Emerald Fennell’s “poisonous popcorn film”

(Oscar Winner, Emerald Fennell)

Emeralds Fennell’s Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for her self-described “poisonous popcorn film” Promising Young Woman marks the 13th woman to win in this logophile category over the course of 93 years. 

While wins for women behind the camera at the Academy Awards have been scarce throughout its 93-year-long reign,  a new era of women seems to be upon us; at the 2021 Academy Awards Best Original Screenplay,  Best Picture, and Best Director Oscars were also taken home by women. Both Fennell for Promising Young Woman and Chloé Zhao for Nomadland took the Oscars by storm. 

While Promising Young Woman was a feminist masterpiece, the long standing male favoring trend of the Academy combined with not a single woman winning an Oscar for writing since 2007, made the female win a pleasant surprise.

Even Emerald Fennell was so shocked to receive the award she didn’t even have a speech prepared.  As one of the few women behind the camera who held the coveted Golden statue in her arms and taken it home with her, the shock was evident when she expressed, “It is very heavy.  But maybe I just need to go to the gym or maybe I can use him as a weight.  No, it’s just ‑‑ I don’t know what I expected.  I think I’ve only ever held a pretend one.  So it’s very exciting.”

Promising Young Woman explores the terrain of a precocious young women after a mysterious trauma in a world where of boys will be boys and get away with it. The feminine,  bubblegum pink world and aesthetic of the film is just a backdrop for the insidious and disturbing experiences women endure in a man’s world.

The subject matter could not be more powerful and important. Fennell explained that she, “always hoped to make something that  people would want to go and see that even if it’s about something difficult and troubling, that, yeah, that it would still be a movie that you would go and watch with your friends, with your boyfriend, and you would talk about it afterwards.  And so part of it was that ‑‑ that it felt kind of glossy and feminine and poppy and that, yeah, but it was disgusting, some very difficult and dark subject matter.  So I think probably that is something I will do in the future a little bit, but, yeah.  Amazing.”

This juxtaposition is what makes the film so compelling and different from anything else. This nuanced contradiction is what set Fennell apart from her other male contenders.

After walking off stage, Fennell also expressed gratitude for the creative culture she comes from in the UK. Saying, “what an amazing place to come from.  And it’s so supportive of the arts, and there are so many incredibly talented people.  And, yeah, and it’s just so exciting this year to see so many ‑‑ to see British people succeed in such a huge international forum.  So, yeah, I feel very proud and grateful.”

With an Oscar under her belt at the precocious age of 35, Emerald Fennell truly is a “Promising Young Woman….”

Contributor Megan Penn has a passion for stories in which women are in the drivers seat, along with a bad case of retrophilia.