As I watched the Oscars and the Independent Spirit Awards this weekend you could see one clear difference between the two events (aside from the formal dresses and the hosts) -- the presence of female winners. The Oscars followed the usual path and having male winner after male winner, especially in the creative and the high profile awards.
Look at the list of winners. Aside from the actresses there were only a couple of female winners.
At the Oscars the winners included:
Susanne Bier for best foreign film - In a Better World
Karen O'Hara for set decorator - Alice in Wonderland
Colleen Atwood for costume design - Alice in Wonderland
Audrey Marrs as the producer of Inside Job for best documentary
Karen Goodman for doc short - Strangers No More
Lora Hirschberg for Sound Mixing - Inception
But that's it. But you got a sense that the Oscar folks know they are out of sync because they seemed to want to make a big deal of Kathryn Bigelow giving out the best director Oscar so she got a special introduction from Hilary Swank. It was kind of a gee whiz we know that last year a woman won and this year we have no female nominees but we will give a bigger shout out to the award from last year to make up for the fact that no women got nominated this year.
Didn't work. Just made the lack of women seem even more stark.
The Independent Spirit Awards the evening before showed just how far the Academy has to come. There were women everywhere and there were actually female winners in creative categories. Lena Dunham won an award for best first script for Tiny Furniture (though she didn't make it to the telecast for some reason); Lisa Cholodenko won for co-writing The Kids Are All Right; and Nicole Holofcener and her cast won the Robert Altman award for Please Give.
It also felt like it was the safe place for people to talk about the ongoing issues and I was impressed that best actress winner Natalie Portman was the one who stood up for the women. She is using her new found power well.
Here's part of her speech:
...and just to be among all these female filmmakers. I love you male filmmakers too but to have Lena Dunham, Nicole Holofcener, Lisa Cholodenko, Debra Granik. I mean to recognize these people in an industry with a different set of standards...It is a great honor to be in this room with you.
She is right. There is a different set of standards for women. They fight twice as hard and get half the recognition. But we are lucky enough to live in a world where there are women who don't and won't give up on their visions. As this Awards season is put to bed, I am looking forward to the next films from the women mentioned by Natalie Portman and all the other female directors out there. That's what makes this job so fun. The great possibilities for the future.
2011 Independent Spirit Awards Winners List (Hollywood Reporter)