2015 Golden Globes Were Huge for Feminism On Screen

January 11th 2016

Aron Macarow

Sunday's 73rd annual Golden Globe Awards was a big night for feminism in the movies. And though none of the female-helmed films nominated for top awards took home a win, (the awards went to "The Revenant" and "The Martian," respectively) the fact that six female-led movies were nominated was a great step in the right direction.

Jennifer Lawrence's win for "Joy" has also been called a "feminist win" for it's display of Lawrence in the role of a strong, female entrepreneur.

How else did feminism rule the 2016 Golden Globes?

1. Women ruled the Best Picture nominations

First, let's talk about the nominations themselves. Six of 10 movie nods for Best Picture went to female-centric films that in one way or another threw outdated gender stereotypes out the window. From "Trainwreck" to "Mad Max: Fury Road" to "Carol," it's great to see such a diverse roster of movies with female leads being recognized — especially when women are so underrepresented among protagonists at the box office. In 2014, a scant 12 percent of lead roles were played by women among the 100 top-grossing films. (Secondary characters didn't do much better; just 29 percent of major roles went to women in 2014.)

Money and awards talk, and with female-driven shows garnering more and more recognition, one hopes that Meryl Streep's words from 2012 will stop echoing so loudly in the vacuum of Hollywood's gender gap: "Why? Why? Why don't they want the money?" Obviously, female-centric film is good for business; hopefully the growing wave of recognition will force the industry to stop being so biased in its casting. Although bypassed for the actual awards, "Carol" led the pack with five nominations going into Sunday's Golden Globes, proving that women can be the focus of a film, without men folk, and it can be a wild success.

ALSO: How Katniss Everdeen Is Changing Hollywood for Women

2. Women get paid less then men... and even Ricky Gervais knows it

Host Ricky Gervais may have missed the mark here and with his jokes aimed at the transgender community, but his wage gap quips did point to reality that is increasingly in the public eye — women in Hollywood make less than men. Much less.

"Of course women should be paid the same as men," said Gervais in his opening monologue. "I'd like to say that I'm getting paid the same just now as Tina and Amy did last year. It's not my fault if they want to share."

He also took aim at Jennifer Lawrence. Hollywood's highest paid female actor, Lawrence took in $52 million in a 12 month period ending June 2015 and also has led the fight for wage parity in the industry. Gervais responded Sunday night by poking fun at how someone could possibly live off of such a sum. But if he'd compared her salary to Robert Downey Jr.'s $80 million over the same period — Downey is the highest grossing male actor — Gervais' joke would have fallen into that $28 million gap, never to generate a single laugh.

At least if acknowledgement is the first step to change, Gervais' swing-and-a-miss may still indicate that gender-based wage disparity will soon be a thing of the past.

RELATED: Gender Pay Gap in Hollywood Revealed in New Chart

3. Women-led comedy is hilarious

It seems weird to point this out with so many excellent female comics on stage Sunday (and in Hollywood, in general), but a few years back, a Vanity Fair articled headlined "Why Women Aren't Funny" made the argument that, you guessed it, women aren't funny. (Clearly, it struck a nerve because it's become a touchstone whenever women make progress in the male-dominated comedy sector.) Although "Trainwreck" and "Spy" were both snubbed Sunday night in the Best Picture - Comedy/Musical category in favor of "The Martian," which is neither a comedy nor a musical, hopefully Sunday put to rest the idea that women can't dominate in the comedy genre.

And not only can they dominate, they can do so in unexpected ways. "Spy," for instance, wonderfully lacks even one fat joke. As Ren Jender at Bitch Flicks notes, "[N]o one ever comes close to making a fat 'joke' or comment, which has to be some kind of milestone: imagine if Will Smith or Denzel Washington has spent a good part of their careers being the butt of racist jokes."

Also, let's not forget Netflix's "Grace & Frankie," for which Lily Tomlin received a nomination for Best Actress in a TV Series. The show stars two female comedians, and they're both over 75. Although it may have been skipped for the award in the Best Actress category in favor of Rachel Bloom of "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," this has got to be setting some kind of record for dodging Hollywood's sexism and ageism to even make it all the way to audiences. It's also being renewed for a second season.

4. Women know how to call out racism in Hollywood

Not only were the female comics nominated at Sunday's Golden Globes hilarious, but America Ferrara and Eva Longoria had their own bit of fun with the award show while identifying the subtle racism of casually mixing up people of color with one another. Presenting the award for Best Actor in a TV Drama, the pair cleverly pointed out that people consistently confuse them with other Latina actresses.

Ferrara introduced herself as "Not Gina Rodriguez" while Longoria said she was "Not Eva Mendes." They closed the bit with Longoria saying, "Thank you, Salma," to Ferrera who answered, "You're welcome, Charo."

5. Women can lead the action pack — without taking their clothes off

Women rarely get to lead an action movie, much less without stripping, wearing some kind of cat suit, or having to play into outdated gender norms. Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron in "Mad Max: Fury Road" took on all these in 2015 — and did such a phenomenal job that the film spawned a feminist Mad Max meme and angered men's rights activists so much they called for a boycott of the movie.

Per one angry commenter:

"There is a sick agenda at play here, and it only continues to get worse over time. First this, and now the upcoming Terminator Genisys which shows Sarah Connor in a more heroic and superior position to that of Kyle Reese, really makes me wonder how much further down the toilet society is going to go down, in it’s ridiculous attempts to try and reverse the traditional gender and biological roles."

This man's righteous ire would be enough reason for me to celebrate the film's nomination in the Best Picture and Best Director categories.

ALSO: The Gender Gap In Hollywood Is More Than Just Wage Disparity

Obviously, there's still work to do.

Despite being such a big night for feminism at the Golden Globes, we still have a long way to go. Most poignantly, there were no female directors nominated for an award this year, although the nod to "Trainwreck" in the Best Comedy/Musical Picture category is a start. (Amy Schumer was the movie's writer.) But with the ongoing Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation as a backdrop to the award show — the EEOC is reviewing the lack of women directors working in film and TV in Hollywood - perhaps this is slowly on its way to changing, too.

RELATED: Amy Schumer Crushes Sexism in Hollywood in SNL Opening Monologue