Kathryn Bigelow at the DGA

This week (December 10, 2010) the Hollywood Reporter released its list of the 100 most powerful women in Hollywood.  While there are women in power all across Hollywood, especially in the executive suites, one place that still is very difficult to penetrate is the directing ranks.
The Hollywood Reporter list confirmed that fact.  Only one woman director– Kathryn Bigelow — made the list and she was at number 53.
If we created a list of most powerful men in Hollywood (like we need to do that) I would venture to say that there would be several (ok, a lot) of male directors on the list.  Here are just a couple who have the clout to get films made: Tim Burton, James Cameron, Michael Bay, John Favreau, Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Judd Apatow, Todd Phillips, JJ Abrams, Roland Emmerich, Tyler Perry… and I know I am leaving out many.  These are the guys that regularly get gigs at the studios and make millions each year (Perry does work with Lions Gate and yes he still makes millions and that he got to direct For Colored Girls.)
Who are the women who are the most powerful directors?
Nancy Meyers, Nora Ephron, Anne Fletcher, Betty Thomas, Catherine Hardwicke…and now Bigelow herself. And let’s be honest none of these women makes money anywhere near the guys on the list.
So could winning awards help women get more clout?  Sure.  The prestige factor is a big deal.  That’s how Bigelow got on the list.  Everyone want sto work with an Oscar winner.
But really, does the Oscar nomination help?  I looked at the list of people nominated for an Oscar last year to what life has been like for them since their nomination.
James Cameron made a fortune from Avatar and has announced that he will next direct two sequels to Avatar.
Quentin Tarantino was recently roasted at the Friar’s Club but has not yet picked his next film.
Lee Daniels has been trying to raise funds for Selma a civil rights drama and signed a deal to write and direct The Butler for Laura Ziskin.
Jason Reitman is back behind the camera directing Young Adult written by Diablo Cody and starring Charlize Theron.
Kathryn Bigelow — the winner — did a pilot for HBO, The Miraculous Year, which did not get picked up for series and is now shopping an thriller to be written by Marc Boal before she directs Triple Frontier in 2011.
Let’s look at the last couple of winners:
Danny Boyle – 2008 winner – is back in the running with 127 Hours and is also the artistic director for the London Olympics opening ceremony.
Joel and Ethan Coen – 2007 winner – are back in the running this year with True Grit.
Martin Scorcese – 2006 winner – released Shutter Island this year
There are two women still in the major discussions for possible Oscar nods — Debra Granik and Lisa Cholodenko.  Though it would be another huge deal if another woman gets a nomination for best director this year, the truth is that women directors still have little commercial power.  As LA Times said: “nearly all of the beloved indy female directors are unemployable at major studios…”

kathryn-bigelowLast night I went to the DGA program honoring Kathryn Bigelow for her achievements as a director.  I went with my friend Sister Rose Pacatte, who writes a popular blog on cinema and spirituality.

She was a VIP guest, having been on the first jury to make an award to The Hurt Locker, Bigelow’s break-through multi-Oscar-winning film.  The Ecumenical Jury at the Venice Film Festival was the first to launch the critical acclaim that would carry the film to an historic win for Bigelow as Best Director at the DGA and the Oscars.

The reception was lovely and the program was heart-felt and was a wonderful tribute to an amazing woman.  But I couldn’t help remembering a Women in Hollywood article I had read the week before.  It recounts the rather dismal reality in the aftermath to Bigelow’s stunning achievement.

Let’s look at the last couple of winners:

Danny Boyle – 2008 winner – is back in the running with 127 Hours ($18 Million budget) and is also the artistic director for the London Olympics opening ceremony.

Joel and Ethan Coen – 2007 winner – are back in the running this year with True Grit ($35 Million budget).

Martin Scorcese – 2006 winner – released Shutter Island this year ($100 Million Budget).

There are two women still in the major discussions for possible Oscar nods — Debra Granik and Lisa Cholodenko.  Though it would be another huge deal if another woman gets a nomination for best director this year, the truth is that women directors still have little commercial power.  As LA Times said: “nearly all of the beloved indy female directors are unemployable at major studios…”

Okay– So am I incredibly small minded for not just enjoying the evening?  But the truth is all this wonderful director could line up after her win was an HBO movie.

As far as my search revealed her next film (at a low $10 million dollar budget) may or may not be financed a year after taking home the Oscar.  Reports are conflicting.

5 Comments

  1. Reply Sr Rose 9th March 2011

    Hi Laurie,

    It was lovely last night – thank you! More than one person noted how hard it is to get another gig after one wins an Oscar. The thing is, Kathryn’s work is so stand-out that it seems a little “mean” (as the Brits say meaning “stingy”) that she is working on another small film and that funding is an issue. I hope she bats it right out of the park!

    This was the first Hollywood tribute I ever attended and I was very impressed at how articulate and deep everyone was (OK, with that one exception.) And generous. These folks are artists and I love it that they know this and that they reflect on their “calling” in such multi-dimensional ways, layered in meaning.

    Bless you!

    R

  2. Reply Shannon Colleary 10th March 2011

    Which reminds me of standing on the picket line during the last WGA strike and realizing there were twenty men for every one woman. And pitching my original series to two powerful male show-runners and being astonished when they directed all of their story questions to a male director who had come on as a last minute attachment. Having said all of that, I won’t be surprised when Bigelow gets another shot at that statue. She’s been directing typically male-driven movies for twenty years. She’s not going away and she is blazing a trail for more women to follow.

    • Reply Laurie Hutzler 9th April 2011

      Thanks Shannon! I’ve been in that same position.

  3. Reply Delmar Pico 29th May 2011

    Of course, what a great blog and illuminating posts, I surely will bookmark your website.All the Best!

  4. Reply CharlesDJ 15th December 2012

    Maybe she’s not getting any work because H.L was actually a terrible movie.. That’s coming from someone who’s spent 4 years deployed in these same areas. The Academy very rarely picks movies that most would consider enjoyable, much less the best movie of the year. Avatar received standing ovations at least, first time that’s happened since… well, the Titanic.

Add comment