1: Frances Ha happened
Frances Ha is everything Bridget Jones wanted to be if only she could stop counting calories and worrying about men. It bashed another nail in the Women Can’t Be Funny coffin with a Greta Gerwig shaped hammer with kooky class and the hipster sass. Any woman who’s had a relationship with a fellow female that resembles a marriage after 30 years (bewildering love without the sex), will ache with resounding affiliation watching the two female leads’ lives slip off kilter from the ideals they once built together.
Writer and actress Greta Gerwig took it upon herself to saddle the ‘friendship genre’ after being told by a script writing teacher that ‘no body cares about friendship’ – not female ones anyway. Frances Ha’s character is built around her ambition and relationships all the while managing to sidestep any fluffy romantic notion with effortless elegance and knowing wisdom. In a year of releases cluttered with the ‘bromance’ movie, here’s hoping we see more of the emerging ‘womance’ genre.
2: Wadjida was released (and hell didn’t freeze over).
Wadjida was a film of firsts. It was the first feature length film to be shot in Saudi Arabia, the first film Saudi Arabia has ever put forward for an Oscar, and the first film released on this scale, to this much acclaim written and directed by Haifaa al- Mansour who is, wait for it…a woman. From a country with no cinemas and where you can get arrested for driving without a penis, that’s saying something.
It’s a gentle watch, there’s no kids being raped or bodies being blown-up. Haifaa’s tale about a girl who just longs for a forbidden bicycle, presets a charming story about female mobility within a life of restrictions. Wadjida is poignant film told with tact, spun with class and represents overdue change. Here’s hoping an Oscar win will put the wind in the sails of many more Saudi women with dreams of becoming filmmakers. There’s certainly some stories to be told.
3: We talked a lot of Bullock
In the future, we’ll be explaining to the younger generation that people AKtually thought women couldn’t be funny alongside other silly ideas like ‘a women can’t carry a film as a main lead’. These theories were blasted out of the water with the particular help of Bridesmaids in 2012, but Sandra, with Gravity and The Heat, has helped testify it further. From now until the Academy Awards, Sandra’s full name should be Sandra Give-That Woman-An-Oscar Bullock…out of respect.
4: The Bechdel Test came to Swedish cinemas
Four Swedish independent cinemas have now introduced the Bechdel Test rating to their listings in a move towards measuring and monitoring gender equality. For a film to pass the test the movie must: (1) feature two named female characters who (2) talk to each other about (3) something other than men. If the film ticks those boxes, the cinema will grant it with an ‘A’ rating. This isn’t to say the system is perfect. An ‘A’ rating shouldn’t be confused with a seal of quality or a beacon for a feminist film, but at least now filmmakers may think about the perspective and positioning of their female roles and give them more to do, say and wear. Particularly if they want their film shown in a Swedish cinema anyway.
5: Disney gave Prince Charming the cold shoulder
If last year we hailed Tangled for passing the Bechdel test with its sassy female lead, this year we’ll be doing a jig at the happy news that we no longer need the love of a prince to save our princesses. Sure, there’s some way to go with the Disney Princess model (they could still have bodies that didn’t resemble a startled golf club), but visuals aside, the concepts are making a refreshing shift. The film, loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s Snow Queen, trails the lives of two sisters but, (sorry – mild spoiler alert) it’s the love for each other over the love of their brooding men that conquers all giving our young women something of a lesson in sisterhood. Hakuna Matata to that.
6: Evan Rachel Wood got hard on oral sex.
Evan Rachel Wood made good of a bad situation this year when she discovered that a scene in which she receives oral sex was cut by the MPAA (voluntary self-censor for the US film industry and also the people behind the Oscars). The film Charlie Countryman stars the 26 year-old actress alongside Shia LaBeouf in a series of lovemaking scenes, but when Evan sat down to watch the final edit, she was miffed as to why THAT scene was missing.
Expressing her dismay in a series of strongly worded Tweets, Evan said: “This is a symptom of a society that wants to shame women and put them down for enjoying sex.” She went on to say, “It’s hard for me to believe that had the roles been reversed it still would have been cut. OR had the female character been raped it would have been cut. It’s time for people to GROW UP. Accept that woman are sexual beings. Accept that some men like pleasuring women. Accept that women don’t have to just be fucked and say thank you. We are allowed and entitled to enjoy ourselves. It’s time we put our foot down”.
France did a very good job of tackling female sexuality in 2013 after Blue Is The Warmest Colour gave us a very frank explanation as to what women do when they fall in love and have sex with each other. And Jeune et Jolie brazenly broached female sexual exploration in a story about a young prostitute. With due praise and healthy box office return for both films, here’s hoping the MPAA will realise that sticking your neck out for a little head, or anything else that women enjoy between sticky sheets, doesn’t mean a limp financial return.
7: It’s proven that women make it rain (in the cinema).
Of all the UK independent films released between 2010 and 2012, just 11.4% of the directors and 16.1% of the writers were women. Boo. However, according to the report run by the BFI the most successful and profitable independent British films between that same time had a female screenwriter and/or director. Yay. In an industry where profits matter and funds are increasingly harder to come by, that silver cloud could be needed to help armour up and inspire a new generation of female filmmakers (along with a lot of guys changing their name to ‘Kate’ on the form for funding).
Missed anything off? Thought so. Tweet me about it or tell me in the comments.Happy new year!