The Women in Film Crystal Awards are like many other Hollywood awards shows--the folks who nab prizes are the ones who have enough studio backing to pay for some ads and a table, and everyone is there to sell something, whether it's their own brand, future employment or legacy.
I enjoy the Crystals because they remind me of people I admire, and many of the women are willing to share war stories and let their hair down. Or, in this case, take their impossibly stiletto heels off. After host Debra Messing (whose russet pony-tail hairdo looked like it was about to take flight) removed her hideously high fashionista shoes, so did Emily Blunt. Reflecting the femme slant, WIF decorated the tables at the Hyatt Regency ballroom with pink roses.
The Crystal Award went to Universal co-chairman Donna Langley, who thanked Blunt for her charming intro, which included reading a letter from Meryl Streep praising Langley for keeping her humanity intact while swimming with the sharks. She also thanked "trail blazers" Dawn Steel and Sherry Lansing, "my magnanimous boss and mentor Ron Meyer," and Judd Apatow for producing a hilarious anti-tribute video which made fun of her accent. (She's the first British woman to run a studio.) That said, she admitted that barriers still exist on the business side. While I like Langley, the fact remains that the studio is on a bit of a losing streak.
Laura Dern presented the Lucy TV award (named after Lucille Ball) to Cougartown producer-star Courtney Cox (Friends cohort Jennifer Aniston attended in support). The crowd loved seeing Cox's "Dancing in the Dark" Springsteen video. "I've never won an award before," Cox said, thanking her manager Cynthia Pett.
Mentoring was a theme. Still stunning Eva Marie Saint (North by Northwest, On the Waterfront) accepted the Legacy award, thanking her mentor, Lillian Gish (Way Down East). "You have to have a strong spine but be vulnerable enough to play these roles," Saint said.
As director Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are Alright) accepted the Dorothy Arzner Award, she said that she wants to continue Arzner's subversive legacy in her work. Quoting HC, she said, making movies "takes a village." Cholodenko asked the women in the crowd to mentor others, and thanked her early mentor, Beeban Kidron (Bridget Jones Diary). Rachel Griffiths presented the directing award to her Six Feet Under director: "Lisa was a standout."
Rising Star Zoe Saldana's entourage went on for miles, as did her thank you speech. "I'm from Queens," she said. Nine years ago, she was chewing gum on her first red carpet. And also five minutes ago, she added. She thanked her partner of ten years, who puts her to bed and deals with her five personalities. When a horse stepped on her foot on the Avatar set, she wanted to keep going, but Cameron wouldn't hear of it. "I don't like to disappoint,"she said. She won't settle for "exotic" roles. Instead, she was able to be a "big blue badass chick in a James Cameron movie." And she will happily sign up to play the first pregnant superhero. Without stilettos, I hope.