Elizabeth Banks was recognized with an important award last night, and in her acceptance speech decided to take aim at something she thought was very important regarding the work of one of the biggest directors working in Hollywood. The award was the Women in Film Crystal Award for excellence in film, and she took the opportunity to point out a specific place where she thinks that are not enough women in film, the leads of movies directed by Steven Spielberg. The Indiana Jones director was specifically called out by Banks for his lack of representation. According to Banks…
I went to Indiana Jones and Jaws and every movie Steven Spielberg ever made, and by the way, he’s never made a movie with a female lead. Sorry, Steven. I don’t mean to call your ass out, but it’s true.
Before going any further, it should be pointed out that Elizabeth Banks’ comments are not entirely accurate. Steven Spielberg has directed 30 feature films in his career and of that number, he has actually directed three movies with female leads, The Sugarland Express, The Color Purple, and The BFG. Is that number greater than zero? Yes, it is. Is that ratio still pretty shitty? Yes, it is. One movie out of every ten over the course of several decades isn’t a number to be proud of.
Elizabeth Banks’ comments during the WIF ceremony (via Deadline) take specific aim at Steven Spielberg, likely because he’s been making movies for a very long time, has a significant number under his belt, and is very well thought of by Hollywood and movie fans in general. Of course, him being guilty of not giving women leading roles is something that he’s hardly alone in. The lack of female representation in leading roles is an important issue that frankly Hollywood, in general, is guilty of.
On the plus side, more and more people, like Elizabeth Banks, are drawing attention to the lack of diversity in casting and the more the topic is discussed, the more Hollywood realizes its both conscious and unconscious bias, and works to remedy it. Banks isn’t just talking the talk. She’s currently working on directing a cinematic reboot of Charlie’s Angels, a film which will certainly have multiple female lead characters. She’s also been involved in the Pitch Perfect and Hunger Games franchises.
For what it’s worth, Steven Spielberg will be adding another female-led film to his filmography. The director is currently filming The Papers, a film about the publication of the Pentagon Papers by the female editor of the Washington Post, Katherine Graham, who will be played by Meryl Streep. It’s slated to be his next movie, which means he’ll be up to four films out of 31. The ratio is getting better. At least until Ready Player One and the next Indiana Jones come out.