There are three kinds of holiday programming that are easy to identify. The first is holiday movies and, occasionally, series. An article went up covering new holiday films by women on Monday – check it out. These are easy to recognize, since they tend to be plastered with holiday iconography so there’s no chance of mistaking them for something you could put off watching.
The second is so-called prestige projects. This is kind of a cheat since it covers anything that could be going for an award. Event films that are thought to have a shot at Best Film and Director awards come out in theaters. “Auteur” films such as Guillermo Del Toro’s recently-released “Pinocchio” are split between theater releases and streaming projects. These are films that may contend for a wide array of awards, but have to make due as the box office undercard to movies like the new “Avatar”.
Within prestige projects, you’ve also got the smaller films hoping to sneak in an award or two – a best screenplay or best supporting actor bid. Many have come out earlier in the year but time their streaming or VOD releases to get eyes right before awards nominations take place. A single best actor nod in a bigger ceremony can give these films second lives that outpace their initial releases. Finally, some smaller films with big awards clout will come out in just a few theaters for qualification before platformed expansions and finally hitting streaming in February or March. That means they’re more realistically 2023 movies for how audiences have access to them, but they often rely on 2022 awards nominations to build their marketing.
That covers a lot of territory, but generally the idea is that everyone’s taking their best shot at awards at this time of year. A lot of prestige series are also released, less because of awards timing (especially because the Golden Globes got moved up so far this year) and more because younger demographics have a solid chunk of time over the break to binge watch them.
That gives us two categories: holiday movies and the broad scope of prestige projects. The third is counter-programming. Counter-programming takes on different shapes depending on the time of year. During the summer event movie season, counter-programming looks like romantic comedies. They’re built to appeal to audiences that may have less interest in those event movies. The holidays have a surplus of comforting seasonal films and prestige projects, so counter-programming takes the shape of what’s unsettling: horror series and movies. This week, we’re starting to see some of these directed by women.
Before we get to that, I also want to note Alice Rohrwacher’s short film on Disney+, “Le pupille”. It finds girls at a Catholic boarding school rebelling during a time of war and scarcity. Short films are often a director’s route to studios taking bigger chances on them, and they have been immensely important for underrepresented groups such as women getting better-funded projects off the ground.
This week, new series by women come from Nigeria and the U.S., and new films by women from India and the U.S.
mostly directed by women
The adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s 1979 novel finds a Black woman named Dana pulled through time. Some moments, she’s working as a writer in the modern day. At others, she’s surviving on a 19th century plantation.
Directors include Ayoka Chenzira (“Queen Sugar”), Destiny Ekaragha (“The End of the F***ing World”), Amanda Marsalis (“Ozark”), and Janicza Bravo (“Zola”). Women direct 7 of the 8 episodes.
You can watch “Kindred” on Hulu. All 8 episodes are out.
Far From Home (Netflix)
co-showrun by Damilola Elebe
In this Nigerian series, a teen finds himself out of his element when he earns a scholarship to an elite school.
Damilola Elebe showruns with Chinaza Onuzo. She started as a radio presenter before becoming a screenwriter.
You can watch “Far From Home” on Netflix. All 5 episodes are out.
National Treasure: Edge of History (Disney+)
co-showrun by Marianne Wibberley
This continuation of the Nicolas Cage movies finds a DACA woman named Jess investigating her late father’s involvement in a network of treasure protectors.
Lisette Olivera, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and (the severely underappreciated) Breeda Wool star, with Harvey Keitel and Justin Bartha reprising their roles from the films.
Marianne Wibberley showruns with husband Cormac. The pair co-wrote both “National Treasure” movies, as well as other 2000s actioners like “I Spy” and “Bad Boys II”.
You can watch “National Treasure: Edge of History” on Disney+. The first two episodes are out, with a new one arriving every Wednesday for a total of 10.
directed by Nikyatu Jusu
Aisha is a nanny and an immigrant. Taking care of a child in New York’s Upper East Side, she encounters secrets that challenge her access to the American dream. Anna Diop and Michelle Monaghan star.
This is the first feature from writer-director Nikyatu Jusu.
You can watch “Nanny” on Amazon Prime.
The Apology (Shudder)
directed by Alison Locke
Twenty years after her daughter’s disappearance, Darlene is a recovering alcoholic preparing to host her family’s Christmas celebration. He ex-brother in law shows up unannounced, triggering a cascade of secrets and horror.
This is the first feature from writer-director Alison Locke.
You can watch “The Apology” on Shudder.
Doctor G (Netflix)
directed by Anubhuti Kashyap
A male doctor reluctantly finds himself the only man in his gynecology class, challenging his chauvinism and assumptions of the field.
Anubhuti Kashyap directs and co-writes the Hindi-language film.
You can watch “Doctor G” on Netflix.
Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.
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