#OscarsSoColorful: How Women and Minorities Are Making Themselves Heard in the Film Industry

The annual Academy Awards, and the film industry itself, have been dominated by cisgendered white men for far too long. With recent mold-breaking and empowering movements such as Time’s Up, and hashtags such as #OscarsSoWhite, minorities of all kinds are speaking out, demanding justice, and proving their talents.

At Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony, we saw history being made, as Jordan Peele is the first black person to win an Oscar for Original Screenplay, winning for his film Get Out. Tiffany Haddish even made a joke about questioning if the Oscars became “too black,” following the backlash regarding lack of minority Oscar nominations which started the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite in 2015. And Rachel Morrison is the first woman, and out lesbian, to be nominated for an Oscar for Cinematography, for the film Mudbound. Although these are some amazing achievements that made 2018’s Oscars one to remember, this is only the beginning. Greta Gerwig, nominated for both Original Screenplay and Directing for her film Lady Bird, was the only woman in the Directing category.

According to a 2018 report by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, a mere 8.1% of film writers and 12.6% of film directors are minorities. Only 13.8% of film writers and 6.9% of film directors are women. You do not have to be a statistical analyst to see that these numbers are low.

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Despite these low numbers, 32.9 million people watched the Oscars on Sunday, which represented women and minorities more openly than past years. Lupita Nyong’o, a Kenyan-Mexican, and Kumail Nanjiani, a Pakistani-American, both minorities and immigrants in the film industry, gave a beautiful speech highlighting the importance of believing in yourself no matter where you come from. No dream is too big, and they are both proof of this. Frances McDormand, who wound up winning the Oscar for Actress in a Leading Role for her work in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, dedicated her winning speech to not only empowering women, but by encouraging equality. As the quirky and outspoken Frances McDormand asked all of the nominated women to stand up from their chairs, there was a sense of pride and hope in the room that could be witnessed by watching the ceremony from one’s living room couch. With the freshness of the Time’s Up movement in Hollywood, which battles sexual misconduct in the workplace, having been birthed from the primarily female victims of sexual misconduct who have spoken out, the feminist energy in the room was welcomed. Although some do not like the Hollywood scene putting in their two cents when it comes to politics, Sunday night’s Oscars was uplifting and seemingly unproblematic. These stars spoke with positivity, as if voices belonging to the voiceless were emanating out from them.

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People are standing up and fighting for equality, which is all good and dandy, but the numbers still need some work. So what can we do to further improve these statistics? Go to the theater and see films that promote diversity and consist of diverse casts and crews. Speak up on social media, using hashtags to encourage and critique these films. Everyone has a say, everyone has a voice; you may just not know it yet.

Check out Rachel Morrison’s inspiring interview with TIME:

http://time.com/5179594/rachel-morrison-firsts/

 

 

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Ask Me Anything (2014) Film Review: 3.5/5 Stars

ask me anything

Where did I first hear about Ask Me Anything?

The other day I went on Netflix to browse and see if there was anything new and interesting to watch, and this was literally the first thing I saw on the home page.  I thought this would be a cute comedy/Rom. Com. to watch.  I figured it would have a light and whimsical vibe, which was what I was in the mood for at the time; I was sort of wrong.

Review:

Ask Me Anything was not exactly what I thought it would be.  You know that saying “don’t judge a book by its cover,” well that is exactly what I did.  The short plot description Netflix provides compared to the movie poster led me to believe that this was going to be a comedy filled with fluff.  I literally thought I was about to watch a movie that resembled Love Actually, especially considering the poster reminded me of the poster for Love Actually.  And don’t get me wrong, Ask Me Anything has several comedic and snarky moments, but this movie has a deeper meaning and darker aura than I was expecting.

Ask Me Anything is a somewhat amusing, and quite bleak, drama directed by, written by, and also based on the novel, Undiscovered Gyrl, by Allison Burnett.  Britt Robertson plays Katie Kampenfelt, a troubled, recent high school graduate who, while taking a gap year between high school and college, writes a blog about her life as suggested by a school advisor.  She decides to change a few details from her life in the blog so that no one can figure out her true identity.  At the beginning of the movie, Katie announces through her blog that she is currently involved with a 32-year-old community college film professor, named Dan, also known as the ever so charming, Justin Long.  Oh yeah, and both of them are already in relationships.  By this point, we are about five minutes into the movie, and the audience already has a taste of what her character is like: selfish and careless.  I believe her sassy and reckless behaviors are a result of her own insecurities and loneliness from a complicated home life and lack of many friends.   She lives with her mother and her mother’s snide but caring boyfriend, while also visiting her former sports writer, current demotivating, borderline alcoholic father and his mousy girlfriend throughout the movie.  Blowing off calls from people here and there, and cheating on her high tempered boyfriend are just a few examples that demonstrate Katie’s little respect or value for the people she encounters in her life.  Although to Katie, Dan is special and she believes she has a true emotional connection with him.  Katie puts up a front that she is tough and doesn’t need anyone, but in reality she unhealthily craves attention from Dan.  She uses her sexuality to keep him around, showing her desperation to be with him even when he subtly attempts to end their affair.  He even moves without saying goodbye to her; if that isn’t a hint, I don’t know what is.

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Before Dan moved, Katie got a job working at a book store, but when her loving mother and her mother’s snarky, mustached boyfriend tell Katie that her boss, played by Martin Sheen, is a convicted sex offender, they force her to quit.  She soon after gets a phone call from Paul Spooner, an admissions officer, played by Christian Slater (Heathers nostalgia), from the college which she deferred a year from, coincidentally asking her if she needs a job.  Katie takes the job as a nanny for his and his wife’s newborn son.  Katie is given access to a car, a Volvo to be specific, for her nanny duties.  A very excited Katie calls Dan telling him that she can now come visit him, which causes him to be taken off guard considering he thought moving would be the obvious end of their relationship.  Although Dan stays on her mind throughout most of the movie, she eventually partakes in a new scandal…you guessed it, an affair with Paul.  Katie’s slight obsession with these men distract her from her own true priorities and self esteem issues.

What is truly wonderful about Ask Me Anything is the fact that almost every character is very important to the plot and only enhance the core reasons as to why Katie is so troubled and has issues chasing after (mostly older) men who will only hurt her in the end.  From her school advisor who is only in the movie for a few minutes, to her only female, mischievous, and carefree friend, Jade, to the depressed voice of reason, Joel, every person in Katie’s life plays a role in either helping her or hurting her.  The varying  people that impact her life allow her to grow and eventually make mature decisions that will alter her life forever.  Although I did not read the novel, I have read that the movie stays true to the book, which is always a plus.  The film mostly relies on character development to keep the structure in tact, which, for a movie of this genre, is perfectly okay.  It’s not necessarily filmed in a unique way or anything, but the script and variation of personalities the audience experiences throughout the film are impressive.  Britt Robertson’s performance may warm and break your heart all at the same time.  Robertson genuinely becomes Katie as she portrays her haunted soul, sarcastic attitude, and carefree exterior beautifully.

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One of my complaints is that there is not really a climax in the plot.  The audience is kind of just along for the ride as Katie makes mistakes from beginning to end; there is not necessarily one moment that explodes with shock or action.  Although, there is a small twist ending which in my opinion, sort of came out of left field.  Twist endings are something that really captivate me as a lover of film; some are mind blowing and have me screaming at the screen in pure excitement, and some are duds that make absolutely no sense and also have me screaming at the screen, but in anger (cue Enemy).  To me, a good twist ending is crafted so there are clues the audience could have picked up on throughout the movie that come together like a perfect puzzle in the end and have you saying “OHHHHHHHHHH.”  This one did not really do that for me.  The twist is nothing compared to that of The Sixth Sense or anything; it is not completely shocking, and I did not quite see the reason for it, but overall it was interesting.  There are a few hints throughout the movie, but after I watched it, I thought to myself “well okay then.”  Overall, Ask Me Anything is a delightfully gloomy and sarcastic coming of age drama that will make you feel as though you deeply understand and relate to Katie Kampenfelt and the endeavors of growing up.

Is Ask Me Anything worth a watch?

If you appreciate quirky indie dramas and/or coming of age films, then you will most likely enjoy Ask Me Anything.  

You can watch the trailer here:

If you are a movie buff and are interested in my reviews and in talking to me, please feel free to comment, follow, and express your opinions!!  It would mean a great deal to me.  Let’s get a discussion going!