December 5, 2008

Sexist Image of the Day: Variety's Best Director Contenders

Variety has a feature in today's paper that focuses on the best director candidates. The top tier a re called "THE GENERALS" - ie: battle tested vets. Of course, not a single one of the vets is a woman. The next tier down "IN THE MIX" still does not name a single woman. How can they name Lance Hammer and Steve McQueen and not name Courtney Hunt and Kelly Reichardt?

Shame of Variety for using war like and male centric images to describe directors. Do you need to perpetuate the stereotype even more? No wonder no women made it to the list.

Shameful. Send editor in chief Peter Bart an email at (not 100% sure that is his email but give it a shot) and let him know that this is unacceptable. It's also hysterical to me that they put this on the cover of their home page the same day that rival Hollywood Reporter names the top 100 Women in Power in Hollywood.

Power 100 List

It's that time of the year again when Hollywood takes a moment and celebrates the women in its ranks at the Hollywood Reporter annual Power Women Breakfast in conjunction with Lifetime Networks.

I'm waiting for the day when we don't need these kind of events anymore, but we are sooo far away from that. Congrats to all and try to think about helping and supporting other women in your ranks who don't have the kind of power you do.

Here's the list:
1. Oprah Winfrey
Chairman, Harpo Inc.

2. Anne Sweeney
Co-chairman, Disney Media Networks
President, Disney-ABC Television Group

3. Amy Pascal
Co-chairman, Sony Pictures

4. Nancy Tellem
President, CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group

5. Stacey Snider
Co-chairman and CEO, DreamWorks

6. Bonnie Hammer
President, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Prods.

7. Judy McGrath
Chairman and CEO, MTV Networks

8. Mary Parent
Chairman, MGM Worldwide Motion Picture Group

9. Dana Walden
Chairman, 20th Century Fox Television

10. Nina Tassler
President, CBS Entertainment

11. Donna Langley
President of production, Universal Pictures

12. Nikki Rocco
President of distribution, Universal Pictures

13. Sue Kroll
President of worldwide marketing, Warner Bros. Pictures

14. Dawn Ostroff
President of entertainment, the CW

15. Katherine Pope
President, Universal Media Studios

16. Sue Naegle
President, HBO Entertainment

17. Lauren Zalaznick
President, NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks

18. Kathleen Kennedy
Producer/partner, the Kennedy/Marshall Co.

19. Laura Ziskin
President, Laura Ziskin Prods.

20. Veronika Kwan-Rubinek
President of international distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures

21. Andrea Wong
President and CEO, Lifetime Networks

22. Sheila Nevins
President, HBO Documentary Films

23. Shari Redstone
President, National Amusements
Vice chairman of the board of directors, Viacom and CBS Corp.
Co-chairman and co-president,

24. Angelina Jolie

25. Elizabeth Gabler
President, Fox 2000 Pictures

26. Ann Daly
COO, DreamWorks Animation

27. Elisabeth Murdoch
Chairman and CEO, Shine

28. Nancy Utley
COO, Fox Searchlight

29. Emma Watts
Co-president of production, 20th Century Fox

30. Valerie Van Galder
Co-president of worldwide theatrical marketing, Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group

31. Pamela Levine
Co-president of domestic theatrical marketing, 20th Century Fox

32. Terry Wood
President of creative affairs and development, CBS Television Distribution

33. Hilary Estey McLoughlin
President, Telepictures Prods.

34. Janice Marinelli
President, Disney-ABC Domestic Television

35. Belinda Menendez
President, NBC Universal International Television Distribution

36. Tyra Banks
President, Bankable Prods.

37. Marion Edwards
President of international television, 20th Century Fox Television Distribution

38. Jessica Reif Cohen
Managing director and media and entertainment analyst, Merrill Lynch

39. Cyma Zarghami
President, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids & Family Group

40. Linda Bell
Blue Executive producer, "Entertainment Tonight" and "The Insider"

41. Abbe Raven
President and CEO, A&E Television Networks

42. Michele Ganeless
President, Comedy Central

43. Mary McLaren
COO, 20th Century Fox International Theatrical and Home Entertainment

44. Teri Weinberg
Executive vp, NBC Entertainment

45. Eileen O'Neill
President and GM, TLC

46. Debra Lee
Chairman and CEO, BET Networks

47. Cecile Frot-Coutaz
CEO, FremantleMedia North America

48. Amy Baer
President and CEO, CBS Films

49. Paula Kerger
President and CEO, PBS

50. Lynn Calpeter
Executive vp and CFO, NBC Universal

51. Tina Fey
Executive producer/writer/star, "30 Rock" (NBC)

52. Maren Christensen
Executive vp and general counsel, Universal Studios

53. Tracey Jacobs
Board member, partner and co-head of talent department, UTA

54. Kelley Avery
President, Paramount Worldwide Home Entertainment

55. Diane Nelson
President, Warner Premiere

56. Shonda Rhimes
President, Shondaland
Creator/executive producer, "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice" (ABC)

57. Nancy Josephson
Partner, Endeavor

58. Claudia Lewis
President of production, Fox Searchlight

59. Beth Swofford
Motion picture literary agent, CAA

60. Jo Ann Ross
President of network sales, CBS Television Network

61. Hylda Queally
Motion picture talent agent, CAA

62. Toni Howard
Head of motion picture talent, ICM

63. Megan Colligan
Co-president of domestic marketing, Paramount Pictures

64. Nancy Dubuc
Executive vp and general manager, History

65. Rachael Ray
TV host/author/magazine founder

66. Lauren Corrao
President of original programming and development, Comedy Central

67. Sharon Sheinwold
Partner, Endeavor

68. Vanessa Morrison
President, Fox Animation

69. Karen Kehela Sherwood
Co-chair, Imagine Films

70. Blair Kohan
Partner and motion picture talent and literary agent, UTA

71. Cynthia Pett-Dante
Owner and managing partner, Brillstein Entertainment Partners

72. Keri Putnam
President of production, Miramax Films

73. Debbie Liebling
President of production, Fox Atomic

74. Leah Weil
Senior executive vp and general counsel, Sony Pictures Entertainment

75. Jane Rosenthal
Producer/ partner, Tribeca Prods.
Co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival

76. Deborah Schindler
President of international motion picture production group, Sony Pictures Entertainment

77. Rebecca Prentice
Executive vp and general counsel, Paramount Pictures

78. Bernardine Brandis
Executive vp business and legal affairs, Walt Disney Studios

79. Randi Michel
Senior vp, head of talent (East Coast), WMA

80. Michelle Bohan
Partner, Endeavor

81. Roberta Reardon
President, AFTRA

82. Melanie Cook
Partner, Ziffren Brittenham Branca Fischer Gilbert-Lurie Stiffelman Cook Johnson Lande & Wolf

83. Jeanne Newman
Partner, Hansen Jacobson Teller Hoberman Newman Warren & Richman

84. Bridget Baker
President of TV networks distribution, NBC Universal

85. Deborah Barak
Executive vp business affairs, CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group

86. Jana Winograde
Executive vp business affairs, ABC Entertainment, ABC Daytime and SoapNet

87. Beth Roberts
Executive vp business affairs, digital and new business development, NBC Universal Entertainment

88. Maria Crenna
Executive vp, CBS Paramount Network Television

89. Jennifer Nicholson-Salke
Executive vp creative affairs, 20th Century Fox Television

90. Lisa Gregorian
Executive vp worldwide marketing, Warner Bros. Television Group

91. JoAnn Alfano
Executive vp entertainment, Lifetime Networks

92. Marla Provencio
Executive vp marketing, ABC Entertainment

93. Jennifer Rudolph Walsh
Executive vp, co-head of worldwide literary department, WMA

94. Risa Gertner
Co-head of motion picture literary department, CAA

95. Sarah Greenberg
Co-president of theatrical marketing, Lionsgate Entertainment

96. Anne Globe
Worldwide head of marketing and consumer products, DreamWorks Animation

97. Leslie Siebert
Senior managing partner, The Gersh Agency

98. Nicole Clemens
Head of motion picture literary department, ICM

99. Jean Prewitt
President and CEO, Independent Film & Television Alliance

100. Miley Cyrus
Star, "Hannah Montana" (Disney Channel)

Power 100 List (Hollywood Reporter)
photo: Chris Hatcher / PR Photos

Why Wasn't Meryl Streep on the Newsstand Cover of Entertainment Weekly?

I find this very strange (as have several of the readers of the blog.)

When I got my favorite magazine (EW) in the mail this week I was so excited to see Meryl Streep on the cover declaring her the "Queen of Hollywood." We all know that she was always the queen in terms of content but now, at 59, she's a bona fide box office star. Check out my piece from earlier this week.

So now it had come to light that the Streep cover was only sent to subscribers and that Twilight was put on the cover for newsstands. I know that Twilight is a huge hit and I am thrilled, but it had been on the cover only weeks before. Why did it need to be on the cover again?

And isn't it just ironic that the whole story about Streep was how she has become commercially viable and then it turns out that she's not commercial enough for newsstands.

Some body please explain this to me (or as Rachel Maddow would say- somebody talk me down.)

Here are the different covers (from last week- this week features Jennifer Aniston who is not known for her box office prowess):

December 4, 2008

Equality Watch: Women Artists Get Paid Less

I guess this isn't such an important story because I only read about it in one place (good job LA Times), but it is important and should be discussed further. It's hard to make ends meet as an artist, but its harder as a female artist according to the NEA.

The NEA has released a more in-depth look at some of the data in its report “Artists in the Workforce, 1990-2005.” This "addendum" specifically looks at the gender pay gap for artists. Occupations included in the study: announcers, architects, musicians, producers, directors, artists, dancers, choreographers, designers, writers, visual artists, entertainers, performers and photographers.

Said the chairman of the NEA Dana Gioia: "Committed and entrepreneurial, women artists are making enormous progress, but still lag behind their male colleagues economically, especially in fields such as photography, design, and architecture.”

Other interesting findings:

  • Women artists earn $0.75 for every dollar made by men artists. That 2 cents less than the overall gender pay gap which is 77 cents for every male dollar.
  • Pay disparity increases with age.
  • Pay gaps vary by occupation. Men and women had closer earnings parity in lower-paying performing arts occupations (such as musicians and dancers), where women earned an average of $0.92 for every dollar earned by men. The gap tended to be larger in non-performing art occupations (such as designers and art directors), where women earned 72 percent of what men earn.
  • Pay gaps vary by state. The pay disparity was smaller in ten states, such as New York and Arizona, where women made 80 percent or more of what men made. Women made less than 75 percent of what men made in 27 states, including Virginia, Michigan, and North Dakota.

  • Women make up just under half of all artists nationwide (46 percent), yet they are underrepresented in many artist professions. In 2003-2005, nearly 8 out of 10 announcers and architects were men.
  • Women artists are as likely to be married as female workers in general, but they are less likely to have children.
  • Female artists cluster in low-population states. Women made up more than 55 percent of the artist labor force in Iowa, Alaska, New Hampshire and Mississippi in 2003-2005. They represent well below half of all artists in New York (45.8 percent) and in California (42.6 percent).
Women Artists: 1990 - 2005 (December 2008 update)
A gender pay gap for L.A. artists (NYC too) (LA Times)

Holiday Diversion: The Spirited Woman Holiday Guide

Everyone who reads this site (whether you are a man or woman) is spirited in some way. This holiday season I have linked up with Nancy Mills and her site The Spirited Woman (and other women's blogs) to help publicize their Holiday Guide. It's a really cool and non-traditional and very feminist.

As Nancy says: "It is a guide to help you think out of the gift-giving box. Give back. Create change. Take a leap. Make a difference. Inspire others by the fact that you are inspired. And oh yes, have fun along the way. This is not your typical shop-til-you-drop guide. No way. No how."

Check out the guide (you do have to download a pdf) and get some interesting ideas for the holiday season. Hope you enjoy.

The Sundance List

One of the most important days in the indie film world was yesterday, the unveiling of the Sundance Film Fest's competition lists.

For the US dramatic competition 16 films were accepted out of 1,026 submissions. That's about a 1.6% chance of getting picked. Yowsa.

Here are the women directed and women centric films. (Please let me know if I miss anything or get anything wrong)

US Dramatic Competition
Amreeka (Director-screenwriter: Cherien Dabis)
When a divorced Palestinian woman and her teenage son move to rural Illinois, they find their new lives replete with challenges. Cast: Nisreen Faour, Melkar Muallem, Hiam Abbass, Yussuf Abu-Warda, Alia Shawkat.

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men (Director-screenwriter: John Krasinski)
When her boyfriend leaves with little explanation, a doctoral candidate in anthropology tries to remedy her heartache by interviewing men about their behavior. Cast: Julianne Nicholson, John Krasinski, Timothy Hutton, Dominic Cooper, Christopher Meloni, Bobby Cannavale.

Cold Souls (Director-screenwriter: Sophie Barthes)
In the midst of an existential crisis, a famous American actor explores soul extraction as a relief from the burdens of daily life. Cast: Paul Giamatti, Dina Korzun, David Strathairn, Emily Watson, Lauren Ambrose, Oksana Lada.

The Greatest (Director-screenwriter: Shana Feste)
After the tragic loss of their teenage son, a family is again thrown into turmoil by the arrival of a young woman. Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, Carey Mulligan, Johnny Simmons, Aaron Johnson, Zoe Kravitz.

Humpday (Director-screenwriter: Lynn Shelton)
A farcical comedy about straight male bonding gone a little too far. Cast: Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard, Alycia Delmore, Lynn Shelton, Trina Willard.

Paper Heart (Director: Nicolas Jasenovec)
Even though performer Charlyne Yi doesn't believe in love, she bravely embarks on a quest to discover its true nature -- a journey that takes on surprising urgency when she meets an unlikely fellow traveler, actor Michael Cera. Cast: Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera, Nicolas Jasenovec, Jake Johnson.

Push (Based on the Novel by Sapphire) (Director-screenwriter: Lee Daniels)
Based on the acclaimed best-selling novel by Sapphire, the film is the redemptive story of Precious Jones, a girl in Harlem struggling to overcome tremendous obstacles and discover her own voice. Cast: Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe, Paula Patton, Mo'Nique Imes, Lenny Kravitz.

Toe to Toe (Director-screenwriter: Emily Abt)
The story of an interracial friendship put to the test by the intense pressures of a competitive Washington prep school. Cast: Sonequa Martin, Louisa Krause, Silvestre Rasuk, Anwan Glover, Gaius Charles.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION (16 films were selected from 879 submissions.)

Boy Interrupted (Director: Dana Perry)
An intimate look at the life, mental illness and death of a young man told from the point of view of the filmmaker: his mother.

The General (El General) (Director: Natalia Almada)
As the great-granddaughter of Mexican President Plutarco Elias Calles, one of Mexico's most controversial revolutionary figures, filmmaker Natalia Almada paints an intimate portrait of Mexico.

The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court (Director: Pamela Yates)
A battle of monumental proportions unfolds as International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo faces down warlords, genocidal dictators and world superpowers in bringing perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice.

The September Issue (Director: R.J. Cutler)
With unprecedented access, R.J. Cutler and his crew shot for nine months as they captured Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and her team preparing the 2007 Vogue September issue, widely accepted as the "fashion bible" for the year's trends.

Shouting Fire: Stories From the Edge of Free Speech (Director: Liz Garbus)
An exploration of the history and current state of free speech in America narrated by the filmmaker's father, First Amendment attorney Martin Garbus.

We Live in Public (Director: Ondi Timoner)
The story of the Internet's revolutionary impact on human interaction as told through the eyes of maverick Web pioneer Josh Harris and his transgressive art project that shocked New York.

William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe (Directors: Sarah Kunstler, Emily Kunstler)
With clients including Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and the Chicago 10, civil-rights attorney William Kunstler was one of the most famous lawyers of the 20th century. Filmmakers Emily and Sarah Kunstler explore their father's life, from movement hero to "the most hated lawyer in America."

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION (16 films were selected from 1,012 submissions.)
Before Tomorrow (Le Jour Avant Lendemain) / Canada (Directors: Madeline Piujuq, Marie-Helene Cousineau)
A wise old woman fights to survive impossible circumstances with her young grandson in the Canadian Arctic. Cast: Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq, Paul-Dylan Ivalu, Madeline Piujuq Ivalu, Mary Qulitalik, Tumasie Sivuarapik. U.S. premiere

Dada's Dance / China (Director: Zhang Yuan; screenwriter: Li Xiaofeng)
Dada is a flirtatious young woman who lives with her mother in a small town. Having to fend off the constant advances of her mother's boyfriend, who tells her she is adopted, she undertakes a journey in search of her birth mother. Cast: Li Xinyun, Li Xiaofeng, Gai Ge, Chen Jun. World premiere

An Education / U.K. (Director: Lone Scherfig; screenwriter: Nick Hornby)
In the early 1960s, a sharp 16-year-old with sights set on Oxford meets a handsome older man whose sophistication enraptures and sidetracks her and her parents. Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina, Emma Thompson. World premiere

A French Gigolo (Cliente) / France (Director-screenwriter: Josiane Balasko)
An attractive, successful fiftysomething woman regularly treats herself to the sexual services of young men selected on Internet sites. When one particular escort becomes a habit, the relationship gets a bit more complicated. Cast: Nathalie Baye, Eric Caravaca, Isabelle Carre, Josiane Balasko. World premiere

Heart of Time (Corazon del Tiempo) / Mexico (Director-screenwriter: Alberto Cortes)
In La Esperanza de San Pedro, Chiapas, in the midst of the Zapatista struggle, a young woman makes serious waves when she falls in love with a revolutionary fighter from the mountains. Cast: Rocio Barrios. North American premiere

Louise-Michel / France (Directors: Benoit Delepine, Gustave Kervern)
When a French factory is abruptly closed by its corrupt management, a group of disgruntled female workers pool their paltry compensation money and hire a hit man to knock off the corrupt executive behind the closure. Cast: Yolande Moreau, Bouli Lanners. North American premiere

The Maid (La Nana) / Chile (Director-screenwriter: Sebastian Silva)
When her mistress brings on another servant to help with the chores, a bitter and introverted maid wreaks havoc on the household. Cast: Catalina Saavedra, Claudia Celedon, Mariana Loyola, Alejandro Goic, Andrea Garcia-Huidobro. North American premiere

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION (16 films were selected from 744 submissions.)
Afghan Star / Afghanistan and U.K. (Director: Havana Marking)
After 30 years of war and Taliban rule, "Pop Idol" has come to television in Afghanistan -- and millions are watching and voting for their favorite singer. This film follows the dramatic stories of four contestants as they risk their lives to sing. North American premiere

The Glass House / U.S. (Director: Hamid Rahmanian)
Follows four teenage girls striving to overcome drug addiction, abandonment and abuse by attending a rehabilitation center in Tehran, Iran. North American premiere

Kimjongilia / France and U.S. (Director: N.C. Heikin)
Defectors from North Korea finally speak out about the terrifying reality of their lives and escapes. World premiere

The Queen and I (Drottningen och jag) / Sweden (Director: Nahid Persson Sarvestani)
Swedish filmmaker Sarvestani, an Iranian exile who helped overthrow the Shah's regime in 1979, confronts her own assumptions and complex truths about Iran when she enters the life of the Shah's widow. World premiere

Quest for Honor / Kurdistan and U.S. (Director: Mary Ann Bruni)
A former teacher and tireless activist works with local lawmen, Kurdish government agencies and her colleagues to investigate and eradicate honor killings in the tribal regions of Kurdistan. World premiere

Rough Aunties / U.K. (Director: Kim Longinotto)
Fearless, feisty and unwavering, the "Rough Aunties" protect and care for the abused, neglected and forgotten children of Durban, South Africa. North American premiere

211:Anna / Italy (Directors: Paolo Serbandini, Giovanna Massimetti)
The story of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist and human-rights activist who risked her life to report the truth about the Chechen conflict and President Vladimir Putin. World premiere

December 3, 2008

Meryl Streep is the Queen of Hollywood

Meryl Streep is having a good year. In fact, she's had a couple of good years. Looking back on her career she's had some really big peaks: 1979-1985 with films like Kramer vs. Kramer; The French Lieutenant's Woman; Silkwood; Sophie's Choice; and Out of Africa. A big valley in the late 80's and early 90s with She-Devil, Death Becomes Her, and Postcards from the Edge. But mostly she's been steady, consistent, fantastic actress whose films got nominated for awards but didn't make a lot of money.

Until now.

Now she's a box office star. It started with The Devil Wears Prada and has been cemented with Mamma Mia!

EW's Christine Spines has this week's cover story on Streep and her resurgence. One thing I love about Streep is that she has never been afraid to talk about how Hollywood treats women. She never suffered (at least as far as I can tell) a backlash for her honesty and outspokenness. Everyone who writes a script for a woman over 40 wants her first. She's on the top of every list. I also love that Streep is a feminist and supports women's organizations like Equality Now.

Here are some great quotes from the piece:

But given that Hollywood treats actresses over 40 as if they've passed their sell-by date, Streep's transformation into a bankable movie star at age 59 is astounding.

Studios are now carving out space in their summer schedules, between the Pirates and the Pixars, for a Streep film. ''A Meryl Streep slot,'' says Sony Pictures chairman Amy Pascal. ''Who ever thought you'd say that?''

Nobody. The common assumption is that women will go see movies starring men, but men won't buy a ticket to see a movie about a woman. Streep has changed the game. Of the 50 highest-grossing films of all time worldwide, only one is female-driven: Mamma Mia! ''She's the hottest actress in America,'' says Nora Ephron, who wrote and directed Streep's August '09 film, Julie and Julia, in which the actress plays chef Julia Child.

There's a poetic justice to the fact that Streep's career has also eclipsed those of her male contemporaries — Pacino, De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, and even Nicholson — almost none of whom can match her box office clout. She's clearly loving her new power. ''It's all completely improbable and sort of great,'' she giggles. An unrepentant feminist, Streep seems to take particular joy in beating the guys on their own turf. ''Well, they have their own fun,'' she allows.

Her crusade, at this point, is to show Hollywood how much money can be made from female-driven movies.

I've never paid attention to that stuff, but this was just bringing it in. It's so gratifying because it's the audience that nobody really gives a s--- about.''
I wish I could report that since Streep is doing so well things are filtering down for other women, but it doesn't look so good. Think about Diane Keaton. She was on top of the world with Something's Gotta Give, and now she's had two stinkers in a row and one that went straight to video which I recently wrote about. In general, the scripts looked terrible. That seems to be a consistent problem with films by and about women. I know there are good scripts out there. Let's get some of them into the pipeline.

Meryl Streep: Box Office Queen (EW)

A Great Day for Frozen River and Courtney Hunt

Oscar season is well underway and yesterday brought us the Independent Spirit Award nominations and the Gotham Awards. Courtney Hunt's Frozen River won best feature and Melissa Leo won the breakthrough actress award.

The film was also nominated for several Independent Spirit awards nominations including best feature, best director, best actress, best supporting actress, as well as for the prodcuer of the year award. Rachel Getting Married also got a lot of love for the film as well as Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt and Debra Winger.

Wendy and Lucy directed by Kelly Reichardt about a young woman on the economic margins and her love for her dog, opens next week got nominations for best film and best actress for Michelle Williams.

In the WTF category for me is the nomination of Summer Bishil in Towelhead. It was definitely challenging for a 20-year-old to play a 13-year-old, but best actress? I don't see it.

Here are some of the other womencentric nominations.

Best Feature
“Rachel Getting Married” (Neda Armian, Jonathan Demme, Marc Platt)
“Wendy and Lucy” (Larry Fessenden, Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani)
“Frozen River” (Chip Hourihan, Heather Rae)

Best Director
Courtney Hunt, “Frozen River”

Best Screenplay
Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, “Sugar”

Best First Screenplay
Courtney Hunt, “Frozen River”
Jenny Lumet, “Rachel Getting Married”

Best Female Lead

Summer Bishil, “Towelhead”
Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”
Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”
Tarra Riggs, “Ballast”
Michelle Williams, “Wendy and Lucy”

Best Supporting Female
Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Rosemarie DeWitt, “Rachel Getting Married”
Rosie Perez, “The Take”
Misty Upham, “Frozen River”
Debra Winger, “Rachel Getting Married”

Best Cinematography
Maryse Alberti, “The Wrestler”

Best Documentary
“The Order of Myths” (Margaret Brown)
“The Betrayal” (Ellen Kuras & Thavisouk Phrasavath)

Robert Altman Award
Charlie Kaufman (Director), Jeanne McCarthy (Casting Director), Hope Davis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Tom Noonan, Emily Watson, Diane Weist, Michelle Williams, “Synecdoche, New York”

Piaget Producers Award
Heather Rae, “Frozen River”

Acura Someone to Watch Award
Lynn Shelton, “My Effortless Brilliance”
Nina Paley, “Sita Sings the Blues”

Lacoste Truer Than Fiction Award
Margaret Brown, “The Order of Myths”

Full list of nominations

December 2, 2008

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Nicole Kidman

I have always been impressed with Nicole Kidman's choice of roles. She takes on parts that are challenging and the characters are not always likable (i.e. Birth, Margot at the Wedding). Some of the films work, some don't, but she is always interesting to watch.

But, I am even more impressed with her work for UNIFEM to end violence against women. She seems to really believe in the work. Last week during the press tour for Australia she showed up at the UN to deliver a petition with over 5 million signatures calling on governments around the world to make violence against women a priority.

Here's why she decided to do this work:

"The reason I chose the subject of women is because I was raised by a mother who was very passionate about having her daughters educated and wanted her daughters to have equal opportunities, and I'm a product of that.

"So now I'm out there hoping to pass on to the next generation and work in a greater capacity than just as an actress," Kidman said.

Cool Nicole Kidman turns heat on violence epidemic (Herald Sun)
Photo: Janet Mayer/PR Photos

Kathy Bates is One Busy Actress

I was watching last week's Fringe yesterday and there were a bunch of commercials for the upcoming sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still starring Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly. I noticed that Kathy Bates was in a lot of the scenes looking very official and political. Turns out that she plays the Secretary of Defense in the film. Cool.

It got me to thinking that I have seen Kathy a lot on screen this year. She's in Revolutionary Road out this month, and was one of the leads in Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys and appeared earlier this year in Bonneville. And she already has two films finished for 2009, Cheri with Michelle Pfeiffer and Personal Effects.

Since I devote a lot of time to complaining, I thought it would be great to note that one of our best and most versatile actresses is working a lot.

December 1, 2008

While I Was Away: Twilight Kicked Ass

Last week while I was away it looks like Twilight blew away everyone's box office expectations. Summit (the studio) said they would be happy with $20 million, were hoping for $30 million, and would have been thrilled beyond belief for $40 million. But they all underestimated the anticipation and the opening weekend gross was $70 million.

That number is a serious blockbuster number. What makes it all the more interesting is that 75% of the opening weekend tickets were bought by women, so that means unequivocally that women can open movies. All the boy action films NEED women to attend to make their huge numbers, but it seems that on occasion, (especially with good marketing and a built in highly anticipated audience) women can make some serious box office news without the guys. And the audience was not only the under 25 girls. 45% of the tickets bought on opening weekend were by women over 25. Paul Dergarabedian who tracks box office trends said: "The box-office clout of the female audience is just astounding, and it's been an underserved audience for way too long. ... They have no trouble finding money for the things they're passionate about."

(I can't comment on the content because I was in a place with no movie theatres (GASP) and have not yet seen it. I know that many people are commenting on whether it is anti-feminist but I am only half way through the book so I will reserve my comments for later.)

Catherine Hardwicke became the woman with the highest opening weekend gross. (In case you were wondering who held the title until now- that would be Mimi Leder who helmed Deep Impact which grossed $41 million.) All of Hollywood should be beating on her door since she was able to make this film on a limited $39 million budget. Both stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are signed on for the sequel which was greenlit on opening weekend (duh!) but Hardwicke has yet to secure her deal (she wants a bigger budget for the next film and I would guess a bigger paycheck for herself.)

Here's what Hardwicke had to say about how maybe her success could influence others, especially girls.

"I hope not just women but all minorities get enthused and encouraged by it. I look at the (Directors Guild of America) calendar, at the pictures of everyone that had different movies each month, and it's usually 22-29 different directors, and almost every month there's one female and maybe one minority," she said. "We've been having a lot of events, talking to a lot of fans, and so many kids of course are madly in love with Robert but tons of kids of every kind (and) girls are coming up to me and saying `I want to direct now, I'm writing a screenplay now, you're my inspiration.' I think it's great that people are getting excited." (AP)
But Hollywood moves so slowly and it looks like we might lose the momentum of 2008 (Sex and the City, Mamma Mia, Baby Mama, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, Hannah Montana). Early 2009 looks like a vast wasteland for women's films. There will be the roll out of Last Chance Harvey in January and a Renee Zellweger romance with Harry Connick Jr., but aside from the Sarah Jessica Parker political piece Spinning Into Butter and the touching Amy Adams/Emily Blunt Sunshine Cleaning the early part of the year looks dismal. The first big highlight of 2009 will be the Meryl Streep/Amy Adams starrer Julie and Julia directed by Nora Ephron in May.

So here we go again. Instead of putting out movies for women with regularity we will continue to have to settle for bursts and then back to a trickle. We need more women's movies in the pipeline so that when we have successess we can build on them instead of having to continue to prove our box office clout every year.

`Twilight' is the new breed of chick flick (AP)

World AIDS Day: Watch All of Us on Showtime Tonight

Here are my comments and interview with director Emily Abt:

While the HIV/AIDS epidemic does not make the headlines regularly anymore, a new, riveting, documentary by Emily Abt takes the time to dig in deeper to how this epidemic has morphed into a killer of African American women. African American women are now 68% of new diagnoses, yet only make up 6% of the population. This is a crisis. Abt takes us to the Bronx and introduces us to an idealistic young doctor, Mehret Mandefro who has dedicated her career to raising attention to this issue, while at the same time provides compassionate care to women who could easily have fallen through the cracks in an overburdened health care system. The women who share their stories in All of Us are so incredibly brave and impressive and have spoken out so that what happened to them doesn't happen to girls and young women.
Read full interview