Women On Film – The Week In Women, February 13, 2009 – MaryAnn Johanson

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The bitterest depths of winter are the bitterest times for women in Hollywood, and The Week in Women is deeply depressed this winter’s day.

MAKING NEWS: Actually, there’s scant noteworthy news about women in Hollywood this week. Sure, it’s worth noting that Kate Winslet racked up another award for The Reader at the BAFTA ceremonies this past Sunday. But, you know, as surely as night follows day, that one worthy woman or another is always going to win a Best Actress award. That’s a given, and there’s hardly anything genuinely surprising or unique to note about it. I mean, with a big bouquet of congrats, appreciation and all due respect to Kate, it’ll be a cold day indeed for women when there’s actually a special reason to point out that a gal won a Best Actress award.

SURPRISE! SURPRISE?: So, what’s surprising, unique and genuinely noteworthy about women in Hollywood this week? Well, The Envelope points out that on Thursday night:

“The Secret Life of Bees” won outstanding film of 2008 at the 40th annual NAACP Image Awards on Thursday evening. The female-driven drama also won outstanding director for Gina Prince-Bythewood.

Which, of course, makes me go grrrrr. Not that Bees isn’t a wonderful film and doesn’t deserve to have won — it is and it does. My complaint is that The Envelope felt the need to point out that Bees is a “female-driven” film. Did it note that Slumdog Millionaire, also honored with an award at the NAACP ceremony, is a “male-driven” film? No. Of course not. Male-driven-ness in the default. It’s assumed, so doesn’t need to be stated. A male-driven film is just a film. And the subtext of that is that real movies, the movies that really count, are those that are male-driven… but isn’t it cute that a female-driven film can win an award or two once in a while?

INANE MEDIA COVERAGE Or maybe I’m just extra miserable today because all this week’s “news” about women in entertainment is so ridiculously superficial. Examples? You could have picked up all this enlightening and useful information during the past few days without looking too hard:

Now, honestly, don’t you feel you’re the smarter, wiser, better person for not having clicked any of those links?


Movies Opening Today: Here’s another reason to be pessimisic about women in the movies: the inane Confessionals of a Shopaholic opens this weekend. Isla Fisher plays a ditz of a consumer who runs up her credit card bills in the pursuit of a cute outfit, then finds a man to pay for it all for her. grrrrr At least we do also have, opening in limited release this weekend, Two Lovers, which is “male-driven” but nevertheless features two female characters — played by Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw — neither of whom is a whore, a virgin, a mother, or a secretary, and both of whom are complicated, real people.

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at FlickFilosopher.com, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her AWFJ.org archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).