Cheered by the news this morning that both Diane Lane (Cinema Verite) and Kate Winslet (Mildred Pierce) earned Emmy nominations for best female performance in a television miniseries or movie. Those are the two best performances I've seen this year, big screen or small, male or female (although William Hurt, who likewise scored an Emmy bid for Too Big to Fail, comes pretty close). In looking at these noms all I can say is, thank the acting gods for HBO. And congratulations to Land and Winslet for creating women of multiple dimensions.
Over the past decade the best actresses of a certain age (Glenn Close, Laura Linney, Mary Louise Parker, Jada Pinkett, Regina King, Kyra Sedgwick) have found opportunities in television unavailable to them in movies. Helen Mirren credits her recurring role on television's Prime Suspect with getting her through "the dangerous age for actresses," their 40s and 50s.
One reason there are more opportunities for women on television is that there is a higher percentage of female writers, producers and directors in TV (close to 20 percent) than in feature films, where the number of female directors has been stuck in the neighborhood of 7 percent for the past 15 years. (For the record, Shari Springer Berman co-directed Cinema Verite and four of the five producers of Mildred Pierce are women.)
Have you seen Lane in Cinema Verite as Pat Loud, the first star and victim of reality television? Have you seen Winslet as Mildred Pierce, the stalwart mother/entrepreneur of the novel by James L. Cain? What fascinates about their performances is that they don't play maternal archetypes, but practical, adaptable and sexual women who happen to be mothers, navigating the choppy waters of changing times. They are riveting. Too bad that they are competing against each other. I don't know who I would vote for.