It’s a stinking hot summer afternoon and you’ve got nothing to do. I suggest you head to the nearest cinema (hello, air-conditioner), grab some popcorn and candy, and settle in for a few hours with a few good women. That’s right, I present to you our definitive list of the female-centered films not to miss this summer.
1. The postfeminist comedy: Trainwreck
Judd Apatow’s move away from stories about loserish men to ones about flawed, real women (Girls and now Trainwreck) is most welcome. Our fave funny girl Any Schumer stars as a commitment phobe in a comedy where even LeBron James is getting props for his acting. In the film, Amy’s same-named character “manifests a darker shade of postfeminism,” writes Anne Helen Petersen. “Traditionally, sluttiness and self-objectification are the means to domestic end: Prostitute Julia Roberts becomes wifey Julia Roberts; Sex and the City becomes Married Sex and the City. But like The Mindy Project’s Mindy Lahiri and Girls’ Hannah Horvath, Amy gets stuck in a slutty, boozy holding pattern. They’re all disrespected at work and treated as objects on the street, so it’s no wonder they regard themselves and their bodies the same way.” Amen. In cinemas now.
2. The rom-com with a twist: Jenny’s Wedding
I saw the poster for this and went “ugh, another Katherine Heigl comedy,” and one about a wedding to boot. But although it’s a mainstream Hollywood rom-com, at its center is a lesbian couple, and the film’s message about familial acceptance seems authentic and astute (at least according to the trailer). It couldn’t have come at a better time, with same-sex marriage finally legalized in all 50 US states. And it’s written and directed by Mary Agnes Donoghue, the woman who gave us possibly the best female friendship film ever made, Beaches. Expectations are soaring. Hits cinemas on July 31.
3. The Oscar contender: Ricki and the Flash
Meryl Street stars, Jonathan Demme directs, Diablo Cody writes. ‘Nuff said. Expect laughs and tears. Out on August 7.
4. The coming-of-age tale: The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Don’t you just love coming-of-age tales? I do. Especially ones set in 1970s San Francisco with Alexander Skarsgård as the male lead. And if the trailer is anything to go by, first-time director Marielle Heller (who’s also an actor and adapted the screenplay from a graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner) does a superb job with this tale of a teen artist who has an affair with her mother’s (Kristen Wiig) boyfriend. Saucy. In cinemas on August 7.
5. The one sure to become a cult classic: Mistress America
This kind of looks like the unofficial sequel to mumblecore favorite, Frances Ha. The king of American indie cinema casts his real-life girlfriend and collaborator, the ever-so-charming Greta Gerwig, in a film about a college freshwoman (yes, I invented a new word) whose life gets turned upside down by her impetuous soon-to-be stepsister, played by Gerwig. It premiered at Sundance to critical acclaim. Can’t wait for the “long, zany setpiece [midway through the film] so inspired and brilliantly sustained that it alone would be worth the price of admission,” as described by Scott Foundas in Variety. Yeah, I’m desperate to see this one. Out on August 14.
6. One to watch with your mom or…grandma: Grandma
In an age where stories about women are still far and few between, a story about an aging woman seems like a godsend. Fresh from getting an Emmy nod for her role as wacky Frankie in Netflix’s Grace and Frankie (I’m hooked), Lily Tomlin stars as a self-professed misanthrope who goes on a life-changing road trip with her 18-year-old granddaughter. The supporting cast is a smorgasbord of awesome actresses, including Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, and Laverne Cox. Out on August 21.
7. The blockbuster: We Are Your Friends
Ok, this is technically not a female-centered film, with an often-shirtless Zac Efron at the helm, but it stars my girl crush Emily Ratajkowski so I’m including it. Plus it’s named after an absolute club banger, Justice vs Simian’s We are Your Friends, which makes me go all gooey inside for my electronic music past (dancing to, not making). Hits cinemas on August 28.
8. The one with subtitles: The Second Mother
The lead actress in this Brazilin film won a special jury award at Sundance—and watching its trailer, it’s easy to see why (it also nabbed the audience award in Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama selection). The story follows a maid whose life is thrown into disarray when her estranged daughter suddenly appears, bringing to the surface the unspoken class barriers that exist within Brazilian society. It’s being touted as a “savvy, socially conscious crowdpleaser that occupies a rare middle ground between genteel and intellectual world cinema.” Yes please. Out on August 28.
9. The modern-day Western: Jane Got a Gun
After being riddled with production woes for years, Natalie Portman’s Jane Got a Gun finally has a release date: September 4. That’s exciting, however, there’s no trailer or poster in sight. Time for some marketing, peeps! All we know is that Portman stars as a woman who enlists the help of an ex to kill her outlaw husband—and that the film has had more male lead actor changes than films in Liam Neeson’s Taken franchise. Out on September 4…allegedly.
10. The nail-biter: Sicario
Again not technically completely female-centered, this Cannes-approved thriller/drama stars Emily Blunt (!!!) in the lead role of an idealistic FBI agent who learns a thing or two about the justice system on the Mexican-US border. Director Denis Villeneuve originally wanted a man for this role, but casting a woman makes for a much more interesting and unique crime film. If the trailer is anything to go by, this is going to be a compelling look into the ‘war on the drugs,’ which has frankly become a buzz phrase with no credible representations in film and literature of late. In cinemas on September 18.
Main image courtesy of Phil Payne Photography.