Let’s take a moment to appreciate that the ballistic bat-craziness of the summer movie season will soon be a distant memory. Johnny Depp’s Tonto and his crow-hat will soon fade into our misty nightmares. Battling robots and monsters will rest until the next temperature rise. Instead, let’s settle in for some impressive movie characters making their fall debut.
Summer blockbuster’s “woman problem” is well known, with most big-budget films made up battling male heroes pitted against supernatural or super-circumstantial forces. And with the exception of more artful characters like Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine”, a richly complex type battling inner demons, most female summer movie characters are regulated to supporting roles.
Lucky for us, riding in on the crisp winds of fall are some incredibly fun and forceful females to grace our big screens. From Sandra Bullock’s terrifying take on a space walk to Jennifer Lawrence return as our favorite rebel-with-a-cause, here are six female movie characters ready for their close-up.
1. Dr. Ryan Stone in “Gravity”—October 4th
Sandra Bullock’s Dr. Stone takes the trend of “female supporting” and sucks the oxygen right out of it. An unfortunate spacewalk bashes Stone around piñata-like in space while she grasps frantically at non-air. Soon, she’s floating around our planet with limited oxygen and communications outside her link to the other surviving spacewalker, George Clooney’s Matt Kowalsky.
Director Alfonso Cuaron recently revealed that he had to fight to keep his lead female. “When I finished the script, there were voices that were saying, ‘well, we should change it to a male lead,’” Cuaron told a panel at Comic-Con. “Obviously they were not powerful enough voices, because we got away with it. But the sad thing is that there is still that tendency.” If Cuaron’s most recent trailer is any clue, Bullock’s voice for Stone is loud, proud, and definitely the future narrator of our worst stress dreams.
2. Winnie Mandela in “Winnie”—September 6th
Many of us first found Jennifer Hudson in her Academy Award-winning turn as Effie White in 2006’s “Dreamgirls.” She left us mimicking her tour-de-force performance to anyone who would listen, which may or may not have included belting out “And I am telling you…I’m not going!” to a hapless spouse who wants you to run to the store. Or visit your in-laws. And scene.
Now J.Hud revisits the big screen as Winnie Mandela, in the film adaptation of Anne Marie du Preez Bezrob’s biography “Winnie Mandela: A Life.” Despite lackluster reviews and a bit of controversy, including Winnie Mandela herself blasting the film, it is difficult to imagine Hudson not adding Winnie to her list of impressive movie characters.
3. Tauriel in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”—December 13th
Evangeline Lilly’s elf Tauriel has the unique distinction of being a movie character created by director Peter Jackson and partner Fran Walsh partially to help bring more well-tressed elves to the screen, and partially to flesh out a female character in the heavily-male dominated cast. Tolkien purists might protest, but those of us with carefully-preserved Eowyn dolls are psyched.
As Lilly describes Tauriel, “She’s slightly reckless and totally ruthless and doesn’t hesitate to kill.” We’ll be clutching our Evenstar necklaces in anticipation.
4. Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”—November 22nd
Dystopian ethos? Check. Good versus evil? Double check. A window into the voyeuristic consumer media we have today, placed in a totalitarian regime? I am so there. Jennifer Lawrence is back as our spirit-animal, Katniss Everdeen, the conflicted heroine of “The Hunger Games” trilogy.
While we were used to seeing Katniss excel at survival in the first film, now we see her more vulnerable side. “She’s struggling with post-traumatic stress from the Games,” Lawrence told a recent Comic-Con panel via Digital Spy, “and she has this new life now where she never has to worry about food. She’s living in the Victors Village, and that kind of leaves her feeling useless.” Useless, of course, until an epic futuristic war of human rights explodes on her doorstep this fall.
5 and 6. Emma and Adele in “Blue is the Warmest Color”—October 25th
Winner of the 2013 Palme d’Or, director Abdellatif Kechiche’s romance brings us the story of two teenagers in love. With an almost generic premise, we first meet Lea Seydoux as Emma, the blue-haired bohemian who falls for Adèle Exarchopolous’s Adele, a 17-year old student searching for the big wild world. But these be no ordinary schoolgirl crushes, called “an extraordinary, prolonged popping-candy explosion of pleasure, sadness, anger, lust and hope, and contained within it – although only just – are the two best performances of the [Cannes Film] Festival” by at least one critic. Emma and Adele promise to give us a dazzling view of love, loss, and class in relationships.
Photo Credit: Color Force/Lion’s Gate
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