While there’s still a lot of work to be done for better representation of women in films and behind the camera, 2014 gave us some fantastic films that offer complex, compelling roles for women and have interesting things to say about gender. If you’re looking for something to watch over the holiday weekend, here are some of my favorites, some of which might have flown under your radar.
We Are The Best
This Swedish film is a fun, joyful exploration of what happens when a trio of 13-year-old girls in ’80s Stockholm follow their love for punk music and start their own band.
The One I Love
I’m always happy to see Elisabeth Moss get more work (if you haven’t watched Top of the Lake yet, head right over to Netflix and start streaming). Charlie McDowell’s debut film uses a unique premise to explore relationships and what we expect from an ideal partner, and subtly dives into gender roles in romantic relationships.
Gillian Robespierre’s film would be well worth your time just for the bundle of hilarity that is Jenny Slate. The fact that it tells a straightforward, honest story about abortion, something all too rare in film and television, should put it even higher on your must-watch list.
Only Lovers Left Alive
Tilda Swinton is fascinating both for her exceptional skill and for the quality of roles and projects she associates herself with. Who doesn’t want to watch Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as a pair of very cultured vampires?
This fabulous portrait of a pivotal time in the civil rights movement could make Ava DuVernay the first black woman to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar. I’ve already written about why this is an indispensable film, and it’s felt even more urgent as the struggles against police brutality and the killing of unarmed black people have escalated.
This quiet Polish film follows a young woman in a convent in the 1960s who learns about her complicated past and heads out on the road with the aunt she just met to uncover what happened to her parents in World War II.
Under the Skin
This one has been divisive, but I found it to be a visually striking and fascinating film. It bears little resemblance to Michael Faber’s original novel, a satire about the meat industry. Instead it provokes interpretations about everything from body image to women as sex objects to what it means to be human.
I still have a lot of catching up to do (Dear White People, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and Laggies are high on my list), but I found a lot to love in women’s roles making and starring in films in 2014. What were some of your favorites?