Ladies Behind the Camera: Hollywood’s Female Directors
When The Hurt Locker‘s Kathryn Bigelow won the Academy award for Best Director a few years ago, I was surprised. That’s not to say I was surprised that a woman had won, but rather that a woman had directed a film that was so militaristic. With the majority of directors in Hollywood being men, it was refreshing to see not only a woman directs a military film, but to win recognition for it. (It was even sweeter to find out that winning the award meant beating out her ex-husband, Academy Award winner James Cameron).
This got me to thinking about other female directors working in Hollywood. Of course there are female directors working in Hollywood, but they’re far outnumbered by the men working there. Some of them don’t get the recognition they deserve, and others don’t even get noticed. I decided to do a little bit of research on female directors to see what I’ve been missing. Here’s what I discovered for myself.
Some might think that the action movie industry is a male-dominated world, and they’d be right. At the simplest level, they’re movies made for guys by guys, with an attractive woman thrown in for good measure. Now that the industry is changing, so has the action film.
Directors like Mimi Leder and the aforementioned Kathryn Bigelow have definitely made a few good action flicks in their time: The Peacemaker, Point Break, Deep Impact, K19: The Widowmaker, The Hurt Locker. Am I trying to say that women are as good as men at making action flicks? Not necessarily. But if the list of films are any example, women definitely have a way of bringing that little bit of drama to their action films that makes the viewer connect to the characters, the story, and the bonds they form.
You would think that because men have the run of the action movie industry that they might leave the rom-com genre to the women, but no. Outside of Garry Marshall, Rob Reiner, and a few choice others, the best romantic comedies are made by women, and usually done by one of the two greats: Nancy Meyers and Nora Ephron. Between them you have What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday, You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, and even When Harry Met Sally (to a certain extent). Plus, in a genre that focuses more on product rather than quality, when was the last time you saw a really great romantic comedy?
I have to say, I was blown away by how many women have left their mark in the comedy industry, especially in terms of classic comedy film: Billy Madison, Big, Wayne’s World, Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, A League of Their Own. Now the comedy genre has changed, making the films in it more hit-or-miss than others. Unless, of course, you’re Seth Rogen or Judd Apatow, whose comedies continue to be both insightful and funny. What we really need now is for the female versions of them, women like Tina Fey and Lynn Shelton, to climb into the director’s chair and start making some comedies for the other side.
What do you guys think? Any comments? Suggestions? Let me know!
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