5 reasons ‘Wonder Woman’ was one of the most important films of 2017, and deserved a best picture Oscar nomination

wonder woman 2017

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  • A lot of people predicted that “Wonder Woman” would get an Oscar nomination for best picture, but it didn’t.
  • Its impact on the industry and culture made it deserving of a nomination, and it was robbed.
  • Even though “Wonder Woman” is a summer action and superhero movie, it was a huge cultural moment in a year that was empowering for women in many ways.

The most iconic best picture winners define their year, and their generation. And so do their fellow nominees. “Wonder Woman” defined 2017 in a lot of ways, and absolutely deserved to make the list of nominees, but it was robbed.

2017’s “Moonlight,” which beat the predicted winner “La La Land,” marked the start of a big change in the industry. The film, which follows a gay black man from an impoverished neighborhood in Miami through multiple stages of his life, represented the kind of diverse storytelling that underrepresented storytellers had been fighting to get made.

The film, like “Wonder Woman,” proved that these stories can work for everyone, and be universally loved.

Even without “Wonder Woman” in the line-up for best picture at the 2018 Oscars, the nominees, like gay coming-of-age story “Call Me by Your Name,” prove a wave of change in cinematic storytelling has come. “Get Out,” written and directed by Jordan Peele (who is now the fifth black man to be nominated in the directing category) is a horror satire about racism among white liberal elites. The female written, directed, and led “Lady Bird” focuses on a complicated relationship between a mother and daughter. Like “Wonder Woman,” it has romance, but the film and its characters don’t revolve around it.

Even so, “Wonder Woman” deserves to be among them, because it’s also had a significant impact on Hollywood.

Here’s why “Wonder Woman” deserved to be in the running for best picture at the 2018 Oscars:

It empowered women and encouraged women in Hollywood to speak out.

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2017 started with the historic Women’s March. And in 2017’s last few months, notorious film producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women, from both behind and in front of the camera. “Wonder Woman” producer Brett Ratner was also accused of sexual harassment, and won’t be involved in further films in the franchise. The reports of this behavior from powerful men across multiple industries inspired the #MeToo movement that is occupying awards season.

“Wonder Woman” itself didn’t spark the current cultural moment, but it did instigate an industry-wide conversation about women in film that’s been brewing for decades, thanks to vocal director Patty Jenkins and actress Gal Gadot. Around the film’s release, Jessica Chastain called the portrayal and representation of women in films “quite disturbing,” at the Cannes film festival. “Wonder Woman,” conversely, was praised for its empowering, woman-led representation of a female superhero.

Actress and producer Elizabeth Banks even cited the film as an example to show children, especially boys, how women should and can be represented.

For the first time, a major Hollywood movie provided a female perspective, rather than a male gaze.

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“Wonder Woman” marked a turning point in the way superhero films are shot.

A female director made all the difference. Just watch the scenes with Wonder Woman/Diana Prince from “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League.” In the Zack Snyder films, everything lingers on Gal Gadot – from camera placement (usually low and behind her, to get her butt), to long close-ups of her face.

The way women are shot in “Justice League,” which came out months after “Wonder Woman,” feels especially gratuitous after seeing them shot so well. In “Wonder Woman,” the Amazons’ armor covers the torso, appearing reasonable for fighting in battle. In “Justice League,” the Amazons wear pieces of fabric that don’t cover more than they have to for the film to keep a PG-13 rating.

The same is not true for the men in the Snyder films. Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller are all attractive men with ripped bodies. But besides tight suits, there is no lingering, and no butt shots.

Gal Gadot is breathtaking. It’s ok to say that, and it’s also acceptable to emphasize a woman’s beauty (or anyone’s). But Jenkins, unlike Snyder and so many men who’ve directed women, doesn’t use it as a tool, and doesn’t use it to sell the story. The character is already great, and the story is already compelling enough.

Instead, Jenkins showcases Diana’s strength, optimism, and fearlessness to prove she is beautiful.

It broke records for female directors, who need to be taken more seriously than they have been in the history of filmmaking.

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Director Patty Jenkins broke records with “Wonder Woman.” Not only was she the first woman to direct such a large-scale superhero film – which, after so many years is a pretty sad statistic – but the movie became the highest-grossing movie ever directed by a woman, surpassing 2013’s “Frozen,” which was co-directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck. “Wonder Woman” is also the highest-grossing superhero origin movie of all time.

If Hollywood continues to give women and minorities opportunities to direct, the stories will naturally get better, because unique perspectives spur more interesting stories.

Like “Logan”— which was nominated for best adapted screenplay — it redefined its genre

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“Logan” and “Wonder Woman” – and even 2008’s “The Dark Knight,” which is likely the reason the best picture nominee pool opened up to ten nominees in 2010 – prove that action movies have the ability to be forward-thinking character studies, comparable to the prestige dramas that usually get nominated for Oscars.

“Wonder Woman” also redefined the superhero genre’s tendency to depict the few female heroes as cliche sex objects, with little effort made to humanize them and give them as much depth as their male counterparts.

In “Catwoman,” which Halle Berry starred in following her historic best actress win for “Monster’s Ball,” the cats in the film have more substance than Berry’s character does. In 1997’s “Batman & Robin,” George Clooney’s batsuit has more depth than Alicia Silverstone’s Batgirl. Even in “The Avengers” franchise, Black Widow doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as some of her male costars, and the sequel’s attempts to give her more to do failed, since it relied solely on a predictable love story with Bruce Banner/The Hulk that provided no more insight into either character.

“Wonder Woman” marks a significant turning point in the genre that will hopefully continue with its sequel, and other superhero movies like the upcoming “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel.”

It’s a mainstream movie that addressed a conversation about the representation of women and minorities in film.

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The white male narrative is not the only narrative. Even when it comes to superhero movies. And “Wonder Woman” brought this conversation to mainstream audiences.

By starting a conversation beyond a niche audience, “Wonder Woman” proved that a female-led movie draws audiences in, debunking one of the main reasons it took studios so long to make a “Wonder Woman” movie: because they didn’t think it would sell. Over the past few decades, Batman has had two franchises, and Spider-man just got his third reboot within 15 years.

Lynda Carter famously starred in the 1975-1979 Wonder Woman series, but never made it to the big screen. And in 2011, a “Wonder Woman” pilot was made for NBC starring Adrianne Palicki of “Friday Night Lights” fame, depicting her as a vigilante. The pilot, which was written and created by David E. Kelley of “Big Little Lies,” never aired.

But the “Wonder Woman” movie proved all the people who didn’t believe in her wrong. The conversation the film instigated, as well as its immediate and future impact on Hollywood, made it deserving of a best picture nomination.

It was also one of the best films of the year, and in the next few decades it will be talked about more than fine but forgettable best picture nominees like “The Post,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and “The Shape of Water.”