When the Golden Globe Award nominations were announced earlier this month, many writers took the opportunity to assess how well women were represented. A preponderance of nominations for Carol aside, there were no women in the screenwriting and directing categories, as Bustle noted, and women of color didn’t crack even the film acting category, according to Indiewire. Check-ups on representation in Hollywood are pretty routine for publications these days, and the fact that journalists haven’t relented, even in a relatively good year for stories about women, is a sign of their crucial role in changing the industry behind the camera. Online media has seemingly become one of female filmmakers’ most tireless advocates.
But in one significant area, entertainment media isn’t doing women in Hollywood any favors. News sites, which now write so often about women in film, still have yet to publish male and female film critics in equal numbers. It’s been noted before that women write just 18 percent of the top reviews and constitute only 20 percent of top critics on Rotten Tomatoes—but it’s also the case that in four of the top film critics’ associations, women don’t even account for a quarter of the overall membership.
This might all seem a tad esoteric. Do film critics really matter anymore? But research published in the past decade indicates not only that they do, but that, in unison, their reviews can still make or break audience attendance and influence, and even predict, box-office success. Since film critics tend to write about movies helmed by directors of their own sex, it stands to reason that if news organizations want more female filmmakers on feature-length projects, they can start by hiring more women critics.