Share

Lucy rules. But why can’t films starring women catch a break with critics?

We ask for more movies starring women (that aren’t just love stories or romantic comedies). Hollywood complies. You think this would make people a little bit happier about the terrible state of Hollywood now. But no, it doesn’t. Three recent films starring women that made hardcore cheddar at the box office (which generally means more movies like this will get made) got thrashed by critics. In all three cases I was warned by people I follow on Twitter to stay away from these BAD movies. Maleficent, not good enough. The next film was Tammy, starring Melissa McCarthy. This wasn’t just ejected from the cool kids room like Maleficent but it was panned across the board. Those reviews eventually turned into pleas to help Melissa McCarthy save her career!

And now comes Lucy. “It was a bad movie,” said one person to me on Twitter. “Bad” is a club now. Did you know? You only have to agree with the status quo on Twitter and you too can be one of the tribe. I’m supposed to take this person’s word of it because….?

Bigger question: How do we even start to talk about good and bad with the kind of shitstream that is coming out of Hollywood now?

Now, sure, all of that nonsense Christopher Orr at the Atlantic was spewing to myth-bust the myth about how we only use 10% of our brains — as though he were reviewing a PBS Nature program or a scholarly treatise in Scientific American. If you want reality, however, look out the fucking window. It’s all around you all the time. We go to the movies not for reality — but sometimes for fantasy. And I can tell you, as a woman this was a delirious fantasy — not so much because she did all of those things in the movie but because she GOT TO DO all of those things in the movie. The mere choice to put a woman in that part was a sheer and utter revelation of the kind that Just. Doesn’t. Happen. Anymore. In America.

I sat there with my 16-year-old daughter through the trailers that were, I’m not kidding, 90% male-driven. There was Fury — starring all men. There was The Judge, starring all men (with one or two “supporting” females). There was some secret service movie with Colin Firth. Finally we get to a film for women and it’s 50 Shades of Fucking Grey. Really Hollywood? I was embarrassed that this was the sorry-ass state of things on MY WATCH in the presence of my very intelligent daughter who has a whole life ahead of her to navigate as a woman. Where are the stories starring women? They are nowhere. So naturally, she and I were giddy with joy watching Scarlett Johansson evolve suddenly into a super-being with extraordinary powers of perception.

Tammy and Maleficent are two films that star women who aren’t supporting characters and they aren’t sex objects and they aren’t the one who helps the dude save the world. They are actual people and the plot turns on their internal struggles. The stories are ABOUT THEM. Maybe you have to be an old-timer to really understand how dramatically things have shifted in Hollywood. Maybe if you’re young you don’t realize how tragic it all has become. Online misogyny is the default. Whole generations of young women are buying the misinformation by that misogynist culture and claiming they aren’t feminists because feminists are BAD. We are cycling backwards, away from women’s rights and towards something that doesn’t look like the world I grew up in. When I was a young girl I was growing up under the protective umbrella of feminism. Women like Faye Dunaway, Sissy Spacek, Jane Fonda and Ellen Burstyn ruled the box office. Movies were built around them the way they had been for Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyk. But now? We have Jennifer Lawrence movies. But we also have Angelina Jolie and Melissa McCarthy and Scarlett Johansson.

So would you think for one minute that I would ever undervalue my voice as a “film critic” to trash these movies because they weren’t perfect? Do you think I would ever care what some 20- or 30-something male had to tell me about whether these movies are good? Do you actually think I have time for shit like that? Ain’t got NO time for that, not when films made BY women are as rare as films STARRING women. Not when a movie like Tammy gets made at all. Not when Luc Besson casts Scarlett Johansson as Lucy. And not when Maleficent has become a worldwide phenomenon at the box office.

Films starring women (that aren’t love stories or romantic comedies or any story that revolves around a man) need to start making shitloads, boatloads, giant wads of cold hard cash at the box office which Maleficent and Lucy are now doing. Tammy, it should be said, isn’t a bomb either. It’s made money. (In only 4 weeks it’s earned 4 times what it cost.) It just didn’t zoom to $100 million. When the money starts to rain down, things will start to shift. I hope it happens soon because Hollywood is coming close to losing whole generations of young women who know they deserve better than spending their money to watch the inner flower of every male character in American film bloom on screen.

What I see, if you want to know the truth, is a branded culture. We are so locked into that which is familiar that we can’t roll with anything that doesn’t fit into that paradigm. This is why there are only five fast food places to choose from at any given roadside town up and down the highways of this country. Americans like fewer choices, bigger and more identifiable brands. Why do you think everything we see is a sequel or a remake? People afraid to try something new stick with brands that are familiar. They like what’s safely repeatable.

Lucy is a movie that doesn’t follow any brand. It isn’t a remake and it toys with our perception of what a sci-fi/action movie starring a woman should be. Lucy took it a step further, of course, because in Lucy Besson made the specific connection of the maternal force — which, anyone who has studied human evolution knows that it’s the female, not the male, who is the favored of the sexes. Women burn fat more slowly so they can survive longer. Women live longer. Women give birth to babies. What I love about Lucy is that it posits the notion that a woman can do anything if she finds the key to unlock her inherent brain power.

Lucy, for all of the panning the critics did, has some really wonderful metaphors going on — especially about human intelligence where women are concerned. The last thing we get credit for is our intelligence, believe me. Yet Luc Besson took it upon himself to make (yet another) film that revolved around the intelligence of a female character in a role that would ordinarily be given to a man. Notice how the critics did not attack Gravity? Yeah, that’s because in Gravity the woman’s internal world was something EVERYONE is already familiar with: maternal love, a desire to live. There is nothing challenging about that, nothing subversive, nothing out of the ordinary. But in Lucy? And in Maleficent? And even Tammy (the haters can fuck off, I said) these are characters we hardly ever, if ever, see on screen.

I understand it’s the film critics job to objectively and subjectively write up a film. I don’t understand a film critic advocating against people seeing a movie, as Amy Nicholson is doing over at the LA Weekly. I don’t understand the little tribes of people online who form teams for or against a movie, because I’m immediately suspicious of any tribe that tells me what I should think about anything, let alone a movie. I’m also suspicious of any tribe that doesn’t get the bigger picture about women in film, women in Hollywood and women overall. But most of all, I’m suspicious of anyone who lets anyone else do their thinking for them.

I have also lived what I hope is half my life. I’ve watched critics and the cool kids hate on a movie only to see that movie gain in esteem over the years (The Big Lebowski, for instance). I’ve seen movies take on a life of their own completely outside the world of film critics who then must unscramble their notions of what defines a great movie. I can tell you, when Vertigo was first released, no one imagined it would one day be named as the best film ever made. Its two Oscar nominations for Art Direction and Sound tell you all you need to know about that. So how can we be so sure our snap judgments today are right?

Lucy asks us to question that which we see with our own eyes. While the “science” (oh please lecture me some more on science, Christopher Orr) might not be what’s in our text books or what we all have agreed is true, it makes the bigger point that we have absolutely no fucking clue what expanded or evolved intelligence is. We have no clue. What we do know is that what we see with our eyes is a constructed, simplified illusion of that which we can understand. We have dumbed ourselves down so that we don’t become overwhelmed. That part of is true.

Did you know, for instance, that apes only saw a limited number of colors early on in their evolution? The apes from whom we descended passed down a gene that allowed them to see a wide array of color so that we could find food better. Survival equals offspring equals evolved traits. So how do we even know the colors we are seeing are all of the colors? We only can see what our biology has determined we need to see. The spectrum of what is really out there? We have no idea.

Instead of this kind of expanded conversation, we get the same gobbledegook from the critics we must must endure each time a film that tries something risky comes out. Sure, sometimes the critics can roll with new ideas — but most of the time they want the screenplay to “work.” They want the three-act structure and the conflict and resolution to all work together in the manner that, to them, defines a good movie. Funny part is, how do they really know? Trust me, they don’t. No one really does. Time smooths out the wrinkles and good becomes great. Bad becomes good and the colors eventually reveal themselves.

But really, don’t mind me. The movie’s dumb? Okay, the movie’s dumb. Skip this dumb movie and you’ll miss a chance to decide for yourself. Skip Lucy and you’ll never know what you missed.

57 Comments on this Post

  1. I feel like you’re picking and choosing here, Sasha. There are plenty of female-led films that have garnered great reviews over the years. There’s no conspiracy here.

    I’ve seen all three and all three are mediocre films, simple as that. Lucy is the most interesting, but it’s still a mostly dopey thriller. Maleficent has a couple scenes devoted to the rape metaphor, but outside of that it suffers from the same issues as Alice in Wonderland and Oz the Great and Powerful.

  2. Stephen Mitchell

    I liked Frozen, I liked Catching Fire I even (sort of) liked Maleficent. I’m not going to like Tammy or Lucy just because a Women is in the title role.

  3. phantom

    Great piece as always, Sasha ! I have a great, very recent example for you : I’ve just watched a period piece called “Belle” in London. It is about a mixed race, free gentlewoman and her experience in 18th century England, a time when slavery still very much existed. There were quite a few people in the audience which was a pleasant surprise for me because the film has been out for weeks now and after all it IS a little indie among the summer blockbuster storm. There was a woman with her three lively, unruly daughters of hers, she quietly scolded them through the whole film “pay attention it’s very good”. It was nice to see a mother taking her young girls seriously enough to make a girls night out and take/drag them to see such a classy historic piece. No twilightbullshit for these girls ! The row behind me was full, I didn’t see them because they arrived after the lights went out (my favorite moment of moviegoing, when the room gets dark and still everything is possible, maybe I’m about to see a new masterpiece ! Clearly it is rarely the case but I cherish those few seconds of hopeful excitement every time I take my seat in a movie theater…even when it is Transformers 4). So back to the row behind me…you know the one that was full. They were silent during the whole film except in the end when the judge made his decision about the owners of a cargo ship who not only chained their sick slaves together and drowned them because they were in such a state that they were not “sellable” anymore but were also utterly vile enough to claim the insurance money for their “loss of property”. It was the central case of the film. The row behind me started collectively sobbing. The film ended. It was one big happy family. Grandmother, daughter, granddaughters. They also happened to be black. As we left the theater, the grandma turned to me, still teared up, and asked me if I liked the film. I was a bit stunned, I was never asked that question by a stranger before. I said I loved it. She replied “yes, finally a good film”. And then it hit me. She finally saw a film with a black female lead. Not that that is unprecedented, but definitely rare enough for her to get emotional about it. She was holding her toddler aged granddaughter who was already sleeping and must have been during the film, too. I whispered so I wouldn’t wake her. Her grandma said she wanted her to see it and she will watch it with her again when she is older. That’s how much it must have meant to her to see a film from a black female’s point of view. And when I say this, I don’t just mean the story… to my knowledge, it was the first period piece headlined (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), directed (Amma Asante) and written by (Misan Sagay) by black women. And though second the outrage kicks in that we still have such ‘firsts’ in our time and age but first I was just happy. Happy that though late but such a collaboration arrived… and on the big screen AND in a theater near me no less.

  4. superkk

    lol great piece? oh please. this is probably one of the silliest articles ive ever seen.

    LUCY was an OK thriller at best. lets not complain and nit pick over movies LIKE LUCY. and OH GOD TAMMY. did you really just try and defend that POS movie tammy? TAMMY did poorly not because it starred a WOMAN but because it was a messy movie, all over the place with very few laughs. and the funny thing about malificient is many people PRAISED angelina jolies peformance..they just didnt like the movie.

    you really have got to do better. you keep crying wolf just because someone doesnt agree with what you like and you try to find obscure reasons to justify it every time. at the end of the day all three movies though did pan out well financially so who cares what critics thinks? im sure neither actresses care, they got their checks.

    im sorry im not gonna sit here and say “Great piece Sasha! Like omg bravo Sasha!” when you sit and defend Tammy lolz. good try.:)

  5. critics shouldn’t give a pass to a movie just because it’s about a woman, that would make them a bad critic. if it’s not good, it’s not good. Tammy was awful, Maleficent was just okay, and Lucy was better because it was nuttier, but I can understand if people thought it was just stupid. They’d get better reviews if they were better movies, period.

  6. Well I loved the shit out of LUCY. I didn’t know critics didn’t like it except for reading the other article here that said they didn’t. The thing is I haven’t listened to critics in a long time. For like the last decade all the “critics” did was cheat off of Roger Ebert’s homework. Whatever he wrote they paraphrased and cashed a check for their “work”. Now in his absence they don’t know shit from Shinola. I don’t read them enough to know now but last time I checked they were basically pulling reviews out of their asses. I hate to say it but maybe 80% of the time the “you didn’t like it because you didn’t understand it” rule holds true with critics. They’re just not that bright.

    I saw that guy’s review about how stupid LUCY was yesterday and had to comment because people like him are just a waste of space. When people are that stupid to think such an original film as this is stupid you just tell them they’re right and walk away and never give them one more minute of your time. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you for years but I guess you enjoy the fight. I think twitter hasn’t helped. You spend so much time on there fighting and it’s a waste. You should be here writing and as I’ve hinted before writing your own creative works. You waste way too much time on asshats. Now that you know what to do with your time, stop it.

  7. Frozen, Hunger Games, Fault in Our Stars, Under the Skin, Brave, Gravity…all female lead movies the critics loved. Or maybe you just forgot to mention that because this is such a silly piece. You pick 3 movies that were not very good. Sorry they just were not good! Period. And Antoinette maybe you should get you head out of your ass! Stole from Ebert…really considering Ebert was considered to be the critic with the highest praise to movies that critics hated….right they all just copied him. MAybe it is you who just isn’t that bright, sitting there saying someone is a moron because they didn’t like a movie you did. The only asshat I see here is you!

  8. I actually hated this piece. There’s been a whole lot of films in the past year alone that were female driven and critically acclaimed at the same time. I’m all about equality, but Sasha is really getting out of hand with her accusations lately.

  9. Cameron

    Uh, Frozen? The Hunger Games? Stop cherry picking to make your silly points

  10. People do seem to insist on missing the point. I believe Sasha is talking about how movies like Lucy get an unfair degree of criticism compared with similar films with a male lead. In other films critics can acknowledge and let go of a few logical flaws and declare it, “good clean fun overall” or the like. Blockbuster films with female leads are often (but not always) held to a higher standard for some reason – it’s like the critics are determined NOT to have fun even before the film has started and then proceed to nitpick over every tiny flaw.

    If Lucy is an OK thriller than it should be treated as such in the media. People shouldn’t go after it like it’s the devil’s spawn.

  11. So Dave is a critic then. lol

  12. I sense a theme of dissatisfaction in the lack of diversity in film criticism from Sasha’s from recent posts. It’s a shame there aren’t a more diverse body of film critics. The dissolve.com is a great film site run by a great writer, Tasha Robinson, but I was struck that 6 of her writers look like they could all be brothers. Same facial expressions, glasses, and skin color. I wonder if they all dress the same. Nothing against them, but where are the film writers, save a few, that don’t come from the white male (most likely sheltered) background? http://thedissolve.com/authors/ Take a look at their caractures (the link) and tell me they don’t look similar.
    Again I have nothing against these critics, I just found it interesting at how similar they looked.

  13. The problem with Lucy is, it doesn’t stick to what it’s good at–telling the story of a woman who gains the ability to transcend material reality. It weighs itself down with a rather dreary subplot about gangsters (which takes it into some uncomfortable racial territory, but that’s another matter entirely), when simply making Lucy’s exposure to the drug, say, the result of a lab or industrial accident, would’ve freed up time to the focus on her development of her powers.

    It’s a strangely underdeveloped film in a lot of ways, from the subplots and secondary characters who never amount to much, to the rather short running time, to the first act padded out with stock footage which adds surprisingly little and suggests a limited budget. I don’t think it’s a BAD film, and I think Johansson gives a fine performance, but I think in the final analysis it’s decidedly uneven.

  14. Al Robinson

    Wow! I’m surprised by all of the hostility in this comments section. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve enjoyed everyone’s comments.

    I think Sasha, that you have a good point, in that women, just like people who are non-caucasian, have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good by this white male driven film society we’re now living in. It’s a shame. But, I in general think that people should just chose for themselves what’s good and not good. I think it’s never a good idea to tell people not to see a movie. Don’t these critics know that by doing that, they’ll eventually put themselves out of a job. If no one sees movies, there would be no movies to criticize.

  15. Al Robinson

    BTW, one of my favorite things to do in terms of thinking about movies, is to try and figure out what dismissed movies will someday be considered great.

  16. No, a film does not have to be good or great just because a woman has the central role. Like not every movie with a man in the central role is good or great. Most of them get better reviews, that’s true, but I think it’s mostly because most critics are still male, the industry mostly is male, the Academy is mostly male.
    Women can kick ass the BO, can get female audience in the theater but they hardly get the best stories at least in mainstream cinema. Though it’s slightly starting to change.
    Personally I wanted so much to love Frozen, but I couldn’t. I liked it, it has it’s strength, but also it’s flaws, mostly for me the pace of the story. Many things felt rushed in the first and the last half hour.
    I didn’t love The Piano, although it was directed by a woman. I do think the film deserve it’s acting wins, especially the supporting actress win.
    Both movies got great reviews regardless. It’s just my personal opinion.
    There are a lot of movies for,from and with women I didn’t/couldn’t like, there are also a lot I did like/love other people actually hated. Taste is subjective and even classics or masterpieces have at least one person that didn’t like it.
    Back to women now, I really feel the industry is changing, slowly, but it does.

  17. Almostfilmcritic

    Sasha, I have lost a lot of respect for you with this piece. First and foremost, I must say I have not seen the three movies you reference, mainly due to lack of time. Second, since when is 59% & 49% on RT for LUCY and MALEFICENT, respectively, mean a movie was panned by critics? Hell, one more positive review and LUCY is fresh. Finally, this piece screams of someone who has crossed into radical feminism territory. You are almost saying that film critics, who are mostly male, have specifically targeted these movies because the movie has the audacity to have a female lead that they can’t masturbate to. I am not saying that sexism doesn’t exist or that women aren’t superior to men. What I am saying is that male film critics, frankly men in general, are not out to destroy the success or potential success of women.

  18. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    BTW, one of my favorite things to do in terms of thinking about movies, is to try and figure out what dismissed movies will someday be considered great.

    one safe bet: just about anything Ridley Scott has directed.

  19. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    I’m surprised by all of the hostility in this comments section.

    oh Al, I keep forgetting you only became a full-time AD regular about a year ago.

  20. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Katie says: “People do seem to insist on missing the point. I believe Sasha is talking about how movies like Lucy get an unfair degree of criticism compared with similar films with a male lead.”

    Thank you, Katie.

    Everybody please listen to Katie and think about what Katie says while I get some more coffee in me.

  21. Bryce Forestieri

    There were plenty of “good” critics who loved LUCY. At any rate, it’s not the kind of movie that most mainstream critics are capable of appreciating from day one. They mostly do not get form as it stands. Also, not even the kind of movie where the critical reception has even a marginal effect on its box-office. Why need so much validation for liking LUCY? Umm welcome to genre?

  22. I haven’t seen any of those three movies, so I can’t really comment on them, but I just want to point out that the critics didn’t attack “Gravity” because it was simply a very good movie. I understand Sasha’s frustration to some point, but I think she tends to be too extreme when it comes to a movie with a female lead.

  23. Is that really true, though? Let’s say that the closest male-driven film to Lucy is Limitless – I remember that getting a lot of dismissive reviews and being quickly forgotten. Alice in Wonderland (which was pretty much a Johnny Depp vehicle, and from a male auteur) got just as many terrible reviews as Maleficent, and most mainstream studio comedies get middling reviews at best from critics, regardless of who the star is. It seems to me that this is a genre issue more than a gender issue.

  24. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    There were plenty of “good” critics who loved LUCY.

    No wanting to bring any more friction to this page than we already have, but yes, half of the 40 critics who reviewed Lucy gave it a score of 75 or higher. That’s B+ or higher. That’s 3 stars or higher.

    Lucy has a metascore of 61 — a range where I’m perfectly comfortable looking for worthwhile films. Other “shat upon” movies I love that have metacritic scores in the low 60s?

    Burn After Reading (63)
    Shutter Island (63)
    Julia (63)
    Jacob’s Ladder (62)
    American History X (62)
    Dolores Claiborne (62)
    The Breakfast Club (62)
    A Few Good Men (62)
    Godzilla (2014) (62) shut up, I don’t want to argue about it.
    The Devil Wears Prada (62)
    Dancer in the Dark (62)
    The Game (61)
    The Shining (61)
    The Big Chill (61)

    But those scores do not mean that critics are clueless. It only means that SOME CRITICS ARE CLUELESS. How is this a surprise?

    I can’t stand this twitter-era obsession with fucking metacritic scores. Whenever I’m forced to go look at details of a metacritic breakdown, the easiest way to console myself is to look at the critics responsible for wrecking the average score of a movie that MOST critics like.

    So for Lucy I climb down to the bottom of the barrel to look at the 3 lowest scores — and when I see the critics named Keith Uhlich and John DeFore I say to myself, “Who the fuck are Keith Uhlich and John DeFore and why do I give a shit what they like or hate?”

    Quickest way to make ourselves crazy on the internet is to compare what we PERSONALLY enjoy to things the internet COLLECTIVELY seems to enjoy.

    But that’s one reason why I kind of like Twitter: I just block all the people who annoy me. This is one of the reasons why I only have 2,800 followers compared to the 14,500 followers Sasha has, because jesus god, I know for a fact there are not 14,500 people whose opinions I give a damn about.

    So, as a friend, Sasha, I would suggest that we stop caring about the noise you hear from those 14,500 people in your twitter timeline. I’m pretty sure some of the people who follow you are batshit insane. (Except I think Sasha already has that covered when she wrote this):

    “I don’t understand the little tribes of people online who form teams for or against a movie, because I’m immediately suspicious of any tribe that tells me what I should think about anything”

    Sasha says: “I’m immediately suspicious…”
    I say: “I immediately don’t give a shit…”

    Same basic attitude, but I cuss more and maybe that’s why it eats at me less.

    Here’s something else weird about me: Maybe I don’t give Melissa McCarthy special credit for simply being female if I feel she’s in a shitty movie. But I also don’t pay any extra attention to Amy Nicholson simply because she’s female. Hell, Amy Nicholson LOVED The Expendables 2.

  25. I would have written LOL here if I even used that infantile reference. But I did indeed, laugh out loud.

  26. Bryce Forestieri

    GODZILLA at 62 is insanely low. Would have guessed low 80’s.

    But then I then I see farther down your list that THE SHINING has an assigned Metascore? That’s cute and silly.

  27. Just for a second, let’s forget about fucking critics and fucking awards. There are a shitload of male dominated movies out there that are, quite frankly, a load of shit.

    So although they are the big money-makers and the ultimate force in cinema, being the minority means the women generally avoid the poor credibility of the male-dominated trash that is emptied onto audiences.

    I am not playing devil’s advocate, I am just flipping it over. Trying to show the bright side. Though there is not much of one of those. And there is, and has been, for years, a major problem here.

    I am also not saying I am against what Sasha is saying, I’m not at all. She shoves it down our throat, but someone has too I think. Nor am I kissing her ass. We know what Sasha’s stand on women in Hollywood is, so let’s not pretend we don’t.

  28. Ryan, to be fair Licy was better reviewed than any of the Transporter movies, the Crank movies and even Limitless. Yes I’m going off of Metacritic but even still movies like Lucy are doing just fine. For every movie like Lucy that “critics don’t like” think of all the movies with male leads that get panned year after year. They’re called like they’re seen.

  29. Al, didn’t you hear Ned Stark? Oscar season is coming. Stick around, you’ll see some things.

  30. Lest you forget, dear Bryce, The Shining was nominated for worst director at the Razzies. Just shows there were some who hated it, some who found it a mixed bag and some (hell most) consider it one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

  31. To Ryan, Robin, and Kane. First, LOL. I remember the last two Oscar seasons (2012 with Argo) and last year with Gravity vs. 12 Years a Slave. I remember it can get pretty heated, but seeing people call each other asses, and stupid, and worse (while only being July) is a little bit surprising.

    Kane, I’m sorry, I should probably know this, but who is Ned Stark?

    BTW / OT – One of my favorite things Sasha used to do was when she wrote those great “The Case for…. *insert next movie here* articles. I don’t remember her doing it last year though with movies like Gravity or 12 Years a Slave. Just an observation.

    For the record, I can’t remember when I started frequenting Awards Daily. I seem to remember 2011 as probably the first year, but I don’t think I commented that much until 2012. Then I started to become friends with Ryan and Craig, especially on Twitter. I can’t wait until this fall / winter to see how interesting it’ll get, especially now that I’m on Twitter.

  32. Okay, I stand myself corrected. Sasha did do “The Case for…” this year, for the directors (but not for the movies in general).

  33. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Al Robinson
    Your first two comments were in December 2011. (You were a big fan of Super 8 that year)

    You came back to leave a couple of comments after Oscar night in March of 2012. We saw you a few times after that, but you became a familiar regular in August of 2013.

  34. Wow! Really!?? Huh. I have a bad memory I guess. Thank you Ryan. That is fantastic! Either you have a really good memory, or you guys have a way of keeping track of who comments and when.

    :-)

  35. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Al, we have a searchable archive of 168,400 comments that goes back to 2/25/2008 (the day after Oscar Night 2008).

    For example we can dig down and find that the first readers to mention 12 Years a Slave were steve50 and rufussondheim on 12/09/2012 — 8 months before it premiered.

    but then I can search for “Twelve Years a Slave” and find that steve50 actually name-dropped it with that spelling on 02/28/2012 — 4 months before it even started filming.

    so yeah, steve50 = smarty pants

  36. But what did they attack Gravity for?—the female aspect of the film: the lead actress’s performance and the writing—the backstory of a mother losing her daughter. (OK, George Clooney too.)

  37. I agree Katie, and I have a thought about the reason for the criticism. It takes a really high quality actress to lead and open a movie. Scarlett, Angelina, Melissa, in these cases. They are Oscar nominated, Oscar winners, previous box office champs. We have higher expectations for these people because they are who they are. They are at the absolute top of their games.

    There are so many more “lesser” men (in terms of film pedigree) headlining average films (Chris Pine, The Rock, Kellan Lutz, Zach Braff of late). At the time of Limitless, Bradley Cooper was not who he is now. He was not on par with Scarlet et al., so maybe it’s about expectations. No one expected Limitless to be great (or any of the others I mentioned), so if they were okay, we were delighted. From these truly GREAT actresses, the critics expect more, so we are harder on these movies and women. We demand greatness, or we are disappointed.

    It’s a reflection of the industry that there are so few roles for women, and the very few of those have to be led by the very best in order to get attention. Movies led by not as popular and esteemed actresses are disregarded and don’t get made or are whatever today’s equivalent of ‘straight to video’. Monuments Men (which I never saw) faced a similar fate because we had such high expectations because it’s George Clooney, darn it, it has to be great.

  38. Richard B

    As a double minority I’m cringing at this. Attacking critics for trashing movies with lead female roles is not the right approach. They are allowed to have an opinion. I’m sure Tammy isn’t the next great, misunderstood comedy. Highlighting the discrepancies, as you do so often, is the right thing.

  39. With the exception of “Robin Hood” right?

  40. andres

    Critics like a movie or they don’t. It has nothing to do with a female lead.

    I love many things about Maleficent, but honestly, it was a poor script, and a poorly created mythology and universe. The men were all seen as bigots, all of the men were so 1 dimensional, and even the fairy women.

    Brave had some of the same problems as Maleficent, good lead character, but poorly designed mythology and universe where the male characters were designed as one-dimensional caracatures.

  41. I think part of what Sasha is getting at, is that women don’t get the same juicy roles men do. Most of the best movies every year the leads go to men. It wouldn’t be that difficult in some instances to change the sex of the characters from men to women. So, for the movies that women have gotten this year, a la, Maleficent, Tammy, and Lucy, those are the ones that Sasha can reference. You can’t reference a movie with a female lead that doesn’t exist. So, if more critics liked these female led movies, more writers and filmmakers would give juicier roles to women.

  42. Q Mark

    TAMMY was a lousy movie, one of the worst I’ve seen all year. Had it been called TOMMY, starred Zach Galifiankis or some other male comedian as the title character and otherwise been the exact same film, I would’ve hated it just as much because there’s simply nothing funny or interesting going on. McCarthy is a very funny actress when she has good material to work with, yet since she actually co-wrote this train wreck herself, I can only point the finger at her and Ben Falcone. Plus five points to McCarthy to her work effort in co-writing and getting her own film financed, minus 50 points for that movie being a stinker.

    “Notice how the critics did not attack Gravity? Yeah, that’s because in Gravity the woman’s internal world was something EVERYONE is already familiar with: maternal love, a desire to live. There is nothing challenging about that, nothing subversive, nothing out of the ordinary.”

    The critics didn’t attack GRAVITY because it was an awesome movie. This is one of the most bizarre arguments I’ve ever seen in Sasha’s writing, also in no small part because it insinuates that LUCY is even remotely as good as Cuaron’s masterpiece. LUCY was okay, nothing special, a decent summer popcorn flick that (like most summer action movies, and frankly, most of Besson’s work) seemed to rip off about a dozen better films at the same time. While I wouldn’t bother watching it again, I wouldn’t anti-recommend it to anyone else, whereas if I had friends planning to see TAMMY or MALEFICIENT, I’d warn them about wasting their money.

  43. Lucy didn’t Rule.. It was the anthesis of ruling.. She didn’t even fight anyone..

  44. Leni, Braff was the lead in his own movie that he wrote and directed outside of studio help. He’s actually the farthest thing from a leading man since he doesn’t do much acting these days and out of those four men he’s not a hunk. Wish I Was Here is as much Braff’s baby as Tammy is McCarthy’s, and they’re dealing with those bad reviews. Kristen Stewart headlined Snow White and the Huntsman and she wasn’t Oscar nominated. Johansson isn’t Oscar nominated either (though she should’ve been for Her and Lost in Translation). Milla Jovivich has headlined the 5 Resident Evil movies, The Fourth Kind, Ultraviolet. I agree there should be more women in action roles but let’s not say an Oscar nomination is a prerequisite to get that role.

  45. He’s from Game of Thrones! “Winter is coming” is a common phrase said on that show. It means, literally, “Winter, the season, is coming.” Or also, “What comes with winter (the zombie monsters) is coming.” It’s said with a sense of dread. Oscar season is exciting and infuriating. I try not to get too heated but the best of us can falter.

  46. Bullock’s performance was pretty universally hailed. The criticism came from the writing, like character development, not Bullock’s back story. For a movie with little character development the script was as gold as it gets. But development was eroded and so were bigger ideas. Not 2001-like ideas but ideas of being so small in such a wide, wiiiiiiide open area.

  47. The Counselor and Robin Hood were both terrible. You can’t certainly be talking about those, right?

    But to answer Al’s question seriously, I think Cloud Atlas will definitely be among those.

  48. How come Women can say that their superior in an evolutionary sense its fine but when Men say that there generally stronger its sexist.,

  49. Okay. Thank you Kane. I don’t have HBO. I have never seen an episode of it, even though it’s all the rage right now. I do however get Amazon Prime, so I have been catching up on some other HBO shows that have aired, such as True Blood and Six Feet Under.

  50. I think perhaps people here at Awards Daily would agree with you. I’m not sure I would. I would need to see it again to have a better idea. I really liked some of it, but a lot of the rest of it just confused me.

  51. Well, I think they didn’t really attack Gravity. There were complaints about the script being weak. But anyway, what I wanted to say was that I don’t really get why Sasha had to bring Gravity up in order to defend those three movies.

  52. Cristian

    I would also like to point out the movie Edge of Tomorrow because you Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt playing against-type and doing a role reversal on traditional roles of action roles for males and females.

  53. Cristian

    I would also like to point out the movie Edge of Tomorrow because Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt play against-type and are doing a role reversal on traditional roles of action stars for males and females.

  54. If I’m not mistaken The Counselor was in Ryan’s top 10 of last year.

  1. […] Lucy rules. But why can't films starring women catch a break with critics? This wasn't just ejected from the cool kids room like Maleficent but it was panned across the board. Those reviews eventually turned into pleas to help Melissa McCarthy save her career! … Now, sure, all of that nonsense Christopher Orr at the … Read more on Awards Daily (blog) […]

  2. […] (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Now, sure, all of that nonsense Christopher Orr at the Atlantic was spewing to myth-buster the myth about how we only use 10% of our brains — as though he were reviewing a PBS Nature program or a scholarly treatise in Scientific American. If you want reality, however, look out the fucking window. It’s all around you all the time. We go to the movies not for reality — but sometimes for fantasy. And I can tell you, as a woman this was a delirious fantasy — not so much because she did all of those things in the movie but because she GOT TO DO all of those things in the movie. The mere choice to put a woman in that part was a sheer and utter revelation of the kind that Just. Doesn’t. Happen. Anymore. In America. Read full article […]

  3. […] bigotry and rape culture. let’s vote with our wallets! That’s why I spent money on Lucy, and I’m glad I did, despite some of the whiny criticisms. In fact I find it interesting that […]

Leave a Comment

Warning: Do not abuse your right to comment here. You will be deleted.