This is the second article in a series on diversity in filmmaking. See the first article here.
I know, I know. The stats are bleak. According to a December study published in The Guardian, only 6.4% of Hollywood movies were directed by women in 2013 and 2014. The numbers get worse for ethnic minority females, who directed just 1.3% of Hollywood movies in that time period.
So jumping right in with that uplifting news—hold on, I’m just gonna pour another glass of vino—there we go. All good. What was I saying? Ah, yes, continuing with our theme of focusing on the positive, let’s talk about the top five upcoming studio movies, directed by women (and in keeping with the theme of our site, often based on novels), to start getting excited about now!
1 Catherine Hardwicke’s Stargirl. Okay, I’m going to be the first to admit that I haven’t read the novel by Jerry Spinelli upon which this film is based, although I know it has quite an enthusiastic following. And while the character of Stargirl herself sounds like the world’s most bombastic Manic Pixie Dream Girl to me, I’m excited about this anyway.
After all, let us not forget that before Catherine Hardwicke subjected us to whatever was happening in Twilight (cue long takes of Kristen Stewart twitching in the woods), she gave us the almost-perfect film Thirteen and the skateboarding love letter that is Lords of Dogtown. She knows teenagers and she knows young angst. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if she hit this one out of the park.
2 Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest Hour and a Half. There is so much to be excited about with this movie– based on Lissa Evans’ humorous novel about a group of Brits making a WWII propaganda film during a blitz– that I might have to do a separate article on it. From the direction by Scherfig (An Education) to the highly praised source material, the screenplay by British writer Gaby Chiappe (the TV series Casualty), and the cast which includes the lovely Gemma Arterton (and the equally lovely Sam Claflin, if you don’t mind my saying so).
As a side note, however, I should say that when I mentioned this film to my husband, he said, “Why are all female-centric movies set in 1940?” To which I replied, “They’re not!” (Thinking: Let’s see… Brooklyn, Carol, An Education…) “Sometimes they’re set in 1950!”
3 Rebecca Thomas’s Looking for Alaska (based on the John Green book). Okay, so despite the proclamations of this poster, IMDb say this movie isn’t scheduled to come out until 2017. However, I am still including it here because I will probably be obsessively following its progress until whenever the hell it does come out. Why am I doing this? Um, have you read the book? No. Okay, seriously, read the book. Here‘s the link. (But, like, read it after you read this, okay?)
Miss Thomas, who is also going to be bringing us a live-action The Little Mermaid next year starring Chloe Grace Moritz because that’s totally a thing the world needed, has a pretty heavy burden on her shoulders to interpret this beloved YA novel—in my opinion, probably the best one I’ve ever read—without pissing off any of its fans. The good news is she’ll have some help. The amazingly talented Canadian writer/actress/director Sarah Polley (Away From Her) is adapting the screenplay. Yes, please. Thank you, please. More, please. (Pass the tissues.)
4 On the documentary front, Angelina Jolie is bringing us First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, based on author and human-rights activist Loung Ung’s memoir of her childhood under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. I know, I know, pass the popcorn… and more wine.
There’s a temptation to only go to the movies to escape, and I get it. I do it, too. But it is imperative that we watch these films, especially when they tell the stories of women and minorities. It is imperative that women like Angelina Jolie, who could be sunbathing in the damn south of France right now while Brad Pitt rubs lotion on her back—hold on, I’m just having a mental moment. Okay I’m done—make these documentaries and tell these stories. Because if they don’t, we’ll know nothing about the human condition except what the latest Iron Man has to teach us… and I think I already know that.
5 Rebecca Miller’s Maggie’s Plan. So there are two schools of thought on the actress Greta Gerwig. One goes roughly like this: “Oh my God, I love her. She’s so real. She’s just like me. Did you see Frances Ha? No, seriously, did you see it? I love her.” The other one, and I’m paraphrasing here, is basically, “Why is this frumpy lady whining at me?” And, go ahead and tell me I’m wrong in the comments section, but I’m a latter kinda girl.
However, I am still excited about this film, starring the divisive Miss Gerwig and slated for release in May, for a couple reasons. One is that it is directed by Rebecca Miller, who despite all her best efforts to distinguish herself as a writer (screenplay for Proof) and director (The Ballad of Jack and Rose), has never really managed to be better known for her work than for her relationship with two men—namely, her father Arthur Miller and her husband Daniel Day-Lewis. Might this film be the game changer? I hope so, because those two men cast some very long shadows and it might just be her time to shine. Also, Julianne Moore, Wallace Shawn and Maya Rudolph are in it, AKA best imaginary sleepover ever.
So that’s it. My top five. And not for nothing, these movies weren’t easy to find. Seriously, read the Box Office Mojo report on upcoming films slated from the major studios this year and then try to find the ones with women directors attached. Now all the single ladies, put your hands up… hand up… one hand… just you, that one lady in the back. Yeah, you. Hand up, lady! You’ve earned it!
Follow Rebecca Phelps on Twitter: @DownWorldNovel