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In a field that has historically been dominated by men, there is a refreshing abundance of women directing films in the box office this holiday season, including some of the biggest names in Hollywood, and some relative unknowns.

Sarah Smith, Arthur Christmas

Sarah Smith Arthur XmasSarah Smith made her blockbuster debut in November with the animated family comedy Arthur Christmas. The film tells the story of Santa’s youngest son, Arthur (voiced by perennial female favorite James McAvoy), who hijacks the sleigh and the reindeer when he finds out his father forgot to deliver presents to a child. Smith also co-wrote the screenplay.

Arthur Christmas premiered Nov. 23, 2011.

Arthur Christmas

Madonna, W.E.

Madonna CameraMadonna helms her second project (the first being Filth and Wisdom in 2008) this December with W.E., a romantic drama that weaves back and forth between the affair of King Edward VIII (James D’Arcy) and American divorcee Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough), and the contemporary affair between a married woman (Abbie Cornish) and a Russian security guard (Oscar Issac). The film is not meant to be a historical drama in any way--like a more romantic version of The King’s Speech--but a meditation upon celebrity, as Wally Winthrop (the married woman) is obsessed with Simpson’s affair and looks to it as a model of her own.

W.E. premieres Dec. 9, 2011.

W. E.

Phyllida Lloyd,  The Iron Lady

Phylidda LloydThis historical drama, and perhaps soon to be one of this year’s Oscar contenders, is director Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady. Meryl Streep stars as the United Kingdom’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, telling the story of her against-all-odds rise to power and the price she paid for it.

The Iron Lady premieres Dec. 16.

Meryl Streep Iron Lady

Angelina Jolie, In the Land of Blood and Honey

Angelina Jolie directingFor only the second time in her career (the first being for her 2007 documentary A Place in Time), Angelina Jolie has stepped back from her glorious place in front of the camera to behind it with In the Land of Blood and Honey. The film takes place during the Bosnian War, and tells the story of two lovers, Danijel, a Serbian soldier, and Aija, a Bosnian captive who ends up in Danijel’s prison. With their motives changed, the once promising love they shared has become dangerously ambiguous. Jolie also wrote the screenplay, a first for her.

In the Land of Blood and Honey premieres Dec. 23.

In The Land Of Blood And Honey

Dee Rees, Pariah

Dee ReesPerhaps the most exciting film of the year for Nashville residents is 33-year-old local girl Dee Rees’  debut, Pariah. Based on her 2007 award-winning short by the same name, Pariah tells the story of a Brooklyn teenager who, in search for her sexual identity, juggles conflicting identities and risks friendships. While the film will only see limited release (San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles), it will definitely be in the Oscar hunt come February.

Pariah premieres Dec. 28.

Pariah Still / Issue 129 - September 2018
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