Magazine article Screen International

Women of Substance

Magazine article Screen International

Women of Substance

Article excerpt

Wendy Mitchell reflects on women in film over the past 12 months and what to look forward to in 2015.

When I spoke to Jessica Chastain for this issue of Screen, she pointed out that none of this year's likely Best Picture nominees was told from a female point of view. My stomach sank as I realised she was right.

Then in a must-read story for The New York Times over the holidays, film critic Manohla Dargis pointed out the six major studios had released only three films directed by women in 2014.

These are the kind of statistics that could make you want to give up and go back to bed.

But beyond the numbers there are some success stories that stood out in 2014. Angelina Jolie has directed a war epic in Unbroken, which was a big hit at the US box office over the holidays (and she also showed her box-office might starring in Maleficent).

Ava DuVernay was the director who finally got Selma made after years of delays; the film's co-star and producer, Oprah Winfrey, is now a powerful force in the film industry.

Laura Poitras directed the magnificent and brave documentary Citizenfour, and the female-led team at Britdoc helped get it out to the world in groundbreaking ways.

Kelly Reichardt moved into thriller territory with Night Moves. Amma Asante had an audience and critical hit with Belle, about a mixed-race woman in 18th-century society. It also put Gugu Mbatha-Raw on the path to stardom, alongside another female-directed film, Gina Prince-Bythewood's Beyond The Lights. Eliza Hittman made a name for herself with feature debut It Felt Like Love.

Thanks to The Hunger Games and X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Jennifer Lawrence was 2014's highest-grossing actor.

Reese Witherspoon-starring Wild is an acclaimed story impressing cinemagoers of both sexes, about one woman's epic trek and self-awakening.

Julianne Moore in Still Alice is a heroine dealing with the complicated diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

The Theory Of Everything is as much a story of Jane Hawking, played by Felicity Jones, as her famous husband Stephen.

Ida was a female story and one of the best films of the year (foreign-language or otherwise), Obvious Child was a smart comedy unlike anything we've seen before - its heroine, played by Jenny Slate, didn't have to apologise for being funny.

The Babadook, directed by Jennifer Kent, was routinely cited as the scariest film of the year. …

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