Picks of the Week is Women and Hollywood‘s newest resource. W&H writers are often asked for recommendations, so each week they’ll spotlight the women-driven and women-made projects—movies, series, VOD releases and more—that they’re most excited about. (Sign up for the Women and Hollywood newsletter at womenandhollywood.com to get each week’s picks delivered to your inbox!)
Feature of the Week: Harriet
Directed by Kasi Lemmons; Written by Kasi Lemmons and Gregory Allen Howard
Cynthia Erivo embodies Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and then went back to liberate others, in Kasi Lemmons’ biopic.
Freeing slaves is a calling for Harriet. She made it out and she will help the rest of her family be free. She is hunted, but she keeps going. Harriet makes no bones about it: Slavery is the foundation of America, and we as citizens must keep reckoning with it each and every day.
I seriously can’t believe that it has taken this long to tell the story of this true American hero. Not only is the biopic the “first theatrical film” about Tubman, it chronicles how one courageous woman refused to be marginalized and changed the course of history.
Too often women, particularly women of color, are erased from history. Films like Harriet help us remember that white men are not the only ones with stories worth telling. (Melissa Silverstein)
Series of the Week: “The Morning Show”
With a star-studded cast, hefty price tag, and timely plot, expectations for “The Morning Show” are high. The most anticipated Apple TV+ series falters out of the gate, but finds its footing as the narrative evolves.
Set in the world of daytime TV, the drama kicks off with a crisis: Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell), beloved co-host of “The Morning Show,” has been accused of sexual misconduct, leaving viewers and the network reeling. His “work wife” and co-host, Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston), feels personally betrayed—Mitch has abandoned her, jeopardizing the future of the show and her place within it. She knows that chemistry is integral to the success of “The Morning Show,” and with her contract negotiations still underway, Alex senses that she’s in a precarious position, though she’s about to discover that it’s far more uncertain than she believes.
We’re introduced to Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) as she hears the news about Mitch’s firing. As far as she’s concerned, the predator is just another example of a phony media personality who cheapens the news. The Southern journalist is working for a conservative network, and has made a habit of leaving jobs, partially because of complications resulting from her brother’s drug addiction. She finds herself in the spotlight after footage of her ranting at a coal protest goes viral. Now a national news story, Bradley is invited to “The Morning Show” to speak about the clip. She makes a major impression on a network bigwig, and her life is forever changed.
Despite confident, slick directing from Mimi Leder, the drama’s pilot feels stilted—but “The Morning Show” gathers steam in its second and third episodes. (Three were provided to critics.) It really sparkles when Alex and Bradley are in the same room. The series is grappling with the #MeToo movement, “fake news” and sexism in the media, and it’ll be interesting to see how Alex and Bradley reckon with these issues on-air and behind the scenes—and whether the characters will stand side by side or find themselves squaring off. So far, their relationship is, thankfully, both complicated and nuanced, and I’m hoping it remains so. (Laura Berger)
“The Morning Show” begins streaming November 1 on Apple TV+