Being that the Oscars are coming up this Sunday, I felt it was appropriate for the theme of this week’s post to revolve around this esteemed event.
This season has a strong variety of films nominated for awards including “American Hustle,” “12 Years a Slave,” “August: Osaeg County,” “Gravity,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” etc. One impressive part of the Oscar contenders is the number of films in which there is a female protagonist, or at least a strong female counterpart. Some of these films include “Gravity,” “Blue Jasmine” and “August: Osage County”.
Here are the nominees for best actress in a leading role:
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
Among this list, I have only seen three of them, but in just the list itself, this is an extremely strong and wide variety of women. Meryl Streep’s praise has gained her much recognition during awards season, but I know we already talked about her in a few posts a few weeks ago. “Philomena” is unfortunately one of the films I was unable to watch before the Oscars this Sunday.
Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” is one of the films I have unfortunately been unable to watch as well, but that this story has a female protagonist (and from what I’ve heard an extremely well-developed one) is one of the reasons I have been wanting to watch it for so long. In many of Woody Allen’s earlier, and even more recent films, there is usually a male protagonist. Female characters play a large part (think “Annie Hall”) but the story is not told through their perspective. From what I’ve heard of “Blue Jasmine,” Cate Blanchett’s character is not a side one, but rather the character that the audience follows throughout the story. In juxtaposition with Woody Allen’s other male-driven films, this exemplifies how “Best Actress in a Leading Role” actually represents leading role as opposed to love interest or sidekick.
“American Hustle” is very much an ensemble film where Christian Bale’s character is the protagonist, but Amy Adams’ character makes one good leading actress. Although the film follows his perspective, Amy Adams’ character’s action influence the story a great deal and the character goes through a large arc throughout the film. This arc is what makes this character more than just a sidekick to Christian Bale. If she were just a sidekick, her arc would not have a great deal of influence, nor importance in the story. That this cast was mostly ensemble makes it difficult to single to characters out as “leading” but this use of ensemble also brings Amy Adams’ character into the spotlight just as much as Christian Bale’s, regardless of his being the main protagonist of the film.
There is no doubt that Sandra Bullock was the protagonist in “Gravity” being that the film was entirely about her character surviving in space while trying to get back to Earth. The trailers and advertisements push George Clooney’s role in this film as being just as big as hers, but this was most likely just to gain audience members. Sandra Bullock’s career has been an eclectic one ranging from romantic comedies, to pure comedies, to more dramatic works, such as this one. “Gravity” is almost the definition of a female character driven film because the story really deals with one woman’s survival.
Given the strength in female protagonists this year, it will be interesting to see who gets the Oscar!