August in Movies: Films Featuring Fascinating Females
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Blockbuster season can be tough on us ladies.
The big studios are still lightyears behind in gender equality, both in front of the camera and behind. A quick look at the current box office scores shows only one film in the top ten with female top billing (Trainwreck‘s Amy Schumer). It’s not that I don’t like films about men—many of my favorites are—it’s just that there are so many of them.
But have no fear, girls. Films about interesting women are available; you just have to look a little beyond those big multiplex lights to find them. Here are a few of our current favorites.
Read on, sisters.
Won: A Sundance 2015 U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Director & Screenwriter: Marielle Heller
Starring: Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård, Christopher Meloni, Kristen Wiig
Won: A Sundance 2015 U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Excellence in Cinematography, to cinematographer Brandon Trost
Opens: August 7, limited release
This film is one of the least exploitative and most empathetic films about a young girl’s sexual discovery and ethical development I’ve ever seen. Director Marielle Heller sets the story squarely from 15-year-old Minnie’s perspective from the very first line: “I had sex today.” The story never judges Minnie’s enthusiasm—and confusion—over her first experiences, which happen to be with her mother’s boyfriend, Monroe. It doesn’t shy away from showing the self-involvement and immaturity of Monroe (a slippery Alexander Skarsgård), either. Instead, Heller lets the audience make their own judgments as Minnie learns to make hers, as well.
Narrated by Minnie, who is played by 22-in-real-life Bel Powley, the film lets us hear her try to make sense of her desires, behaviors, and needs with a self-awareness that none of the adults around her can match. Powley’s openness and comedic timing is incredibly refreshing; expect her star to rise quickly after this film makes its theatrical debut. This is the kind of movie that I wish could be shown in highschools (it’s one of the smartest films about learning to make good sexual choices out there), but the explicit sex scenes will make that impossible. Make sure you catch it when it comes out…and take along some good friends for some vulnerable conversation afterward.
Starring: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox, Sam Elliott
Opens: August 21
Even more intriguing films about women this month:
- Dark Places (August 7) is based on a chilling novel by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. Here, Charlize Theron plays the main character, Libby, whose family was murdered when she was a child. It promises to be another complicated-female-protagonist movie to fit with our August theme.
- Ricky and the Flash (August 7) Meryl Streep as a musician trying to reconcile with her estranged family? Written by Diablo Cody? Yep, I’ll see that.
- Mistress America (August 14) is Noah Baumbach’s newest film starring Greta Gerwig. This coming-of-age story follows a young woman who starts a friendship with her fascinating future-stepsister…who has some growing up to do herself. It’s madcap, hyper-literate and more light-hearted than some of Baumbach’s other work.
- Digging for Fire (August 21) is a great addition to Joe Swanberg’s prolific portfolio. He follows Lee (the ever-wonderful Rosemarie DeWitt) and her husband Tim (Jake Johnson) as they navigate questions of identity, commitment and modern-parenting-exhaustion over a single weekend.
- Z for Zachariah (August 28) is a post-apocalyptic love triangle with Margot Robbie playing the very-capable-of-solo-survival Ann at the center.