13 kick-ass films with strong female leads you need to watch this year
From documentary to dystopian future, these stand-out films are more significant than ever in post-#MeToo Hollywood
This season has seen the film industry turned on its head. The floodgates opened last October when the New York Times published a story detailing the accusations against Harvey Weinstein and his alleged decades of sexual harassment, a tapestry of scandals that continues to unravel. Countless accusations, campaigns and protests later, we’re finally seeing years worth of necessary change begin to unfold in Hollywood — and it has kickstarted new conversations around gender equality, not just in film, but across other industries too. Needless to say, it’s been a tumultuous, emotional and humbling year in the City of Angels (and apparent devils). So, as we look ahead to the new cinematic season, it’s exciting to see a newfound emphasis on films with strong female leads across a range of contemporary issues, from gun violence, to racial politics and mental health. Talented female writers, directors and actors are claiming the spotlight in a post-Weinstein world, and for all the right reasons.
13 films with strong female leads to watch in 2018
Set against the backdrop of previously unseen personal home videos, Kevin Macdonald’s incredibly intimate portrayal of the life and music of a young Whitney Houston creates an honest, unapologetic depiction of the icon’s stratospheric rise to fame and subsequent self-destructive fall.
Not only does Whitney chronicle how the Queen of Pop fought for independence in a male-dominated industry, but the film also acts as a raging commentary on racial politics from the eighties through to the noughties. Get ready, it’s going to be So Emotional…
In cinemas nationwide now
You’ll be stifling some awkward laughter at this hilariously bizarre, yet dark and twisted documentary on the psychology of the money-hungry society that we live in. Through a series of photographs and candid first-person interviews with people from Los Angeles to Moscow, we're confronted with the question: is the world of luxury really all that it seems?
Written and directed by all-round wonder woman Lauren Greenfield, the film also focuses on her own struggle between pursuing her wild career (as an artist, photographer and documentary maker) and staying at home to help raise her kids.
UK Release: 20 July 2018
This documentary starring M.I.A is drawn from a never-before seen store of personal footage spanning from her teenage years through to present day. An exploration of her ever-evolving identity, the title reflects the many names that the singer Maya… Matangi, or M.I.A, goes by.
Like Whitney, the film creates an intimate portrait of the Sri Lankan artist, musician and activist as she utilises the platform that fame has given her in order to fight for the rights of the disadvantaged – all while perfecting her own original sound.
Spoiler alert: Prepare for some real nineties nostalgia: Maya does dance in her room in front of a Wu Tang Clan poster.
UK Release: 21 September 2018
Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams take the lead in this daring exploration of female sexuality within the Orthodox Jewish community in London; more specifically, Hendon and Golders Green.
When the outlandish, though dedicated photographer Ronit (Weisz) returns to the community that shunned her for her attraction to a childhood friend (McAdams), their passions reignite as they attempt to navigate the boundaries of faith and sexuality. Hard-hitting and erotic, this film is one to watch on the LGBTQ+ front.
UK Release: 30 November 2018
Based on the 1983 ITV series of the same name, Steve McQueen’s Widows is set in present-day Chicago in which four women, whose dead husbands’ criminal activities have left them in crippling debt, band together in order to secure their own fates.
Written by Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn, the film features an all-star cast including Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki. Now that’s some kick-ass female casting. Oh, Colin Farrell and Daniel Kaluuya also make appearances, just to let you know.
UK Release: 9 November 2018
This modern take on the classic novel by James Baldwin is written and directed by Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins, and stars Kiki Layne, Dave Franco and Pedro Pascal. Based in 1970s Harlem, the plot follows 19-year old, pregnant Tish (Layne) as she desperately tries to prove her fiancé Fonny (Pascal) innocent of an accusation of rape.
Though suspenseful and hard-hitting at times, as the systematic racism of 70s New York is laid bare, the story is ultimately a must-see celebration of love, family and the importance of community during times of crisis.
UK Release: 20 November 2018
Jennifer Lopez returns to the screen in this new romantic comedy as 40-year-old store worker Maya who ditches her job and tries to prove herself as a Madison Avenue PR wizard. Think Working Girl meets Maid in Manhattan.
Also starring Vanessa Hudgens and Annaleigh Ashford, this is the latest move by entertainment company STX Films in their active attempts to produce more female-led films, and we’re in full support.
UK Release: 30 November 2018
The Girl in The Spider’s Web follows computer hacker Lisabeth Salander (Claire Foy) and journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), as they find themselves caught in a web of spies, cybercriminals and corrupt government officials.
This highly anticipated revamp of the fourth novel of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series sees Foy add her own unique twist to the hardened, merciless vigilante against an intense, dystopian backdrop. Prepare for a wild ride.
UK Release: 9th November 2018
Originally a YA novel by Angie Thomas, this film follows a young teen named Starr (Amandla Stenberg), who is drawn to activism after witnessing the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend. With community pressure mounting on all sides, Starr finds herself in the centre of a political upheaval while standing up for what she believes in.
Incredibly relevant and brutally honest, this movie will strike a chord across all audiences.
UK Release: 2nd November 2018
Though written and directed by leading man Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born also marks Lady Gaga’s feature film debut, following the huge success of TV series American Horror Story that propelled her into the acting world.
The film tells the story of seasoned musician Jackson Maine (Cooper) and his love affair with relatively unknown singer-songwriter Ally (Gaga). While the plot sounds like a Nicolas Sparks-esque romance, the film also tackles the taboo around mental health within the celebrity world, bringing to light how many continue to suffer in silence; an issue Gaga is known to speak up about.
Directed by Krish and produced by Zee Studios, Kangana Ranaut will be seen playing Rani Laxmibai in the film ‘Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi’, an epic biographical movie. This is the first time she playing a historical character in her career.
Initial release: August 2018
An emotional drama, directed by Shree Narayan Singh, the movie deals with the subject of surrogacy. Staring - as per the latest reports - Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the lead role.
From: ELLE UK