At the beginning of 2018, Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig became only the fifth woman in history to be nominated for a Best Director award at the Oscars. “That’s one hand!” she enumerated to USA Today following her indoctrination into the sadly small mile-high club. It’s a club that unfortunately looks to remain small as most female directors remain out of the awards conversation and new reports emerge that female filmmakers saw their numbers shrink in 2018.
But before you write off 2018 as a bad year for women — or at least a step backwards after 2017’s industry-shattering breakthrough success with Gerwig, Patty Jenkins, and more — I implore you to take a closer look. Last year saw Anna Boden, along with Ryan Fleck, taking the helm for Marvel’s upcoming Captain Marvel, and the announcement of Cathy Yan directing Birds of Prey for DC and Warner Bros. And the slate of Sundance darlings were overwhelmingly female-fronted — from Sarah Colangelo‘s unnerving The Kindergarten Teacher, to Desiree Akhavan‘s ebullient The Miseducation of Cameron Post, to Jennifer Fox‘s harrowing abuse drama The Tale. Lynne Ramsay, Josephine Drecker, and Chloe Zhao achieved some of the highest critical acclaim of the year for their films You Were Never Really Here, Madeline’s Madeline, and The Rider, respectively. Hell, there were two movies about Ruth Bader Ginsburg directed by women in 2018.
The numbers may not be speaking, but the quality remains unquestionable. Female directors are slowly making inroads in Hollywood, and while they may not be breaking the Top 100 — or may get unjustly snubbed by the Oscars yet again — don’t believe anyone when they say there are no female directors. Here 18 movies directed by women in 2018 that you should watch.
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Another Sundance movie has found a home. Netflix has scooped up the rights to writer/director Sara Colangelo‘s The Kindergarten Teacher in the U.S. and Canada, and they’ll make the film available for subscribers to stream sometime this year. Maggie Gyllenhaal produced the movie and stars as a teacher who becomes dangerously obsessed with nurturing the talent of one of her young students. Read more about The Kindergarten Teacher Netflix deal below. Read More »
For her second feature at Sundance (after her highly praised 2014 debut Little Accidents), writer/director Sara Colangelo has chosen to remake a four-year-old Israeli drama to examine the dying practice of encouraging and protecting artistic genius. Like the Staten Island educator at the center of this film, The Kindergarten Teacher pushes boundaries and crosses lines as it navigates its way through a tricky story of a five-year-old boy (newcomer Parker Sevak), who shows an unreal gift for poetry, and his teacher, Lisa (a career-best performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is also one of the film’s producers), who struggles in her adult-education class to be a poet as well, if only to add a bit of culture to a home life that offers her little by way of intellectual stimulation.
This interview with Colangelo took place at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, where The Kindergarten Teacher premiered and earned Colangelo the festival’s Directing Award in the U.S. Dramatic category. /Film spoke with her about the appeal of this difficult story, the decision not to paint her protagonist as mentally unbalanced, and the risk of losing the next Mozart without proper encouragement. The Kindergarten Teacher has yet to announce a distributor or release date.
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At one point in the beguiling remake of the 2014 Israeli of the same name, a character in The Kindergarten Teacher evokes the name of Mozart as being a prime example of a child prodigy who was nurtured and otherwise taken care of by those who appreciated his unprecedented talent to the point where the young composer only had to focus on creating. When teacher Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal, who appears in every frame of this film) discovers a possible poetry genius in her class of five year olds, she dares to consider what life would be like for young Jimmy Roy (newcomer Parker Sevak) if all he had to concern himself with was being creative. Read More »
Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we thank the Obama administration for ruthlessly going after whistleblowers, wonder whether the spirit of Andre Dubus lives on, revisit Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, stand in wonderment of artistic masters, and praise the efforts of small filmmakers everywhere.
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