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FLM 55 — 21st-Century Women: The New Powerhouses of American Film

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 23—Dec 2
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Sep 25
Units: 2
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $435
Instructor(s): Mick LaSalle
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
Please Note: No class on November 25
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Sep 23—Dec 2
10 weeks
Refund Date
Sep 25
2 Units
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Mick LaSalle
Please Note: No class on November 25
Twenty-five years ago, Demi Moore and Julia Roberts were among the few women with the box office strength to headline a movie. For at least six decades, fewer than 20 percent of American films had a woman in a leading role. The number finally rose to 33 percent in 2018, held at 34 percent in 2019, and was at least as strong in 2020 (though the pandemic makes calculating it difficult). More women are also directing major films now. We’re not quite at 1933 levels—when women starred in 61 percent of Hollywood films—but clearly, the talent and the audience are ready for a new golden age.

In this course, we will examine the work of women in the advance guard of this new era in American film. These include Amy Adams and Emily Blunt in Sunshine Cleaning, Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane), Viola Davis (Fences), Jennifer Lawrence (Serena), Melissa Leo (Novitiate), Elisabeth Moss (Her Smell), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond the Lights), Carey Mulligan (Wildlife), Aubrey Plaza (Black Bear), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Octavia Spencer (Ma), Kristen Stewart (The Happiest Season), Rachel Weisz (My Cousin Rachel), Michelle Williams (All the Money in the World), and Zendaya (Malcolm and Marie). These are the new powerhouses, the modern equivalents of Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, and other greats of an earlier generation.

All films can be rented or streamed instantly through Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play Movies, or other online platforms.

Film Critic, Hearst Newspapers

Mick LaSalle is the author of four books: Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood, Dangerous Men: Pre-Code Hollywood and the Birth of the Modern Man, The Beauty of the Real: What Hollywood Can Learn from Contemporary French Actresses, and his latest, Dream State: California in the Movies. He writes for the San Francisco Chronicle and other Hearst newspapers.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.