Women of cinema come out of the shadows - Oscars

It has not been known for a long time that the world is ruled by men. Also the film one. Every year the awards for best director, best cinematography or best production design go to them. Even the leading roles are spoken of primarily in terms of men. Fortunately, this is beginning to change. Women of cinema are coming out of the shadows. The 2016 Oscars prove just that.


Diva of the 20th century

The woman who has won the most statuettes to date is Katharine Hepburn. Out of twelve nominations, she managed to reach as many as four Oscars. The first was awarded early in his career, in 1933, for his role in Lowell Sherman’s Morning Glory. She had to wait almost thirty-five years for more statuettes, despite multiple nominations. She often competed with women close to her, including Vivien Leigh, for whom she was a witness at her wedding. In the end, the statuette for Best Actress went to Vivien for her unforgettable performance in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Another statuette went to Katherine Hepburne for her role in Stanley Kramer’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” A year later, she picked it up for Anthony Harvey’s The Lion in Winter. The last Oscar went to the actress in 1982 for her role in Mark Rydell’s “By the Golden Pond.” Katharine Hepburne has become an icon of 20th century cinema. She was known for being a true lady who, always true to her ideals, was characterized by a healthy approach to her profession. She was easily able to separate her work as an actress from her private life, which unfortunately did not make her popular in certain circles. At the time, American audiences were not yet accustomed to unpolished, spontaneous and natural Hollywood stars. The actress was reluctant to talk to journalists, which made many of them think she was impertinent, and although she was extremely open, some facts of her life provoked rumors and were the subject of all sorts of inquiries. Today, however, Katharine Hepburne’s independence is admired and set as a model of uninhibitedness and class.

Iron Blonde

We can also safely call Meryl Streep the record-holder. The actress boasts a dizzying array of nineteen Oscar nominations through 2016. She won three statuettes, which means she is treading on the toes of her predecessor. The first film for which the actress was honored with a nomination was Michael Cimino’s iconic “The Deer Hunter.” Just a year later, she held an Oscar in her hands at the gala for her role in Robert Benton’s “The Kramer Case.” Shortly after, she received a statuette for the film “Sophie’s Choice” by Alan J. Pakula. Thirty years later, she played the role of Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady,” a film that also brought her a statuette. There are jokes about Meryl that each new gala is like going to the store for groceries every day for her.

Streep herself is not afraid to talk about the fact that for her in acting the most important thing is skill, and beauty is a completely secondary thing. She became fully aware of this at the moment when, shortly after crossing the magical limit of forty years of age, she received several proposals for the role of a witch. However, not much has changed for Meryl Streep since the beginning of her career, with one nomination chasing another, and the actress today considered a symbol of female strength.

Meryl Streep - Oscars

On the other side of the camera

Kathryn Bigelow, one of three women nominated for the Oscars in the directing category, is also an important figure in the Oscar world. Lina Wertmüller, Jane Campion and Sofia Coppola also received this honor, but it was Bigelow in 2010 who became the first woman to be honored with the statuette for best director. Her film “In the Trap of War” is considered extremely powerful and masculine. One cannot be particularly surprised by such opinions, since the plot is the story of a military unit in Iraq that specializes in disarming explosive devices. However, what sets this picture apart from other war films is the fact that in Bigelow’s perception of the world, neither side is entitled to kill. It does not matter whether the fighting is under the American flag or any other flag.

Kathryn Bigelow is high class. Her films do not deal with trivial issues and are not stiff examples of American cinema. Quite often the director provokes discussion. This happened in the case of the film “Enemy Number One,” which tells the story of a CIA agent who leads the pursuit of Osama Bin Laden. The biggest controversy was that it showed in great detail modern methods of torturing prisoners, which are covered by strict taboos. Bigelow, however, is not afraid of malicious opinions. She was reduced almost to the position of public enemy by American critics, but the film received as many as five Oscar nominations, the award went to the sound editor.

Hollywood style impossible to imitate

Another woman who is forever part of cinema history is Edith Head, the famous American costume designer. Her Oscar track record can be embarrassing – she has been nominated thirty-five times for best costume design, and has won the statuette eight times. The designs from George Roy Hill’s 1973 film “Sting” are considered her greatest achievement. She also won statuettes for other cult films – William Wyler’s “The Heiress” and “Roman Holiday,” Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “All About Eve,” Billy Wylder’s “Sabrina” and Melvin Frank’s “The Facts of Life.” Edith Head also collaborated extensively with Alfred Hitchcock, George Marshall and Norman Taurog. It is safe to say that she regularly dressed the better actors of cult films. The cross-section of what she did ranged from the utterly traditional to large, extravagant designs. Her style also became extremely distinctive – the unchanging, straight, black fringe and classic cuts quickly became her trademark. She was active in the profession until her death at the age of 82; the last film with her costumes was released a year later. 


Not just the front pages of newspapers

The first black female Academy Award winner was Hattie McDaniel. She won the statuette for her supporting role in the 1939 film Gone with the Wind. However, it took another sixty years for a black woman to receive a statuette for a leading role. Halle Berry managed to do this in 2002 for her work on the film “Waiting for Judgment.” To this day there is considerable controversy over racism in the awards. Many important people in the film community openly boycott the entire event due to the fact that the percentage of nominees with skin color other than white is often truly negligible. It is also worth mentioning the Polish women who made their mark in Oscar history. The nomination of Agnieszka Holland’s film in the non-English language film category was certainly a huge success. “In Darkness” is the story of Lviv during the occupation The second Pole who also appeared at the Oscar gala is production designer Ewa Braun, who was honored with Alan Starsky for Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List.” Braun has most often worked with directors such as Janusz Majewski and Krzysztof Zanussi. 

women come out of the shadows

It is said that cinema is a man’s world. This is to be evidenced by the gentlemen’s gigantic shares in the industry and the crushing preponderance of awards given to them. However, it should be remembered that women are just paving the way to equality. However, there is no doubt that change is coming. This can be seen, among other things, in the attendance at today’s film schools – there are more women studying directing, sometimes more than men. So in the future, an Oscar awarded to a female director will no longer be surprising.


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