2018. What a year!
It was a big year for gender equality, particularly in the sense of raising awareness. The award season kicked things off with many inspiring speeches from empowering women who called for change in 2018 and saw the first female nominated for a directing Oscar in 8 years. Plus the first woman ever nominated for best cinematography with Rachel Morrison for Mudbound.
Then Times Up became an official initiative working towards eliminating workplace harassment; supported by celebrities on the red carpet of the Golden Globes by wearing all black. New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood. And Ava DuVernay became the first black female director to be a part of the Million dollar club after making A Wrinkle in Time.
In terms of my own blog I got to feature the work of some pretty amazing directors for the new hashtag Female Filmmaker Fridays, and broaden my own personal viewing of female centred content at both the Sydney Film Festival and through Women Director Awareness month in September.
It was big year but a lot of work still needs to be done in closing that gender gap. So to kick off the new year I want to look back at some of my favourite films that I got to see in 2018, and which ones are still on my to watch list for 2019…
This Netflix original film came out on the streaming platform on the 21st of December and it ticked all of my disaster movie thriller needs. A big shift in tone from the slog of Christmas films that were being released on all the streaming services at the time I very much enjoyed the change of pace. Viewed by over 45 million accounts within its first 7 days of being released on Netflix, this original showed just how much people want to watch content directed by women as much as men.
I’d seen various tweets and articles that mentioned Rafiki and when I saw it was part of the Sydney Film Festival program I knew I wanted to go and see it. Directed by Wanuri Kahiu the films plot surrounds the Romeo + Juliet style romance of two girls living in Africa. At the time of its release it was banned in Kenya for its lesbian content and Kahiu therefore wasn’t able to attend Cannes where the film was selected to be screened. By the end of 2018 however the ban was lifted so the film could be screened and it was a big win for the LGBTQI+ community and for women filmmakers. For my full review of the film check out my blog post here.
The Breaker Upperers
The Breaker Upperer’s was another film I got to see at the Sydney Film Festival and it was a really cool way to kick off my viewings. A comedy written, directed, and staring comedy duo Madeleine Sami and Jackie Van Beek this film had me in stitches the entire way through. A New Zealand style comedy that focused on female friendship it was a rollercoaster of a journey that I would happily go on again.
The Spy Who Dumped Me
Another comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me was another great ride that took the buddy crime film genre and feminised it without objectifying the female characters and keeping the story about the two best friends at its core rather than their heterosexual relationships. Filled with laughs and lots of action, it was a very entertaining night out to the cinema and I can highly recommend it for anyone looking for a good time.
Half The Picture
This was quite possibly one of the most important films of 2018. With everything happening in Hollywood in terms of gender inequality this film takes the lived experience of a handful of incredibly talented and inspiring women directors and shows you the undeniable proof that the gender gap exists and something needs to be done about it. I would say this film is compulsory viewing for everybody not just those in the film industry.
And now for the films that came out last year that are still on my must watch list:
The Golden Globe nominated Nicole Kidman stars in this Karyn Kusama thriller about a broken down LAPD detective who must reckon with an undercover gang case from her past. It sounds gritty and dark and right up my alley so I’m looking forward to hopefully finding a cinema somewhere still showing this one.
The Kindergarten Teacher
I was really bummed when I missed this one at the Sydney Film Festival last year, but I just couldn’t get a showing to sync up with my timetable. Directed by Sara Colangelo this dark drama/comedy follows Lisa Spinelli’s (Maggie Gyllenhaal) obsession with a 5 year old student she believes to be a poetical prodigy. It opened in limited release here in Australia so I think it might be a case of finding a copy to watch sometime this year.
[A] brilliantly observed ethical pretzel… The Kindergarten Teacher is probably the only movie about poetry with an ending as tense as any thriller. – Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian
You Were Never Really Here
I’m realising that most of the films in the second half of this list are dark drama’s, which I think says a lot about the kind of film that I enjoy watching but also it shows how much women pushed the stereotype of what kind of movie they can make as well. You Were Never Really Here is the story of a traumatised veteran who tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, his nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening. I heard mixed reviews from a variety of sources, but I’d still like to watch it and make my own opinion.
Mary Queen of Scots
I was unsure whether to include this one as it only just opened in Australian cinemas recently, but since it technically opened for release in other countries last year I think it still counts. This film was on my films to look out for in 2018 blog post around this time last year so it’s nice that I can finally take a trip to the cinema to see it. With two powerhouse women staring as Elizabeth I and Mary (Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan respectively) I think this will be an interesting and entertaining historical drama.
Leave No Trace
And last but not least another drama to top off our list. Leave No Trace is a film about a father and his daughter living an ideal existence in a vast forest park in Oregan when a simple mistake changes there lives forever.
Granik lets glimmers of hope fight their way into her unflinching view of a broken America. That’s what gives her hypnotic and haunting tale of letting go its quiet power and amazing grace – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
If you managed to see all of those in 2018 I have a “what to look forward to in 2019” post coming out soon that will set you up for this year coming. If you’re like me and want to catch up from last year here’s an IMDB list of female directed films from 2018 that you can go through and tick off.