Male-dominated movies like The Bourne Supremacy and Superbad are doing great at the box office, but where does that leave actresses? Television, apparently! Film is losing its feminine touch, writes Mary McNamara in today's LA Times. "Challenging roles for women over 40 have been few and far between since Joan and Bette faced off at the box office, but now, with blockbusters and male-oriented sex comedies ruling the big screen, women under 40 are having a hard time." The upside? TV is being graced by great actresses like Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Lili Taylor, Parker Posey and Kyra Sedgwick. And, according to McNamara, TV has never looked so good. She likens the choices (mostly) cable channels are making — in terms of casting and storylines — to that of "good indie films."
And not even indie films. Of good mid-budget films, the kind they used to make in the '70s and '80s when movies didn't have to make a profit on the first weekend, when they didn't open for 3 1/2 seconds on 1,000 screens.
McNamara notes that Jodie Foster has a career on the big screen, but she's basically a hard-bodied action hero these days — more like a man.
Critically appreciated but less established actors like Julia Stiles and Virginia Madsen are forced to take tiny roles in male star vehicles (the Bourne films for Stiles, "Firewall" for Madsen). Meanwhile, "Grey's Anatomy" has become a think tank of performers who couldn't find enough work in film, including Ellen Pompeo (whose breakout role was with Sarandon in "Moonlight Mile") and Madsen's "Sideways" companion, Sandra Oh.
As viewers, quality actresses on TV means we're treated to better material and better acting. But the idea of Hollywood blockbusters being only for the boys is unsettling. McNamara claims that if Julia Roberts had to make her career today, she'd probably be on television. Pretty Woman would have a tough time getting greenlighted, but says, McNamara, "it's got Showtime original series written all over it."
(An articulate drug-free prostitute and business magnate discover how worlds overlap as they struggle to make a relationship work — why has no one done this yet?)
Still, does TV sometimes seem like a downgrade? Or is it better to take the work you can get? Or is it totally fucked that women aren't as likely to make huge Hollywood salaries? Also: how do you feel about the word "actress"? Is it sexist? Too close to "waitress"?
Film Loses Its Feminine Touch [LATimes]