Women at the helm of films are having a moment


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(CNN)Sisters are doing it for themselves.

In the year of our Lord 2021, it feels like female directors are finally getting more opportunities — and more acknowledgment.

    Take, for example, this past Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards.

      Three women were nominated in the best director category for the first time.

        Only one woman had ever won the category prior to Sunday, and that was Barbra Streisand in 1984 for “Yentl.”

        Here are some of the women who are making waves and headlines in Hollywood:

          The film’s star, Frances McDormand, told The New York Times Zhao really understood the actress’ affinity for the character who packs up her life in a van and becomes part of an older community of people who work odd jobs across the country.

          “Chloé tapped into the truth of it which was at different points of my life, I’ve said to my husband, ‘I can’t take this anymore, I’m dropping out,'” McDormand said.

          Regina King: The acclaimed actress-turned-director was up against Zhao at the Globes.

          She has been on quite a streak in her career the past few years, including nabbing the best supporting actress Oscar for “If Beale Street Could Talk” in 2019.

          Now, the former child star is being hailed for her big screen directorial debut in “One Night in Miami,” adapted from Kemp Powers’ stage play about a meeting between Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X.

          The night of the Golden Globes, King told “E!” it was “bittersweet” that she, Zhao and Emerald Fennell marked the first trio of female nominees, given that this is 2021.

          Emerald Fennell: Another actress who has stepped behind the camera (we are starting to see a trend here), she has received critical acclaim for writing, directing and producing the thriller “Promising Young Woman,” starring Carey Mulligan.

          The movie is not only cheeky but gets into some uncomfortable territory, so much so that it has been praised for turning the revenge genre on its ear.

          “It’s just part of the fun of making something, the smoke and mirrors and the misdirections,” Fennell told IndieWire. “I love all that stuff, all of my favorite movies have that sort of thing in them. It’s very interesting, isn’t it, how much we want violence, how much instinctively as an audience we’re begging for blood.”

          Robin Wright: “The House of Cards” star did some directing on that Netflix series, so she wasn’t a total neophyte when it came to both starring in and directing her first feature film, “Land.”

          Wright plays a woman struck by a family tragedy who gives up her successful life in the big city and moves to a remote area in Wyoming.

          She told Women’s Wear Daily that she was delighted with the film’s reception so far.

          “We feel so blessed that people are feeling the movie,” Wright said. “It is very relevant to what’s going on today, of being disconnected from our loved ones. We’re not living the norm. The message in this movie is about that very thing.”

          These leading female directors represent just a handful of creatives proving women are making inroads on the Hollywood scene.

          The numbers don’t lie: For the second consecutive year, the percentages of women directing top-grossing films increased, reaching “recent historic highs,” while the overall percentages of women working in key behind-the-scenes roles remained relatively stable, according to a study by San Diego State University released in January.

          “Women accounted for 16% of directors working on the top 100 grossing films in 2020, up from 12% in 2019 and 4% in 2018,” wrote study author Martha M. Lauzen, founder and executive director of SDSU’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. “Women comprised 18% of directors on the top 250 films in 2020, up from 13% in 2019 and 8% in 2018.”

          A rising tide raises all ships, especially when a woman is at the helm, so here’s to more female directors on the horizon.

          For your weekend

          Three things to watch:

          ‘Coming 2 America’

          Prince Akeem and Semmi are heading back to Queens, New York. Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall reprise their respective roles for the sequel to the hit 1988 film.

          This time the prince is in search of his son and heir to the kingdom of Zamunda. My question is what have the rose petal droppers been up to all this time?

          “Coming 2 America” starts streaming Friday on Amazon Prime.

          ‘Boss Level’

          Former special forces agent Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo) is trapped in a time loop that constantly repeats the day of his murder. To break the cycle, he must hunt down Col. Clive Ventor (Mel Gibson) while also trying to save his ex-wife (Naomi Watts).

          That sounds like some seriously fast-paced action.

          “Boss Level” starts streaming Friday on Hulu.

          ‘Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell’

          March 9 marks the 24th anniversary of the unsolved murder of rapper Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls or The Notorious B.I.G., at age 24.

          Arguably one of the best and most beloved hip-hop artists of all time, Wallace is the subject of a new doc that looks at the legacy of his life and death. Currently streaming on Netflix, with “rare footage and in-depth interviews, this documentary celebrates the life of The Notorious B.I.G. on his journey from hustler to rap king.”

          So, call your friends and let them know so your crew run-run-run, your crew run-run to catch it.

          Two things to listen to:

          Sweden has blessed us with the likes of ABBA and Spotify. Now add Zara Larsson to that list.

          The 23-year-old singer, who got her start as a youngster on a TV talent show, is dropping her third studio album, “Poster Girl,” on Friday.

          March is the month we celebrate women — and who is more empowering than Oprah Winfrey?

          The answer to that is no one.

          Check out “Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversation‪s” podcast if you want to feel motivated, inspired or just need the uplifting vibe that is trademark Oprah. ‬

          One thing to talk about:

          Are we over awards shows?

          My CNN colleague Brian Lowry reported that “Globes ratings plummeted more than 60% from the 18.3 million viewers who watched last year, per Nielsen data, to an average audience of 6.9 million.”


          With the pandemic going on you would think plenty of people would be tuning in to shows like the Golden Globes, but, apparently, not. Even in a “normal year,” there seems to be less enthusiasm for award shows than there used to be, and that begs the question if Hollywood needs to find a different way to celebrate the industry.

          The pandemic is causing us all to reevaluate things.

          Something to sip on

          Looking for a new show to watch? We asked some of our friends around CNN what TV binge has helped them decompress in the time of Covid.

          Phil Mattingly, senior White House correspondent

          I basically have an encyclopedic knowledge of Bravo shows due to my wife’s fandom/the disappearance of sports the first few month of Covid. Not sure I should acknowledge that publicly.

          Alisyn Camerota, CNN New Day anchor

          I’ve been watching “Succession.” It depicts a dysfunctional, rotten world, and somehow I find that soothingly distracting from our daily stress.

          Stephanie Elam, CNN correspondent

          Fantasy, take me away! I’ve turned to shows that allow me to escape reality — “Once Upon a Time” with my daughter, “Lovecraft Country” and “His Dark Materials” without her.

            Ana Cabrera, CNN Newsroom anchor

            “Criminal Minds” on Netflix. I know it’s old, but I’m a newcomer to it! I’m a sucker for mystery and suspense.

            Pop back here next Thursday for all the latest entertainment happenings that matter.