Women are still horrendously underrepresented in Hollywood but we pick out those who command the most respect.
Despite an unfortunate continuation of women in subordinate roles, female actresses in Hollywood are very much in the ascendance, refusing to play second fiddle to the traditional male hierarchy. However, it is behind the camera where male domination prevails. Only four women in the entire history of the Academy Awards have been nominated for the Best Director Oscar, Lina Wertmüller for Seven Beauties (1976), Jane Champion for The Piano (1993), Sofia Coppola for Lost In Translation (2003) and Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2009). Bigelow is the only female director to take home the award. Such an overwhelming consortium of male influence seems perturbing, but a slew of female industry players are intent on overthrowing the status quo, breaking down gender barriers and paving the way for innovation on multiple levels. From the increasingly gargantuan Marvel juggernaut to low budget art-house pictures, women are beginning to make their mark in spheres in dire need of a feminine touch, free from a traditionally testosterone-fuelled male outlook.
Nicole Perlman is the first woman to write a Marvel feature
Marvel is one of the most successful movie-making franchises of the 21st Century, churning out film after film of crowd-pleasing action that has reaped extensive profits for the still-growing studio. Few cinema-goers will pay heed to the credits of such films but those that do will discover that the studio’s latest venture, Guardians Of The Galaxy, was written by a woman. That woman is screenwriter Nicole Perlman, who has become the first female to pen a Marvel film. Hopefully she won’t be the last. Starring Chris Pratt in his first leading role in a Hollywood blockbuster, Guardians Of The Galaxy has scored glowing reviews from critics and much of that credit most be directed towards the strength of 33 year-old Perlman’s writing prowess. Such an accolade gains all the more significance once it be known that Guardians Of The Galaxy is Perlman’s first writing credit. She is already announced as a writer of another forthcoming Marvel production Black Widow, which will star Scarlett Johansen in the leading role.
Sofia Coppola is following in her father's footsteps as a consumate auteur.
As one of the four women to receive an Oscar nomination for directing, Sofia Coppola commands great respect throughout Hollywood. Her cinematic output includes a slew of cult hits including The Virgin Suicides and Somewhere plus the universal success of The Bling Ring, the Emma Watson-starring true story that details the exploits of a teenage gang who burglarize the rich and famous in the Hollywood hills. Her upcoming feature will be a live action version of The Little Mermaid which will be sure to garner both critical adoration and a strong box-office response as has greeted her previous releases. As the Coppola family evolves into an outward-branching Hollywood dynasty, proving that the industry is well and truly a family business, another of the Coppola clan is making their first forays into filmmaking. Granddaughter of directorial legend Francis Ford Coppola, Gia Coppola has recently made her cinematic debut with the low-budget indie pic Palo Alto that by all accounts carries many of the hallmarks of a Coppola film.
Jane Goldman will soon be turning her hand to the spy comedy in Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Another woman paired alongside Nicole Perlman as an emerging talent amongst the male bastion is Jane Goldman, who since 2007 has been making a name for herself as a supremely talented scriptwriter. She is responsible for the hugely entertaining Kick-Ass as well as the two latest X-Men endeavours which have stormed the box-office with their jaw-dropping action sequences. Proving her talents can span multiple genres, Goldman, who has been married to TV presenter and comic book enthusiast Jonathan Ross since 1988, has provide the screenplay for the upcoming spy action-comedy Kingsman: The Secret Service. Starring Mark Hamill, Samuel L Jackson and Colin Firth the film will arrive in cinemas in mid-October.
Debra Granik brought Jennifer Lawrence to wider acclaim through her Winter's Bone performance.
Despite being far from the most prolific of filmmakers, Debra Granik has already picked up an Oscar nomination as well as directing two Oscar-nominated performances from Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes for their performances in the superb and thoroughly bleak Winter’s Bone. The film also granted Granik a well-deserved Best Picture Oscar, another category in which women have been woefully underrepresented throughout the history of the prestigious annual award ceremony. Her first feature since Winter’s Bone will be a compelling documentary on Ron ‘Stray Dog’ Hall, entitled Stray Dog. As an investigation on the effect of war on the mentality of a veteran, Granik’s next venture looks set to be a hugely thought provoking affair.
Anne Fletcher has put her choreography skills to god use in Step Up.
Choreographer turned director Anne Fletcher scored a series of box-office hits in the noughties with a trio of romantic hits that included 27 Dresses, Step Up and The Proposal. Her box-office tallies has afforded Fletcher high esteem and as such she has been handed the directorial duties to modern fairy tale Enchanted 2, the follow up the 2007 picture that saw a host of fairy tale characters finding themselves thrust upon the streets of New York City. She has also registered a strong track record in production, taking the producer role for The Wedding Planner and Step Up 2 as well flexing her equally impressive acting muscles in The Proposal and The Pacifier.
Hardwicke took the helm on the first Twilight movie.
Beginning her career, Catherine Hardwicke entered the movie business as a production designer, gaining credits on several well-received films at the turn of the millennium including the mind-boggling Vanilla Sky and Three Kings. Thirteen, her collaboration with then 14 year-old actress Nikki Reed gained the solid approval of critics, gaining her a Sundance Film Festival award for directing. Lords Of Dogtown, an supremely entertaining film about the burgeoning skate and surf scene in California followed son after but it was in 2008 that Hardwicke would direct one of the definitive film franchises of the recent era. Twilight was a monumental success, netting hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide and spearheading Hardwicke towards superstardom. Interestingly, she refused offers to direct the follow-ups, each of which was subsequently victim of a gradually declining artistic merit. She followed this up with Red Riding Hood and will soon be releasing Missing You Already which stars Rachel Weisz and Toni Collette.
Bigelow is the first woman to take home a Best Director Oscar.
After 82 years of the Academy Awards, Katheryn Bigelow became the first woman to be bestowed with the Best Director award by the Academy’s voters, a monumental occasion for females who have long been maligned in the industry. Hurt Locker, her seventh feature at that point, was nominated for a whopping nine Oscars, eventually winning six including the awards for best film and screenplay. Having made her directing debut in 1981, Bigelow released films sporadically and scored a hit with the oft ridiculed Point Break, if only for the spectacularly wooden performance of Keanu Reeves. Political thriller Zero Dark Thirty, which charted the hunt and eventual capture of infamous terrorist overlord Osama Bin Laden also scored a vast array of plaudits as well as picking up an Oscar for sound editing. With her recent hits successfully mediating the line between artistic and commercial victories, Bigelow is a standout director in her own right, giving the men a real run for their money.
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