From the very beginning, I’d hoped to cap our End of the Aughts coverage with one final post covering the Pajiba Person of the Decade, a top five or top ten list of the people who have made the biggest contributions in movies, books, and television over the course of the last ten years, at least where the loosely defined Pajiba sensibility is concerned. I assumed the list would come easily to me, that there would be a handful or two of obvious stand-outs, filmmakers, actors, authors, or even television showrunners who have made steady and outstanding contributions over the entire course of the decade.
But those names never revealed themselves to me. There were several people I could consider for such a list — Christopher Nolan, Judd Apatow, and perhaps Joss Whedon, chief among them — but no one, really, that I’d feel comfortable anointing The Person of the Decade. It also occurred to me that — save for J.K. Rowling, who has been hugely influential (and monstrously successful), but not necessarily within our loosely defined crowd — it’d be even more difficult to include a woman on that list. And to be honest, I didn’t really want to be a part of a Best of Decade list that included no women, even if their lack wasn’t my fault. In fact, I explored the idea of such a list with three very left-leaning liberal women last night, and despite our best efforts, and though we came up with some great names (Cate Blanchett, Tina Fey, and Sarah Polley, among a few others), none of them really fit the bill of Person of the Decade.
And when it comes right down to it, the Aughts have been something of a wash, pop-culture wise. The biggest invention in our domain was probably the iPod/iPhone (the DVR was released in 1999), but beyond a lot of cool gadgets, the Aughts didn’t really give us any game-changing innovations, just improvements on earlier innovations, like CGI and 3D. Sad as it seems, Zack Snyder’s 300 was one of the very few hugely influential movies of the decade (Avatar may usher in the era of 3D, but again, 3D has been around forever).
Looking back, in fact, it’s kind of a sad decade for innovative movies. Brokeback Mountain, of course, represented a new way of depicting gays in mainstream movies; Batman Begins reinvented the comic-book movie (which Spider-Man had reinvented once already), Judd Apatow reinvented the studio romantic comedy (kind of), and Peter Jackson did something with LoTR (though I’m not sure what it was), but it seems like the Aughts were mostly exemplified by the influences of the ’90s, whether it was Pixar (animation), Kevin Smith/Richard Linklater (studio comedies), Charlie Kaufman (screenwriting) or Michael Moore (documentary).
Sadly, it seems that, over the course of the entire decade, little has changed for women in the industry or movies geared toward the female demographic. We went in with Nancy Meyers (What Women Want) and we leave with Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated). Nothing has changed (I’m not overlooking Kathryn Bigelow’s fantastic The Hurt Locker, either — great movie, but not one that’s likely to change the Hollywood dynamic).
So, I’m bailing on the Pajiba Person of the Decade because, despite the many excellent films and filmmakers from the Aughts, no one really deserves that title. Moreover, I’m not really willing to consider such a list where so few women can be considered a part of that conversation.
So, I put it to our readers: Who, if anyone, would you consider the Person of the Decade, and what female filmmakers and/or innovators would you put forth for consideration?