PROUD MARY — Review by Susan Granger

Everything old is new again! In the 1970s, the ethnic subgenre of action thrillers, starring black actors, was known as “Blaxpolitation” films. Exemplified by “Shaft,” “Cleopatra Jones” and “Foxy Brown,” they were originally aimed an urban audiences, but their appeal spread. Now – with the rise of fighting female characters – Taraji P. Henson (“Hidden Figures,” TV’s “Empire”) takes the titular role as a ruthless African-American assassin who feels guilty about one particular hit for the Boston Mob. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Oprah Commands Golden Globes, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI get top billing, while THE SHAPE OF WATER dominates Critics Choice and AWFJ EDA Awards — Brandy McDonnell reports

Oprah Winfrey drew repeated ovations from the Hollywood honchos assembled for the Golden Globes, as issued a warning — not once, but three times — to powerful men who abuse women: “Their time is up!” And this year’s big Golden Globe winner is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. But voting members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association/Broadcast Television Journalists Association and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists picked The Shape of Water and their big winner. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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2017 AWFJ EDA Awards: The Winners

The women of AWFJ have voted!

shape of water 3The Shape of Water is the big winner in this year’s 1th annual AWFJ EDA Awards, garnering awards for Best Film, Best Director for Guillermo del Toro and Bravest Performance for Sally Hawkins. AWFJ voters show love for Greta Gerwig with EDA’s for Best Female Director and Best Female Screenwriter for Lady Bird, with Laurie Metcalf winning the award for Best Supporting Actress in Lady Bird. EDAs went to a diverse array of talents in 19 additional categories, including Actress Most in Need of a New Agent and the coveted AWFJ Hall of Shame Award. For the full list, Continue reading…

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PADDINGTON 2 — Review by Susan Granger

Set a few years after Paddington sprang onto the silver screen, the red-hatted, blue-raincoated, marmalade-scarfing bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) has settled into a new life in London’s Windsor Gardens with his adoptive parents, the Browns (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins). Continue reading…

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PADDINGTON 2 — Review by Martha Baker

‘Paddington 2′ lives up to its forebear. ​Sometimes one goes to a sequel, fearful that it’s going to be mediocre. Still, one goes because one likes the characters. The film industry, the Mother of Sequels, banks on that. So one heads off to “Paddington 2″ with one’s love for that bear tucked safely inside. Continue reading…

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THE POST — Review by Cate Marquis

Steven Spielberg delivers a remarkable and timely film about freedom of the press, a story set in 1971 that has striking echoes for the present. President Nixon, who disdains the press, seeks to prevent publication of embarrassing secret government documents that expose decades of deceit of the American people on the Vietnam War. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 5, 2018 : MOLLY’S GAME

motw logo 1-35In “Molly’s Game,” writer/director Aaron Sorkin introduces us to Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a complicated woman who’s all the more fascinating because she’s real. Smart, resourceful, competitive, driven — Molly succeeds at whatever she puts her mind to. At first, that’s skiing; pushed hard by her demanding father, Larry (Kevin Costner), she becomes an Olympic-level champion who seems destined for gold…until a random accident ends her skiing career for good. continue reading….

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SPOTLIGHT January 2018: Mattie Do, Lao Filmmaker, Oscar Contender for DEAREST SISTER

awfjspotlightsmallsmallmattie do buddhistFilmmaker Mattie Do’s very name signifies a series of impressive firsts: Lao’s first woman director and the first Lao movies to play at international film festivals, and more recently, her latest film Dearest Sister (Nong hak) became the first from the country to be submitted to The Oscars’ Best Foreign Language category. Continue reading…

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THE POST — Review by Danielle Solzman

Steven Spielberg’s The Post makes for a timely offering by the way that the film displays just how important it is for America to have a free press. Spielberg’s journalistic thriller takes a screenplay written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer and manages to turn it into a hard-hitting film that ought to make people think twice about what’s going on in America. Continue reading…

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MOLLY’S GAME — Review by Beth Accomando

Aaron Sorkin created TV’s “West Wing” and “The Newsroom,” and won an Oscar for his script for “The Social Network.” Now he makes his feature film directing debut with “Molly’s Game.” You may not know Molly Bloom’s name but she was an Olympic class skier who suffered a career-ending injury and then ran an exclusive high stakes poker game that attracted Hollywood celebs and the FBI’s attention. As played by Jessica Chastain, Molly’s a smart, type A personality who seems able to adapt to any situation and who can succeed at anything she puts her mind to even when idiot men get in her way. Continue reading…

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Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman on LOVING VINCENT — Interview by Leslie Combemale

Loving Vincent is the first fully oil painted feature film. The brainchild of two filmmakers who have worked in animation, special effects, and live action, the film breaks new ground, while being visually stunning and driving a story about the last few weeks in the life an artist who died penniless but is now one of the most famous in history. All the characters in the film are performed by real actors, either on special sets or in front of green screens, and their work is combined with computer animation and painted animation. There are over sixty-five thousand frames in the film, and at the end of each shot, they were left with the painting of the last frame of the shot. There are eight hundred and ninety-eight shots in the film. Continue reading…

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Filmmaker Petra Volpe on THE DIVINE ORDER and Women’s Rights — Jessica Zack interviews

Filmmaker Petra Volpe’s engaging film, The Divine Order, is a box office hit in Switzerland and is the Swiss foreign-film entry to the 2018 Academy Awards/ The film was inspired by the fact that as the U.S. was convulsing with cultural change during the late ’60s, not only had women’s lib not made it to the small Alpine nation, but Swiss women wouldn’t have the right to vote in national elections until 1971. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 29: Best Female Characters of 2017

motw logo 1-35With thanks to all of the movie industry women and men who’ve birthed them and brought them into our consciousness, Team #MOTW focuses attention on some of the brilliant female characters who’ve joined our pantheon of feminist film goddesses during 2017. A legion of strong, complex, and compelling fictional, truth-based and real life women have shared their struggles, aspirations and accomplishments with us. Their various stories represent every aspect of feminist activism for equality and justice. They give us insight, strength and inspiration. Browse our #MOTW roster for an overview of this year’s list of great female characters, and for Team #MOTW favorites, continue reading….

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THE DISASTER ARTIST — Review by Sarah Knight Adamson

“The Disaster Artist,” rated (R), is a comedy based on the real-life story of Hollywood writer/director Tommy Wiseau. His claim to fame is a dramatic film he made, The Room,in 2003. You see, it’s so bad, that it’s actually good and has become a major cult film. Continue reading….

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FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL — Review by Susan Granger

Annette Bening delivers a powerhouse performance as sultry Gloria Grahame. Yet to fully appreciate it, you should know a bit about who this enigmatic actress was. Back in 1940s and ‘50s film noir, Grahame starred in “Crossfire,” “Sudden Fear,” “The Big Heat,” “In a Lonely Place” and “The Bad and the Beautiful,” for which she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Fans also remember her from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Greatest Show on Earth” and “Oklahoma!” Continue reading…

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The Academy’s 90th Oscars: Latest Round Of Contenders for Best Picture, Music, Foreign Language Film, VFX — Michelle Hannett reports

oscar logoAs Hollywood, the studios and the film industry close for the upcoming holiday week, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has unveiled the films eligible for consideration in various categories for the 90th Oscars. including updates long and short lists in the Best Picture, Best Foreign Film, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Visual Effects and Best Hair and Makeup Categories. A total of 341 feature films are eligible for the 2017 Academy Awards. Nominations for the 90th Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, January 23, 2018. The 90th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 22: HO HO HOLIDAY VIEWING

motw logo 1-35This year’s MOTW roster has been dominated by films that present stories about every aspect of women’s struggles for equality and about other serious social issues that demand our attention. But late December is a good time for a bit of seasonal levity. And so we present for your enjoyment Team MOTW’s wonderfully varied list of recommended films for ho ho holiday viewing. The #MOTW roster features romance, comedy, thrills and lots of food. The films are upbeat, inspiring and spirited, although not all directly connected to traditional celebrations. Wonder what’s in store? Continue reading…

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WARU — Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

waru posterOver a black screen, a young child’s voice states calmly: “When I died, I saw the whole world”. Directed by nine Māori women filmmakers, the opening moments of the New Zealand film Waru are as simple as they are devastating, perfectly capturing in mere seconds the tonal and thematic force of what is to come. Between them, these nine directors tell eight stories – ‘Waru’ is both the name of the departed child and the Māori word for “eight” – of events that transpire at the same time as his tangi or funeral. Each of the film’s eight sections focuses on the experiences of different Māori women at this particular moment in time, held together in a range of ways by Waru himself or what he represents to them, their community or New Zealand more broadly. Continue reading…

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Joan Chen at the International Film Festival & Awards Macao — Gill Pringle interviews

joan chenA female filmmaking pioneer, Chinese-born actress Joan Chen broke both race and gender barriers when she directed the May-November romance, Autumn in New York. Released in 2000, the well received film starred Richard Gere and Winona Ryder. Chen mentions taking strength from her female support teamm including editor Ruby Yang and casting directors Sheila Jaffe and Georgeanne Walken. “I didn’t think of myself as breaking down any doors at the time. I think I was so innocent. I didn’t think about my role as a woman film-maker. It seemed very simple to me – I saw a story I really wanted to tell and was determined to tell it. I was fearless. I’m still surprised there aren’t many more female directors,” muses Chen, 56, when AWFJ catches up with her at the International Film Festival & Awards Macao. Continue reading…

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I AM NOT A WITCH – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

i amnot a witch posterIn a year when Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale returned with force to the public consciousness through the Hulu series of the same name, there’s something of its shared focus on ritual and patriarchal oppression that ripples through I am Not a Witch. But the debut feature by Zambian-Welsh filmmaker Rungano Nyoni is a distinctly unique affair, reflecting the cultural specificity of the African context within which her story is set, and a flair for powerful, political black comedy not wholly unlike that of fellow Brit Chris Morris (a point of comparison a few critics have made). At times sincerely moving, bleakly comic, infuriating and heartbreaking, I am Not a Witch is a shrewd interrogation of exploitation, power, gender and national and personal identity. Continue reading…

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Indian Filmmaker Rima Das Talks VILLAGE ROCKSTARS and Starting Up — Mythily Ramachandran interviews (Exclusive Guest Post)

Rima Das 1Indian filmmaker Rima Das’ “Village Rockstars,” a poignant tale of ten-year-old Dhunu and her dreams of becoming a rock star with her own band, is clearly rocking. Das, who hails from Assam (the northeastern state of India), has had no formal training in filmmaking. Nor did she assist anyone before making her first film, “The Man with the Binoculars” (2016). Her story is a testimony to believing in one’s dreams and pursuing them, very much like her young protagonist, Dhunu. Das spoke to AWFJ about her journey into films. Comtinue reading on THE FEMALE GAZE. Continue reading on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ 2017 EDA Awards: Timeline and Categories

eda award cert blankThe Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ presents annual EDA Awards to recognize excellent work by and about women, in front of and behind the camera. 2017 marks the EDA Awards’ tenth anniversary. AWFJ presents three types of year-end awards. Standard “Best of” and “Female Focus” categories are presented annually, while “Special Mention” categories vary each year in response to the year’s crop of films, and usually include Actress Most In Need of a New Agent, Best Nudity and similar categories unique to the year end AWFJ EDA Awards. Continue reading...

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 15: THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR

motw logo 1-35Using the horrific 1944 gang rape of a black woman by white men as a jumping-off point to examine systemic issues of race, class, and power in the United States, Nancy Buirski’s documentary “The Rape of Recy Taylor” is stirring and powerful. Like many other 2017 films, including “Detroit,” “Mudbound,” “Strong Island,” and more, “Recy Taylor” makes it abundantly clear that the complicated history and politics of race and gender are more relevant — and frustrating — than ever. Continue reading…

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WHAT IF IT WORKS? — Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Australian cinema has a curious relationship with romantic comedies. While international
hits like Strictly Ballroom (1992), Muriel's Wedding (1994), and Love and Other Catastrophes
(1996) found the subgenre hitting a commercial and critical sweet spot in the early-mid
1990s, it isn’t a national trend that has been repeated. Australian cinema has generally
since then leant towards darker or more serious subject matter. Filmmaker Romi Trower’s
What if It Works? may not have gained the same traction as its romcom predecessors, but
it’s certainly the little movie that could, winning awards for Best Australian Independent
Film at the 2017 Gold Coast Film Festival in Australia, Best Debut Feature Film at Canada’s
Female Eye Film Festival, and Cinequest’ New Visions Award in San Jose. Continue reading...

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COCO — Review by Susan Granger

Pixar Animation is known as “family-friendly” – and none more than their 19th feature, a fantasy that faithfully depicts Mexican culture, celebrates the Hispanic customs and folklore of Dia de los Muertos, and acknowledges cultural icons like Frida Kahlo and El Santo. Continue reading…

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