8 Female-Led Films That Make August A Month To Spend At The Movies

What summer blockbuster season has to offer in the way of gallant action set pieces and murky controversies about who really ruined the latest comic book movie, it generally lacks in the area of central female characters. That Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road is the sole example to spring to mind upon considering if 2015 has managed to play an exemption to this unfortunate tradition proves how much headway we still need to make. But August is a step in the right direction, operating discretely as a treasure trove of movies starring and created by women.

Throughout the month, viewers can see a wide variety of new pictures showcasing the talents of headlining women. Newbie and veteran actresses, writers, and directors alike are celebrated across August’s release schedule, tampering in comedy, drama, horror, and more. To get a better idea of which of these pictures might best suit your fancy, here’s a rundown of all the female-led flicks that August ’15 has to offer. Whether you’re partial to a rock star Meryl Streep, a freewheeling Greta Gerwig, a road tripping Lily Tomlin, or about a half dozen contemporary comic actresses slapping Owen Wilson, you’ll doubtlessly find something on the list that’s right up your feminist alley.

Ricki and the Flash

Sony Pictures Entertainment on YouTube

The women at the center: Meryl Streep and her daughter Mamie Gummer costar.

And behind the scenes: Diablo Cody wrote the script.

The basic idea: A rock goddess (of sorts) reconnects with her estranged daughter after a lifetime spent prioritizing musical glory over family matters.

The draw: There’s really no need to tout the appeals of a Meryl Streep performance, but not everybody has yet borne witness to the talents of her eldest daughter Mamie. (You can actually get a taste of the latter’s talents in another movie presently in theaters: The End of the Tour.) While Gummer is a rising talent in her own right, there’s always something intriguing about seeing a star you love pass the proverbial torch to her next of kin via an onscreen partnership. Plus, watching the Streep family dole out the snappy dialogue of Juno and Young Adult scribe Diablo Cody is an opportunity of great promise.

Comes out: Already is!

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

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The women at the center: Bel Powley is the eponymous teenage girl; Kristen Wiig plays her mother.

And behind the scenes: Marielle Heller wrote and directed the adaptation of Phoebe Gloeckner’s novel.

The basic idea: A young woman comes of age, in grand cinematic tradition, via a romantic affair with her mother’s boyfriend.

The draw: Above all else, the especial attraction to The Diary of a Teenage Girl comes from its championing of the all too rare female-led coming-of-age story. The especially inviting genre is populated by wonderful pieces from Stand by Me to Boyhood, but only has a boasts a few tales from the points of view of young ladies. Bel Powley might be relatively new to American cinema, but the indomitable popularity of her onscreen mother should be enough to glean attention.

Comes out: Presently out, in select theaters.

Mistress America

FoxSearchlight on YouTube

The women at the center: Greta Gerwig stars alongside Lola Kirke.

And behind the scenes: Gerwig also co-wrote the picture with Noah Baumbach.

The basic idea: A newcomer to New York City hitches her wagon to her older, kookier new stepsister. Hijinks ensue.

The draw: If you saw Frances Ha, you know the creative power that amounts from the marriage of Baumbach’s dry, analytical pen with the spirit and imagination of Gerwig’s. Mistress America celebrates a lighter tone than their last collaboration, allowing Gerwig to get even nuttier as Times Square-based dreamer Brooke than she was as the perpetually lost Frances Halloway. Oh, and if you haven’t seen Frances Ha, rectify that via Netflix.

Comes out: Aug. 14.

Goodnight Mommy

RADiUS on YouTube

The woman at the center: Susanne Wuest stars.

And behind the scenes: Verokina Franz co-wrote and co-directed the film.

The basic idea: The horror drama sees a mother of young twins return home from the hospital draped in an air of chilling mystery that leaves her sons suspicious of her true identity.

The draw: When we think back on some of the best horror pictures of the past few years — Mama, The Babadook, Black Swan — they’re all playing on the especially vulnerable bond between mother and child. Few things are quite as rattling as the loss of what is meant to be one of the few tethers you can trust.

Comes out: Aug. 14.

Return to Sender

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The women at the center: Rosamund Pike stars.

And behind the scenes: First-time screenwriter Patricia Beauchamp penned the script.

The basic idea: Another relationship-based thriller for Pike! This time, a blind date thrusts her into a world of unforeseen troubles.

The draw: Gone Girl star Rosamund Pike handling the sinister once more, even in the absence of David Fincher’s eye or Ben Affleck’s parternship, is something to be excited about.

Comes out: Aug. 14.


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The women at the center: Lily Tomlin headlines opposite young Julia Garner.

The basic idea: A young woman and her grandmother band together, despite a rough rapport, on a car trip of self-discovery when the latter reveals herself to be pregnant.

The draw: Grandma is straightforward about its wealth of sincerity as delivered through the blossoming relationship between a grouchy Tomlin and her adolescent granddaughter. Plus, a generation-spanning gal pal venture about the emotional density of dealing with a situation like pregnancy, planned or otherwise, is certainly worth committing to screen.

Comes out: Aug. 21.

She’s Funny That Way

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The women at the center: Although Owen Wilson plays the main character, there are too many talented women in this entry not to bring it to attention: Imogen Poots, Jennifer Aniston, Kathryn Hahn, Cybill Shepherd, Debi Mazar, Lucy Punch, Colleen Camp, Illeana Douglas, and Tatum O’Neal all appear.

The basic idea: Director Peter Bogdonovich revives the old school screwball comedy for a story about the behind-the-scenes mayhem of a Broadway production.

The draw: That cast, armed with a type of comedy we don’t often see these days, should at the very least pique interest. The world loves seeing veteran performers loosen up in kookier parts like this one — think of how much everybody adored watching Aniston work blue in Horrible Bosses. Here, she, Poots, Hahn, and the rest seem to drift even zanier.

Comes out: Aug. 21

Z for Zacharia

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The women at the center: Margot Robbie stars as the last woman on Earth in this sci-fi venture.

The basic idea: Conflicted with the emotional and pragmatic troubles that accompany being the sole existing female on the planet, Robbie endures basic survival and erratic love triangles in the post-apocalyptic future.

The draw: So far, Robbie has been saddled almost exclusively with supporting roles opposite tremendous male stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Smith. It’ll be exciting to see her take the lead above powerful performers like Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor, especially in the heat of a high concept sci-fi like this one.

Comes out: Aug. 28.

With all of these amazing, female-led films headed to theaters before the month is even up, you have no excuse to sit inside with a Diet Coke and the fourteenth hour of some Netflix program or other. In this month, at least, women are getting to shine at the box office, and everyone should be there to witness it.

Images: Fox Searchlight Pictures