American Hustle

Seed & Spark: Hollywood’s Leading Ladies: To Be a Mom or Not to Be; What Role Will You Choose?

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For a very long time, women who didn’t want to have children were deemed “selfish,” because — well, I’m not quite sure why. Men, however, although maybe a disappointment to their mothers, weren’t really labeled anything. They were bachelors, at worst.

In many movies, the struggle that men have is not a result of a decision involving kids. But in most romcoms and dramas, if there is a female role of a certain age, it centers upon the subject of children.

I wanted to look at three current movies and their depiction of parents, particularly how their children influence their decision making and where the children fit into their lives.

I chose to examine three movies where the lead was nominated for Best Lead Actress in 2014 and in a fertile age range, which led to the movies ‘Blue Jasmine,’ ‘American Hustle’ and ‘Gravity.’

Muted Female Power in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ and ‘American Hustle’

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The men get the most attention for their greed and corruption. However, if we look a bit closer, the films’ women are the ones who can be traced to plant bigger, fatter seeds of avarice. This wouldn’t bother me, as I’m always in favor of more complex female characters (even if they’re unsympathetic), but what strikes me is that we barely notice these scenes. The women become victims and damsels, when oftentimes the ideas were their own.

Is this some kind of 21st century version of the femme fatale? A woman who is coercive–not only sexually, but also financially–but who isn’t taken seriously as a power player? Is it just embedded in us to not notice women’s power or ignore their parts in the narrative?

Women’s Bodies in the Oscar-Nominated Films

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What is telling is the presence of so many films that either elide or sexualize female bodies in the category that presumably represents the best of the best. The Academy clearly has a critical preference for movies about men, with women present primarily as wives and sex objects.

The Academy: Kind to White Men, Just Like History

Black men and women, organized by character type, who have won Academy Awards. (The Black actors up for 2014 Academy Awards--Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o--play a kidnapped freed man/slave and slave.)

The hunters write history. The hunters glorify themselves. The hunters’ history infiltrates itself into the very fabric of our cultural narrative, so we’re only comfortable with seeing the complexities of the hunters, and the simplicity of the lions.

It is what we’ve been trained for since birth.

America: The Great Hustle (and Jennifer Lawrence)

The Fabulous Five: Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner

Added on is the fact that American Hustle is less about the hustle and more about the American dream; each character portrays ambition and insecurities in the quest for more: a better community, more money, security, power, fame, recognition, leading to that great American end, excess.