Female Directors Broke Records in 2019

January 6, 2020, 12:51 PM UTC

Good morning and welcome back, Broadsheet readers! Ivanka Trump is set to speak at CES, the Iran attack affects everyone from 2020 candidates to Lockheed Martin, and women directed more top-grossing movies than ever last year. Have a nice Monday. 


- Directing progress. Anyone watch a good movie over the holiday break? (I could talk about Little Women for this whole newsletter!) Well, there's a better chance than ever that the blockbuster was directed by a woman. Twelve female directors worked across the 100 top-grossing movies of 2019, according to an annual study from the University of Southern California Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.

That milestone means women made up 10.6% of directors on last year's biggest movies—names from Greta Gerwig (Little Women) to Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers) to Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim). It's a major improvement from the previous year, when women represented only 4.5% of directors on the year's top 100 films. Overall, from 2007 to 2019, women held just 4.8% of the directing jobs on those years' top movies. Stacy L. Smith, co-author of the USC Annenberg study, says "we're finally seeing some traction." 

Of course, the slow progress is tempered by the many areas where Hollywood still needs to improve. Only four of the 12 female directors in this group were women of color. And of the 12 directors, none were nominated at last night's Golden Globe Awards. 

Instead, at the ceremony, women mostly won in the acting categories, from Phoebe Waller-Bridge to Awkwafina to Michelle Williams (who used her speech to champion reproductive rights). Ellen DeGeneres, with an emotional tribute by Kate McKinnon, was the first person besides Carol Burnett to receive the Carol Burnett Award for outstanding contributions to television. Overall, some talented women accepted golden statues last night—but as awards season continues, hopefully we'll see more women behind the camera honored, too. 

Emma Hinchliffe


- Weinstein on trial. Today starts the long-awaited criminal trial of disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein in Manhattan. The most serious charge he faces—predatory sexual assault—carries a potential life sentence. Weinstein will argue that the sexual encounters at the heart of the case were consensual. And he's not the only one facing judgement. As the NYT's Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey write, the trial will also help determine if "the legal system can deliver justice for victims" two years into the #MeToo movement. New York Times

- Iran news. After President Trump ordered an airstrike killing Iran's Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, presidential candidates including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar said the timing of the attack was concerning and that the United States must avoid another war. Warren then questioned the timing of Trump's decision as a distraction from impeachment proceedings. After the attack, American defense companies' stock prices soared; Lockheed Martin, led by Marillyn Hewson, saw its share price rise 4.3% on Friday. And WW, the former Weight Watchers led by Mindy Grossman, got dragged into a Twitter snafu with the bad timing of its promoted campaign #thisismyWW—as "#WWIII" started trending. 

- Controversial keynote. Annual tech industry trade show CES kicks off this week, and Ivanka Trump is set to give a keynote address tomorrow. The invitation drew criticism, but CES boss Gary Shapiro has defended the decision. He says that Trump has done "great work" on jobs and that the keynote will focus on "how industry is working with government on this very important issue." BBC

- Firefighting. As bushfires raged in Australia, some victims strongly criticized the leadership of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has downplayed the link between the fires and climate change. One trending topic: a desire for New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to take over instead. Ardern has sent teams of firefighters to help with the response and said the fires were "devastating to watch from afar." HuffPost 

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Hillary Clinton was named chancellor of Queen's University, Belfast. Avon veteran Angela Cretu has been appointed the company's new CEO. Maven Ventures' Alexa Binns joins Halogen Ventures as principle. Variety hires Manori Ravindran as international editor. Save the Children CEO Carolyn Miles left the organization; her replacement is president and COO Janti Soeripto


- Literary letters. Are you following this decades-old literary drama? Letters between poet T.S. Eliot and his longtime friend and muse Emily Hale were unveiled 50 years after her death. But along with the letters, the Princeton University collection released a note written by Eliot in which he downplays the significance of their relationship and says, if he had married Hale, she "would have killed the poet in me." It's quite the read. CBS News

- IAC-are.com. Just after the Broadsheet broke for the holidays, IAC agreed to acquire Care.com for $500 million. CEO Sheila Lirio Marcelo had announced she intended to resign after a Wall Street Journal investigation into lapses in vetting of caregivers on the platform. Her replacement will be IAC executive Tim Allen. Wall Street Journal

- Their decade. The American Dialect Society, the organization of U.S. linguists, chose the singular "they" as the word of the decade. The group also called out not a word, but a practice: noting your pronouns (like she/her) in email signatures or in conversation. The award is meant to reflect "how the personal expression of gender identity has become an increasing part of our shared discourse." Guardian


The patriarchy of Alcoholics Anonymous New York Times

The magic of the wedding industry’s most exclusive conference Fortune

Rep. Maxine Waters thought she was talking to Greta Thunberg. It was actually Russian trolls Washington Post


"Girls who are 15 now—by the time we make their movies, the system will be completely upended."

-Little Women director Greta Gerwig

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