If you haven’t yet checked out Kristy’s excellent ongoing series, 52 Films by Women, she’s already given us some great background on 2011’s Wuthering Heights and 2013’s Belle. In keeping with our general Helping Women Who Kick Ass Get More Recognition theme, I’d like to let you in on some of the buzzed-about female directed, female-led films this year.
Equity, Meera Menon
Anna Gunn stars as a senior investment banker with an IPO in trouble in this “first female-centric film about Wall Street.” We never knew how badly we wanted to see the once and former Skyler White in this role until we heard about it. SAY HER NAME, and get out of the boardroom, Leo! Conceived by Alysia Reiner (Orange Is the New Black, Sideways) and Sarah Megan Thomas (Backwards, The Little Things), written by Amy Fox (Heights), and directed by Menon, the film was backed and advised by bigwigs from Morgan Stanley, Barclays and JP Morgan Chase.
Tallulah, Sian Heder
Starring Ellen Page, Allison Janney, Uzo Aduba, Zachary Quinto, and Evan Jonigkeit. Page plays Tallulah, a free-spirited young woman living out of a van with boyfriend, Nico (Jonigkeit), when she turns a babysitting job into, shall we say, a more permanent gig? The re-teaming with her Juno co-star features Janney as Nico’s mother, who conspires with Tallulah to save a toddler from her irresponsible single parent. This is writer/producer Heder’s (Orange Is the New Black, Men of a Certain Age) feature directorial debut. Netflix already nabbed the streaming rights for this one.
White Girl, Elizabeth Wood
Loosely based on do-it-all-herself-er (writer, actress, producer, cinematographer), Wood’s own life; starring Homeland’s Morgan Saylor, Luke Cage’s Brian ‘Sene’ Marc, Chris Noth, Annabelle Dexter-Jones and Adrian Martinez. Saylor is a privileged college student who falls for a bad boy (Marc), and goes through an intense round of increasingly dangerous situations trying to get him out of jail. Wood is one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch in 2016.
Lovesong, So Yong Kim
Starring Jena Malone and Riley Keough as best friends Mindy and Sarah, who realize they have feelings for each other just as Mindy’s about to get married. After an abrupt separation and three-year silence, Sarah and Mindy are brought together again so we can spy on how they work out (or don’t) the kinks. Also starring Rosanna Arquette, Brooklyn Decker, Cary Joji Fukunaga, and Ryan Eggold.
Certain Women, Kelly Reichardt
From the director of Wendy and Lucy (*sob*), starring Michelle Williams, Laura Dern, and Kristen Stewart, and based on short stories by Maile Meloy. An examination of three disparate women — a lawyer involved in a hostage crisis; a wife looking for meaning, creating her dream house; and a horse rancher (lily Gladstone) who connects with her adult education tutor (I’m sure that’s not as dirty as it reads) — are linked together. Also starring Jared Harris, Rene Auberjonois, and James Le Gros.
Agnus Dei, Anne Fontaine
Lou de Laage as Mathilde, a French Red Cross intern sent to Poland circa 1945, to treat and assist survivors of German camps. Discovering a complicated secret involving a group of nuns, Mathilde’s life is instantly transformed. Based on true events of the time, the film examines yet another dark side of religious organizations; Fontaine (Adore, Chloe) nonetheless describes the story as filled with hope. Co-starring Agata Kulesza, Agata Buzek, Anna Próchniak, and Vincent Macaigne.
The Intervention, Clea Duvall
A group of friends — three couples to be exact — converge for a weekend getaway that turns out to be (wait for it), an intervention (marital). Yes, it’s at least part comedy, thank the gods, else just a terribly depressing movie. With a fantastic cast — Cobie Smulders, Melanie Lynskey, Natasha Lyonne, Alia Shawkat, Jason Ritter, and Ben Schwartz, Vincent Piazza and Duvall (who also wrote the script) — let’s hope this one’s more than just an excuse for Lyonne and Duvall (who co-starred in 1999’s But I’m a Cheerleader) to kiss again. (Or should we?)
Cameraperson, Kirsten Johnson
A cameraperson makes a documentary about her own career? Brilliant! Award winner, Johnson (Citizenfour, The Oath, No Woman, No Cry, The Two Towns of Jasper) has the right idea; give us a unique look at the relationship between filmmaker and cinematographer, and share how cinematic stories are shaped and told.
Newtown, Kim A. Snyder
Snyder’s (Welcome to Shelbyville) documentary about how the Connecticut town drew together after the Sandy Hook shooting. “What remains after all is lost?” Rough, but can we find something uplifting in the aftermath? I really hope so.