Big year for women

Ac­tresses of all ages are re­shap­ing the power dy­nam­ics of Hol­ly­wood.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - WOMAN - By CLAIRE COGH­LAN

FROM a turn- of- the- cen­tury trans­gen­der ad­vo­cate ( Ali­cia Vikan­der in The Dan­ish Girl) to two ' 50s- era les­bian lovers ( Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in Carol), from a feral post- Civil War fugi­tive ( Jen­nifer Ja­son Leigh in The

Hate­ful Eight) to a ' 90s mogul- in- the- mak­ing ( Jen­nifer Lawrence in Joy), this year's Os­carnom­i­nated fe­male roles of­fer up an un­usual depth and breadth of fe­male char­ac­ters, con­structs, eras, epochs, achieve­ments – and ages.

Rang­ing from 21- year- old Saoirse Ro­nan to 70- year- old Char­lotte Ram­pling, the 10 nom­i­nees for lead and sup­port­ing ac­tress span a stag­ger­ing five decades. That is as­ton­ish­ing, given Hol­ly­wood's no­to­ri­ous age bias.

“This is a big year in film for women,” says El­iz­a­beth Saltz­man, stylist to Ir­ish in­genue Ro­nan, nom­i­nated for her per­for­mance in

Brook­lyn. “There's a lot of re­ally pos­i­tive di­ver­sity. Last year, we caught a glimpse of it when we saw Jane Fonda step back out there,” she says of the 78- year- old, who kicked off a stel­lar 2015 red car­pet sea­son with a Bal­main jumpsuit at the Grammy Awards.

This year's come­back sto­ries in­clude sup­port­ing ac­tress nom­i­nee Leigh, 54, who is back with a vengeance thanks to her de­monic

The Hate­ful Eight char­ac­ter Daisy Domer­gue, and lead ac­tress nom­i­nee Char­lotte Ram­pling, who gives ar­guably the per­for­mance of her ca­reer in 45 Years. And it's not just the ladies who are en­joy­ing a later- in- life re­nais­sance.

“Look at Sylvester Stal­lone fi­nally win­ning,” says Saltz­man of the Creed star, 69, who took home the Golden Globe for sup­port­ing ac­tor, four decades af­ter re­ceiv­ing his first and only Globes nom­i­na­tion for Rocky in 1977.

“What's so nice about this year's red car­pet, and the type of roles th­ese women are play­ing, is to see the range,” says Cristina Ehrlich, stylist to lead ac­tress nom­i­nee Brie Lar­son, 26, who's al­ready bagged Golden Globe, Crit­ics' Choice and SAG awards for her riv­et­ing role in Room. “It's a re­ally in­ter­est­ing op­por­tu­nity to see how women through­out the dif­fer­ent stages of their lives use the whole un­der­stand­ing of what beauty is in the way that they dress and ex­press them­selves. There's so much strength to the roles, and dif­fer­ent shades to who they are, and ( as a re­sult), the cat­e­gories this year are very strong and very ex­cit­ing.”

“There's a lot of pow­er­ful women in Hol­ly­wood right now,” says Saltz­man. “Even de­sign­ers. Look at Stella McCart­ney and Vic­to­ria Beck­ham – both moth­ers of four. Heck, if this isn't the decade of the woman, I don't know what is!”

But for a young star es­pe­cially, the scru­tiny of the red car­pet can ei­ther be in­cred­i­bly stress­ful or very lib­er­at­ing, says Ehrlich.

“You can watch this arc and evo­lu­tion of how Jen­nifer Lawrence looked three years ago and how she looks to­day,” she says. “They grow up on the red car­pet.”

For any young ac­tress “who gets cat­a­pulted into this type of at­ten­tion,” she re­ally needs to lean on her team for su­port, notes Ehrlich.

“Brie has a lot of peers and friends in the in­dus­try who have gone through this mo­ment them­selves, and she's been able to en­joy that sup­port,” she says. To wit, when dress­ing Lar­son for the red car­pet, Ehrlich chose to coun­ter­bal­ance the se­ri­ous sub­ject mat­ter of

Room with dresses that spoke to her sun­nier side.

“We wanted to evoke a lot of light, be­cause the movie is heavy and the char­ac­ter is in con­fine­ment, and it comes through with the all gold bead­ing of the Calvin ( Klein at the Golden Globes) and the ethe­real blue of the ( Ate­lier) Ver­sace at the SAG Awards,” says Ehrlich.

“The Ver­sace showed peo­ple that she's not just an Amer­i­can sweet­heart – she can also be very glam and very sexy.”

Trav­el­ling through­out the awards sea­son cir­cuit, Ehrlich has also been struck by a new era of sol­i­dar­ity and sup­port among women, per­son­i­fied by long­time col­lab­o­ra­tors Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who co- hosted the Golden Globes from 2013 to 2015.

“To see two col­leagues get up on stage to­gether and do that whole thing was re­ally fresh,” says Ehrlich. “It was a very strong rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women work­ing to­gether.

“I’ve been through this awards sea­son many, many times,” she adds, “And this year in par­tic­u­lar feels very pos­i­tive. It's beau­ti­ful to watch how th­ese women in­ter­act with one an­other-- there's an au­then­tic and gen­uine ca­ma­raderie amongst them.”

Has the fash­ion world caught up with this new, more in­clu­sive, more col­lab­o­ra­tive red car­pet?

“Yes, I think it has,” says Saltz­man. “There's plenty of choice for ev­ery­one. You have so many in­cred­i­ble de­sign­ers who cater to ev­ery­body now.”

Case in point: both Ro­nan and Fonda wore Yves Saint Lau­rent Cou­ture to the Globes – de­spite their 57- year age dif­fer­ence.

“It's the coolest story you could tell,” says Saltz­man. “We had Saoirse in YSL, and they came to me and said, ‘ We know you want to be the only one ( in YSL Cou­ture), but ( then) Jane came to us.’

And I said, ‘ Per­fect – both ends of the spec­trum.’ It's such a great dou­ble- edged sword – one side of it's Jane; one side of it's Saoirse; and they go to­gether beau­ti­fully.” – Reuters

— Pho­tos: AP

Ali­cia Vikan­der won the Os­car for best sup­port­ing ac­tress for her role as a trans­gen­der ad­vo­cate in The Dan­ish Girl. Char­lotte Ram­pling was nom­i­nated for an Os­car for best ac­tress in 45 Years. Jen­nifer Ja­son Leigh was nom­i­nated for a Golden Globe award for best sup­port­ing ac­tress for her role in the film The Hate­ful Eight.

Cate Blanchett ( right) in a scene from the film, Carol, which ex­plores the story of a les­bian cou­ple.

Saoirse Ro­nan as Eilis in a scene from the film Brook­lyn.

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