On the Oscars

I’ve seen a lot of takes mentioning how this is the second year in a row that no women have been nominated for best director, as though this were the exception and not the rule, as though this has been a troubling new trend and not the actual modus operandi of the academy. Because yes, while Greta Gerwig was nominated two years ago for Lady Bird, you have to go back to 2010 to see another female director nominated (Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”). The Oscars have existed for 92 years, and in that time only 7 women have been nominated (and 6 black people, all men).

The Oscar nominees this year are overwhelmingly white and male, despite a number of excellent films featuring/created by women and POC.

It goes without saying that women and POC face challenges breaking into The film industry (and many many other industries) that aren’t present for white men. And even beyond that, the work of these creators is then judged against a conception of art established by the work of an overwhelmingly white and male canon of classics and an overwhelmingly white and male body of critics. So we call it great art when Scorsese does the same thing as usual but for 40 minutes longer (ditto for Tarantino) but struggle to apply the term to the story of a Chinese-American who returns to China with her family to visit her dying (but unaware of it) grandmother (Lulu Wang, “The Farewell”).

I recently watched a review of Little Women in which the reviewer said that he most enjoyed the parts featuring Timothée Chalamet (sad boy extraordinaire) and Tracy Letts, because, having not had sisters, he couldn’t identify with the rest of the film. I’ve never had a sister. And while Little Women maybe ostensibly, on the most superficial of levels, be about sisters, the film itself is about so much more. It’s hard to understand how anyone could fail to see this. How anyone who can readily identify with a race car driver, a hitman, or a superhero would draw the line at ‘sisters’.
I wish it were only a lack of imagination, because the more sinister (and also more likely) option, is that there are a lot of people who (whether consciously or subconsciously) who don’t want to identify with women or POC, who don’t want to put in the effort to interest themselves in their stories.
So is it lack of practice? You can learn empathy. It’s frightening to think of people with more power not wanting to recognize themselves in people “below them”, not wanting to confront evidence of the humanity of people relatively lacking in that power.

Another reviewer called the inciting incident in Queen & Slim (which, full disclosure, I haven’t seen yet, it’s not out here), in which a black couple on a first date are pulled over by a cop (for no discernable reason) and face the threat of police brutality a “contrivance”. That, with The Hate U Give coming out a year before, Queen & Slim was “redundant”. Police brutality, something that threatens the lives of African Americans every single day, a contrivance. A trope. I clearly have a lot of words, but none can describe how this makes me feel. A black story told more than once is more than enough. A white story told more than once is a classic. Forget that there are people fearing for their lives, people dying. If telling these stories isn’t at least part of what art is for, then what good is our art?

So I know I’m not a critic, and I know no one cares, but I’m rooting for Bong Joon-Ho and Parasite. But neither of those are bets I would place. Todd Phillips shouldn’t have been nominated, Lupita Nyong’o being passed over for her dual role in Us is a disappointment, but they would have just kicked out Cynthia Erivo (the only black best actress nominee, “Harriet”). I would have liked to see Eddie Murphy nominated, and would have been happy with another Best Director nomination for Gerwig, although my personal choice would have been Céline Sciamma (“Portrait de la jeune fille en feu/Portrait of a Lady on Fire”).

By all means do some research or do a quick Google, but here’s a short list of films directed by women that I think should have gathered Oscar consideration, that I enjoyed, that told different stories, and/or that I’m hoping to see:
Portrait of a Lady on Fire, The Farewell, Hustlers, Little Women, (and the following which I haven’t seen) Atlantics, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Birds of Passage, Honey Boy, Little Woods, Queen & Slim, The Souvenir, Tigers are Not Afraid.
And I’m sure I’m leaving some off.

The logistics of searching for directors based on race is harder, but the main additions to those listed above are Parasite and Us, as well as a number of the international films. Partial credit to Dolemite is my Name for telling a black story with a lot of input from Eddie Murphy, even with a largely white team.

I understand that focusing on this in a world shared by bushfires in Australia, political assassination in the Middle East, earthquakes in Puerto Rico, late capitalism, etc. is… questionable, but despite my ongoing efforts to educate myself, I still feel more qualified to talk about films than retaliatory violence against student protestors in India (for now). I also feel that if the work of women and POC continues to get less praise and make less money (in any sphere), the fewer opportunities these people will get. People will be less willing to support their work when it does get made. And back to the beginning, ad infinitum.

Mid-week Links

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It seems like every time I’ve been posting recently it’s been prefaced by an apology about my lack of consistency.  I’m here again and again with another excuse- you would think being homebound with a bad ankle would lead to more posting rather than less, but instead I’ve just generally been very off my game for the last week.  Thankfully I’m starting to shape up and am more or less ready to rejoin the land of the living/productive, which is good because we’ve got some family trips lined up which I would never for the life of me be missing.
But that does also mean I’m unlikely to be posting consistently for another week and a half.  The boondocks of PA doesn’t even have phone connection, much less WiFi.
See you on the other side!

In the meantime, I’ve amassed a hideous army of motley links from around the interwebs.

Why so many posts about Instagram?

Peace and Acceptance:

On Films:

  • The trouble with Hollywood’s gender flips: “These reboots require women to relive men’s stories instead of fashioning their own. And they’re subtly expected to fix these old films, to neutralize their sexism and infuse them with feminism, to rebuild them into good movies with good politics, too. They have to do everything the men did, except backwards and with ideals.”
  • The Pop Culture Detective strikes again! The topic: Abduction as Romance.
  • The Hate U Give. This looks pretty great.
  • What is Cinemascore?

Miscellaneous:

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Links 6/15

Hi hi hi. I missed the links post last week not because I didn’t have enough to share, just from pure laziness.  So it’s a bit heavy on the links today, but I have broken them down into bite-size and easily digestible categories.

Trailers:

Father’s Day:

  • A wince-worthy compilation of Dad Jokes.
  • The New Dad: What the evolution of stock photos shows about our changing understanding of paternity and parenthood.

Identity:

Miscellaneous:

  • How ASMR became an internet phenomenon.
  • This Parisian restaurant only lets you in with a baby or a bump.
  • I’ve been following this illustrator for a long time and now she’s selling some of her prints of Etsy!
  • Bumblebees use scent and color patterns to tell flowers apart.

Friday Links 5/18

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Happy Friday! It seems like a pretty good day 9a bit nippy) and I’m looking forward to some exciting doings this weekend.

How about you?

Friday Links 5/11

boop.jpgHappy Friday and Happy Mother’s Day weekend!
Do you have any plans?
In a few hours we (my parents and I) will be going up to Belfast, Maine to spend the weekend with my Aunt Susan and Bill, whose mother owns an alpaca farm.  There will be alpaca shearing, vegan food, and tactful discussions about Infinity War without mentioning to movie fan Bill (it’s so nice to be around other movie fans) that I never plan to see it.

I’ve been reading a lot, falling behind on the films I have checked out from the library, gardening for hours a day, and enjoying the springly weather. I also cooked some interesting pancakes yesterday so that  have foods when I return next week. I will report back.

What’s happening on the worldwide web?

  • Speaking of movie people, this film looks like it could be amazing. Also really excited for The Seagull, an adaptation of one of the few Chekhov pieces I’e actually read.
  • A beautiful essay that I’m at a loss as to how to describe.
  • The Duchess of Northumberland sounds like a fun lady- she created the garden at Alnwick Castle, possible the deadliest garden in the world.
  • How does Deadpool always win the promotion game? This is genius.
  • One of the greatest things about being back in America is the access to SNL’s youtube uploads. I know the main story (DESERVEDLY) is the release of This is America by Donald Glover- but let’s not forget about the Barbie skit.
  • #MeToo and Junot Diaz: Cycles of victimization and victimizing, sexual harassment, celebrity and race.
  • When two celebrity ladies (internet fashion personae?) give birth in close succession and get together to share their experiences with the early days of motherhood.
  • I love this Public Place Meditation Guide– it’s very closely related to some wisdom my mother shared with me years ago: practice seeing the divinity in everyone around you.
  • A mathematical model may explain how two brains agree on the experiential profile of smells.
  • Possibly the most charming interview I’ve ever seen. I think I may have just fallen in love with all three of these men.
  • Have you liked any pages created by Russian bots?Ask Facebook.
  • A complex algorithm predicts the likelihood of final season Game of Thrones deaths. Bye, Daenerys.
  • An amazing photograph. I love whales.

Links for the two test week

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It’s been such a week so I’m just going to throw some links on here and run. Seriously, right from vacation into double killer exams.  When it feel like a long week and it’s only Tuesday you know you’re in trouble.

But I bought my flight home, wheee!

  • A children’s book to teach about the huge and overwhelming emotional spectrum. Hooray for raising emotionally literate and empathetic children.
  • It’s Luckyscent’s 15 year anniversary- and they’re welcoming some cool store exclusives!
  • This instagram account makes beautiful patterns from everyday objects. One step up from freakebana?
  • My favorite Oscar speeches!- Guillermo del Toro and Frances McDormand (I just watched the latter again (for the fourth time? Still so powerful. #InclusionRider).
  • I shared an essay about Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon a week or two ago- and he seems pretty charming in person. And he has a cute belly.
  • Wait, are they going to make a film from Chekhov’s The Seagull? Because that would be amazing. Also, how many films is Saoirse Ronan in this year? Also Annette Bening.
  • Heartwarming story of the week: A tiny little girl transfixed by the National Portrait Gallery’s portrait of Michelle Obama meets her idol.
  • My favorite, sent to me by my college roommate (whose birthday was yesterday, Happy Birthday, Lily!)- the largest ever analysis of film dialogue by gender. It reminds me of how my Mom has stopped watching films exclusively about white men (she made a recent exception for Call Me By Your Name) and now finds that most films she watches are about black men. The lack of substantial female roles in the film industry is really astonishing.

Links: But also it’s OSCAR DAY

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My life is dark and full of terrors but also pretty good. I’m still getting over my stomach bug/food poisoning, my landlords are creatures from the black lagoon, I have an exam tomorrow and an exam on Friday and I am NOT PREPARED (Constance the Perpetually Unready) but I had a lovely time in Spain and Malta over my break.

What can you do?

I woke up at 3 am for my flight back to France and I’m a mess trying to gain the energy to shower and study, but today is Oscar Day and I have some time-sensitive links that should go up. And also procrastination.

Allons-y!