“It is a testosterone night, that is for sure,” sighed Dr. Patricia Yarberry Allen halfway through last night’s Oscar telecast as we shared the experience on our liveblog. The WVFC publisher wasn’t kidding: If you left out the best-actress category, the night ended without a single woman’s having earned an award in any of the major categories. This turn of events included the exclusion of editor Thelma Schoonmaker from Hugo‘s otherwise complete sweep of the major technical awards.

Still, before any of those disappointments, and some unexpected good news, came Billy Crystal, and before then the red carpet pre-show. About that parade the WVFC team was in full-throated chorus, even without our fashion editors Stacey Bewkes and Colleen Caslin. We agreed that the newest video technology exposed how unnaturally thin Angelina Jolie really is, even though the still photo at left makes her look luscious (while about her husband and Best Actor-nominee Brad Pitt, Dr. Allen had only one question: “Why didn’t he shampoo?”).








Most of us loved both Viola Davis’s Vera Wang gown and her fearless hairdo, while finding Emma Stone’s dress  “unfortunate” for its overflowing red and agreeing that Tina Fey knew best when she first saw her dress and “feared the peplums.”









Dr. Allen was the jewelry observer, noting Penelope Cruz’s “lovely diamonds,” Michelle Williams’s brooch at the waist, and that “Natalie Portman’s jewelry may be the most impressive of the night. She looks elegant in the deep red strapless gown.”

Dr. Allen also provided the most-favorited @womensvoices tweet of the night: Has anyone noticed the men with bad facelifts? Hair plugs are one thing, but this facelift thing for men is so weird.  Despite the latter, our livebloggers found lots of male eye candy on display, including best-actor nominee George Clooney, presenter Robert Downey Jr., and the immortal Best Supporting Actor winner, hailed by our Eleanore Wells:  “Christopher Plummer, aging nicely at 82.”

As for the other awards, most of us were both surprised and pleased for Meryl Streep as Best Actress, and Octavia Spencer’s acceptance speech had ALL of us choked up. (Note also, below, the clever ruching on Spencer’s dress.)




And we were pleasantly surprised when the Best Documentary was awarded to  “Saving Face.”  We knew we had to include this clip of the wise, grateful words by director Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, the first Pakistani filmmaker to win an Academy Award.

Still, it was hard to find a moment free of sexism. A clumsy skit with Portman and Downey “serves as a summation of a summation of all the things that are wrong about the way women have been represented this year,” wrote our Elizabeth Willse; we noted the lack of women in the tribute-to-Hollywood montages, including the Movies We Love clips. Alexandra MacAaron added sadly:  “Who said there weren’t enough women? What about all the Barbie dolls handing out snacks just now?” We agreed with the apt hashtag from the Women’s Media Center: #WhereRTheWomen?

As the night finally ended, Dr. Allen closed with a similar rallying cry:

At least the night was worth it to see and hear the wonderful Meryl. Tomorrow is the day we begin to make a difference for women in film. Perhaps we have to see how little women are valued in the world of film to be reminded . . . yet again . . . that we have battles to fight. It is inexcusable for women to be invisible in this most visible of the arts.

What did you think of it all? Do you have some ideas on how we, as WVFC, can help promote this change? Or do you just disagree in our dress assessments? Let us know below, and stay tuned for better news from the Athena Film Festival, which was founded to celebrate women and leadership.

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  • Maryl February 28, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    What are some of the plans to change this as referenced above? I’m a member of NY Women in Film and Television which does a great job promoting women film makers but there is so much to be done. I was at a small party at Maxi Cohen’s home last night. She’s an amazing director and she needs funding for several film projects she’s putting together. Any thoughts here would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • Chris Lombardi February 28, 2012 at 10:29 am

    So is the Athena Film Festival, which is why we’re nowhere near finished covering it. But Abigail is right that a more systemic response is needed – maybe a “girlcott” for films that are either women-created or pass the Bechdel Test?

  • Dr Pat Allen February 28, 2012 at 9:17 am


    Thanks for your insights. We need to support films written by and for women.

    The Women’s Media Center is working hard to change this. Google and support them.

    Dr. Pat

  • Abigail Congdon February 28, 2012 at 8:40 am

    It was recently reported in the newspaper that 97% of the voters for the Oscars are white, male and over 65. If WVFC has an ‘in’ in the film world, it would be interesting to know more about this bewildering and dismal state of affairs. Is there another credible, powerful voting/leadership group in the country that is this non-reflective of its own membership, not to mention the population of the country? Do they intend to change this?
    If not, let’s not expect change in Oscar-land anytime soon.
    It’s fine to say ” we watch for entertainment” but let’s also keep in the forefront of our minds the simple fact that this huge cultural organization has impact on how we see ourselves, men and women and people of all colors.

  • Liz Tutton February 27, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    All and all I enjoyed the Oscars as it went along at a steady clip. Angela Jolie just looked awful posing as she presented, and too thin. I favored Penelope Cruz in the dress category and also for a nice red carpet interview. My daughters favored Gwenyth Paltrow’s dress and interview! Several gracious, moving and lovely acceptance speeches with humor thrown in. The worst part of the whole evening was the exchange between Robert and Gwenyth. It was uncomfortable to watch….and what a cute idea if they only could have pulled it off! Horrible!

    It’s entertainment to me and I do not look to the Oscars to lift or degenerate woman’s rights. I really dislike it when they use it for a political platform, too. So last night, I recieved exactly what I hoped for!