Director: Jonathan Levine
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston, Matt Frewer, Philip Baker Hall, Serge Houde
In one regard, Jonathan Levine's tender, funny, and emotionally powerful 2011 dramedy 50/50 is about two best friends—played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen—forced to navigate through one's flirtations with death via cancer.
At least that's the plot point that the film's detractors tend to emphasize as a way to call Levine and screenwriter (and real-life cancer survivor) Will Reiser out for, in their eyes, turning 50/50's female characters into one-note wastes. There's Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), sickly Adam's (Gordon-Levitt) girlfriend who cheats on him as a way to cope with their situation, and whom Kyle (Rogen) sees as the enemy. And then there's Katherine (Anna Kendrick), Adam's sweet, subservient, and lovably insecure therapist who represents hope. As the haters claim, Rachael and Katherine cover the duality of women in a wishful man's eye: They're either cold heartbreakers or warm and (hopelessly) likable.
The rest of the movies included on this list all present legitimate arguments from misogyny-detesters, but 50/50? It just seems ridiculous. Levine's film is so well-intentioned, and filled with such delicately honest performances, that attacking it with such flimsy shots is frustratingly trivial. Even though she's unfaithful to a dying man, Rachael's actions aren't unrealistic—some people just aren't able to handle traumatic situations. And why shouldn't Katherine be so gentle? In a story about overcoming terminal adversity, it makes perfect sense to have a character who's a glass-half-full kind of person.