I’m taking another break from my Oscar prep today, but I’ll be back to that tomorrow. Because it’s International Women’s Day, I wanted to take a moment to watch a film directed by a woman. Specifically, I wanted to fill in one of my largest woman-helmed blind spots. Specifically, with the Oscars on my mind It only felt reasonable to watch one of the six films directed by women that received a best picture nomination.
The Piano (1993, Dir. Jane Campion)
I’m genuinely shocked that this film received a best picture nomination in 1994. Not because it was undeserving; on the contrary, it immediately jumps near the top of my favorite films for the year. Rather my surprise is at academy of almost 30 years ago extending a nomination to a film as emotionally vulnerable and feminine as The Piano.
Campion’s control over the film is palpable throughout. Every action in the film is driven by character emotion rather than plot contrivance. Despite never talking Holly Hunter’s Ada is always a captivating presence. In the absence of spoken words, Ada uses her piano to express her feelings. Each scene of her sitting in front of it expresses multitudes. Through little more than looks and songs, her anguish and infatuation blend into a hauntingly complex whole.