The Women Film Critics Circle has announced its 2009 awards for the best movies this year by and about women, and outstanding achievements by women, who get to be rarely honored historically, in the film world. The WFCC ‘Best And Worst’ Awards Ceremony was broadcast live on Wednesday 12/9 on WBAI Radio in NY 99.5 FM, and is archived at wbai.org and criticalwomen.net.
Also on hand during the show to present a moving tribute to the WFCC posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Gertrude Berg, was Anna Berger, formerly a young star in Berg’s 1950s hit sitcom, The Molly Goldberg Show. Gertrude Berg, who pioneered the inclusion of women on television both in front of and behind the camera, was also one of the few prominent females who struggled against the Blacklist. Anna Berger also appears in the new documentary about her life, Aviva Kempner’s Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Goldberg.
The Women Film Critics Circle is an association of 47 women film critics and scholars from around the country and internationally, who are involved in print, radio, online and TV broadcast media. They came together in 2004 to form the first women critics’ organization in the United States, in the belief that women’s perspectives and voices in film criticism need to be recognized fully. WFCC also prides itself on being the most culturally and racially diverse critics group in the country by far, and best reflecting the diversity of movie audiences.
Critical Women On Film, a presentation of The Women Film Critics Circle, is their journal of discussion and theory, and a gathering of women’s voices expressing a fresh and differently experienced perspective from the primarily male dominated film criticism world. Critical Women On Film is online at: Criticalwomen.net.
THE WOMEN FILM CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS 2009
BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN
Coco Before Chanel
My One And Only
BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN
Julie & Julia: Nora Ephron
BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]
Sunshine Cleaning: Megan Holley
Abbie Cornish: Bright Star
Ben Foster: The Messenger
BEST YOUNG ACTRESS
Sidibe Gabourey: Precious
BEST COMEDIC ACTRESS
Meryl Streep: Julie & Julia
BEST FOREIGN FILM BY OR ABOUT WOMEN
BEST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
The Baader Meinhof Complex
My Sister’s Keeper
BEST THEATRICALLY UNRELEASED MOVIE BY OR ABOUT WOMEN [Includes films released on DVD or TV, or screened at film festivals, in recognition of the limited opportunities available for films by and about women on screen]
BEST EQUALITY OF THE SEXES
Julie & Julia
BEST ANIMATED FEMALE
Princess And The Frog: Anika Noni Rose as Tiana
BEST FAMILY FILM
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Gertrude Berg [Posthumous]: Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Goldberg: Aviva Kempner, director
ACTING AND ACTIVISM: Emma Thompson – For her work on and off screen against sex trafficking
ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women:
JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD: For best expressing the woman of color experience in America
*KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity
COURAGE IN ACTING [Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen]
Isabella Rossellini: Green Porno
THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD [Supporting performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored]
Olivia Williams: An Education
BEST DOCUMENTARIES BY WOMEN:
GROUNDBREAKER: The Beaches of Agnes, Agnes Varda
ABOVE AND BEYOND: American Casino, Leslie Cockburn
COURAGE IN FILMMAKING: Tattooed Under Fire, Nancy Schiesari
WFCC TOP TEN HALL OF SHAME
Antichrist: The cinematic equivalent of nails down a chalkboard. Pretentious Willem Dafoe as an artsy New Age femocidal sexorcist.
Deadgirl: Again the theme is vile sexual violence to women. In this case, the woman is dead and the men can do what they like with her And they do. This film brings out the worst of male fantasies towards women, and it wasn’t a pretty sight.
Downloading Nancy: The sexual violence towards Nancy, even though she asked for and seemed to want it, was difficult to absorb.
Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past: Matthew McConaughey as cardboard cutout misogynist, in one too many phone-it-in rom-coms featuring toxic bachelors.
Pirate Radio: Horrible male characters who treat women like a floating meat market.
Precious: If this film were a poor ‘white trash’ family/community, it wouldn’t have received the applause that it did. The point is that it promotes prejudice against blacks, fat women, unmarried women, less educated women and a whole lot more. That it is successful screams out for another film from the same neighborhood where the family is kept above the fray of stereotyping, by a strong unmarried mother.
Twilight Saga: New Moon: Bella (lead human female) is completely pathetic, the whole giving up one’s soul thing. How sad is it when a gal in a small town picks two boys she likes, one is a vampire and one is a werewolf.
Up In The Air: ‘Just think of me as yourself, only with a vagina.’ Oh, puh-leez! Who was this corporate female predator [Vera Farmiga] supposed to be, this gorgeous, available babe with no back story and the magic ability to pull two sexy black dresses from her rollaway with no prior notice?!?!?
Two words: Judd Apatow. Some more words: perfect, beautiful women exist to save overweight shrubby men from their otherwise inevitable fate as complete no-hopers.
Worst Full Frontal Male Nudity 2009: Observe And Report’s comedic flabby flasher. Ha Ha.
ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: Adrienne Shelly was a promising actress and filmmaker who was brutally strangled in her apartment in 2006 at the age of forty by a construction worker in the building, after she complained about noise. Her killer tried to cover up his crime by hanging her from a shower20rack in her bathroom, to make it look like a suicide. He later confessed that he was having a “bad day.” Shelly, who left behind a baby daughter, had just completed her film Waitress, which she also starred in, and which was honored at Sundance after her death.
JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD: The daughter of a laundress and a musician, Baker overcame being born black, female and poor, and marriage at age fifteen, to become an internationally acclaimed legendary performer, starring in the films Princess Tam Tam, Moulin Rouge and Zou Zou. She also survived the race riots in East St. Louis, Illinois as a child, and later expatriated to France to escape US racism. After participating heroically in the underground French Resistance during WWII, Baker returned to the US where she was a crusader for racial equality. Her activism led to attacks against her by reporter Walter Winchell who denounced her as a communist, leading her to wage a battle against him. Baker was instrumental in ending segregation in many theaters and clubs, where she refused to perform unless integration was implemented.
KAREN MORLEY AWARD: Karen Morley was a promising Hollywood star in the 1930s, in such films as Mata Hari and Our Daily Bread. She was driven out of Hollywood for her leftist political convictions by the Blacklist and for refusing to testify against other actors, while Robert Taylor and Sterling Hayden were informants against her. And also for daring to have a child and become a mother, unacceptable for female stars in those days. Morley maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.