By Megan Bianco
Not to sound like a broken record, as it feels like every year the phrase “it’s been a great year for women” is dropped during an awards’ acceptance speech. To the point where it’s just ad nauseam. But I think 2018 really is ending on a pretty good note for women, especially actresses.
Highlights of the year include satires like Cory Finley’s Thoroughbreds and Paul Feig’s A Simple Favor, the lesbian romances of Aaron Katz’s Gemini and Sebastián Lelio’s Disobedience, character studies like Jason Reitman’s Tully and Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade, and the possible Oscar contenders like Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria and Steve McQueen’s Widows. Even movies that aren’t primarily focused on women, like Ari Aster’s Hereditary, Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born, Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace and Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?, had great female performances.
It’s an unfortunate but legitimate thing for show business to go through this type of period in waves. Not just strong streaks of women-lead films, but quality films in general.
Granted, I didn’t enjoy all of these films as much as I’d have liked to. I found myself finally too old to enjoy the teen satire of Thoroughbreds with Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy, and I thought Suspiria was just a complete waste of potential and a talented all-female cast. Tully was great acting-wise, but in the usual “too close to home,”cringe tone screenwriter Diablo Cody’s movies usually have. A Simple Favor was dangerously close to being too campy for its dark farcical mood, but Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick pulled it through fine by the end.
Disobedience was surprisingly pedestrian despite its themes and good cast including Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. But Toni Collete might semi-amusingly have her chance at her second Oscar nomination with Hereditary 19 years after The Sixth Sense (1999). It’s a film that’s most likely going to be in my top 10 at the end of the year despite almost getting fatigued on the horror genre. Just as Charlize Theron was relatable to middle-age suburban moms in Tully, Elsie Fisher is nearly right out of a documentary with how on point her performance is in Eighth Grade. Fellow teenager Thomasin McKenzie is also just as great in the independent family drama Leave No Trace.
I don’t think there’s much left to say about how exceptional Lady Gaga was in her first musical lead role with A Star is Born, and both her work in the movie and on the soundtrack deserve all the hype. Gemini starring Zoe Kravitz and Lola Kirke was a film that completely crept up on me out of nowhere and is also probably going to be on my top 10 list. Widows had one of the most versatile set of characters played by Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo, with not a dry note in sight. And to top it off, for the first time in almost a whole decade, Melissa McCarthy impressed me and completely carried Can You Ever Forgive Me? to best actress levels.
That’s not all either. In December we still have Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite, Josie Rourke’s Mary, Queen of Scots and Brady Corbet’s Vox Lux. So there’s a little bit of everything rounding up the holiday movie season.
Megan Bianco is a Southern California-based movie reviewer and content writer with a degree from California State University Northridge.
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