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The 25 feminist films we can’t wait to watch in 2017

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It’s well worth investing in a loyalty card at your local cinema, because 2017 is going to be an absolute corker for feminist film fans.

For complex and provocative subject matter, look to Elle, Ingrid Goes West, and Christine – or, if you’re in the mood for some light-hearted #girlpower fun, try Wonder Woman, Battle of the Sexes, Star Wars: Episode VIII, or Snatched.

A Quiet Passion, Jackie, Hidden Figures, and Loving are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to biopics about incredible and intriguing women from history, while the likes of Alien: Covenant, The Circle, and How to Talk to Girls at Parties promise to offer us thought-provoking sci-fi stories with strong women at the centre of them.

And let’s not forget about Emma Watson’s feminist interpretation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, either.

From indie flicks to big blockbusters, here’s our pick of the films you absolutely can’t afford to miss out on in 2017.


La La Land

Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling

La La Land weaves a tale of love and friendship between aspiring actor Mia (Stone) and jazz musician (Gosling), as they desperately pursue their dreams and try to make ends meet at the same time. But, when asked to choose between her relationship and her career, what will Mia decide?

This film has been collecting awards and nominations all over the place since it hit cinemas, and for good reason; the dazzling LA musical – aimed at dreamers everywhere – is visually gorgeous, packed full of toe-tapping tunes, and offers the perfect escapist entertainment for these troubled times.

When it’s in UK cinemas: 13 January


Jackie

Starring: Natalie Portman, Greta Gerwig, Peter Sarsgaard

Could this be the film that secures Portman her second Oscar? Critics certainly think so; this presidential biopic is unlike any before, putting Jacqueline Onassis at the front-and-centre of the JFK assassination story.

Told in a non-linear fashion, the events of Jackie take place over just a few days, focusing on that hellish period between her husband’s shocking death and his burial at Arlington Cemetery. In doing so, it allows us the chance to see the real woman behind the veil of the First Lady; her strength, her poise, her vulnerability, her courage, and her extraordinary dignity in the face of tragedy. 

When it’s in UK cinemas: 20 January


20th Century Women

Starring: Elle Fanning, Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig

Set in California’s Santa Barbara during the heady days of the late 70s, 20th Century Women follows the tale of Dorothea Fields (Bening), a determined single mother who reaches out to a free-spirited punk artist, Abbie (Gerwig), and a provocative teenage neighbour, Julie (Fanning), for help raising her adolescent son.

It promises to be both funny and emotionally piercing – and the subject matter is particularly meaningful for director and writer Mike Mills, who has described the semi-autobiographical movie as a “love letter” to the women who raised him.

When it’s in UK cinemas: 20 January


Christine

Starring: Rebecca Hall, Tracy Letts, Michaell C. Hall

Based on a tragic true story, Rebecca Hall gives an outstanding performance as Christine Chubbuck, an ambitious 29-year-old who’s desperate to prove herself in the male-dominated world of 70s journalism.

But, when ratings at TV40 reach an all-time low, her station manager demands she turn her attention to juicier, scandal-laden stories – and Chubbuck, who prides herself on being a serious journalist, becomes withdrawn, troubled, and anxious.

As her depression overwhelms her, Chubbuck soon begins speeding down a path of self-destruction and towards the film’s unavoidably heart-wrenching conclusion; the real Chubbuck killed herself live on air in 1974.

When it’s in UK cinemas: 27 January


Loving

Starring: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton

From the get-go, this feels like a typical love story; Mildred (Negga) and Richard (Edgerton) fall head over heels for one another, embark on a dizzying romance, and tie the knot in a simple Washington DC wedding.

But the year is 1958 – and, when the couple return to their home in Virginia, it isn’t long before police raid their house and arrest them for pursuing an interracial relationship. Their marriage license has no validity, they are told, and their children are ‘bastards’. As an alternative to prison, the pair find themselves are banished from Caroline County for 25 years. No small thing, considering that is where all of their friends and family live.

It’s a shocking tale – made even more so by the fact that this period drama is based on the true story of the Lovings and their battle to return home.

When it’s in UK cinemas: 3 February


Hidden Figures

Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst

Those familiar with the Space Race and the history of NASA will already know about the story of astronaut John Glenn, and the impact his operation had on the world; it restored a nation’s confidence, galvanised the world, and made reaching for the stars feel possible. However, without three brilliant African-American mathematicians, it’s doubtful that Glenn would have become the first American astronaut to make a complete orbit of our planet.

This movie seeks to remind the world of the important role that the ‘hidden figures’ of Katherine Johnson (Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Monae) played in the Space Race. Based on the nonfiction book of the same name, it shows these unsung heroes working tirelessly round the clock to calculate flight trajectories for Project Mercury and the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon – despite being treated as nothing more than ‘coloured computers’ by their white male colleagues.

Hidden Figures is a long overdue reckoning with sins of the past – and yet it is also a feel-good movie, with an empowering message at its core; go forth, buy popcorn, and celebrate these crusaders of feminist and civil rights, stat.

When it’s in UK cinemas: 17 February


Elle

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Anne Consny, Laurent Lafitte

The first few minutes of Elle are brutal and unrelenting, with the audience forced to watch as Michèle Leblanc (Huppert), a wealthy, middle-aged Parisian executive, is raped in her own home by an intruder in a ski mask. Once it’s over, she calmly clears up the mess, throws away her clothes, has dinner with her son, and goes to bed. The next morning, she arrives at her office like nothing happened – and life continues as normal.

It quickly becomes apparent that, while her composure remains intact, the attack has changed Michèle. She is hyper-cautious of the men around her, suspicious of their every move. More notable, however, is the fact that she is dogged by violent revenge fantasies – and, when she fails to report the crime to the police, the audience soon realises that the businesswoman fully intends on identifying and punishing her assailant all by herself.

Critics are divided as to whether this film is bold and controversial, or misguided and deeply, deeply disturbing. However all have agreed on one thing - Huppert’s performance is startling.

When it’s in UK cinemas: 10 March


Battle of the Sexes

Starring: Emma Stone, Steve Carrell

The real Billie Jean King

The real Billie Jean King

Little is known about the upcoming comedy-drama film; as such, no trailers or stills have been released – and an exact date for its cinematic debut remains as vague as ‘sometime in 2017’, However there’s no doubt in our minds that the story, based loosely on the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Carell), is definitely right up our street.

The real-life battle of the sexes began when Riggs declared that the female game of tennis was inferior  - and claimed that he could, even at the age of 55, take on any of the sport’s top women players and win. Enter King, carried atop a chair held by four bare-chested muscle men in the style of ancient slaves. No, we’re not kidding; that actually happened.

The feminist and sports star threw her all into the match, taking Riggs down and changing the game for women everywhere. “I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn’t win that match,” she said later. “It would ruin the women’s tour and affect all women’s self-esteem.”

We can’t wait to see Stone take on this absolute badass.

When it’s in UK cinemas: Sometime in 2017, although an exact date has yet to be confirmed


Beauty and the Beast

Starring: Emma Watson, Emma Thompson, Dan Stevens, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Kline

It’s a tale as old as time – but Disney have given Beauty and the Beast a feminist makeover, at Emma Watson’s request.

In this tale as old as time, bookworm Belle (Watson) finds herself trapped in the Beast (Stevens)’s enchanted castle after offering herself in exchange for the freedom of her father, Maurice (Kline). She initially loathes the misshapen creature, seeing him as her captor, but is later entranced by his secret kindness, his magical castle – and the mysterious rose hidden away in the west wing.

Unlike the 1993 animated original, however, this live-action romance has been given a 21st Century facelift; Belle is a bold inventor, who refuses to wear a corset and kowtow to the misogynist rules of 1800s France. And Beast, likewise, has been given a brand new personality, far more worthy of the outspoken woman living in his castle. No wonder excitement is already at fever pitch…

When it’s in UK cinemas: 17 March


Aquarius

Starring: Sônia Braga

Clara (Braga) is a formidable music critic, born into a wealthy family in Brazil. Now, widowed, retired, and 65 years old, she finds herself the final resident of the Aquarius, a beautiful apartment building in the seaside town of Boa Viagem Avenue, Brazil.

All the neighbouring apartments have already been acquired by a company that has other plans for that plot, and its executives are intent on driving Clara out of her home. However they haven’t banked on their fiery foe; she has pledged to only leave her place upon her death, and is more than willing to engage in a cold war of sorts with the company.

Facing a tension that is both invigorating and disturbing, Clara soon begins thinking about her loved ones, her past and her future.

When it’s in UK cinemas: 24 March


How to Talk to Girls at Parties

Starring: Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson, Joanna Scanlan, Jessica Plummer

Elle Fanning in How to Talk to Girls at Parties

Elle Fanning in How to Talk to Girls at Parties

Based on the Neil Gaiman short story of the same title, this 1970s romance has more than a touch of the sci-fi to it. It kicks off with two teenage boys who, in desperate bid to meet girls, crash a party thrown by local punk Queen Boadicea.

It’s not long before they find themselves chatting to three beautiful foreign exchange students, all of whom seem very lovely, if not a little strange. But, when Enn and Vic decide it’s time to “make a move” on their new pals, it quickly becomes apparent that the exchange students have come a lot further than America.

Yup, you guessed it; they are, in fact, aliens from another galaxy, sent to Earth to prepare for a mysterious rite of passage. And, once their dark secret is revealed, it’s up to Boadicea and her punk followers to save the universe.

When it’s in UK cinemas: Sometime in 2017, although an exact date has yet to be confirmed


The Circle

Starring: Emma Watson, Karen Gillan, Tom Hanks, John Boyega

Based on a book by Dave Eggers, The Circle is a thought-provoking sci-fi thriller – and it’s targeting the dangers of transparency, social media and our fascination with the internet.

It begins when Mae Holland [Watson] is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The business, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.

As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cosy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. 

But, as you’ve probably guessed, Mae’s dream job soon turns into a nightmare. It’s not long before this tale of a young woman’s ambition and idealism transforms into a heart-racing story of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.”

When it’s in UK cinemas: 28 April


Snatched

Starring: Goldie Hawn, Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes

This mother-daughter flick boasts the comedic talents of Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer.

The story begins when Schumer’s character gets dumped, and begs her uptight mum to go on an “amazing adventure” to South America with her.

Unfortunately things don’t go quite to plan, and it’s not long before the pair are taken hostage and enmeshed in a dark criminal underworld.

It’s not going to spark any profound discussions, but we have a feeling this R-rated film is going to be the perfect popcorn flick for summer.

When it’s in UK cinemas: 12 May


Alien: Covenant

Starring: Katherine Waterston, Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, James Franco

Alien: Covenant promises to get back to the basics of the 1979 original, which saw Sigourney Weaver rise to fame as tenacious warrant officer Ellen Ripley.

This time around, Katherine Waterston – oh she of Fantastic Beasts fame – will take the helm of the film’s titular spaceship as central crew member, Daniels. And she is set to be every bit as powerful and compelling a character as Ripley ever was.

Bound for a remote planet on the fa side of the galaxy, it’s not long before Daniels and co discover what they think is an uncharted paradise. When they land, however, it quickly becomes clear that it is actually a dark, dangerous world – whole sole inhabitant is the “synthetic” David (Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.

With parasitic alien life-forms, and a rumoured plot twist that will link Daniels directly to Weaver, this film has the potential to be the #girlpower sci-fi horror we’ve all been hoping for.

When it’s in UK cinemas: 19 May


Wonder Woman

Starring: Gal Gadot, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Chris Pine

That’s right; Wonder Woman is finally about to get her own movie. And, yes, it’s an original story.

Because, before she was WW, she was Diana (Gadot), princess of the Amazons. Raised on a sheltered all-female island paradise, our hero is training to be an unconquerable warrior – until, one day, an American pilot (Pine) washes up on the shore.

Naturally, she has questions. And it’s not long before he’s telling her about a deadly conflict raging in the outside world.

Convinced she can help put an end to the threat of the First World War, Diana leaves her home to fight alongside man in the trenches. Only here, finally, will she uncover her full powers – and her true destiny.

When it’s in UK cinemas: 2 June


My Cousin Rachel

Starring: Rachel Weisz, Holliday Grainger, Sam Claflin

When Philip Ashley (Claflin)'s wealthy cousin Ambrose suddenly dies in suspicious circumstances, he quickly becomes convinced that Ambrose was murdered by his new wife Rachel (Weisz). But, when he meets Rachel and falls head-over-heels in love with her, he knows that his suspicions must have been unfounded.

Or were they?

Is Rachel just trying to use Philip to get at the estate Ambrose left to him instead of her? And will she murder him next?

Based on the Daphne du Maurier novel of the same title, this mystery-romance promises to whet the appetites of Sherlock wannabes everywhere…

When it’s in UK cinemas: 9 June


The Beguiled

Starring: Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman, Oona Laurence, Colin Farrell

2017 is the year of the remake – but, of all the reboots, we’re most excited for Sofia Coppola’s retelling of 1971 film The Beguiled.

Set during the Civil War, the story follows an injured Union soldier (Farrell) who finds himself rescued from the verge of death by 12-year-old Amy (Laurence). The little girl takes him to her boarding school in rural Mississippi, the Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies, where the eponymous headmistress (Kidman) reluctantly agrees to take him in and nurse him until he’s well again.

McBurney soon cons his way into the hearts of the women around him, transforming the school’s sexually-repressed atmosphere into one of jealousy and deceit.  And it isn’t long students and teachers begin to turn on one another, and, eventually, on him….

When it’s in UK cinemas: 23 June


Ingrid Goes West

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen

Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen star in Ingrid Goes West

Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen star in Ingrid Goes West

This one’s for all the Black Mirror fans out there.

The eponymous Ingrid (Plaza) is a mentally unstable woman, who becomes fascinated with social media ‘influencer’ Taylor Sloane (Olsen) and her seemingly-perfect life.

As you may have gathered from the title, Ingrid eventually decides to drop everything and move to the West Coast in a bid to befriend Taylor in real life. However, when she comes face-to-face with her idol, her obsessive behaviour becomes increasingly unsettling.

Will Taylor realise that she is in danger- before it’s too late?

When it’s in UK cinemas: Sometime in 2017, although an exact date has yet to be confirmed


Victoria and Abdul

Judi Dench, Olivia Williams, Ali Fazal, Michael Gambon

Judi Dench stars as Queen Victoria

Judi Dench stars as Queen Victoria

Based on an extraordinary true story, this stunning period drama is set during the later years of Queen Victoria (Dench)’s life, as she begins to question the constrictions of her long-held position.

When Abdul Karim (Fazal), a young clerk, travels from India to participate in her Golden Jubilee, Victoria soon finds herself striking up conversation with him – which leads to an unlikely and devoted alliance.

As her household and inner circle all attempt to destroy their bond, the Queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes and joyfully reclaims her humanity.

When it’s in UK cinemas: 8 September


A Quiet Passion

Starring: Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle

Emily Dickinson was one of the most famous poets to ever live. Now, at last, her story will be brought to life on the silver screen, with Cynthia Nixon taking on the role as the renowned artist in this sumptuous period drama.

From her schoolgirl days in Massachusetts, to her premature death in 1886, A Quiet Passion is set to examine the poet’s prolific writings, her fascination with love and morality, her relationship with her sister, Lavinia (Ehle), and her notoriously reclusive lifestyle (towards the end of her life, Dickinson would only communicate with people from the other side of a closed door), and her unwavering feminist beliefs.

But, while the film is steeped in tragedy, it is also wildly funny, heart-warming, and inspiring – no surprise, then, that it generated much awards hype when it was screened at the Toronto Film Festival last autumn.

When it’s in UK cinemas: 7 April


Murder on the Orient Express

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucy Boynton, Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, Kenneth Branagh, Josh Gad

Will Poirot solve the crime?

Will Poirot solve the crime?

It’s the Agatha Christie extravaganza we’ve all been waiting for – and we doubt the star-studded flick will disappoint.

When Ratchett (Depp) is murdered in his sleep aboard a first-class compartment of the Orient Express, it’s up to detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) to solve the crime. With a little careful probing, it quickly becomes clear that the victim wasn’t who he claimed to be – and almost everybody aboard had a motive.

From Princess Dragomiroff (Dench) to Mary Debenham (Ridley), Mrs Hubbard (Pfeiffer) to Hector McQueen (Gad), it’s up to Poirot to investigate, and suspect, everyone. But will he solve the crime before the authorities board the train?

C’mon, it’s Poirot; when has he ever failed us before?

When it’s in UK cinemas: 24 November


Star Wars: Episode VIII

Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver

So much secrecy surrounds the upcoming Star Wars film – even the title remains firmly under wraps – but we do know that it kicks off where The Force Awakens left off; Rey (Ridley) has tracked down Luke Skywalker (Hamill), and she’s desperate for him to train him in the art and skills of the Jedi.

In a recent interview with USA Today, director Rian Johnson said the film will also teach us more about newer characters like Finn (Boyega), Poe (Isaac), and others by “[figuring] out what’s the most difficult thing each of them could be challenged with now.”

The idea, Johnson said, was “let’s throw that at them and dig into what really makes them tick by seeing how they handle that.”

One thing’s for sure – there’s a disturbance in the Force, and it’s up to Rey and co to save the day. We just hope BB-8 gets more screen time, too.

When it’s in UK cinemas: 15 December


Pitch Perfect 3

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Ruby Rose, Ester Dean, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld

You know the drill by now, people; singing, girl power, and lots of it.

In the first movie, we watched Beca, (Kendrick) - an independent, aspiring DJ – team up with the a capella group and completely transform their style, attitude, and lives.

The second film centred on the group as they joined a contest to regain their status – and start writing their own original songs, as opposed to jamming chart hits.

And, while we have no idea what Pitch Perfect 3 will be about, we do know that the team are set reform once again for a very “merry pitchmas”… and that, this time, they will be joined by Orange is the New Black’s Ruby Rose, in a currently unnamed role.

Fingers crossed it’s every bit as aca-awesome as the originals.

When it’s in UK cinemas: 22 December


The Glass Castle

Starring: Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, Woody Harrelson

Based on the best-selling memoir of the same name, this coming-of-age film is all about Jeanette Walls (Larson), who was born into a clan of unconventional nomads fronted by her deeply dysfunctional parents, alcoholic Rex (Harrelson) and artist Rose Mary (Watts).

Though her father’s addiction often imposes upon the family’s wellbeing, he fuels his daughter’s imagination with feelings of hope to distract her from her poverty-stricken lifestyle and daily struggles. And it is this which gives Jeanette the courage to move away from her family and start a brand new life in New York.

When it’s in UK cinemas: Sometime in 2017, although an exact date has yet to be confirmed

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