2018 was a magnificent year for film and carries a special significance, as this was the year where justice for those marginalised in Hollywood began.
The scandal exposing American film producer Harvey Weinstein’s repulsive misconduct, surfacing in late 2017, sent shockwaves through the industry; allegations of rape, sexual abuse and sexual assault dating back 30 years were brought to light by numerous female actors.
What arose from this was a movement, a way to not only show how disgusting the patriarchal system of Hollywood is but also allowed those who had largely been marginalised to have a creative voice; a defence against the instant dismissal of conformity.
#MeToo started with American actress Alyssa Milano tweeting a message of solidarity for those who had fallen victim to sexual misconduct in Hollywood but remained silent. The movement was a rapid success, with many celebrities sharing their own experiences and consequently exposing the abuse of power of the one percent in Hollywood.
The movement spread across all forms of entertainment (even breaching into sport and politics) but the most profound shift was made within the film industry. Those who had felt they had been underrepresented, left out or given a bit-part place within film were finally beginning to see the door open.
One film in particular would come to embody this change, blazing a trail of excellence so bright, it would set the box office (and the world) on fire.
Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ amassed $1.35b at the end of it’s box office run, an astounding feat for any film but the significance of this runs much deeper. Creed director Ryan Coogler helmed one fo the finest superhero epics of 2018, giving audiences a breathtaking cinematic experience of action, heart and culture.
The film won several awards and generated a lot of Oscar buzz but its greatest achievement was its cultural impact, as the film brilliantly dealt with the discourse of being of African descent through a wonderfully rich plot and compelling characters played by Chadwick Boseman and Michael B Jordan.
Young African-American fans had a superhero to call their own and a group of people who had been stereotyped for decades in film could celebrate the success of one of the fastest movies to hit $1b - justice had been served for those in front of the screen and also for those behind it, as Coogler was accompanied by one of the most diverse crews in Hollywood.
The ripple of change for diversity was amplified when Francis McDormand (now) famously ended her Oscar winning acceptance speech with: “I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider” - a call to arms, imploring her fellow actors to put in place a requirement for a diverse cast and crew in their contracts.
Coinciding with McDormand’s galvanising speech were moments of history, as Jordan Peele became the first African-American male to win an Oscar for best original screenplay, Rachel Morrison (who also worked on ‘Black Panther’) became the first female cinematographer to receive an Oscar nomination for her work on ‘Mudbound’ and Dee Rees became the first African-American woman to be nominated for best adaptive screenplay.
The key to justice for the marginalised was finally turning, unlocking the jealously guarded accolades, unfairly kept by the patriarchy of Hollywood, and finally given to those who truly deserved it.
There were those who fell outside of these categories who felt they deserved their moment too and once again 2018 delivered. The LGBTI community claimed one of the most heartfelt films of the year in ‘Love, Simon’, a film which Variety coined as the “first mainstream studio romantic comedy told from the perspective of a gay teen”.
Even as we welcome in the new year, the shift towards equality can be seen in the upcoming film slate: Wonder Woman again gracing our screens, Marvel having their first female lead film in ‘Captain Marvel’ and Margot Robbie auctioning off tickets to her new film ‘Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn’ with the proceeds going to fun the Time’s Up movement.
2018 brought us some fantastic escapism but more importantly, it brought about change to an archaic dynasty and ushered in a new age of prosperity for those who had been sidelined for far too long.