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  • Kaylie Szarek

Nine Films directed by women to check out this fall

Updated: Sep 14, 2019

1. Hustlers


Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers

Hustlers, written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, opens this weekend on September 13. The film is based on New York magazine’s 2015 article "The Hustlers at Scores" by Jessica Pressier. Hustlers boasts a stellar cast of women that includes Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, and Cardi B. The film follows the story of a group of strippers who begin drugging and embezzling money from stock traders and CEOs who visit their club. The film was a surprise hit at the Toronto International Film Festival with many critics praising JLo’s performance (even garnering her some Oscar buzz!)


2. Atlantics


Mame Bineta Sane in Atlantics

Atlantics, directed by Mati Diop, made history when the film premiered at Cannes, becoming the first black woman to direct a film featured In Competition at the festival. The film, set in a suburb of Dakar, Senegal, follows a love story between a young construction worker, named Souleiman, and Ada, who is about to enter an arranged marriage with a wealthier man. Souleiman, who hasn’t been paid for months, decides to migrate to Spain for better opportunities, but his presence remains felt in Dakar. Atlantics will make its US premiere this October in the New York Film Festival, but if you can’t catch it then, don’t worry! The film was acquired by Netflix so it’s likely to be available on the streaming service before too long.


3. Harriet


Cynthia Erivo in Harriet

Harriet, directed by Kasi Lemmons, is the highly anticipated biopic for one of the most highly revered and admired women in history. The film follows Harriet Tubman's life from her escape from slavery to her transformation into abolitionist and one of America's greatest historic figures. Lead by Tony Award-winning actress Cynthia Erivo in the title role and talents such as Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae, and Joe Alwyn in supporting roles. The film industry seems to be going all in on biopics lately, so while I’m definitely excited to see where director Kasi Lemmons takes Tubman’s story, I also hope the film is able to distinguish itself from the pack and give this incredible historic figure the film she deserves. Harriet comes to theaters on November 1.



4. Honey Boy


Noah Jupe in Honey Boy

Honey Boy began as a quite literal form of therapy. The screenplay was written by Shia LaBeouf during his time in rehab and then sent the script to director Alma Har’el who LaBeouf cites as one of his only remaining friends in the industry at the time. Based on LaBeouf’s own experiences, Honey Boy chronicles a young actor’s troubled childhood and his struggle as an adult to reconcile his father and his mental health through cinema and dreams. Honey Boy hits theaters in limited release on November 8.


5. Charlie's Angels


Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska in Charlie's Angels

This reboot of the 2000 movie (based on the 1970s TV series) with Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore, and Cameron Diaz introduces Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska as a new generation of private detectives working for Charlie. I'm very excited to check out this film as female lead action movies are still a relatively rare sight coming out of Hollywood. Written and directed by Elizabeth Banks, Charlie’s Angels is sure to be a fun, female-powered action movie to catch this fall. Charlie's Angels hits theaters November 15.


6. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood


Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Just a year after the critically acclaimed Mr. Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor comes a new narrative film centered around the beloved TV personality that is based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. The film is directed by Marielle Heller (who directed last year’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? which earned Melissa McCarthy her first Oscar nomination). I don’t think there’s ever been more perfect casting than Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers so I’m greatly looking forward to checking this one out when it hits theaters this Thanksgiving.


7. Queen and Slim


Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith in Queen and Slim

Written by Lena Waithe and directed by Melina Matsoukas in her feature film directorial debut, Queen and Slim is set to premiere at AFI Fest on November 14, later hitting theaters on November 27. The film stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith as a young black couple who, while on their first date together, are forced to go on the run after the two are pulled over for a minor traffic violation which escalates with the man killing the police officer in self-defense. The film will explore themes such as racism and police brutality in the United States. Queen and Slim promises to be bold storytelling that will explore one of the most pervasive and disturbing issues in the US today.



8. Portrait of a Lady on Fire


Noemie Merlant and Adele Haenel in Portrait of a Lady on Fire

This French film directed by Celine Sciamma was selected to compete at Cannes and won the Queer Palm (the first film directed by a woman to do so) and the award for Best Screenplay. It has been one of the most buzzed-about films coming out of the Toronto International Film Festival currently sitting at 98% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The film, set in 1770 France, follows the relationship between a young woman and the female artist commissioned to paint her wedding portrait. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is one of my most anticipated films this fall and is most definitely going to be a contender for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film at next year's Academy Awards.


9. Little Women


The cast of Little Women

Ever since being blown away by Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut film Ladybird, I, along with many others, have been waiting with anticipation to see what she would do next. Thankfully, the wait is almost over as Gerwig’s adaptation of the classic novel Little Women comes to theaters on December 25. Overflowing with a powerhouse cast that includes Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep, Emma Watson, Timothee Chalamet, and Laura Dern, Little Women is sure to be one of the most talked about movies of the year (along with the inevitable Oscar buzz of course).


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