In my previous post, I summarised the quality of films in 2022 with particular attention to horror, and also highlighted the strong output from Scandinavia. This output included The Worst Person in the World, which is a great film rather than a reference to any contenders for that title (most of them in positions of power). Though released in the UK in 2022, The Worst Person in the World was Norway’s entry for International Feature at the 94th Academy Awards. The Oscars in 2022 will likely be most remembered for Will Smith slapping Chris Rock, which is unfortunate because there were plenty of significant awards that night, not least Smith himself picking up Best Actor for King Richard, his third nomination in the category.
Jessica Chastain also won for her third nomination, picking up Best Actress for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, while Kenneth Branagh, after being nominated in a record-setting seven categories over the course of his career, finally won for Belfast’s Original Screenplay. Jane Campion, the only woman to have been nominated for Achievement in Directing more than once, won on her second nomination for The Power of the Dog, a film that oddly had multiple nominations but only received one award.
Best Picture went to the dark horse contender CODA, a wondrously touching film that also won Supporting Actor for Troy Kutsur and Adapted Screenplay for writer-director Sian Heder.
The wins of CODA, Heder and Campion point to 2022 being a strong year for women in film. Not only did women pick up awards in major categories, but these films and various others were about female experiences. It is a trite observation to say that the film industry is male dominated, but various releases in 2022 presented female experiences for wide audiences. CODA expressed a teenage girl having to grow up too soon, deal with family disability and learn to express herself both personally and artistically, while also navigating the trials of high school and relationships. Other teenage girl experiences were given vibrant life in such contrasting works as Turning Red and Dear Zoe, Piggy and You Are Not My Mother, while female creativity was prominent in Emily and The Lost City.
Fear of men (entirely justified) were key themes in Where The Crawdads Sing, Fresh, Don’t Worry, Darling, Men and Barbarian, while attitudes towards motherhood received critical attention in Mother/Android, Happening, Homebound, Hatching and Huesera: The Bone Woman (holy hell!). Women of power and agency took centre stage in The Woman King, Fall, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and She Said.
Perhaps most refreshingly, female sexuality and desire was a major theme in the aforementioned The Worst Person in the World as well as Benedetta and Three Thousand Years of Longing. These films demonstrated that stories about women can explore a range of different themes, serve multiple genres and entertain various audiences.
Historically, ‘the woman’s film’ was designated (by men) as a specific type of product, with all ‘regular’ films being for men. 2022 gave a strong showing of the range of content that can focus upon women and talk to any viewer who pays attention to what she said.
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