Ten holiday gifts from female filmmakers

Two days before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring … except for this bunch of colleagues, who can’t stop, won’t stop karaoking through the few remaining not-so-silent nights.

I’m Glenn Whipp, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, host of The Envelope’s Friday newsletter and the guy wondering how it can possibly be Christmas karaoke without “Must Be Santa.” C’mon … who doesn’t love a zany polka this time of year? (Don’t answer that.)

Ten women directors deserving attention

Shortly after the Golden Globes nominations were announced earlier this month, the advocacy group Women in Film took to social media, decrying the “shocking” omission of critically acclaimed female directors, citing Sarah Polley (“Women Talking”), Gina Prince-Bythewood (“The Woman King”), Chinonye Chukwu (“Till”) and Maria Schrader (“She Said”).

It might be more surprising that anyone is still taking anything the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. does seriously these days after years of scandal and upheaval. But let’s put that aside for now. The Women in Film list is fine but incomplete, overlooking the directorial work of several women behind the year’s most acclaimed movies. Not all of these films have gone into wide release — most of them never will — but they should be available to Oscar voters as we enter the winter break, home-viewing discovery phase of the awards season.

So I put together a list of 10 exceptional movies from women directors this year, all of which scored higher on review aggregator Metacritic than the films from Golden Globe-nominated directors James Cameron (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and Baz Luhrmann (“Elvis”).

Charlotte Wells directed the acclaimed father-daughter movie “Aftersun.”

(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Actors roundtable: All the young (and older) dudes

The Envelope’s actors roundtable this year convened a gathering of soon-to-be-friends — Paul Dano (“The Fabelmans”), Bill Nighy (“Living”), Jonathan Majors (“Devotion”), Austin Butler (“Elvis”), Adam Sandler (“Hustle”) and Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”) — who talked about their standout performances this year, their appreciation for “Punch Drunk Love” and, of course, death. Because who doesn’t have a touch of the Christmas blues right about now?

“Somebody asked me about how many times a day did I think about death,” said Bill Nighy, who plays a man facing a terminal diagnosis in “Living.” “I said, ‘Well, I don’t know — 35 times a day?’ You know, you buy a new pair of shoes, you think, maybe … how many more pairs of shoes are you gonna … I don’t think doing the part made me think any — you can’t think more about death than I already do. Apart from mortality, it’s also about procrastination, and what a corrosive element that is in everybody’s lives. I procrastinate at a kind of Olympic level.”

Now might be the time to mention that I started writing this newsletter two days ago … so I think I deserve at least a silver medal in that procrastination event.

A group of six actors, five seated around the sixth.

Paul Dano, clockwise from top right, Bill Nighy, Jonathan Majors, Austin Butler, Adam Sandler and Brendan Fraser joined The Envelope Roundtable.

(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

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Directors have their say

My pal Mark Olsen invited a great group of filmmakers — Florian Zeller (“The Son”), Jordan Peele (“Nope”), Charlotte Wells (“Aftersun”), Rian Johnson (“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”), Gina Prince-Bythewood (“The Woman King”) and Maria Schrader (“She Said”) — to talk about accidental surprises, meaningful collaborations and the mystery of movies. Death apparently was not discussed. I don’t know what Mark was thinking.

“I’m not sure how any of us could jump into the amount of work it takes to do one of these things and not have something that you deeply care about at the heart of it,” Johnson said of filmmaking. “For me, even in something like this, where it’s woven hopefully into the texture of what’s a grand entertainment, first and foremost, it’s got to be there.”

Funny … that’s exactly how I feel about this newsletter!

Happy holidays! Now go warm up for karaoke!

A group of directors, three men and three women, posing for a portrait.

Florian Zeller, clockwise from bottom left, Jordan Peele, Charlotte Wells, Rian Johnson, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Maria Schrader.

(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)




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