THE WEEK IN WOMEN: King Kong’s leading lady gets a much-needed upgrade — Brandy McDonnell reports

skull island brie larsonKong: Skull Island emerged as box office king, debuting at No. 1 with a $61 million take. The latest cinematic outing for the “eighth wonder of the world” topped international charts, too, earning $81.6 million from 66 territories. Since this version of Kong is here to stay for a while, it’s a good thing the director and screenwriters Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), Max Borenstein (Godzilla) and Derek Connolly (Jurassic World) gave the female lead (Brie Larson) an overhaul nearly as dramatic as the supersizing of the gigantic gorilla. She’s a seasoned and fearless “anti-war photographer” who doesn’t tote a gun, but gets her team out of harrowing encounters with the Skull Island’s myriad monsters. She’s first to empathize with Kong and realize he’s not the mindless killing machine soldiers and scientists believe him to be. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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Femme-centric STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS’ box-office tops Golden Globes earner THE REVENANT – Brandy McDonnell reports

daisy-ridley-the-force-awakensStar Wars: The Force Awakens took top North American box office for its fourth weekend, grossing $41.6 million from 4,134 theaters for a total $812 million. It’s the first movie to cross $800 million in the U.S., and it’s got a female leading character who is central to the plot. This is the third year in a row that the top-grossing movie of the year has featured a female main character. It even bested this year’s Golden Globes big winner, the gritty mostly-male survival tale, The Revenant, and other Golden Globe grabbers. Read more in THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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BALLERINA’S TALE, ROOM, MEADOWLAND, WATCHERS OF THE SKY and Other Oct 16 Openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

abt_poster_copyA Ballerina’s Tale pays tribute to the talent and tenacity of Misty Copeland, the African American ballerina who defied racial stereotyping to grand jete from corps de ballet into principal roles. Watchers of the Sky is filmmaker Edet Belzberg’s profile of international activist Raphael Lemkin, who defined ‘genocide’ and fought tirelessly to punish and prevent it worldwide. Beasts of No Nation is a harrowing tale of an African boy who’s forced to become a soldier. Room, Truth and Meadowland feature exceptional performances by Brie Larson, Cate Blanchett and Olivia Wilde, respectively. Momentum and Assassin boast badass female leading characters, played by Olga Kurylenko and Qi Shu, respectively. Crimson Peak casts Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain in great Gothic spectacle. Read the reviews.

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Ten Noteworthy Female Performances at TIFF 2015 – Pam Grady Reports

tiff logoWith the Toronto International Film Festival, the Oscar season officially opens in North American. Oh, there are other fall festivals that provide a window into awards season, Telluride, New York Film Festival, and Mill Valley Film Festival among them, but Toronto with its hundreds of features is one of the true harbingers of nominations to come. And while there was much emphasis this year on women behind the camera—20% of features and 45% of shorts at TIFF were made by women, according to figures cited by Indiewire—the festival also provided a peek at performances that should warrant attention from Academy voters (or ought to!), if not this season, then next. Read more on THE FEMALE GAZE

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