A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Review by Susan Granger

Filmmaker Sebastian Lelio examines the emotional stigma of transgender in this sensitive, Oscar-winning Chilean film. In Santiago, Martina Vidal (Daniela Vega) and Orlando Onetto (Francisco Reyes) are in love. She’s a young waitress/cabaret singer; he’s 20 years older, the owner of a printing company. After celebrating Martina’s birthday one evening, Orlando becomes ill, suffering a fatal aneurysm. Martina rushes him to the emergency room, but he dies on the operating table. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Inclusion is the 2018 Oscars theme, but Frances McDormand calls for more — Brandy McDonnell reports

Film Frances McDormandFrances McDormand undoubtedly sent people rushing to their Google search bars when she capped her Oscar acceptance with “two words: ‘inclusion rider.’” Most people are at least somewhat familiar with riders, which are provisional clauses in contracts, and an inclusion rider would be put into actors and other film workers’ contracts to ensure gender and racial equality in the hiring for the project. McDormand’s pointed comment epitomizes the overall theme of the 2018 Oscars, at which presenters and award winners continually made demands for inclusion and diversity, as well as equal opportunity and representation industry-wide. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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SPOTLIGHT March 2018: Rachel Morrison, Cinematographer, Oscar Nominee for MUDBOUND

rachel morrison head 2Bringing a moving image to life takes much more than having the technical skills down pat. Capturing that collection of indelible images requires another special skillset – one that isn’t necessarily taught in school. It requires an understated ability to tap into the director’s vision and the actors’ emotions to produce breathtaking visual poetry. Cinematographer Rachel Morrison’s impressive body of work has long exhibited these traits. Rachel Morrison is a monumental cinematographer whose work is illuminated with nuance. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: A Guide to Seeing This Year’s Oscar-Nominated Films — Brandy McDonnell reports

oscars goldThe 90th Oscars will be handed out Sunday at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be broadcast live on ABC at 8 p.m. Eastern / 7 p.m. Central / 5 p.m. Pacific Time. There’s still time to catch up on seeing the nominees in theaters and on smaller screens before the big event. See our guide on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You may also be interested in reading about AWFJ’s 2018 Oscar Predictions.

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A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Review by Diane Carson

In an early scene in Chilean director Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman, performing on stage, the transgender, sultry nightclub singer Marina flirts with Orlando, her older lover and partner. They return to their apartment, make love and go to sleep before a medical emergency initiates the tragedy Marina will face and the treatment she’ll contend with from Orlando’s family. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 2, 2018: A FANTASTIC WOMAN

motw logo 1-35Chile’s Oscar-nominated “A Fantastic Woman” is a modern twist on the kind of Douglas Sirk or Joan Crawford movies of the 1950’s about women in torment. Those were stories of women forced to suffer indignities but who never lost their own dignity and glamour. In the mid-century, “the problem that has no name” described by Betty Friedan had not yet led to the women’s movement, and women in film and in real life often felt invisible, as though all women cared about was keeping the house clean and the children happy. In this film, our heroine is a trans woman named Marina, played by a trans actress, Daniela Vega. The story is about her struggle to be seen for who she is and for all that she is. Continue reading…

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A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

As an ardent admirer of Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Lelio’s Gloria, about a mousy 50-ish divorcee and office worker who yearns for romance but only on her own terms, it was no surprise that his A Fantastic Woman similarly managed to take my breath away while viewing the world through female eyes. Continue reading…

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A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Review by Cate Marquis

A Fantastic Woman begins on a romantic note, with an older man listening to a singer with a band. In high heels, short skirt, and a golden voice, Marina Vidal is pretty but there is something a bit different her. The couple go out, then back home. Late at night, the man awakens and doesn’t feel well. Despite a desperate rush to the hospital, Marina loses her beloved to an aneurysm. In her grief, Marina faces a new problem, her older lover Orlando’s (Francisco Reyes) disapproving family, and then police who seem overly interested in her gender. Continue reading…

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SPOTLIGHT January 2018: Mattie Do, Lao Filmmaker, Oscar Contender for DEAREST SISTER

awfjspotlightsmallsmallmattie do buddhistFilmmaker Mattie Do’s very name signifies a series of impressive firsts: Lao’s first woman director and helmer of the first Lao movies to play at international film festivals, and more recently, her latest film Dearest Sister (Nong hak) became the first from the country to be submitted to The Oscars’ Best Foreign Language category. Continue reading…

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The Academy’s 90th Oscars: First Promo, New Time and Shortlists — Michelle Hannett reports

oscars goldKicking of the 90 days to the 90th Oscars, the Academy revealed to movie fans that the telecast from Hollywood on Sunday, March 4, 2018, will now begin at 8:00 p.m. EST/5:00 p.m. PST, a half-hour earlier than prior telecasts. As previously announced, late-night talk show favorite Jimmy Kimmel will return to host. Nominations voting opens for the 90th Academy Awards on January 5, 2018, closes on January 12, 2018, with the announcement on Tuesday, January 23, 2018. Women filmmakers are definitely part of the conversation this awards season continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Iran’s Female-Directed Oscar Pick, Plus Portman, Bigelow, Winslet and more — Brandy McDonnell Reports

Natalie Portman wins Israel’s Genesis Prize, Iran makes first Academy Award submission directed by a woman, Sundance Selects acquires Rachel Dretzin’s documentary ‘Far from the Tree,’ and Kathryn Bigelow, Kate Winslet and more are honored by SAG-AFTRA Foundation. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Varda and Tomlin Honored, Nowlin Plays PTSD Woman Vet, Sexual Harassment Help Line Set

Legendary French filmmaker Agnes Varda, now age 89, receives an honorary Oscar in Hollywood, while The Society of Voice Arts & Sciences has bestowed upon Lily Tomlin the Voice Arts Icon Award, presented at New York’s Lincoln Center. Actress Kate Nowlin weighs in on what it’s like to play a war veteran suffering from PTSD in Blood Stripe, which she also co-scripted. The tsunami of stories out sexual harassment continues to sweep through the entertainment industry and Women in Film Los Angeles is launching a sexual harassment hot line to help those who have suffered unwanted sexual attention for decades to overcome the trauma. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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SPOTLIGHT October 2017: Agnès Varda, Filmmaker, Honorary Oscar Recipient, Director of FACES PLACES

“You decide you do something, then you are totally ready for things to happen.” Agnès Varda, on YouTube

agnes headsho croppedawfjspotlightsmallsmallFilm director Agnès Varda was talking about her process for creating documentaries, but she might as well have been talking about her storied career as the only female director of the French New Wave. Over her 63 years (and counting) of filmmaking, Varda has created a vast body of work composed not only of documentaries, but also short films and features. She is also an accomplished photographer. And now, at age 89, Varda has a new film and a new honor to add to her crowded list of awards and recognitions. Continue reading…

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Oscars 2017: We Have a New Hollywood Hero — Jeanne Wolf comments (Exclusive)

oscar logoWhile the people in the audience were gasping with surprise, Jordan Horowitz — as if to assure them this wasn’t fake news — held up the card just pulled from the correct award envelope. “I’m going to be really thrilled to hand this to my friends from ‘Moonlight,’ ” he said. Horowitz wasn’t just a gracious loser; he became the closest thing the Oscars can get to a folk hero.” Read more>>

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Oscars 2017: Victories for ‘Moonlight,’ ‘La La Land’ and Viola Davis — Brandy McDonnell reports (Exclusive)

oscar logoIn a twist ending that only Hollywood could dream up, “Moonlight” won best picture Sunday night after a mixed-up finish at the 89th Academy Awards. Viola Davis became the first black woman to win an Emmy, a Tony and an Oscar for acting. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE SALESMAN — Review by Susan Granger

Iran’s Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language Film is another marital drama from Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi (“The Separation”). When Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) Etesamis are forced to evacuate their crumbling Tehran apartment, they move into a more dilapidated abode, one that was previously occupied by a single woman with a young child. The clutter she left behind when she was evicted gives subtle clues as to who she is and the promiscuous life she led. She’s described as “a woman with lots of acquaintances…who lived a wild life.” Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: 2017 Oscars set records but women are still underrepresented — Brandy McDonnell reports

oscar logoThis year’s Oscar nods are good news and bad news. Let’s get the bad news out of the way, especially since I’m sure it will come to no surprise to industry watchers or regular readers of this blog. Despite a slew of attention-getting films such as “Jackie,” “Arrival” and “Hidden Figures.” all featuring featuring strong, complex women as leading characters, the number of female Oscar nominees for behind-the-scenes roles dropped among this year’s Academy Award nominations. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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OSCAR Nominated Live Action Shorts — Review by Martha K. Baker

There’s not a bad seed in this barrel of apples. All five, mostly a half-hour each, offer resounding stories, well told and acted and filmed. They come from France, Hungary, Switzerland, Denmark, and Spain. Two of them swirl around the predicament of refugees in Europe.

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OSCAR Nominated Animation Shorts — Review by Martha K. Baker

“Short” is right. Most of these films run fewer than 10 minutes with one longer than a half-hour. And “sweet” is right, too, in a way, if “sweet” stretches to mournful. The Oscar-nominated Short films advance the concept of brevity as good and worthy. Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: The Women of HIDDEN FIGURES — Brandy McDonnell Reports

hidden-figures-5Once the feel-good film of awards season, ‘Hidden Figures’ is now a big winner and a big moneymaker. Throughout this film awards cycle, Hidden Figures has been the crowd-pleasing, uplifting fan favorite. This weekend, the fact-based period drama about the African-American women who worked behind the scenes at NASA during the space race won the top prize at the SAG Awards and crossed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office. Will the film’s success make a difference? The real women whose stories are told in the film hope it will. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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AWFJ on KTEP 88.5 FM: Talking EDA Awards, Oscars, and the Status of Women In Film — Jennifer Merin reports

KTEP 88.5 FM’s ON FILM host Charles Horak discusses The Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ annual and festival EDA Awards recognizing the work and contributions done by women and about women, both in front and behind the camera, points to the decreased level of opportunity for women behind the camera in 2016, and elicits a list of must-see undervalued 2016 films by and about women. Thank you, Charles Horak for your ongoing support of AWFJ and our goals. Listen to the program on KTEP 88.5 FM.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: 2017 Oscar Nominations — Brandy McDonnell comments

With the 2017 Oscar nominations, the Academy broke or tied multiple records. The movie musical “La La Land” earned a leading 14 nominations, putting it in a tie with “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for the most in Academy Awards history. Its nods include best picture, best director and best original screenplay for writer-director Damien Chazelle, best actress for Emma Stone and best actor for Ryan Gosling. How did they fare on gender parity and diversity? Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: News wrap around Oscars, SAGs, Lily Tomlin Honored and More — Brandy McDonnell reports

lily tomlin headshotThe Academy will forego a live audience for the nomination announcements, instead livestreaming them at Oscars.org, which has caused quite a flap among publicists and members of the press. But everyone’s delighted that Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton will present SAGs Life Achievement Award to brilliant, all-round entertainment maverick Lily Tomlin during the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. And more coursgeous female stars are speaking out to spark change in Hollywood. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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Oscars and Movies and Targeting Millennials — Michelle McCue comments

ArquetteOscar15The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has announced – to widespread chagrin– that the press and publicists would no longer be a part of the annual tradition of being at AMPAS headquarters in Beverly Hills at the Samuel Goldwyn theater when the Oscar nominations are revealed on January 24. A beloved tradition is gone. What comes in its place and what do the changes augur for Oscar’s future? Read more on AWARDS INTELLIGENGER

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Oscar-bound Annette Bening Shakes up the Screen — Profile by Thelma Adams (Exclusive)

anette beningIn 20th Century Women, Annette Bening redefines what it is to be an actress over forty – okay 58 – while gunning for an Oscar as Santa Barbara single mum Dorothea. Smart, sexy, searching: just three adjectives that describe the Kansas native. Fold in funny and touching, too. But what makes this mother-of-four married to former matinee idol Warren Beatty so disruptive, so eruptive, is that as a craftswoman and artist, she never stands still. Read on…

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