For Jason Reitman’s new comedy Tully, screenwriter Diablo Cody provides a very funny, often-moving portrait of motherhood. When Marlo (Charlize Theron), a mother of three including a newborn, needs a little help, a young night nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis) is there to help in ways she could never have imagined. As with her other collaborations with director Reitman—Juno (for which she won an Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay) and Young Adult—Cody’s insightful writing is both witty and wise in capturing what it means to be a woman and mother today.
As we look forward to the release of Tully, we take a moment to look back at some of our other favorite female stories by women writers. From a fresh look at a classic heroine to a hilarious spin on female bonding, here are five outstanding stories about and written by women—but enjoyed by everyone.
Jane Eyre | Moira Buffini
When Moira Buffini took up the challenge of adapting Charlotte Brontë’s 700-page masterpiece Jane Eyre into a feature film, she never lost sight of her heroine’s spirit. “Jane Eyre is indomitable. She refused to accept her lot, either as a woman or as a member of the dependent classes,” explains Buffini, adding, “This is why we still love her.” Director Cary Fukunaga, who was “blown away by” the screenplay, brought Buffini’s vision of a young orphan overcoming impossible obstacles to the screen with Mia Wasikowska as the titled character. Moving from darkly gothic to lushly romantic, the film captures all aspects of Brontë’s timeless character. Indeed, The New York Times sees the film, starting with Buffini’s screenplay, as “a splendid example of how to tackle the daunting duty of turning a beloved work of classic literature into a movie.”
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World | Lorene Scafaria
Watching ‘90s disaster films like Deep Impact and Armageddon first inspired writer/director Lorene Scafaria to come up with the concept for Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. “I just thought a lot more about being on the ground with people, and not being with the people who were trying to stop the asteroid,” she explained to Complex. With Keira Knightley and Steve Carell as two lonely souls who find solace in each other’s company as an asteroid hurtles towards earth, Scafaria poignantly transforms the testosterone-driven action of those earlier movies into a touching romantic comedy. “It's the warmly intimate moments, the bittersweet wonder at the beauty of the world and the value of family and forgiveness that leave the deepest imprint,” writes USA Today.
For a Good Time, Call… | Lauren Anne Miller and Katie Anne Naylon
In writing For A Good Time, Call… , old college roommates Lauren Anne Miller and Katie Anne Naylon followed a tried-and-true screenwriting rule—“write what you know, and what we knew was female friendship,” explains Miller to The Hollywood Reporter. What they also knew was how to compose whip-smart, hilarious dialogue about everything from sex toys to forging friendships. In the film, Ari Graynor and Miller play old frenemies who reconnect as roommates, eventually joining forces to start a successful phone sex company. The heart and humor of this sweet and sexy comedy started with Miller and Naylor’s own connection. “All that’s right about For a Good Time, Call… stems from its screenplay,” exclaims Shockya.com.
Suffragette | Abi Morgan
In writing the screenplay for Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette, Abi Morgan was inspired as much by the forgotten women she encountered as by the grand historical figures. “It was so compelling, particularly the tiny little testimonials, the tiny asides of all these women talking about their working lives,” she told Gold Derby. To make real the cost that women bore to gain their vote in England in the early 20th century, Morgan focused on the hard life of a laundry worker, Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan), who risked everything to gain a voice. These details, “written with meticulously researched pathos,” notes The Observer, are what make “being won over by the honesty and triumph displayed by the women…inevitable.
The Zookeeper’s Wife | Angela Workman
Angela Workman approached adapting The Zookeepers’ Wife, Diane Ackerman’s real-life story of the Polish couple who turned the Warsaw Zoo into a safe shelter for Jews during World War II, with a sense of gratitude and humility. “We all felt the weight of the responsibility of honoring a story about that time,” Workman notes, emphasizing the primarily female creative team who brought this true tale to the screen. While Jessica Chastain’s performance as Antonina Żabińska serves as the dramatic and emotional heart of the film, the filmmakers’ focus on the small, intimate details of love and care makes the story unforgettable. For Deadline, director Niki Caro and “screenwriter Angela Workman have crafted an inspiring and uniquely humane film that stays with you long after you leave the theater.”