Dearest streamers, as the year draws to a close and we start to gather with our families (chosen or otherwise), it’s customary to take stock of how our lives have changed in the past 365 days. To say that the entertainment industry and all its iterations have changed in even the past month would be an understatement. Reverberations of female resistance can be felt in all areas of the entertainment world, which for so long has silenced and shamed victims of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. At least right now, it’s a lot harder to premiere your hot new indie film (So sorry, Louis C.K.!) or run your streaming company (What a shame, ex-Amazon.com president Roy Price!), if you’ve been officially outed as a creep. I say “right now,” because history says that these punishments may not remain the norm. Hopefully film buffs won’t clamor to see Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel this winter, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Perhaps you’ve heard of Roman Polanski? Yeah, Cannes welcomed him back with open arms this May.
But let’s put cynicism aside for a moment. This time of year is about gathering with loved ones and counting your blessings. I know I’m surrounded by fantastic people in my personal life, but I’d like to take this week’s column to take stock of the creators who make me thrilled to be a media maven. From YouTube series to big-budget films, there’s a great wide world of watchables out there. If writing this column has taught me one thing, it’s that the internet is bottomless, with all kinds of media tucked away for those of us who might be interested in something that diverges from the mainstream. There are more than a few bad apples at the top of the industry, but they don’t define the art form. So I’m taking this as an opportunity to offer my heartfelt thanks to some of the creators and works that have improved my 2017.
Many thanks to the women who, when not battling systemic misogyny, put out some kick-ass films. Ana Lily Amirpour introduced us into a dystopian neon dreamscape in her much anticipated sophomore feature, The Bad Batch (Netflix). Dana Flor co-directed Check It (Hulu), a punchy documentary about a gang of black LGBT youth. In Lovesong (Netflix), So Yong Kim crafted an exquisitely heartbreaking love story. Sydney Freeland brought a fresh perspective to the buddy comedy with Deidra & Laney Rob a Train (Netflix). It’s not streaming (yet), but I feel I should go on record saying that Eliza Hittman’s Beach Rats has easily been my favorite film of the entire year.
My deepest thanks and admiration to all the artists who put their careers on the line this year. When the spotlight on you is constantly in danger of going out, it can be difficult to stand up for what’s right. Thank you to Kristen Stewart (Come Swim, YouTube/Refinery29), and Alia Shawkat (Transparent season 4, Amazon Prime) for coming out this year. Ellen Page (Tallulah, Hard Candy) spoke eloquently about the intersection between Hollywood’s misogyny and homophobia in her post calling out Brett Ratner for sexual harassment. In One Mississippi season two (Amazon Prime), Tig Notaro and Diablo Cody unabashedly crafted a subplot paralleling real-life assault allegations against their own executive producer, Louis C.K.
Finally, a shout-out to some of my general favorites. Thanks, Big Little Lies (HBO Go) and Alias Grace (Netflix), for depicting female trauma in beautifully impressionistic ways. Merci to Fargo season three (Hulu) for finally writing a nuanced, unromantic female character (and for putting Carrie Coon in a cop uniform). Thank you to Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna for all the musical hijinks and multifaceted women in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. All my love to Brian Jordan Alvarez and The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo (YouTube, Vimeo), just for making me laugh my fucking ass off.
I’m happy to say I could go on. Despite all the crap in the world — all the undeniable proof that misogyny and homophobia and racism aren’t dead — there are still good people making art. And we can access a lot of that art from the comfort of our living rooms (useful, in the event of a nuclear apocalypse). I think that’s something to be thankful for.
Contact Lena Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.