As 2009 rolls to an end, people all over Hollywood are noting that this has not exactly been a great year for movies. Starting this season, the Oscars will nominate 10 films (up from the usual five) for best picture, and the joke being told nearly everywhere you go is that there aren’t enough good movies to warrant the old number, much less the new one.
And then there is the Best Actress race, which paradoxically, is more competitive than any year in recent memory.
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The latest woman throwing a serious iron into the fire is Emily Blunt, the 26 year old British beauty who shot to fame playing Meryl Streep’s obsessed assistant in The Devil Wears Prada. On Thursday night, she strode into the Regal Union Square Stadium for the Cinema Society, Grand Marnier and the New Yorker’s screening of The Young Victoria wearing a sheath from Carolina Herrera and chunky Prada heels. She chatted with reporters and seemed far more comfortable than most American starlets, complimenting one woman-reporter on the press line for her Erickson Beamon necklace (“really beautiful,” she said, sounding less eager than matter of fact) before answering questions about how she learned about her character (“I read everything I could”) and how long it took to get into costume every day (about 2 1/2 hours).
She couldn’t exactly explain the paradox of why there are so many great women’s parts this year, while there are so few movies rising to the top of the Oscar heap. But she was flattered people are calling 2009 the year of the woman. “It’s nice to hear,” she said, “because I’ve heard both that this has been a great year for movies and that this hasn’t been a great year.” She added: “I’m excited that Precious has been seen by millions of people and that there are all these great roles for women.”
Certainly, it's something of a surprise at a time when independent studios are closing their doors and financing for films from Wall Street is drying up.
“I think it’s gotten harder, actually,” she said, when asked whether it's gotten any easier to make a movie about a woman. “You have to fight quite hard to get anything made that doesn't have a lot of explosions."
Still, the film’s producer, Graham King, thought the film had a real chance at the box office. “It’s a real old-fashioned love story,” he said. “If we can get a younger audience in the theaters, they’ll love it. And every young girl dreams at one point or another of being a princess.”
Others at the screening and the afterparty nearby at Club Norwood, were Martha Stewart, Chris Noth, Lionel Ritchie, and Bob Berney, the veteran independent producer whose Apparition Films is distributing the movie.