Love or hate the awards season, it is a period where a lot of unique, character-driven films rise to the surface. There are the more obvious contenders across the board: “The Power of the Dog”, “The Unforgivable”, “Licorice Pizza”, “West Side Story”, the list goes on.
Of course, some of those are only available in theaters right when the Omicron variant of COVID should be sending us back into social distancing again. I’d argue we can wait the few months until some of these are available for home viewing; there’s plenty out right now that we can watch from our couches.
I’d also point out that this brief list hides a reality that extends beyond those four examples: major films by men are much more likely to make it to theaters. It’s the streaming platforms that are doing the best job of getting movies by women in front of audiences. This is true in terms of production from the early stages, as well as through acquisition of indie films looking for a buyer. Streaming platforms are doing a much better job than traditional studios of putting films by women in front of viewers.
Awards season means a lot of smaller films with a breakthrough performance are coming out, often with day-and-date home and theatrical releases. That’s the case with director Lauren Hadaway’s “The Novice” and Isabelle Fuhrman’s performance as its obsessed rower, which you’ll find below. A release now gets the performance in front of eyes, with an outside chance of a surprise nomination if it catches.
(See also: Krisha Fairchild’s performance in “Freeland”, co-directed by Kate McLean and out on VOD, or Halle Berry in her self-directed “Bruised” on Netflix).
This is also a time when many international films competing for that Oscar category will be making their debuts. Mexico’s submission, Tatiana Huezo’s “Prayers for the Stolen”, came out last month. Charlotte Sieling’s “Margrete: Queen of the North” is one of the featured movies below. Even though it just missed out as Denmark’s submission, this release date was solidified in the anticipation it may’ve made that final cut (it was one of Denmark’s three finalists).
Release dates try to take advantage of potential awards campaigns when a smaller or international film has a chance of breaking through, and they help to fuse awards campaigns with more general marketing campaigns, so each can build on the other. Keep an eye out for smaller films by women and international films by women that will be trying to catch fire this time of year.
Also of note this week is that season two of “The Witcher” drops on Netflix today. The fantasy series is showrun by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, who also wrote and produced on “Daredevil” and “The Umbrella Academy” for Netflix.
OK, let’s get to this week’s entries:
With Love (Amazon)
showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett
Lily and Jorge Diaz are brother and sister. The holidays come just as they’re trying to find renewed purpose in their lives.
Showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett has written and produced on “iZombie” and “One Day at a Time”.
You can watch “With Love” on Amazon Prime.
The Novice (VOD)
directed by Lauren Hadaway
Alex is a freshman rower who becomes obsessed with making her university’s top boat. She puts herself through hell and alienates her teammates with this sole goal in mind.
This is the first feature film from writer-director Lauren Hadaway.
See where to rent “The Novice”.
Margrete: Queen of the North (VOD)
directed by Charlotte Sieling
Queen Margrete effectively rules Sweden, Norway, and Denmark in 1402. In this Scandinavian historical drama (told in six languages), she uncovers a conspiracy that could topple her Kalmar Union.
Director and co-writer Charlotte Sieling is an accomplished Danish director who started out as an actress in the 1980s.
See where to rent “Margrete: Queen of the North”.
Holy Beasts (MUBI)
co-directed by Laura Amelia Guzman
In this Dominican film, Geraldine Chaplin stars as a failing actress named Vera. With an unfinished script by a late friend, and a few of her friends still remaining, she sets to making her last movie.
Laura Amelia Guzman writes and directs with Israel Cardenas.
You can watch “Holy Beasts” on MUBI.
Rose Plays Julie (Shudder)
co-directed by Christine Molloy
Rose decides to seek out her birth mother. Doing so unveils a number of discoveries that set her on a path for revenge.
Christine Molloy writes and directs with Joe Lawlor. The pair have written and directed a few films in Ireland now.
Queen of the Morning Calm (Showtime)
directed by Gloria Kim
Debra is an immigrant sex worker trying to make ends meet, while caring for her daughter.
This is the first feature from writer-director Gloria Kim.
You can watch “Queen of the Morning Calm” on Showtime.
Sophie Jones (Showtime)
directed by Jessie Barr
Sophie is in high school and struggling with depression and aimlessness after her mother’s death.
“Sophie Jones” is directed by Jessie Barr, not to be confused with her co-writer Jessica Barr (a cousin). Both are coming at the project from personal experience, as both lost their mothers to cancer when they were just 16. This is the first feature for either one. Both have worked as actresses before this.
Ron’s Gone Wrong (HBO Max)
co-directed by Sarah Smith
Barney’s new constantly connected device is Ron. Yet Ron keeps malfunctioning, forcing Barney to step back and reconsider how he connects with others.
Sarah Smith directs with Jean-Philippe Vine and Octavio E. Rodriguez. Smith was nominated for a BAFTA for the animated “Arthur Christmas”.
You can watch “Ron’s Gone Wrong” on HBO Max.
CW: joke uses racist term
Christmas is Cancelled (Amazon)
directed by Prarthana Mohan
Emma’s father starts dating her high school nemesis, so she decides to break them up.
Director Prarthana Mohan has previously helmed “The Miseducation of Bindu” and “All for Her”.
You can watch “Christmas is Cancelled” on Amazon Prime.
Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.
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