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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Spotlight

Where Are the Women? Spotlight

It’s disappointing that there is only one significant female character here; at least she gets one of the more prominent arcs among the ensemble.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +10

+10
Is there a female character with significant screen time who grows, changes, and/or learns something over the course of the story? (for an ensemble cast, or a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +1

+1
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -5

-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional or biological relationship with a child or children*? (*in this case, an adult child) [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: 0

Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

No.

TOTAL SCORE: +6

IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: It’s disappointing that there is only one significant female character here — Rachel McAdams’s journalist — among a sea of men (although it’s good to see that she does get one of the more prominent character arcs among the ensemble). Alas, this is probably an accurate reflection of the male-dominated profession this based-on-fact story is set among.


Click here for the ongoing ranking of 2015’s films for female representation.

Click here for the ranking of 2015’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Spotlight! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Spotlight.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)


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