Molly Windsor in horror movie Make Up

New Shows + Movies by Women — December 18, 2020

It’s interesting to see the movie landscape in a holiday season when no one’s going to the theaters. I’m used to studios maneuvering around each other to grab certain dates and certain numbers of screens. Streaming services don’t seem to be as obsessed with doing so – this week is a notable slow-down in comparison to the last few weeks. This isn’t just among movies and shows made my women, but across the board. Usually, the Friday before Christmas would be tensely fought over and marked out years ahead of time. Take theaters out of the equation and everything becomes a lot more flexible.

Subscription services seem much less concerned with carving weeks into territory – a lot of this may come from being less reliant on franchises. Franchises are used by studios to lock competing studios out of certain dates.

Subscription services do tend to surge new content (and new old content) at the beginnings of months. This is probably due to several factors – it’s easier to negotiate a bulk of content for the same date. People tend to search for new content on streaming services by month, so the earlier a mass of content is available in the month, the more visible it is.

There may also be a perception among customers who pay by month that they’re getting a better deal when so much arrives on the first. It also likely makes customers thinking of canceling hesitate when they see something will be available on the first of the next month.

This tends to apply for older content more than newer, but it’s an influence across the board. Streaming services don’t mark weeks or days on the calendar to fight over – although that may be changing with major Disney releases now that they own so much of the franchise market (“Mulan” is one of the few originals this year that did chase away other major streaming premiers).

Streaming services tend to release by month, and at that point there’s simply too much content to try to shuffle months one against the other the way studios fight over specific days and weeks. The success of subscription services has been more reliant on acquisition and interesting new content than on territorializing calendar dates.

That leaves it a slow week in December. There will be a rush of content next week, as it leads up to Christmas (major films like “Wonder Woman: 1984” and “The Midnight Sky” are both coming out). This week, we’re left in a gap between the month-opening rush and Christmas rush. This gives a chance for lower-profile films to shine, but there are no new series.


Make Up (Showtime)
directed by Claire Oakley

A run-down holiday park on the beach is closing up for the season. The vacationers are leaving. Ruth goes to live with her boyfriend here during the stormy off-season. She finds work, but begins to suspect her boyfriend’s cheating on her with a woman no one else thinks exists.

This is the first feature written or directed by Claire Oakley.

You can watch “Make Up” on Showtime with a subscription or rent it.

Mickey and the Bear (Starz)
directed by Annabelle Attanasio

A teen girl in rural Montana has to take care of her father. He’s a veteran and an addict. The two have a strained relationship at best. She cares for him even as doing so interferes with her own plans and what she wants out of life.

This is the first feature by writer-director Annabelle Attanasio, though you may know her as an actress from shows like “The Knick”.

You can watch “Mickey and the Bear” on Starz with a subscription, or through Kanopy. Kanopy is a subscription streaming service paid for by libraries and universities. It should work with many library cards or university log-ins. You can also rent “Mickey and the Bear”.

The Grizzlies (Netflix)
directed by Miranda de Pencier

A teacher moves to Nunavut. As with many indigenous communities that have been sidelined and under-resourced by a government that took their lands, their rural community is struggling. There’s a youth suicide problem. The teacher decides to start a lacrosse team to give the students there something new to work toward.

“The Grizzlies” is based on a true story, but of course takes dramatic liberties. There’s been controversy over the film as to whether it subscribes to or fights against a white savior narrative. Director Miranda de Pencier worked with indigenous producers to avoid such problems in the story and presentation, but it’s possible to avoid some pitfalls and still succumb to others. Criticism seems to both commend the film on some fronts while still pointing out issues on others. It was previously shared here, but this is the first time it’s on a subscription streaming service.

You can watch “The Grizzlies” on Netflix with a subscription or rent it.

Love You to the Stars and Back (Netflix)
directed by Antoinette Jadaone

Mika goes on a trip to look for aliens. As one does. She meets a man named Caloy and the pair begin traveling together. She learns he’s terminally ill with cancer, and the two start falling for each other.

Writer-director Antoinette Jadaone is a successful Filipina director who averages more than a film a year. This is the first time the 2017 film has been available on a subscription service, and continues Netflix’s recent trend of acquiring Filipina films.

You can watch “Love You to the Stars and Back” on Netflix with a subscription.

Sister of the Groom (VOD)
directed by Amy Miller Gross

Audrey is turning 40. She goes for a family weekend in the Hamptons only to discover her brother is getting married to a woman who hates her. Along for the ride are her husband and an ex-boyfriend with whom she still connects.

This is the second feature from writer-director Amy Miller Gross.

See where to rent “Sister of the Groom”.

The Curse of Hobbes House (VOD)
directed by Juliane Block

You know how it goes: you inherit a mansion, have to stay there overnight, and the dead rise to eat your brains. “The Curse of Hobbes House” pits a group of unwitting victims versus a horde of zombies.

Writer-director Juliane Block has directed a number of straight-to-VOD genre films.

See where to rent “The Curse of Hobbes House”.

Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.

If you enjoy what you read on this site, consider subscribing to Gabriel Valdez’s Patreon. It helps with the time and resources to continue writing articles like this one.

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