One of the bright spots that we can celebrate from this last year, which saw so much hardship, was the abundance of films that were led by women, and told stories about women. In celebration of Women's History Month, here are our Noovie 9 current awards winners starring women and/or made by women.
Winner of the Best Picture and Best Director (Chloe Zao, only the second woman to ever win the award) at last night's Golden Globes, "Nomadland" is a gorgeous and symbolic film about grief and survival, starring Francis McDormand in an incredible performance alongside non-actors who are actual American nomads. Travelling in vans and RVS – by choice or circumstances – the nomads represent a simpler way of living, and McDormand's character tells their story. She's a strong woman who mourns the death of her husband in her own way, and lives life to the fullest on her own terms.
2) Pieces of a Woman
Vanessa Kirby is powerful, heartbreaking, and resilient as a woman dealing with profound loss after her baby dies during a home birth. The film deals with how that loss affects her character, her partner, her family, and the midwife who attended to them that day. It is not an easy watch, but it is an important and human one, and Kirby gives a shattering performance that is unforgettable.
3) Promising Young Woman
Nominated for Best Director for Emerald Fennell for a Golden Globe (one of three female directors nominated this year, also a record) and Best Actress for Carey Mulligan, the film is an incendiary, off-kilter, black comedy drama thriller about sexual abuse. Mulligan stars as Cassie, a woman unalterably affected by her best friend's rape in college, and eventual suicide. She's now determined to turn the table on male abusers. Her journey of vengeance culminates in a controversial third act that, no matter where you stand, will provoke further discussion.
4) I Care a Lot
Rosamund Pike won the Golden Globe for Best Actress for playing the supremely immoral yet resourceful and ambitious "legal guardian" who targets senior citizens from whom she steals their assets. The tables are turned when she runs up against a seemingly modest old woman played by the excellent Dianne Wiest, who has ties to powerful figures Pike's character had not anticipated. While there's not really anyone in the film to cheer on, the filmmaking's top notch, and watching Pike use everything in her arsenal to fight back is sublime cinema.
5) Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
There are two stories at work in this adaptation of the August Wilson play. One is the tale of Ma Rainey's bitter, talented trumpeter Levee Green, played magnificently by the late, great Chadwick Boseman. The other is the story of Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) herself, a world-weary and legendary jazz singer, saddled with a corrupt system that will never fully allow her to take charge of her situation. Both players must deal with the social and racial injustices of their era. And both actors playing them give career-defining performances in this well-staged and dignified motion picture.
6) The United States vs. Billie Holiday
A surprise winner for Best Actress Drama at the Globes, Andra Day plays singer Billie Holiday in this Lee Daniels ("Precious," "The Butler") directed film about the star's fight against the federal government. In the 1940s, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics launches an undercover operation against her in the hopes to stop the momentum behind her anti-lynching tune "Strange Fruit."
The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Biography / 2021 / R
7) Wonder Woman 1984
While it wasn't as well-received by movie fans as the first "Wonder Woman," credit should be given to the sequel's director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot for mixing up the traditional superhero film formula. "WW84" is bright, colorful, weird, and unafraid to throw in actual messages about politics and those who represent the other side. The film also isn't afraid to bring back Chris Pine in a possessed body, or have Gadot's Wonder Woman consider a different life. Lots of people preferred the more straight-ahead approach of the first movie. But Jenkins and Gadot stick to their guns here, preferring themselves to create something more original.
8) Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Eliza Hittman directs Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder as teenage cousins dealing with one of the girls' pregnancy and setting out on a trip from Pennsylvania to New York City to get an abortion. Along the way, more details are revealed about their situation and their experience with boys. The moving, authentic indie drama was a winner for a Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and the Grand Jury Prize Winner at the Berlin International Film Festival.
9) One Night in Miami…
"One Night in Miami…" is actually the story of four iconic male figures – Muhammad Ali, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown and Malcolm X – and their legendary meeting at a Miami hotel after Ali's (still known then as Cassius Clay) boxing victory over Sonny Liston in 1964. The film, though, is a massive triumph for iconic female actress Regina King, who makes her directorial debut with the movie. Expanding the setting of the story's stage play roots, King sets up her characters to tell a vivid tale that's all about moving forward with purpose, equity and equality for everyone.
About the Author
Chuck is an editor/writer who's worked for NCM, Fandango, Movies.com, MediaTrip, Hollywood.com and Newsweek. His favorite movie is "Jaws." He's definitely a dog guy.