by Meredith O'Brien
When the Golden Globe award nominations were announced, after I looked to make sure my favorite TV show -- Mad Men -- got sufficient props, I scrutinized the list of female nominees to discern if this would be a year when women on small screens and big would be honored for their portrayals of women’s lives, or if super-masculine fare would rule? All in all, I think women had a fair showing among the nominations, with several glaring omissions to be sure.
Portrayals of betrayed suburban wives and mothers (in the 1960s on Mad Men  and the 2000s on The Good Wife ), a drug-addicted nurse named Jackie , a middle-aged divorced woman in It’s Complicated  who is aggressively wooed by her ex (who’d left her for a younger woman), a celebrity chef in Julie & Julia  who builds her own career from scratch in middle age, a woman in The Blind Side  who busts her hump to help a homeless teen whom she welcomes into her family’s home, an emotionally damaged wife in a polygamist marriage on Big Love  who’s hiding many secrets, and a married mom on United States of Tara  who’s struggling with multiple personalities, all received some Golden love this year.
Additionally, two female movie screenwriters – one tackling a divorced mom’s sexual renaissance in It’s Complicated and the other writing about the potentially lethal ramifications of locking aliens from another planet into concentration camps in District 9 – were among the scribes nominated for best screenplay. A lone female director, Kathryn Bigelow, was nominated for her film, The Hurt Locker  (which is also up for best dramatic motion picture) about a U.S. Army bomb squad serving in Iraq. As for the other major categories, films prominently featuring women comprised three of the best comedy/musical nominations (It’s Complicated, Nine and Julie & Julia) and two of the best drama (Up in the Air and Precious).
As prominent New York Times movie critic Manohla Dargis recently published a lengthy piece lamenting the lack of women’s power in Hollywood  behind the camera – noting that only 10 percent of the 600 films reviewed by the Times this year were directed by women, and that only three women have been nominated for directing Oscars and none have won – and said, “women are starved for representations of themselves,” some feminist movie critics  are steamed that the director of the critically acclaimed film Bright Star , about a 19th century love affair between a famed English poet and the girl next door, did not receive any nominations, particularly for its female director/Oscar winning screenwriter, Jane Campion.
When Golden Globe nominated screenwriter, who also directed best comedy nominee It’s Complicated, Nancy Meyers was featured in a lengthy New York Times Magazine piece about her place as “the most powerful female writer-director-producer  currently working” the writer had to add the caveat “not that there’s much competition.” Ironically, the article began with Meyers being asked by the owner of a chic restaurant to move to a less prominent table in order to accommodate a male lawyer who is an investor in the eatery. So much for gal power, the article seemed to say, despite the commercial success of Meyers’ films (Father of the Bride, Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday) over the years.
So amidst the sad stats on women directors and the fact that a successful female screenwriter/director gets asked to move to a less prominent table while she’s being interviewed by the New York Times, is there anything to celebrate about the Golden Globes’ nominations? I say yes. Here are a few reasons to be pleased:
Meryl Streep, 60, has officially been crowned a comedy goddess. We already knew that she had that dramatic acting thing all wrapped up, what with being the winner of two Oscars  and having been nominated for almost as many Academy Awards as the latest tally of Tiger Woods’ mistresses. But this year, Streep has been nominated for not one, but two Golden Globes, both in the comedy lead actress category, for playing Julia Child in Julie & Julia and for her divorced woman/mother being courted by her ex-husband in It’s Complicated. She takes up 40 percent of the lead actress in a comedy nominations. Go Meryl.
Meanwhile, Sandra Bullock was nominated as best lead actress in both the comedy and drama categories, in drama for her tough mom role in The Blind Side, and in comedy for her turn as the book editor who has to marry her assistant in order to remain in the country in The Proposal , which fared well at the box office.
On TV, the nominations weren’t too bad for women, though I don’t understand for the life of me why Entourage is sitting in the best comedy category when its place should’ve been given to Amy Poehler’s Parks & Recreation.
Big Love, a female-driven HBO show (there ARE all those polygamist wives running around) snagged three nominations including best TV drama. The heart of the show is the relationship and lives of the three wives, as well as how their husband relates to and deals with them. Sure, Bill Paxton got nominated for best actor for playing the patriarch with his trio of spouses (even tried to get a fourth in the most recent season, but she changed her mind), but his troubled second wife, played by Chloe Sevigny, was also nominated for best supporting actress. Though I would’ve liked to have seen Jeanne Tripplehorn, who plays the first wife, have gotten a nomination as well.
In addition to Sevigny’s polygamist wife, other emotionally damaged mothers were nominated. Among them, Edie Falco was nominated for her portrayal of a drug-addicted nurse/unfaithful married mom of three in Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, alongside the several personalities of Toni Collette’s character in United States of Tara. Characters who got stronger despite the serial infidelities of their spouse, were found in the nominations of January Jones for her 60s-era housewife who’s divorcing her husband in Mad Men and Julianna Margulies on The Good Wife who plays the wife of a politician who cheated on her with prostitutes and is now in jail, but she picked herself up by going back to the work world as an attorney.
Did you think this was a good year for women nominees at the Golden Globes? What pleased/displeased you about the nominations?
The Golden Globe awards are slated for Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. on NBC. Please see the full list of Golden Globe nominees .