Next weekend one of the most anticipated films of the first half of 2015, the big-screen adaptation of the monster hit novel Fifty Shades of Grey, will finally hit theaters. Besides being directed by a woman, Sam Taylor-Johnson, the screenplay is by Kelly Marcel and the film was edited by Lisa Gunning, in addition to having a woman producer (author E.L. James), casting director, art director, set decorators, unit production manager, third assistant director, trainee assistant director, makeup artist, hair stylist, sound re-recording mixer and visual effects coordinator (plus many more roles). The film is certain to rake in massive amounts of cash, though that would happened regardless of who was attached as director. Even so, it gets me thinking: what other films by women directors can we expect to see in 2015?
Two other adaptations will be out this year, both related to the classic Gustave Flaubert novel Madame Bovary. One, a straightforward adaptation bearing the same name, is directed by Sophie Barthes and stars Mia Wasikowska (seen above) in the title role. Another film, Anne Fontaine’s Gemma Bovery, is a modern-day story based on a graphic novel heavily inspired by Flaubert’s characters; the film stars Gemma Arterton as (you guessed it) Gemma.
Another, perhaps less anticipated, adaptation is the melodrama Serena, based on the Ron Rash novel that was published in 2008. The film will likely draw a crowd for its stars, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper (in their third pairing after Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle), while the director, Susanne Bier, is a highly acclaimed Danish filmmaker whose previous films include Brothers (2004), After the Wedding (2006), Things We Lost in the Fire (2007) and the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner In a Better World (2010). The film’s supervising editor, Pernille Bech Christensen, has also worked with Bier many times. Serena, however, was plagued with difficulties during the post-production processes for editing and sound and the film has received mediocre reviews from many film festival critics.
The romantic drama Amour Fou is an original work by Austrian writer-director Jessica Hausner, due out in New York theaters around the same time as Serena (in March). Nominated for the Un Certain Regard Award at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, the film’s story takes place in 19th-century Berlin and recounts the story of German poet and prose writer Heinrich von Kleist. Karina Ressler served as the film’s editor.
Another drama by a European director, Céline Sciamma, is the French film Girlhood (no relation to Richard Linklater’s Boyhood). Currently playing in New York, the film tells the story of black teenage girls in the lower-class suburbs of Paris, the protagonist of the group played by newcomer Karidja Touré (seen above, right). Girlhood was shot by female cinematographer Crystel Fournier, who also worked with Sciamma on her features Water Lilies (2007) and Tomboy (2011).
Moving more into the realm of comedy, dark humor and bloody horror pervade the film The Voices by Iranian-French director Marjane Satrapi, which came out in American theaters yesterday. Ryan Reynolds stars as an ostensibly nice guy who turns to serial killing as the result of conversations had with his pet dog and cat (both voiced by Reynolds). Anna Kendrick and Gemma Arterton play two objects of affection and Jacki Weaver portrays a psychiatrist. In the film world Satrapi is best known for two films in which she collaborated with director Vincent Paronnaud, Persepolis (2007, based on her autobiographical graphic novel about growing up in Iran) and Chicken with Plums (2011). Satrapi is one of a number of women film directors of Iranian descent making their mark on cinema in the last few years, including Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night), Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behavior) and Mitra Farahani (the documentary Fifi Howls from Happiness).
Another dramedy, Welcome to Me, is directed by Shira Piven (older sister of actor Jeremy), who made a name for herself as a stage director, actress and acting teacher. The film stars Kristen Wiig as a woman with borderline personality disorder; the cast also includes James Marsden, Tim Robbins, Linda Cardellini, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alan Tudyk, Wes Bentley and Loretta Devine.
For a more conventional approach to comedy, check out the new Nancy Meyers film, The Intern (seen filming above), due in theaters this fall. Meyers is known for crowd-pleasing, women-centric films including What Women Want (2000), Something’s Gotta Give (2003), The Holiday (2006) and It’s Complicated (2009). I often think of her and Nora Ephron in the same sentence since they both occupy a similar market for romantic comedy. The Intern is, like a number of her other films, based on an original screenplay by her and it stars Robert De Niro in the title role, working for the character played by Anne Hathaway. The film also features Rene Russo, Andrew Rannells, Linda Lavin, Nat Wolff, Anders Holm and Adam DeVine.
If sequels and franchises are more your speed, you may want to check out Pitch Perfect 2, the sequel to the popular musical comedy from 2012. While the first film was directed by Jason Moore, the new installment is directed by Elizabeth Banks, who has had acting roles in both films. Like its predecessor, Pitch Perfect 2 tells the story of a girl group of a cappella singers.
Possibly the most tried and true genre, however, is that of the true-story drama, which you get in Niki Caro’s new film McFarland, USA. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures and starring Kevin Costner – in other words, a film that will get a wide release – the film tells the tale of an underdog cross-country team hoping to overcome the odds and win a championship. Director Caro made an impression with the Academy Award-nominated films Whale Rider (2002) and North Country (2005), but the only other film she has made in the decade since then is A Heavenly Vintage (2009), made in her native country of New Zealand and never actually released in US theaters, though it eventually appeared on DVD. We’ll see how McFarland, USA does at the American box office when it opens this Friday.