Wed 5.6.2015

Women in Film: Hollywood’s Spring Report Card

betty peggy joan

School’s out! Sort of. The summer movie season officially kicked off last weekend with the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, so Hollywood had better be ready to face the music and get graded for the spring. Unfortunately, none of the top 25 highest-grossing films of this season were directed by women—a disappointing backslide after a substantial improvement in this area on our winter report card. Oh, dear. Looks like Hollywood’s headed for summer school.

A to Outspoken A-Listers
Carey Mulligan called out the “massively sexist” industry in an interview with Time Out London last month; Kristen Stewart upped the adverb ante and called it “disgustingly sexist” talking to Harper’s Bazaar UK. Mark Ruffalo answered the sexist questions usually addressed to his Avengers costar Scarlett Johansson on that film’s press tour, as well as tweeting a polite request that Marvel produce more Black Widow merchandise to join her male co-heroes in the toy aisle.

D to Superhero Movies
Oh, superhero movies. Things were looking up, but now it appears we’re right back where we started from. This week, we got another depressing revelation out of the Sony hack: an email from Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter apparently arguing against making female-led superhero films. This comes soon after the news that director Michelle MacLaren left Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman over “creative differences.” Though the studio announced Patty Jenkins as her replacement, MacLaren’s departure still doesn’t bode well for women in the genre. Come on, Hollywood—keep this up, and Bruce Banner won’t be the only one hulking out.

B+ to the Cannes Film Festival
For choosing French director Emmanuelle Bercot’s drama La Tête Haute, starring Catherine Deneuve, to open this year’s festival—the first female-directed film to kick off Cannes since Diane Kury’s A Man in Love in 1987. The famous French fest doesn’t quite get an A, though, because despite some progress, it’s still overwhelmingly male-dominated.

A to Amy Schumer
The third season of her sketch comedy series Inside Amy Schumer kicked off last month on Comedy Central, and Schumer hasn’t held back with the subversive feminist comedy she’s famous for. You know you’ve done something right when your rape culture satire parodying Friday Night Lights gets the approval of Tami Taylor herself.

C– to Sony Reboots
We were thrilled when Paul Feig announced his upcoming all-female Ghostbusters reboot; we were significantly less pleased when Sony later announced plans for a completely superfluous all-male one, which will join Feig’s film in a whole new cinematic universe (because if there’s anything we all desperately need, it’s another cinematic universe). The studio seems to think his-and-hers franchises are a brilliant new strategy: now it has a female 21 Jump Street spinoff in the works.

INCOMPLETE to Mixed Messages
This will be the summer of women! No, this will be the year of women! No, in fact, women directed less than 5% of the 1,300 highest-grossing films of the last 12 years! Sigh.

A to Mad Men
The second half of the seventh and final season of the groundbreaking AMC drama kicked off in April, and the series’ devoted fans have begun mourning the end of an era. Two episodes remain, but Mad Men has already earned this grade a hundred times over, depicting the challenging, rapidly changing role of women in midcentury America with great sensitivity and insight. Joan, Betty, Peggy and Sally have become television icons in their own right, and Sunday nights will not be the same without them. I’m not crying, really—that’s just smoke getting in my eyes.

Mary Sollosi / Film Independent Blogger