From left: Conductor Marin Alsop at the Ravinia Festival (photo by Patrick Gipson); poster for Tár(credit Focus Features).

According to research by the League of American Orchestras, Women conductors are still rare, especially in the high-status position of music director,’ writes Deanna Isaacs in last Wednesday’s (1/25) Chicago Reader. So it was intriguing, if a little surprising, that we recently got not one but two new films about women who’ve made it to the top of that field.The first one is The Conductor, a documentary about Marin Alsop, music director laureate of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, chief conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, and chief conductor and curator of the Ravinia Festival. The other is Tár, a psychodrama starring Cate Blanchett written and directed by Todd Field. The first is the inspiring story of a trailblazer who, in spite of negation at every turn, never gave up on her dream, is committed to making the same path easier for others, and values music and conducting as a way of connecting with people. The other, in spite of the protagonist’s similar résumé—Bernstein, Mahler, sexual orientation, and all—is its opposite: a Kubrick-influenced horror flick about the fictional Lydia Tár, a narcissistic predator Alsop [told] Agence France-Presse that it’s yet another misogynistic portrayal of a woman in a leadership role.