Today, women in mainstream films more often populate the margins as girlfriends, mothers and wives, often with stereotypical personalities.
In 2005, there was not a single female-driven drama that was a financial blockbuster.
One place actresses are still the dominant force is on the newsstand. Female stars may not sell tickets, but they do sell magazines. But this type of exposure may be making the possibility of serious leading roles only more remote.
In the grassy land that surrounds actress Vera Farmiga’s house in upstate New York sits a pile of ashes. “This is where I burn the scripts,” she said as she circled the scarred earth with her two pet goats. “I stack up all those crass female characters, all those utterly ordinary women, all those hundreds and hundreds of parts that have no substance or meaning and turn them into a blazing pyre.” She kicked some charred pages that had somehow escaped the flames. “It’s really cathartic,” she said. “It’s my revenge on Hollywood insensitivity and greed. The ashes go to the compost. At least the scripts can finally help the world in some way.”
the breakthrough female performance of the year belongs to Penélope Cruz. When cast in Hollywood films, Cruz has been relegated to the role of the beauty. But in “Volver,” Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film, he imagines her differently: Cruz is still sexy, but she’s also independent, maternal, mercurial, determined. “No one in Hollywood has ever asked me to be anything other than attractive,” Cruz told me at the Cannes Film Festival, where the women of “Volver” shared the Best Actress prize. “They have no idea what women can do. They don’t give them the chance.”