fact that this was the best movie of the year. Jessica Chastain! She could act circles around everyone else on this planet, and she wouldn’t be exhausted because she’s, like, a healthy vegan. And you know she’s on track for world domination. GET IT TOGETHER, PEOPLE. it doesn’t even matter if this loses to, say, Argo, because Kathryn Bigelow will have her revenge on all of you. Especially you, Ben Affleck. 

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Don’t Worry Guys, There’s No Beef Between Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence

You can relax, Jessica Chastain is still a perfect human. Contrary to alleged reports from "insider sources" that she and Jennifer Lawrence—one of Hollywood’s current most in-demand actresses–have some serious competitive beef with one another, it appears that is simply not the case.

But of course these rumors are alive—two beautiful, successful, talented, Oscar-nominated actresses could never co-exist and praise one another, right? We can’t all be Joaquin Phoneix and Daniel Day Lewis. No, this is just unnecessary. And only adding fuel to the fire, in Jennifer Lawrence’s recent SNL appearance, as part of a sketch she said, "In Zero Dark Thirty you caught Bin Laden. So what? In Winter’s Bone I caught a squirrel—and then I ate it. Boom. Deal with that." So yes, it must be so, Lawrence really has her claws out for both Meryl Streep and Chastain alike.

And being the wonderful and level-headed woman she is, Chastain took to her Facebook page to dispell the gossip:

I find it very sad that media makes up bogus stories about women fighting in this industry. Filming The Help was the most amazing experience and yet, that is the film Im most asked about in regards to "fighting on set". Why do we support the myth that women are competitive and cannot get along?

I think all of the actresses recognized this year have given incredible performances. But more important, they’ve all shown themselves to be filled with generosity and kindness. I’ve done two photo shoots with Jennifer Lawrence over the years and have found her to be utterly charming and a great talent. I’ve told her how beautiful her film work is.

Please don’t allow the media to perpetuate the myth that women arent supportive of each other. Everytime an actress is celebrated for her great work, I cheer. For the more brilliant their performance, the more the audience demands stories about women. With support and encouragement, we help to inspire this industry to create opportunities for women. And as we all know: a great year for women in film, is just a great year for film xxjes

Let’s move on, shall we?

‘Argo’ Wins BAFTA for Best Picture, Best Director

While you were watching the Grammys, the BAFTAs, the U.K. version of the Oscars, was aired on BBC America. And hoo boy, what a mess of an awards show. I didn’t watch it, so I can only imagine the British humour happening all over the place, but I can tell you that I’ve got a pretty stiff upper lip this morning as I look at the list of winners. Argo won Best Picture and Best Director. Ben Affleck. The best director. Of the year! Ben Affleck is a better director than Quentin Tarantino, Kathryn Bigelow, et al. None of those chumps can possibly live up to the magnificent director Ben Affleck. Also, both Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain lost out to Emmanuelle Riva for Amour. Christolph Waltz won for Django Unchained, and Daniel Day-Lewis surprised no one when he won another award for Lincoln. And, of course, little Annie Hathaway likely annoyed people in England, too, with her insincerity upon winning Best Supporting Actress.

The full list of winners below, via EW.

Best Film: Argo
Best Director: Ben Affleck, Argo
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Best Actress: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained
Best Adapted Screenplay: Silver Linings Playbook
Best British Film: Skyfall
Best Film Not in the English Language: Amour
Best Animated Film: Brave
Best Documentary: Searching for Sugar Man
Best Editing: William Goldenberg, Argo
Best Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina
Best Cinematography: Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi
Best Original Music: Thomas Newman, Skyfall
Best Make-Up & Hair: Lisa Wescott, Les Misérables
Best Visual Effects: Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, Donald R. Elliott, Life of Pi
Best Production Design: Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson, Les Misérables
Best Sound: Simon Hayes, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Jonathan Allen, Lee Walpole, John Warhurst, Les Misérables
Best British Debut: Bart Layton and Dimitri Doganis, The Imposter
Orange Rising Star Award: Juno Temple
Best Animated Short: The Making of Longbird
Best Live-Action Short: Swimmer

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‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Controversy Continues, Now Martin Sheen Is Involved

People sure can’t stop talking about the torture scenes in Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s excellent depiction of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. After all, we have a nation of bloggers to employ, and they need things to argue about! Likewise, Academy members like Ed Asner (Ed Asner! OK, sure) have formed a protest condemning the film for its alleged pro-torture stance and suggesting that the film should not be honored with any Oscars at the end of February. (Would you do that to poor Jessica Chastain, Mr. Asner? Shame on you.) Martin Sheen, who has always been an outspoken political actor, has found himself in the middle of the whole mess, but he’d like you to know he didn’t hate Zero Dark Thirty.

It was all a goof, Sheen claimes.

…speaking by telephone Wednesday, Mr. Sheen said that through his own mistake, the actors David Clennon and Ed Asner had included Mr. Sheen in their opposition to what they saw as the film’s tolerance of torture. “It’s my own fault,” said Mr. Sheen, who explained that he had agreed to a statement about the film without fully understanding that it would condemn the movie, rather than simply condemning torture.

Speaking separately, Mr. Sheen said he shared Ms. Bigelow’s expressed opposition to the use of torture, and said that the film had “done great, great service to the issue” by bringing it to the fore. Mr. Sheen said he had watched the movie weeks ago and “was very moved and troubled by it.” The misunderstanding with Mr. Clennon, he added, occurred only because Mr. Sheen had failed to speak with him personally about the Zero Dark Thirty controversy, relying instead on communication through an assistant.

Well, good, glad that’s settled! Now, Martin Sheen knows he’s not the president, right? Just checking!

Industry Veterans Launch Their Female-Driven Production Company Tangerine Entertainment

In a pleasant turn of events, women are currently ruling the box office. Well, Jessica Chastain is presently ruling the box office—holding down the two top films with Zero Dark Thirty and Mama, but there’s much to be said about the womens power in Hollywood at the moment and with Sundance hitting it’s stride this week, Amy Hobby and Anne Hubbell have launched their female-driven production company, Tangerine Entertainment. Hobby, an industry veteran, has spent 20 years producing award-winning films and Hubbell has also spent her 20 years in the industry in corporate and no-profit world, also serving on the boards of the New York Production Alliance and New York Women in Film and Television, as well as being a member of the Producer’s Guild of America.

"The imbalance created by the lack of gender parity offers an opportunity for Tangerine to take advantage of relevant stories and distinct voices found in this underserved work force," said Amy Hobby, whose new company looks to highlight character-based features directed by women. The new Tangerine Entertainment will also be launching a website to promote work by women, link to relevant blogs, and feature the films currently in production under their name. In addition, Hubbell says that, "Raising awareness for and cultivating community around female filmmakers will be unique and essential to the plan. Utilizing all social media tools and creating grassroots opportunities for personal interaction, Tangerine will cultivate a fan base while simultaneously creating work for that audience."

This is exciting news, so we’ll make sure to keep eyes peeled for any further developments on the company.

Jessica Chastain May Possibly Rule the World Someday

When’s the last time an actor was in the leading role of the top two box office hits? And was starring in a play on Broadway? Now, can you think of a woman doing so—and not just any woman, but a Juilliard-trained 35-year-old whose resume is padded with more arthouse fare than box-office smashes? You guys, I think Jessica Chastain might just be the next big thing. Period.

Not only is she gunning for an Oscar for her portrayal as the obsessive CIA agent hot on Osama Bin Laden’s trail in Zero Dark Thirty. She also plays the hilariously goth punk-band member in the ludicrous horror film Mama, which beat Zero Dark Thirty for the top spot on the U.S. box office this weekend. Sure, Mama is the kind of terrible movie that is only released in January (I called it "Jessica Chastain’s Gothika" when I caught an early screening last month), and Zero Dark Thirty is surprisingly a box-office hit (using bin Laden as the ultimate film antagonist and its journalistic treatment of torture as just existing allows the film to appeal to both sides of the political spectrum), but what other woman has been able to take the lead of not one but two hit films? (Remember when everyone was shocked—shocked!—that Bridesmaids, with a female-heavy cast, managed to make any money at all, despite the fact that Baby Mama, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, also took the number one box office slot the year previous?)

Meanwhile, Chastain is in the coveted role of Catherine Sloper in a revival of The Heiress on Broadway. Chastain has tough competition for a Tony award this year, but her only competition for an Oscar is Jennifer Lawrence. Will the Academy reward Lawrence for a comedic performance over Chastain’s dramatic one? It seems unlikely. But even if Chastain loses, she certainly has more weight to her future career as a respected actress who also has the benefit, thanks to her leading roles in two popular movies, as becoming a household name. There are few female actors working today who have that advantage, who may be able to transfer seamlessly between weighty roles on screen and stage as well as parts in fluffy popcorn flicks. 

Basically, what I’m saying is: watch out for this one, because it’s quite possible that she’ll take over one day. 

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Jessica Chastain Likes Crystal Castles and Wants to Get Her Hands Dirty

Andrés Muschiettu’s debut horror film, Mama opened this week to mild reviews. No one was outright panning the film but they weren’t raving about it either. The general argument seemed to stem from a lackluster script and manipulative musical cues but hey, I hear the cinematography was great. But perhaps the most intruiging thing about the film is its cast which features the gorgeous and talented Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jesscia Chastain, who in the last year has rocketed to one of the best working actresses in Hollywood. Sporting a dark, punkier look that’s a far cry from the naturally elegant beauty we’re used to, the film is just one of many acting ventures that has added to Chastain having quite a year.

She’s currently starring in The Heiress on Broadway, took home a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role in Zero Dark Thirty last Sunday, and has pretty much a 50/50 chance of winning the Oscar for the film as well. So, whether or not Mama is a stunning success is pretty irrelevant for the actress at this point. Seeing as the role is a little different from the usual work she does, take a look at what she had to say in a recent interview with Indiewire about playing Annabel, the young woman who isn’t quite ready to mother demonic children.

On why she chose the role:

I had just done "The Tree of Life." That was coming out and "Take Shelter." And so many people were talking to me about how they saw me as this "perfect mother" and I got this script and I thought, "This will really throw people for a loop." Because it’s a woman who refuses to grow up, she plays bass guitar in a punk band, she’s not good enough to ever be famous, she’s got a sexy boyfriend who’s an illustrator, they live in a loft. She doesn’t want any responsibility. In the beginning, when she’s forced to deal with these children, she’s a little selfish and even unlikable. That was exciting for me to play!

On her tough look and tentacle tattoo:

No it was Andy! At first he said, "I want to put an octopus down your arm." And I said, "Okay, I love the idea of the tattoos but why an octopus?" He said: "Because, when a tentacle gets stuck, it detaches. I think Annabelle must see herself like that." I said: "That is genius, I love it, let’s do it!" And the haircut was Alice Glass inspired. [Alice Glass is the lead singer of the Canadian electro-punk band Crystal Castles.]

On the future roles she wants to play:

A western. I want to hold a gun…Yeah, it’s like…Enough of the graceful characters…I want to get my hands dirty.

mgm

Chastain & Glass

This Is an Alexandre Desplat Appreciation Post

Best Original Score, for most, is one of those categories at the Golden Globes (and, by proxy, the Academy Awards) that you just kind of gloss over. Many of the same names cycle annually as nominees (John Williams, Gustavo Santaolalla, the Danna brothers, etc.) and it usually falls by the wayside to its more popular, eclectic cousin, Best Original Song, this weird and wonderful space responsible for Oscars for “Blame Canada” and Three Six Mafia (and a lot of snubs we found unfortunate). Last night, Mychael Danna, who scored the tigers-and-shipwrecks tale Life of Pi, took home the Globe for his lovely score, but today, we salute another workhorse of film composition.

You know who had a great year in award-fodder movies? Alexandre Desplat. Sure, Danna got the win and the Oscars love John Williams and biopics so the big one will probably go to Lincoln, and it’s just an honor to be nominated what are these awards anyway etc., but dude was pretty much killing it this whole time, and it was about time he got his own appreciation post.

 For sheer volume of work alone, all the writing and rehearsing and recording for three of the most acclaimed movies of 2012, as well as some others. Did he sleep at all? Did he remember to bathe? Or was he just so immersed in quickening the pulse of Argo armed with ouds and beats and some a cappella that would have been tacky in most places but worked here? Or was he too busy cultivating that stomach-dropping, ominous feel for Zero Dark Thirty, or giving Wes Anderson another earworm of a leitmotif for Moonrise Kingdom? A score is everything, and for three of the most celebrated filmmakers of the year and the three most celebrated films, there was only one composer for the job.

Desplat has been nominated five times for Best Original Score for the Oscars and has gone 1-for-6 with Golden Globes. This may not be his year, but he’s a winner in our hearts. Listen to some choice selections from Moonrise Kingdom, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty below.