December 28, 2009

The Top Movies I've Seen in Terms of Providing Good Roles for Women This Year

Good roles for women are hard to find in hollywood. Some studios (you know who you are) have basically decided not to produce movies starring women, because they think they can't sell. Well, that's ridiculous. Write a really good script with a good role (the kind George Clooney and Matt Damon get all the time), actually promote the f-ing movie so people know where and when to see it, and I'm sure you'll find an audience for woman-centred movies. Don't write a shitty script, like The Women, and don't let a movie languish in obscurity without proper promotion, like the amazing Notes on a Scandal. Here is a list of some movies that actually provided good material for women this year. Some were well seen, some were not, but still, if you haven't, YOU should see them. Show the world people want and will watch woman-centred stories.

1. An Education - An adaption of a British woman's memoir, Carrie Mulligan plays a young girl being seduced by a cad to brilliant perfection. What's remarkable about the movie, however, is how matter-of-fact and almost optimistic it is. Our protagonist is not a ruined woman, she's resilient. It's lovely to see such a strong woman character, and Ms. Mulligan plays strength so well with such divine poise and understatement.

2. The Young Victoria - Another coming-of-age story based on true events, the Young Victoria gives Emily Blunt time to shine that she has never before really been given. She plays a range of emotion, from boredom to profound loneliness to exquisite joy, and she does so with believability that pays suitable tribute to the legend that is Queen Victoria. This is a simple but sublime love story, made all the better by the fact that it's true.

3. Up In the Air - How can you not love Anna Kendrick? She's adorable, and her role really isn't just supposed to be as George Clooney's sidekick as he teaches her how to downsize. Anna plays an overachieving failing at something for the first time in her life, as she realizes she's not very good at her job of firing people and the man she moved to the middle-of-nowhere for her dumps her. Kendrick is funny, vulnerable and just generally gives a really promising performance.

4. Nine - Now, it's not a very good movie. It's dull in parts and disjointed in others, but it does honestly provide some magical moments for a few very talented female performers. For example, Kate Hudson's exuberant song and dance scene made me see her in a whole new light. Nicole Kidman, a truly maligned figure in recent years, also gets the chance to show us why she is a movie star, by playing a world-famous movie star with such presence and dignity I fell in love with her a little bit all over again. Marion Cotillard also gets a couple of scenes that show case her beautiful singing voice. Judy Dench also gets the dryest and wittiest lines in the movie. Overall, there were lots of good moments for women performers in this pic.

5. It's Complicated - Meryl Streep plays a divorced woman having an affair with her ex-husband so well it makes me wonder if she's an even better comic performer than a dramatic one. She and Alec Baldwin have brilliant chemistry. This film is practically flawless. I'm so happy Streep, now in her 60s, was given this chance to headline a romantic comedy. She shows a woman performer is never to old to be hilarious and sexy.

6. Julie and Julia - Amy Adams and Meryl Streep might never share a scene in this movie, but both are given the chance to show a range of emotions, from profound creative frustration to elation. It's a film that shows how one woman's bravery can inspire another to change her life, which might sound trite, but in this film, the message is usually so subtle that it's not.

7. The Proposal - I love that Sandra Bullock gets to be a leading lady in a romantic comedy at 45. She's hilarious and really cares this film with her uptight, neurotic, yet believably vulnerable character.

8. Precious - Well, it's a tour de force. It's a profoundly dramatic film that affords a huge cast of women the opportunity to deal with such heavy topics as teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse, and HIV AIDS. The performers shine in this movie, and even make up for the schizophrenic direction.

Well, it's to bad to report, but that's really all I've got. Good roles for women in the Hollywood system are hard to find, and if you're a woman of colour, it's even harder. Let's hope next year will be better, because this year, in all honesty, I really can't even complete a top ten. That's not the women performers' faults, it's the people who refuse to write, produce and promote for them. Hollywood is still so often too sexist to realize that women's stories can be pretty profoundly - and profoundly entertaining - as well.

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