7 Oscar-Winning Films From The 2016 Show That Are Total Victories For Women
Sunday night’s Academy Awards were a reflection of the great year that 2015 was for women in the movies. Not every female-centric film went home with a golden statue, but the presence of films like Brooklyn, Carol, Room, Mad Max: Fury Road, 45 Years, Joy, Mustang, Sicario, and others with women central to their story lines proved that the Oscars were a hit on the feminism front.
That said, a few of the female-led films many were rooting for went home empty-handed. Lady Gaga, surrounded by rape survivors, put on an incredibly moving performance of the song “Til It Happens To You" from the campus rape documentary The Hunting Ground, but while the show earned a standing ovation, the award for Best Original Song went to Sam Smith’s “The Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre. I also would have liked to have seen the hugely feminist Mustang win for Best Foreign Language Film — with the only female director for a narrative feature up for an award, a Mustang win would have been incredible.
But there was still plenty to celebrate, as many of the awards went to hugely worthy films that feature prominent female characters or flash their feminist credentials in one way or another. Here are seven 2016 Oscar winners that are great wins for women.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
Won For: Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
When George Miller’s latest Mad Max sequel came tearing into theaters last summer, it received overwhelmingly positive response not only for being an explosively good action movie, but also for featuring ass-kicking women and feminine power in its central story. Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa wasn’t the only highly-prominent woman related to Mad Max; many of its winners last night were female filmmakers.
Won For: Best Actress in a Leading Role
This powerful, female-led film about survival, strength, and escaping imprisonment also featured one of the two nominated screenplays written by women. While some found the film hard to watch, its story of a mother who does everything she can to protect herself and her child echoes with abuse survivors everywhere.
3. The Danish Girl
Won For: Best Actress in a Supporting Role
While there has been some controversy surrounding the choice of casting Eddie Redmayne as a transgender woman, there was never any doubt that Alicia Vikander was absolute perfection as early 20th century artist Gerda Wegener. Hopefully the film’s win will continue to inspire growing awareness of trans issues going forward.
4. Inside Out
Won For: Best Animated Feature
Along with 2012’s Brave, Inside Out is one of just two Disney/Pixar films that has a woman as its main protagonist. The film, considered one of the studio’s best, proved that the inner thoughts and emotions of a young girl can be universal and appreciated by people of all genders and ages. For that, Inside Out deserved, and won, more than just a participation award.
5. Ex Machina
Won For: Best Visual Effects
Alicia Vikander may have won her Best Actress in a Supporting Role trophy for The Danish Girl, but there’s no doubt that her wonderful performance in Ex Machina was on voters' minds as well. It’s amazing that Ex Machina won the Visual Effects Oscar on such a limited budget, but even cooler that this year's Oscars saw two sci-fi flicks with interesting female characters not only get nominated, but actually win awards. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.
Won For: Best Documentary Feature
A sad and conflicting piece, Amy showed the perils of fame and just how often the demands of the music industry can fail the women it celebrates. Another Best Documentary nominee, What Happened, Miss Simone?, tackled a famous singer as well (Nina Simone) and featured the category’s only female director.
7. A Girl In The River: The Price Of Forgiveness
Won For: Best Documentary Short Subject
This powerful documentary short addresses the very serious issue of honor killings in Pakistan and around the world. Its director, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, previously won the same Oscar for Saving Face, another short subject doc that tackled a troubling issue facing women in Pakistan: acid attacks on women.
Hollywood could certainly do better when it comes to the representation of women, but it was great to see so many feminist movies be celebrated at this year's Oscars.
Images: Warner Bros, Giphy (6), HBO