Monday, May 12, 2008

What Happened to the Ladies?

Hi guys. Sorry, I haven't been around lately. I was busy and also upset at what a bad film reviewer I am. But I've decided just not to write film reviews, but still write as much as I can about my thoughts on movies. You might enjoy it more, or less, if you've read the blog before...either way, I hope I don't waste your time too badly.

Anyway, this post is me trying to think through some more gender issues, since that's been an unofficial theme of this blog. It's a response to a comment my friend Tolf made about hating an entire generation of female movie stars - the Meg Ryan/Melanie Griffith generation. Off the top of my head (confirming ages with wikipedia) I came up with two more actors and have this generational analysis:

A Bad Generation: Meg Ryan, Melanie Griffith, Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster, and Jamie Lee Curtis were all born between 1957 and 1967, which in my mind makes them all solidly in the same acting generation. And boy do they suck. Assuming that Academy Awards are a decent barometer of excellence, just not an iron-clad one, let's look at some numbers: Among these 5 actors, with several decades of acting experience, we have only 8 awards and 3 wins (actress and supporting actress), with Jodie winning two awards and Julia bringing in one. But among those eight nominations, at least 4 are in films that I consider complete jokes: Working Girl, Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman, and Nell. That's right, those movies suck.

I want to compare these ladies to a previous generation. All of the following actresses were born between 1945 and 1951: Mia Farrow, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Sigourney Weaver, Meryl Streep, Anjelica Huston (I'm not including Sally Field, who was born in that age range and would bring some serious Oscars to the table, but I think sucks). So, wow. That's an amazing group, all born within six years of each other. Shall we do the Academy Test? The numbers are, for six actors: 28 nominations, 5 wins. Mostly that tells you that this generation had a hard time winning awards, but for our purposes nominations are more important. Plus, Mia Farrow was NEVER nominated for an Academy Award, despite some performances in films you might have heard of: Rosemary's Baby, Purple Rose of Cairo, Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Husbands and Wives...these are mostly Woody Allen movies, it's true, but in my mind that's just a giant plus.

What's more, I didn't include Diane Wiest, since I just don't really consider her a movie star (being a movie star: often a bad thing), but she would have brought three more nominations and two more wins.

So, where does that leave us? Pure Numbers: 5 Movie Stars, born between 1957 and 1967, that I consider representative, have won only three oscars, from 8 noms
6 Movie Stars, born between 1945 and 1951, have won 5 oscars from 25 noms - and nominations, I think, are a much better general gauge than wins.

If I'm right that noms are a good indicator and that those other four movies really suck (Special sucking award: Nell. So terrible), then the generation of movie stars that came of age in the 70s truly is a great one, and the generation that came of age in the 80s/early 90s is truly a waste of space...

Ok, that's it for now. Sometime later this week I'm going to try to think through the reasons for this discrepancy, and probably do some counter-arguments. If you have any counter-arguments or ideas, please, please post a comment or email me.. I would like to revive this blog: with your help! Our powers combined, etc.


Luke said...

Dude, it was the 80's. Cut them some slack. Sure their movies sucked, but go back through your pictures of what your parents dressed you in during the 80's. I rest my case.

Also, anyone who got an Oscar nomination from being in a Woody Allen movie should just save some time and transfer it to Woody.

hilizzle said...

Since you'd already tossed this theory by me, I'm more interested in your next installment, the why and wherefore.

I think we'd discussed, or maybe I'm making this up, how the younger generation followed so closely behind the older one, and bumped them into more serious roles earlier in their careers. Aka, they were playing a 35-year-old when, gasp, they were actually 35 (instead of playing 20-somethings till they turned 40 and their career ended).

What I'm wondering is not so much whether these actresses improved by taking on more serious roles earlier - but whether you just like them better because they have more serious roles under their belts and less movies like "Nell" and "An Officer and a Gentlemen" to their names.

Chicken or egg?

Sarah said...

haha! graham has a blog!

i don't really know that much about these generations, but i'd be interested in your thoughts on whether it is properly generational--do the same trends and their underlying factors apply to male actors, or is it just the ladeez?