2015 has been an incredibly busy year, not just on the world stage, but for the film world as well. Even though having a new Star Wars movie and a new James Bond movie released in the same year kind of feels like this is the 80’s all over again, we definitely saw changes in the politics of film in 2015. Never has there been such a soaring movement for women in film, and there were pretty significant moments. Here are 9 of them.
9) Patricia Arquette at the Oscars
Patricia Arquette started 2015 with a bang. She won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for a heartbreaking performance 12 years in the making in Boyhood, and gave a rousing speech in favour of equal pay for women. On one of the most watched stages in the world and a few months after the Sony hack revealed insane pay gaps even for such a high-profile star as Jennifer Lawrence, Patricia Arquette’s speech must have resonated with many in the audience.
8) “He Named Me Malala”
This is arguably one of the most important documentaries of this year. Malala has been bothering consciences all over the world because of her advocacy for girls’ education. That made her the target go the Taliban, and that has barely slowed her down. The Nobel Peace Prize recipient’s story is a crucial subject in our day and age, and the more people are aware of it the better.
It took almost a century to bring this story to the screen, and boy was it necessary to do so. With such high-profile performers as Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep (who, after cheering Patricia Arquette at the Oscars also opened a screenwriting lab for women over 40, had a busy year) and Ben Whishaw, it narrated the struggles of the early feminist movement in the UK. Despite the fact that the story is almost a hundred years old, you need only open the papers to see how relevant this film is. Go indie film!
6) Monica Bellucci in “Spectre”
What? A James Bond film has marked a good moment for women in film? No, you didn’t miss anything. The days when James Bond girls were named Holly Goodhead or Pussy Galore are gone (good riddance), and one of the Bond girls in the latest instalment of the franchise is -wait for it- age-appropriate. Never mind that she’s disposed of in 15 minutes (if that) as elegantly as ever in favour of the (much, much) younger Dr Swann. It’s still an honour that an age-appropriate woman got to be used by James Bond himself, right? Right?
5) Kate Winslet being Kate Winslet
The iconic actress first appeared on our radars in the 90’s. Since then, she’s become a household name and one of the best performers of her generation. This year, she’s made waves by expressing her intention to age naturally (gasp). Her new contract with L’Oreal has a clause specifying that she doesn’t want to be photoshopped on the ads. Also, while receiving the Variety Award at the British Independent Film Awards, she said: “I’d be happy with a world without Botox.”. So would we, and we’d also be able to express our happiness.
Exploring new stories in new ways is independent film at its core, and that’s just what this film did. We follow a trans sex worker in Los Angeles as she hunts down her pimp boyfriend on Christmas Eve. Not only is it a really good film, it also told a brand new story in the year that put transgender on the map. Oh and it was entirely shot with an iPhone. Again, go indie film!
3) “Star Wars”
The greatest pop culture phenomenon of the 20th century is back. “The Force Awakens” has been called the biggest fan film ever made, and it arguably is. Princess Leia is now a General of the Resistance and the main character is a young woman named Rey. Even though the feminist overtones are not really subtle (subtlety has never been the franchise’s strength), the fact that Disney agreed to make such a badass girl the new Luke Skywalker is pretty significant, especially given the massive audience that this film has. (She’s also given a beautiful theme by John Williams)
2) “Inside Out”
Inside Out marked a return to form for Pixar after a few years when the studio released sequels and films that lacked its trademark originality and liveliness. It’s almost all forgotten with “Inside Out”. Not only is it one of the most inspiring, original, beautiful films made in recent years, it also had a girl as a lead character. The story focuses on the emotions of the character, two of which are female, and they inhabit the brain of a young girl. Come to think of it, how often does it happen that such a mainstream hit has a girl as a lead?
1) Jane Fonda in “Youth”
Stardom is an elusive concept, especially in the age of the Kardashians. And yet, every once in a while, you’re reminded what it is when you see someone who’s been like that all their life. “Youth” displays the work of the finest thespians around, with Harvey Keitel and Michael Caine as the main characters, and Rachel Weisz. It’s not until the end that Jane Fonda shows up in the film, and she brings down the house. She’s been a star since birth, and plays one in this film. She’s imbued her performance with touches of Barbara Stanwyck and Bette Davis, who she knew. (She also went skinny dipping with Greta Garbo in the South of France, even though that has little to do with her acting abilities; it’s just a great fun fact.) Her scene is one of the most riveting in the film, and you can’t help but be caught in her web and in the story. It’s only when you get out of the movie that you find yourself catching your breath and realising that there’s really no reason to shun talent whatever its gender and its age.
Did we miss any? Let us know!