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SheWired's Holiday Season Must-See Movies

SheWired's Holiday Season Must-See Movies

It's the holiday film season, which means Oscar bait! Here's a round up of films that feature strong female roles, just plain amazing actresses, groundbreaking female directors and at least two films with lesbian under and overtones. Highlights include Naomi Watts as Valerie Plame, Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman in a lesbian ballet tryst, the heavy but important For Colored Girls, Dreya Weber as a lesbian discharged under DADT, Sally Hawkins and Miranda Richardson in the proto feminist Made in Dagenham and, of course, Cher and Christina Aguilera in what promises to become this generation's Showgirls. Angelina Jolie in the Tourist and more...


Tis the season for the end-of-the-year run of Oscar bait movies. So while there isn’t a ‘holiday’ movie, ala a Home for the Holidays, Bad Santa or What’s Cooking among this year’s spate of films with a holiday release, there are a few heavy-hitting Oscar contenders that feature strong female roles, just plain amazing actresses, groundbreaking female directors and at least two films with lesbian under and overtones.

From the thriller based on real-life CIA operative Valerie Plame, starring the wonderful Naomi Watts to Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis in what is arguably the most highly anticipated lesbian-ish ballet / psychological thriller of all time to Nicole Kidman’s return as a strong leading actress in Rabbit Hole, the season offers enough reasons to remain awash in Swedish Fish in popcorn in a darkened theater.

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Fair Game
The film, based on the autobiography of Valerie Plame, the CIA operative who became collateral damage in Bush-era war games, stars Mulholland Drive’s Naomi Watts as Plame and Sean Penn has her husband Joe Wilson. The taut thriller is directed by Doug Lyman, who helmed Swingers, Go and The Bourne Identity. It’s just a fascinating story with a truly unique female lead character.


For Colored Girls

Tyler Perry seems an odd choice to direct a film version of Ntozake Shange’s second-wave feminist play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, but with a strong cast, For Colored Girls is garnering good response despite it’s often depressing matter – women speaking openly about domestic violence, rape, incest, infanticide etc… The film stars Phylicia Rashad, Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton, Kerry Washington, Kimberly Elise, Whoopi Goldberg and Anika Noni Rose. And those women are reason enough to see it!


A Marine Story

A Marine Story tells the tale of a decorated Marine officer, unexpectedly back from the war, who is recruited to help a troubled young woman prepare for boot camp. When the true reason the officer returned home is exposed it threatens the futures of both women. The Gymnast's Dreya Weber and Paris Pickard star in The Gymnast director Ned Farr's film about the absurdity of the ban on gays in the military, and the personal story of one courageous woman. The film landed the top prize at Outfest and a best actress award for Weber.


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Out Today, Nov 12

Helena at the Wedding

All in all this is a pretty straight film. Let’s call it a modern-day The Big Chill on New Year’s Eve, but it stars lesbian favorite, Melanie Lynskey of Heavenly Creatures fame, and Jessica Hecht, who played Ross’ nemesis, his wife Carol’s girlfriend Susan, on Friends.


Tiny Furniture

Writer / director Lena Dunham also stars in this indie that reflects the times in which so many well-educated young people are forced to rethink their careers due to the fledgling job market. Dunham stars as a 22-year-old film theory graduate who moves back in with her mom in TriBeCa.


Nov. 19

Made in Dagenham

This period piece looks like a Norma Rae for the British beehive set. Based on a true story, the film tells the tale of a group of female factory workers in 1968 England that demands equal pay for women. Sally Hawkins (Fingersmith, Happy-Go-Lucky) stars with the always amazing Miranda Richardson, An Education’s Rosamund Pike and Bob Hoskins.

White Material

Acclaimed French director Claire Denis (Beau Travail) directs the iconic Isabelle Huppert, starring as a woman struggling to save her African coffee plantation amidst civil war.


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Nov. 24


Nothing says Thanksgiving like Cher and Christina Aguilera in a mildly tawdry tale of a girl with big pipes making her dream come true by shaking and shimmying in a bustiere for businessmen. That said, it's the Showgirls of the decade, and the first real film Cher's made since 1999's Tea with Mussolini, so count me in!


Dec. 3

Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky’s ballet thriller Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis as rival ballerinas teeming with sexual tension looks like the kind of hot train wreck I will gladly pay $13.50 to see opening night! With awards from The Venice Film Festival and others under its belt, Black Swan may have me eating my point shoes come its December release. Both Natalie and Mila look perfectly icy, bitchy and hot in their ballet togs, while Beaches star Barbara Hershey’s return to the big screen gives the film a horror bent more like Cat People (lay off the surgery Barb!), but I’m calling this thriller in leotards with an obsessive lesbian edge  The Turning Point meets Basic Instinct meets Fatal Attraction, and it’ll be worth every dime.

Dec. 3


Danish actress Paprika Steen is garnering raves for her raw performance as a recovering alcoholic fighting to regain custody of her two sons.

Dec. 10

The Tempest

Early reviews for Julie Taymor’s The Tempest have categorized the adaptation as a downright disaster, but I find Taymor -- Frida, Titus, Across the Universe -- always visually interesting. Plus, Helen Mirren takes on the traditionally male role of Prospero, or in this case, Prospera. That's worth the price of admission alone!


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The Tourist

The greatest female action hero of all time, Angelina Jolie, is back with a Tomb Raider accent in a movie that smacks of Angelina ala Salt/ Wanted / Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but why mess with a winning formula? Johnny Depp costars with Angelina in this thriller set in Venice and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who directed the Oscar winning Lives of Others.  


Dec. 17

Rabbit Hole

Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Shortbus director John Cameron Mitchell directs Nicole Kidman – in the role that landed Cynthia Nixon a Tony Award – and Aaron Eckhart in this heavy-hitting film about a couple dealing with the death of their son. Dianne Wiest and Sandra Oh costar.



Oscar nominee, one of four women in the history of Oscar, Sophia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette) directs Stephen Dorff as a Hollywood bad boy with a penchant for sex, drugs and booze, who begins to clean up his life when he’s left to raise his 11-year-old daughter -- Elle Fanning -- on his own.

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Tracy E. Gilchrist

<p>Cinephile, cyclist, proud cat lady and unabashed Pretty Little Liars guru.</p>

<p>Cinephile, cyclist, proud cat lady and unabashed Pretty Little Liars guru.</p>