March is International Women’s Month. So, while theaters are closed and we are all stuck at home, why not stream some films with strong female characters and celebrate some female filmmakers?
20th Century Women
Written and directed by Mike Mills and starring Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann, and Billy Crudup, this film takes a unique look into an unconventional group of women trying to raise a good man in the 1970s. This film takes on themes of feminism, love, family, motherhood, and the struggles of growing up. It also has a unique perspective on masculinity and what it means to be a man. On a scale of happy to sobbing, I would say this film falls some where in the middle. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will make you question your place in the world.
This film was adapted from a YA novel written by Julie Murphy. The coming of age story was written by Kristen Hahn and directed by Anne Fletcher. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Danielle Macdonald, and Odeya Rush, this film takes a look at our societal standards of beauty and what it is like to inhabit this world as a plus sized woman. Willowdean (Macdonald) chooses to follow in her beauty queen mother’s (Aniston) footsteps and join the local beauty pageant. There are bonus points for a meet cute and plus sized love story.
Written by Emma Donaghue (who also wrote the book) and directed by Lenny Abrahamson, this film tells the story of Joy Newsome (Brie Larson) and her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay). Joy was kidnapped years earlier and now they are both being held hostage by Jack’s father. Joy does all that she can to provide a “normal” life for Jack. The two begin to plot their escape, but that’s just the beginning of this harrowing drama. While this story is extremely sad to watch unfold, it’s also a celebration of how far women are willing to go to protect their children.
Since we are all concerned with RBG’s well-being, it is probably best to watch this documentary and give her six feet of social distancing for protection. Directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, this documentary takes us into the life and career of one of our most beloved Supreme Court Justices. It tells the story of her early life, her marriage, and her career before and after her nomination. Perhaps the most interesting part though is the examination of how RBG has become a cultural icon and role model for young women.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Directed by Barry Jenkins and based on the James Baldwin’s novel of the same title, we are introduced to Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) who are young and in love. Fonny is sent to prison for a crime he did not commit and Tish tries to prove he is innocent. On a technical level, this film is spectacular. It is beautifully shot and uses an unconventional time line to develop the characters. It also features a powerful supporting performance by Regina King.
Directed by Bert and Bertie and written by Lucy Alibar, this story follows young Christmas Flint (McKenna Grace) in her pursuit to form her own Birdie Scout troop in order to win a chance to have her voice sent to space. This is a story with a heartwarming message about healing from grief, unconventional family, and accepting your differences. The supporting cast of kick ass women also makes this a memorable watch.
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut tells the story of Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) as she completes high school and achieves her dream of going to college in New York. This coming of age narrative perfectly depicts the ups and downs of being a teenage girl. Laurie Metcalf plays her mother and masterfully shows the complexity that sometimes exists in relationships between between mothers and daughters.