Best of the year

What the Barbenheimer Phenomenon Revealed About Women Directors in Film and TV, From Lossy to Fluxy Films

That phenom dubbed Barbenheimer buoyed the box office, the strikes ended, and here we are. William Goldman used to say that nobody knows anything. We have known for a long time that women directors can make any kind of movie, from the very small productions that become monster hits to the big budget blockbusters. The year reminded us that a mass audience will happily leave their home for a movie without a hero. And, on occasion, it won’t show up for movies with them, which was evident after disappointments from both the DC and Marvel studios as “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Shazam: Fury of the Gods,” “The Flash,” “Blue Beetle” and “The Marvels” sputtered in theaters.

As winter gave way to spring and summer, several of my favorite movies had been released in theaters and I had previewed several others at Cannes, where I had again been buoyed by what I had seen. At the same time, the drumbeat of worrying industry news continued when the Writers Guild went on strike on May 2 and several sure-bet blockbusters failed to charm audiences into theaters. “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” was “cursed,” read one headline; “‘Mission: Impossible 7’ falls short of expectations,” ran another. The moaning in the trades gave way to klaxon horns when much of SAG-AFTRA went on strike on July 14. Two days later Barry Diller, who once ran Paramount, warned that the strikes could lead to the industry’s “absolute collapse.” The two films opened five days later.

I had a great movie year, you? I saw hundreds of new films, all of which were produced with a variety of plots and styles. Some were from newcomers like A.V. Rockwell and others from the ever-new Martin Scorsese. Some of you have heard of or will, while others have barely made a difference. Some were released by independents like A 24 and the tiny KimStim, others came from tech companies and still others from legacy studios, a vaguely euthanized term that suggests influence but also obsolescence.

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