Women in Film in 2014
I wrote a comprehensive review of women and/in film for 2014 for The Essential. I’ll list part of it here, and you can check it out by following the links.
It’s been an interesting year for women in film, with no prizes for predicting huge improvements in the margins and stagnation or backwards movement in the mainstream.
Criticism was exposed as a large part of the problem with female representation, as even critics with supposedly PC overtones revealed themselves to be tied to outdated methods of evaluation, and comic book films – films based on the 1950s/60s reading material of white American boys – or films that promoted a masculinised perspective were disproportionately praised.
However, there was at least some talk about why women struggle so much in film representation, particularly around the Bechdel Test – the cleverness of which lies in its simplicity and in its extraordinarily low bar.
As we became more aware of our bias around women and film, it becomes increasingly difficult to defend such an outdated position. More than any other year in film, the Bechdel Test has hit the mainstream, and films that pass its test have been scoring big bucks at the box office – just to disprove more of the mythology around women in film.
If success happened for women in the audience in 2014, it was usually despite the critics. The Other Woman, while slammed by the critics, saw the male-fantasy-ripe Kate Upton refuse conditional male-bestowed privilege in preference for female solidarity, and again was a huge commercial success with great writing by Melissa Stack. Predictably it was called “shrill” repeatedly by critics, but I saw it commercially, in a room filled with women, who were obviously having a tremendous time. Thank god they are savvy enough to ignore reviews. Perhaps they know something the critics don’t? The film made slightly under five times its budget, a higher financial success than the 2014 versions of X-Men and Captain America, which are claimed to be greater box office successes despite bloated budgets.