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'No Country's' win with female journos is an eye-opener

December 18, 2007 |  6:52 pm

Hey, who spiked the teacups with testosterone at the recent voting powwow of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists? The list of award winners they just unveiled looks much like the one picked by the male-dominated New York Film Critics Circle. CLICK HERE to see the AWFJ winnahs; CLICK HERE for the NYFCC list.


Both groups picked "No Country for Old Men" for best pic and director, Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood") for best actor, Julie Christie ("Away From Her") for lead actress and Amy Ryan ("Gone Baby Gone") for supporting femme. Differences were in the supporting-chap matchup (Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton" for AWFJ; Javier Bardem in "No Country" for NYFCC) and in the screenplay races (AWFJ actually opted for chick-friendly "Juno" and "Away from Her" for original and adapted scripts; NYFCC picked "No Country" for its only writing category).

Last year AWFJ's awards were far less macho. Best pic went to a movie with a female perspective: "Pan's Labyrinth." The AWFJ's rival awards group, the Women's Film Critics Circle, recently had a tie for best pic: "Away from Her" and "Talk to Me." (CLICK HERE to see more.)

For the past few years I've been cheering on the growth of both new female-journo groups because they offer new perspectives on the best film work of a given year without the bully macho influence that has always skewed results at the NYFCC, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics. Compare a list of NYFCC past winners with the Oscar list, for example, and the gender bias is pathetically obvious. It makes any detached awards historian pray for the day — oh, come hither, hurry! — when women will finally assume 50 percent of the chief film-critic jobs in top media. Enough with all the war flicks, cop pix and mafia and male-buddy movies, please! Sure, Oscar voters are chiefly men, too, but they're older and their hormonal levels aren't raging so. Male-heavy fare dominates the Academy Awards, too, but not with a crushing fist.

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So what can we surmise from the results of the AWFJ? Quite a lot, methinks. They suggest that the support for "No Country for Old Men" isn't hormonally driven. Both male and female film critics really like the movie because it's good! Imagine that! Thus "No Country" now has an increased shot at winning the top Oscar. In other words, it's not another "United 93" or "Mulholland Drive" that trips up in the academy derby after breaking out at the early critics kudos.

Or not another "Goodfellas," "L.A. Confidential" or "Sideways" that wins the top guy-critics prizes and makes it into the Oscar high-five only to strike out. I still believe "Sweeney Todd" will win on Oscar night, but now I see the proof I've been waiting for that "No Country" has a serious shot at prevailing, too.