The battle of the sexes took a break at the movies in 2010
A truce has been declared in the war between the sexes. In an extraordinary number of 2010’s pics, men and women set aside their differences to work together. Married couples were in sync all over the place: conquering a disability and a nation’s skepticism in “The King’s Speech,” facing up to government operatives in “Fair Game” and monitoring their circle’s emotional blood pressure over the course of “Another Year.” Even Toontown got into the act. Cowgirl Jessie was every bit as crucial as Buzz and Woody to the emotional highs of “Toy Story 3,” while feisty Astrid stood shoulder to shoulder with Hiccup to figure out “How to Train Your Dragon.”
Testosterone-rich, action-oriented yarns started weaving women importantly into the plot fabric. The mother and girlfriend of “The Fighter” may tussle, but each in her own way is critical to advancing Micky Ward’s fortunes. Justice was the grail of two tough lawmen joining forces with a little girl in “True Grit.” Crime melodramas included influential distaff members for good (“The Town”) or evil (“Animal Kingdom”). And where would the grizzled team seeking “Inception” be without the woman who designed the layered worlds and the woman who inspired them?
In the ultimate all-male adventure — “127 Hours” — an encounter with nubile hitchhikers, and the hapless Aron’s mom and future wife, were all essential to the final moment of transcendence. By the same token, men helped women seek out truth (“Winter’s Bone”) and cope with grief (“Rabbit Hole”).
Gender tension was so greatly reduced in 2010 that the films relying on it — the marital gamesmanship of “Blue Valentine,” or the search for lost love in “The Social Network” — stood out in crisper relief. Much more characteristic of the new sexual politics was “The Kids Are All Right,” in which gender is all but beside the point in sorting out the complex relationships among lovers, parents and children. Or “Black Swan,” whose libidinous choreographer is less confounding to ballerina Nina than her own inner demons.
This was the norm for 2010: stories not about women struggling with men or vice versa, but about people — gender be damned — tackling more expansive issues of love, life and death.
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