It was hard not to notice Robin Wright at the Critics Choice awards, striding out onto the stage with her still impossibly youthful legs, and announcing that 2011 was the Year of the Woman. She referenced Bridesmaids and Dragon Tattoos, probably because she couldn’t say housemaids. Either way, Bridesmaids, The Help and The Girl with Dragon Tattoo have reinvented what defines a hit and what defines an “Oscar movie.” All three have been underestimated for one reason or another and yet have managed to stay relevant, even if the majority of the other films are more traditional male-driven narratives. But the year of the woman? Could it really be?
Look a little closer and you see a lot of strong female characters — Chloe Moretz in Hugo is a writer and drives much of the action. Shailene Woodley is the best and most forceful thing about the Descendants and in Midnight in Paris it is the women who show Owen Wilson the way. One pulls him in, one pushes him out. And then there’s Gertrude Stein (who punched him in the mouth). Finally, The Artist is about two different careers and in the end the one who emerges from the ashes, saves the protagonist from ruin is a woman. Of course, in this year’s awards race, Bernice Bejo is stuffed into the supporting category (where she belongs, damnit!) but in fact, she really is a co-lead with Jean Dujardin.