By Claire. 

In its opening weekend, Ocean's 8 surpassed Solo: A Star Wars Story. Star Wars, a franchise known to be dominated by nerdy white men (obviously, this is not accurate to the entire population of Star Wars fans, but these are the ones who are driving actresses like Kelly Marie Tran off of social media due to their domination of critique and harassment), has been surpassed by an all-female heist movie. Additionally, according to Entertainment Weekly, the latest addition to the Ocean’s franchise has the biggest opening weekend out of all of the Oceans movies (not accounting for inflation).

Snaps. For. That.

Directed by Gary Ross, Ocean’s 8 stars Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, the sister of recently and mysteriously deceased Danny Ocean (George Clooney, only present as a photo in this film, but centres as the link between the Ocean’s franchise). Freshly released from prison, Debbie immediately organises a team of women to pull off a multi-million-dollar heist at the most exclusive event of the year, the Met Gala. This film has the cast of your dreams: Cate Blanchett, Rhianna, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkafina, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Anne Hathaway as the vapid Hollywood starlet Daphne Kluger, whom the Ocean team steal from. 

The film is a joy to watch. Despite John Mulaney’s predictions, the all-female team are supportive of one another. No one is catty or distracted or tearing another down. The characters are cunning and the best at what they do. I left the cinema thinking “I wish I was that smart.” Katie Duggan from Screen Queens had a similar reaction, and writes, “is this how badass men feel all the time? Is this why they feel like they can get away with anything?”

With a stellar line up in its cast and cool-as-heck plot, it’s easy to see why it has achieved such a big opening. This is something audiences have been waiting to see for far too long.

Despite this, the film has also received mixed reviews. Due to the attachment to the Ocean’s franchise name, some (i.e. men) can only see the film in relation to how it compares to the original (male dominated) films. This comes with the inability to critique the film on its own terms.

In the age of Twitter’s call for all female reboots, many (males) enter the cinema with the pre-determined bias of not liking reboots. Just the other day my sister told a guy on the dating app Bumble about how she was going to see Ocean's 8, and he immediately shot down the idea of ever having interest in the film because it would mess with the “unique style” of the original Ocean’s movies. Umm… what?

If people hate reboots, then how do we account for the recent return of Jurassic Park with Jurassic World? How do you account for any of the Star Wars movies made after George Lucas? I am still waiting for a sequel to Paul Fieg’s Ghostbusters, and I would love, but be very surprised, if Ocean’s 8 gets another movie. This cannot be due to the quality of the films. 2015’s Jurassic World received lukewarm reviews, with Variety calling it a “so-so return” and The Guardian declaring the film “has scales, but no soul.” Yet, this has not stopped the franchise, with its sequel also released this month.

Currently, reboots and remakes are a dime a dozen for big studio films. Logically, based on the success of certain films in the past, to replicate that format and story for a new audience seems like a safe bet and easy return. Looking at headlines from over the years, the reality is that this is not always as the case. Sometimes, the success of a film relies on the seamless combination of its ingenuity, the perfect cast and the right director. Jurassic World did not work because it could not replicate the complete unique-ness of the original Jurassic Park film. Nor could it compete with Steven Spielberg, who is one of the founders of the major studio blockbuster. And yet. 

Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock in Ocean's 8

Unlike Jurassic World, the likelihood for an Ocean's 8 sequel, even in these early stages, is minimal. A lot of this comes down to a lack of voices in film criticism which champion female-led films.

Over the past week, research by USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism which found most film critics are white, and male was published. The statistics, that 82% of reviews written on the top 100 films of 2017 were male, and of that number 78% were white, is not new information for female and POC critics. Unfortunately, it is the harsh reality.

Most calls for diversity in film criticism include that we need voices to champion female led movies or what are deemed “women’s films”. On the other hand, as Monica Castillo points out, not all women and POC think the same. Women don’t automatically love all films made by, or staring, women and women and POC don’t only want to review films aimed at them.

At the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards last week, Brie Larson said “I don’t want to hear what a 40-year-old white man has to say about Wrinkle in Time. It wasn’t made for him.” Similarly, Ocean’s 8 star Sandra Bullock argued, “it would be nice if reviewers reflected who the film is for,” which, yes, sounds great, until she continues “like children should review children’s films, not a 60 year old man.”

While their hearts are in the right place, this line of thinking is reductive and restricts writer’s voices even more. Certainly, it would have been great to see more people of colour chosen to write on Black Panther, and less men writing on 2015’s Ghostbusters, but despite recent strides forward for women and diversity in film, there is still a low percentage of films out there which would qualify female and/or POC writers as the target audience.

Ocean's 8 isn’t perfect, but it shouldn’t have to be. The film is for women, and a lot of women love it. Some women don’t, but all find value in it. Unfortunately, to get to these critiques, one has to wade through all the reviews written by men. Like the guy on my sister’s Bumble, it is not uncommon for male critics, too, to be unable to see the film beyond the lens of a remake. To see the film beyond a group of women trying to replace the male characters they love so much. They miss the point.

Film critics have opinions on all films. As Hannah Woodhead wrote in a piece for Little White Lies, “[a]mazingly, women also have opinions about the Fast and Furious films, and POC writers like to talk about all your favourite white directors too.” So how do we balance this? Increase the number of voices heard in film criticism so that there is a more rounded opinion and discussion on films, from a variety of voices and perspectives. Not everyone will agree, but at least criticism can move away from collective crowd-think. Then, not only can girls see themselves in film, but maybe they can see themselves represented in film critique, too.

By Claire.

Today are the 90th Academy Awards. As I’ve mentioned before, I love Awards Season. I take it incredibly seriously, and it’s all I live and breathe January through to February each year. While I enjoy the Globes and the SAGs, the Oscars are the big one (and my favourite!)

This year, the Oscars are in March and it feels like Awards season has dragged on for so long. In reality, it’s just a week later than last year. But still, I was so excited, energised, and if we’re being honestly, just a big ball of anxiety and bafflement at the start.

After the Golden Globes, I was so annoyed at Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri winning everything, at Gary Oldman winning. This happened again at the SAGs, and again at the BAFTA's. Now, I feel old and weathered and exhausted.

When will I return from war?

I will get into why I’m hating at Three Billboards and Oldman later, but these emotions were strong, because I was passionate. This year in particular means so much to me.

It is no secret that I love Greta Gerwig, and what Lady Bird means to me. Greta is nominated for two awards: one is Best Director, making her the 5th woman overall to be nominated for that category. The other is Best Original Screenplay, which, as an aspiring screenwriter is exciting all in itself. The film is also nominated for an additional three awards, including Best Picture.

In addition to Lady Bird, we have Call Me By Your Name. I haven’t written about this film on here yet, mainly because I haven’t had the right words to convey. This film is stunning. It has taken over my life. I have seen it three times in cinema, and it still shakes me to my very core every time. CMBYN has been nominated for five awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Song and Best Lead Actor.

I love this movie, and I want it to win everything. However, I know this probably won’t happen. I like to think the Academy is changing. This is due to a new round of younger, more diverse voters, Moonlight’s win last year, and because I didn’t write an angry react post about this year’s nominations, because I am actually quite happy with them (for the first time in my life). However, I don’t have that much faith in the Academy.

To be honest, I would be happy to see CMBYN win Adapted Screenplay, and anything else would be a bonus (even though Sufjan Steven’s original and Oscar nominated song ‘Mystery of Love’ can bring me to tears, and Luca Guadagnino is a beautiful director).

But let’s get down to business:

So, who do I want to win?

(Highlighted are who I want to win, not necessarily who I think will win)


Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

Frances McDormand will probably win, and I will admit, she was the best part about Three Billboards, but god, I hope Saoirse Ronan does. I mean, this is her third Oscar nomination, and she’s only 23. She will get more nominations, but her portrayal of Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPhearson was so natural, complex, and reflective. Ronan affords teenage girls the space to be taken seriously as complex human beings, and she did really well. So yeah, it’s not your traditional Oscar winning role, but it doesn’t mean it is not deserving.

A similar argument can be said for Lead Actor.


Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

After the Screen Actor Guild Awards, where Gary Oldman beat out Timothée Chalamet yet again, I said If Timothée doesn’t win Best Actor at the Oscars, I’m going to flip a table Armie Hammer in The Man From U.N.C.L.E style.

Gary Oldman has been winning, and I haven’t seen Darkest Hour, so this is just me being petty, I guess, but portraying Winston Churchill isn’t anything new. So many people have done it. Maybe he was really good, though. He must have been to receive the Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA for it. But the Academy loves a War story.

Obviously, I want Timothée to win. As Elio, he masterfully combines subtlety, deep emotion, comedic timing, as well as the ability to bring an entire cinema to tears with a single shot. The kid has serious acting chops. Honestly, he deserves it. But he is also so young. He has an illustrious career ahead of him, and he might win in the future. But instead of awarding people after they have had a long career, how about we give them awards when their performance deserves it?

This all being said, I would also be incredibly happy if Daniel Kaluuya wins. He was awesome in Get Out. Also, I’m a big fan in young people in the industry at the moment, these old guys have had their chance, let’s support the new generation, ja? (How Millennial of me).


Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

I have seen I, Tonya, and yes, Allison Janney was good, and she will probably win, again, like she has won every other award this season. BUT LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT LAURIE METCALF AND MARY J. BLIGE.

Laurie Metcalf as Saoirse Ronan’s mother in Lady Bird was fantastic. She deserves an Oscar for her eye twitch after Lucas Hedges says “Lady Bird always said she lived on the wrong side of the tracks, and I thought that was just a metaphor, but there are actual train tracks.” Also, the moment when she drops Lady Bird off at the airport at the end of the film. Y’ALL.

I feel like not many people have seen Mudbound. It is a Netflix film, so it didn’t have a theatrical release, and this is probably why it hasn’t been receiving as much recognition as it deserves. Mary J. Blige was so unrecognisable in this film, in a fantastic way, and if this film was released theatrically, she would be a bigger contender, I swear to you. Mudbound is a typical Oscar film (American history, war, and racial tensions), let’s be real, here.


Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Sam Rockwell is probably going to win. I hope he doesn't. There’s a lot wrong with his character, literally known as a racist cop. This racism is never punished or effectively dealt with, and when you’re introduced as a cop who tortured an African American person in custody, you need to deal with that, don’t just later redeem him by making him a half-baked redemption arc. Sure, this characterisation comes out of Martin McDonagh’s script, but the Oscars are political, and this isn’t the role which needs to be awarded right now.

This being said, without a nomination for Armie Hammer (snubbed! Oliver was his best role yet, and I’ve seen all his films), I don’t have any particularly strong opinions about this category. I loved The Florida Project, so let's go for Willem Dafoe. Sam Rockwell will most likely win, but I won’t be happy about it.


“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro

Here, I'm rooting for Greta Gerwig, Jordan Peele, or Guillermo del Toro. I would especially love if Gerwig won (I will most likely breakdown and cry), and I also love Peele, and what he did with Get Out. However, GDT did win the Globe, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he won, and rightly so.

Gerwig or Peele, though, would be my wildest dreams.


“Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory
“The Disaster Artist,” Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
“Logan,” Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
“Molly’s Game,” Aaron Sorkin
“Mudbound,” Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. That script was beautiful, and a faithful adaption of the book. I want it to win, and I think it will win.


“The Big Sick,” Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin McDonagh

Of course, I want Greta Gerwig to win. I feel like this one is hard to gauge. Martin McDonagh won the Globe (ugh), but I am really rooting for Lady Bird and Get Out at the Oscars. I LOVED The Big Sick, and I am so excited that it has been nominated, but I do not see it winning – but if it did it would be such a plot twist!


“Blade Runner 2049,” Roger Deakins
“Darkest Hour,” Bruno Delbonnel
“Dunkirk,” Hoyte van Hoytema
“Mudbound,” Rachel Morrison
“The Shape of Water,” Dan Laustsen

I’m going to talk about cinematography for a moment, because Rachel Morrison is the first woman to be nominated for Cinematography, ever. With Mudbound, she was able to make the dusty, muddy and bleak setting look beautiful. This is not an easy feat, and could have made the film boring, but instead, it is a feast for the eyes. She is brilliant at what she does. Speaking of, she is also the cinematographer for Black Panther. Like I said, she is brilliant.

And like, because the Academy isn’t kind to women, I guess The Shape of Water or Dunkirk were pretty to look at, too.


“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Here we are, the big one.

I have seen all Best Picture nominations, bar Darkest Hour. This is because yet another portrayal of, and film about Winston Churchill just does not interest me.

Dunkirk was good, but it came out so long ago. It’s Nolan and about WWII so it gets an automatic nomination. I love movies about journalism, but The Post wasn’t phenomenal. That being said, it was such a great debut feature script by Elizabeth Hannah.

For Best Picture, I’m rooting for Lady Bird, Get Out, and Call Me By Your Name.

What has a large chance of winning, though, is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and I really hope it doesn’t. The film was awarded Best Picture – Drama at the Globes, best performance by a Cast at the screen actors Guild Awards and Best Film at the BAFTA’S. And yes, this is an Oscars Film: A lone wolf seeking justice, battling the ineffective police system. With the persecution of rape being a major issue in the world, Three Billboards definitely touches a nerve. I was even affected after seeing it, posting on social media that the film is incredible and highly recommending that everyone see it. That being said, throughout the film I had an unsettled feeling, and it wasn’t until later that I figured out why.

Three Billboards thinks its saying something profound, without really saying anything at all. We are swept up by images of large billboards, Molotov cocktails, and a hardened badass woman in coveralls and a bandana, but nothing is truly engaged with. Tim Parks for The New Yorker calls this the “feel-good fallacy.” Another critique of Three Billboards is it’s racism. This sits largely with Sam Rockwell’s character, which I touched on earlier. Beyond Rockwell’s racist cop, the entire police force is racist, homophobic, or both, which is thrown around in dialogue multiple times, but never held accountable.

Due to its murky racism and politics, yet having received so many awards, it is a large possibility that Three Billboards will be this year’s Crash to Call Me By Your Name. Back in 2006, everyone knew Brokeback Mountain was supposed to win Best Picture, but Crash swept in and won instead.

But then there is me, hopelessly optimistic, thinking Three Billboards might be La La Land instead, wining the acting awards, with Call Me By Your Name or Get Out sweeping in to take Best Picture. Get Out does more as a social critique of America than Three Billboards does.

However, Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name and Get Out are unconventional Oscar winners. Lady Bird, as a film about a teenage girl, written and directed by a woman, and Get Out, a horror film were white people are the villain, are unprecedented. Call Me By Your Name, is subtle and beautiful and visceral. Of course, so is Moonlight, but do we honestly think the Academy will award a film about gay men two years in a row?

With this in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Shape of Water wins. Not my usual kind of film, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was like a fantasy, greener version of Amelie. Once we get past the whole Sexy Fish Man and Sally Hawkins Fall In Love and Have Sex weirdness, what this story truly is about is capturing those who are outcasts and feel like they are alone in the world, finding a connection. It was a gorgeous film, with fab old Hollywood musical elements and I realise that if you haven’t seen the film this might all sound so weird, but it was great. I would be so happy for it to win.

I like to hope the Academy is changing. People think the Oscars are antiquated, but to that I just say we should change what an Oscar Film looks like. Change what an Oscar Winner looks like, shake it up, keep it relevant and diverse. We can only hope this is the direction the Academy is heading, but we will have to see how today goes.

By Claire White.

So, there’s this film, you might have heard of it.

It’s called Lady Bird.

It’s Greta Gerwig’s solo feature debut as sole writer/director, and stars the likes of Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracey Letts, Lucas Hedges, and your new #1 Bae Timothée Chalamet.

You might have heard of this film, the one where a teenage girl demands everyone calls her Lady Bird (her given name because it was given to her, by her) due to its monumental hype. Since its release in the United states two months earlier, it has graced many a Top 10 films of 2017 lists, was the best-reviewed film on Rotten Tomatoes since Toy Story 3, received a plethora of awards during the pre- Awards Season (with a capital A and S) awards, has two Golden Globes, and five Oscar nominations.

And the film is only being released in Australia today.

Having caught the film at an advanced screening, you can be rest assured the film is just as good as the hype says it is.

Featuring fantastic performances by Ronan and the cast (particularly Laurie Metcalf, playing Lady Bird’s intimidating yet kind and hard-working mother, who also has received award nods as supporting actress), this is aided by the perfection of Gerwig’s script. Here you have a complex relationship between a young girl and her mother. Both are fraught with frustration and desire for a different life, but, as a spirited and ambitious teenager, Lady Bird takes it out on her mother more. The way conversations can flow from a nice moment into bickering or a fight is rarely seen on screen on this level, and as a result, you leave the cinema filled with both recognition, because I can relate, as well as a desire to call your mother.

(Speaking of which, here’s a reminder to call your mother).

Ronan (left) and Metcalf (right) as mother and daughter in Lady Bird.

Everyone loves a good movie, but what is most exciting about Lady Bird’s journey is the subject matter: This is a contemporary (if we’re calling 2002/3 ‘contemporary’) story about a teenage girl about to go off to college, and her relationship with her mother and friends. Furthermore, it is an original screenplay written and directed by a woman.

Such a response is unprecedented, especially for a film with a Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director nomination.

In a recent post written for BFI, Christina Newland argues films about women or directed by women are not given a fair go due to the lack of male critics willing to take these films seriously in their reviews. As a result, coming of age films about young girls are often glossed over in Hollywood. Teen films are fun, but you will not find them at the Oscars line up or in a publication’s Top 100 Greatest Movies list.   

This is why I am so excited to see just how well Lady Bird is doing, especially as a strong awards season contender.

During awards season, all eyes are on what industry professionals deem the best films made from the past year. For film fanatics, every moment of the awards race is analysed and debated with the intensity of a fantasy football league in the lead up to the Super Bowl (of which I am guilty). On the other hand, the nominated films are the only releases the causal film viewer will hear as being worth seeing.

With its Best Picture nomination, Lady Bird is the first coming of age film about a teenage girl to receive the accolade since An Education, which received a Best Picture nomination in 2009. Prior to An Education, no such films were nominated.

While Nick Hornby was nominated for the screenplay, director Lone Scherfig was excluded. With Gerwig’s Best Director nomination, she is the first woman to receive a nomination for their first film, and is only the fifth woman overall.

However, An Education is not necessarily considered a teen film. While the lead character is a sixteen-year-old school girl, the film takes the tone of a mature period drama. The same can be said of Brooklyn, which was nominated for Best Picture in 2015 (also starring Ronan).

Ronan as Christine 'Lady Bird' McPhearson and the fantastic Beanie Feldstein as her best friend, Julie.

Seeing a film like this receive such high praise and attention is so exciting to see. It is about time we see young girls taken seriously in Hollywood. In the past ten years, teenage girls were almost four times as likely as male teens to be depicted wearing tight clothing, and were over twice as likely to be shown with some nudity. Over 50% of teenage girl characters had a romantic interest. Culture is shaped by film, and having these kinds representation force young girls into one mould. However, teenage girls are more than a girlfriend or sexual object to be desired.

While writing the film, Gerwig was aware of the lack of coming of age films about girls. Furthermore, where they do exist, these films focus more on romantic relationships with a  boy rather than a girl’s own personhood. “I thought what is Boyhood but for a girl, or what is 400 Blows but for a girl?” she said at the New York Film Festival earlier this year.

When the film won the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), I was sitting in my friend’s living room floor, sobbing. Not only is this because a female written and directed film won one of the season’s highest accolades, but also because Lady Bird is the perfect example of a film I want to write myself one day—Films about young women and teenage girls; films about ambition and displacement and friendship and love; Films which view the everyday of a girl as worth noting—and Gerwig was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for that!

Every time I read an article on or interview with Gerwig, I am filled with an intense emotion of pride and inspiration. I am filled with an intense desire to go out and write. I feel seen, which is not a feeling easy to come by in this industry.  

Greta Gerwig on set with Saoirse Ronan.

Lady Bird joins a new era of female written and directed films about teenage girls. 2016’s Edge of Seventeen by Kelly Fremon Craig was delightfully touching and reassured me that I am not the only one to have had felt the same way growing up. The film was received well by critics, with lead actress Hailee Steinfeld receiving a Best Actress (Comedy) nomination at the Golden Globes. Like Lady Bird, the film was also awarded Best First Film at New York Film Critics Circle Awards. Other films of this era include Diary of aTeenage Girl, and internationally, Mustang and Girlhood.

Films like Lady Bird allow for young girls to see themselves on screen. For these films to be received well critically demonstrates an action towards teenage girls and their personhood being taken seriously for once.


Lady Bird is out in cinemas now.

Cause a Cine do not own any images used in this post.