2012 Golden Globe Picks
Updated: Sep 5, 2018
Hi. My name is Shelby, and I’m an awards season addict. I can’t get enough of the montages and tributes, the awkward banter between incongruent presenters and, of course, the dresses. And then there’s the movies. The Golden Globes kick off award season in earnest this Sunday night on NBC, and my excitement is tempered a bit by the fact that I feel like this has been a particularly dismal year for women on screen. Carnage, We Need to Talk About Kevin and Albert Nobbs have yet to be released in Austin, so I don’t have anything to say about those, except that from everything I’ve read, it sounds like all of the awards hardware this season will be going home with Tilda Swinton, so I’m looking forward to seeing that movie.
Of what I’ve seen, Meryl Streep probably has the showiest role playing Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. She is just as fantastic in the role as you’d expect, but the film is unsatisfying if you’re at all expecting to see a Margaret Thatcher biopic. Even the nickname that spawned the film’s title is only obliquely referenced during exposition in a news report about the former prime minister. We never see her earning it. For a woman who literally shattered one of the biggest glass ceilings in the Western world and had an enduring reputation as a ball-buster, there are remarkably few scenes of any glass being shattered or balls being busted. The tumultuous events (union strikes, the Falklands, the IRA, the Cold War) that Great Britain endured during the 11 1/2 years of Thatcher’s tenure at 10 Downing Street are all handled in only a superficial way. Instead, most of the screen time focuses on the frame story of her later years as she hallucinates conversations with her husband (Jim Broadbent), who has been dead for eight years. At the end, Thatcher minimizes everything she’s accomplished (good or bad) into whether or not she made her children and her husband happy. And while I’m ashamed to say that I’m exactly the sort of sap that gets weepy because of something like that, the sort of romantic who hopes that if I do outlive my husband I’ll at least find comfort in hallucinating his presence, I also couldn’t help but feel like a biopic of a male leader would never boil down to that same conclusion. One of her children has a supporting role, and the other is never seen on screen, but I felt like judgments were being given on her commitment as a mother both by the filmmakers and by the audience throughout the movie. In all the celluloid representations of JFK we’ve seen, I don’t remember anyone ever asking afterward, “But was he a good father?” The fact that the double-standard exists stinks, but at the same time, the movie can’t have it both ways.
In full disclosure, I’m moderately horrified by the way everyone has been saying that the Lisbeth Salander character of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the rest of the Millennium Trilogy is this awesome powerhouse female character when basically she is a male fantasy who is hypersexualized to the point of fetishization (even to the point of rape/attempted rape) by every single male character she encounters. And for the entire first book and some of the second, the writer at least once every page, if not many more times, refers to her “childlike figure,” “anorexic look” and “doll-like limbs.” It’s gross. She is constantly repulsed by how men just find her so irresistible, so when the Blomkvist character (played by Daniel Craig in the new David Fincher version of the bestselling Swedish trilogy of books and films) doesn’t immediately try to seduce her, she’s all like, “Hmm, why isn’t this guy seducing me or trying to rape me or treating me like an object? I know! I’ll seduce him!” So yeah, it’s cool that she can hack computers and can kick ass when necessary, but basically, with all her unearned irresistibility shoved down our throats in the first book, on the page, she is more or less Bella Swan with a dragon tattoo. In the Swedish films, Noomi Rapace portrayed Salander as more of a woman taking control of her life, while Rooney Mara (with an assist from Fincher) brings a wholly different interpretation to the role, amplifying the little-girl-lost aspects of Salander and turning her affair with Craig’s Blomkvist into more of a teenage infatuation than the straight-up lust-driven tone Rapace’s Salander projected. Mara does completely disappear into the role, which is a feat in its own right, but I can’t wrap my head around why a character solely defined by how men treat her is a feminist icon.
However hilarious Kristen Wiig is as a performer in Bridesmaids, her character Annie Walker‘s never-ending “poor-me” syndrome grates and actually detracts from the fun. Let’s be honest, Annie kind of sucks, right? It’s a testament to Wiig’s affability (and the rest of the cast’s performances) that we stick with Annie’s journey throughout the movie.
Could it be possible that one of the most interesting female characters this awards season is actually Charlize Theron’s Mavis Gary from Young Adult? Mavis may actually be the least likable protagonist, male or female, to hit the silver screen in some time, but for all her myriad failings, she at least feels like flesh and blood. She’s not perfect, far from it, in fact, but at least we see her making choices and acting on them, however misguided and delusional they may be. She makes decisions entirely on what she thinks is best, paying no mind to societal constraints.
In the supporting category, one of the ladies from The Help will probably walk away with the prize, but Shailene Woodley did fine work in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants as Alex, George Clooney’s character’s teenage daughter. In what could have easily been a wise-beyond-her-years cookie-cutter daughter role, Woodley imbues her character with palpably authentic teen angst and conflicted feelings about her parents, particularly her mother, while spending most of the movie in a bikini, no less.
Despite my disappointment with the female characters Hollywood served up this year, I’ll still be tuning in this Sunday to see who takes home that golden orb, but I’m already more excited about 2012′s Oscar bait, when hopefully we will be treated to some more well-rounded female characters. And if not, at the very least, we always have Pixar, whose geniuses managed to make a wordless futuristic robot really feel like a woman and are sure to get it right again with their first feature led by a female protagonist in this summer’s Brave.