Mothering Movie Stars

HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 07:  (EDITORS NOTE: NO ONLIN...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

If you watched the Academy Awards on Sunday, you may have noticed the resounding success of women in film and the collective mothering of young actresses like Carey Mulligan and Best Picture and Director winner Katherine Bigelow, by other ladies in the industry. Yet, the most beautiful display of compassion and mama-she-power was Best Actress winner Sandra Bullocks’ acceptance speech after winning the Oscar for playing Leigh Anne Tuohy, a passionate, real-life Southern mother in The Blind Side.

In case you missed it, she accepted the award on behalf of her counterparts and in honor of  “the moms who take care of the babies and the children, wherever they come from.” She also thanked her own mother, who died of cancer in 2000, “for not letting me ride in cars with boys until I was 18.”

Bullock’s exquisite speech was a moving mix of humor and grace reminding us all of the importance of support, love and nurturing by and for women.  And I think it’s also important to mention that Bullock has held many feminist roles, with The Blind Side as the perfect example of a person who strives to promote equal rights among people.  Now, you’re probably thinking, wait a sec, she helps a disadvantage boy — not a girl — how is that a feminist role? Feminism is about creating equality among all people, not raising either gender above the other. In this case, it was about a determined woman who saw a boy who needed a family, so that’s what she provided.

This year’s Academy Awards was filled with a mix of talent whether the stars, producers and directors were men or women. Though Katherine Bigelow is only the first to win the award for Best Picture, she has now paved the way for women to be considered as equals in that category.  Despite people’s dislike of the word “feminist,” by selecting a woman who deserved the award, the Academy made a feminist decision.

If you didn’t catch it, Barabara Streisand’s role as a presenter for Best Picture was no accident. In 1991, there was much controversy over Barabara Streisand’s Oscar snub for her film The Prince of Tides.  Many thought the film should have won and that she didn’t receive an Oscar because she is a woman. I’m not an Academy insider, so I do not know the real reason why she didn’t get it, but I can say you that it’s disgraceful that Bigelow is the first woman director to win for Best Picture.

On the up side, within the film industry there seems to be a lot of comraderie among women.  From Bullock’s speech — as she individually complimented the qualities of the other nominees (including Meryl Streep‘s ability to kiss (LOL) and Carey Mulligan’s grace) — to Oprah’s phenomenal introduction of Gabourey Sidibe — feminism was alive and well-dressed in Hollywood.

Many of the nominated films featured a wide variety women characters outside of the typical gender stereotypes — some are powerful, creative and revolutionary — Julie and Julia, The Young Victoria, Coco Before Chanel, The Blind Side, Music By Prudence and the Princess and the Frog — while others are deeply affecting like Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire and An Education.  Each brought a new view of what it means to be human, to have the strength to survive despite the challenges gender creates. And, what a gift that the women in them are equally as powerful, affecting and revolutionary.

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