In her new column on the Oscar race for Women and Hollywood at Indiewire, Susan Wloszczyna celebrates the longevity of Sandra Bullock’s career arc. When you look at where she started and now, where she’s landed with Gravity you can’t help but marvel at the ways she’s redefining not only her career but the potential trajectory for actresses over 40 in Hollywood.
Last year’s Zero Dark Thirty made $95 million, and eventually took the number one spot at the box office when it opened wide and was headed straight for the Oscar race before it was hit with controversy. But to understand the kind of tiny revolution happening here one must set aside that controversy for the moment and look only at the success of that film. Let’s also forget it was directed by a woman because that, too, is beside the point.
What is to the point with Zero Dark Thirty is that a film with a woman in the lead, making the decisions, having the whole plot turn around her character is the kind of thing Hollywood has to be talked into. Maybe it seemed like a one-off last year. You could say that the subject matter — killing Bin Laden — was enough to drive the box office. But either way, the facts are the facts: a film with a woman in the lead who wasn’t naked, having sex, someone’s mother, wife or girlfriend was kicking ass and taking names.
(…)Jessica Chastain had two number one movies last year — Zero Dark Thirty and Mama. These examples disprove the notion that movies starring women don’t open, don’t make money or aren’t awards bait. They can be. They are. Originally, the studio that had Gravity wanted a man to star in it, not a woman. But Cuaron stuck to the idea that it had to star a woman and look! It was actually successful! Imagine that.
Perhaps we are entering a new era with fresh minds. How can anyone now say Gravity would have been better cast with a man? It’s 2013 – we’re maybe on the brink of having a woman president for the first time ever. How can the films being made still reinforce the notion that only a guy can do it? Just a thought.