It’s the season for serious Oscar contenders, and we’ve got a curated lineup that’s decidedly she-focused.
From directorial debuts (“Lady Bird”) to animated films (“The Breadwinner”), our list of 12 motion pictures celebrates women with generous screen time.
They feature tough, female protagonists. There are nuns, mothers, athletes, poker princesses, and even a quiet custodial worker who falls in love with a sea creature.
Here’s our fall guide — with a few that edge into winter — to movies worth spending your money on, because they’re either made by or star great women.
In theaters: Oct. 27
Starring: Margaret Qualley, Dianna Agron
Why it’s worth watching: If you ever wondered what it took to become a nun in the 1960s, here’s an intimate look at the power dynamic between the Roman Catholic Church and its women.
Quote:“I was called, and I’m going to become a nun, and there’s really nothing you can say that’s going to change my mind.”
On Netflix: Oct. 27
Starring: Literary icon Joan Didion
Why it’s worth watching: Didion’s grandniece, Annabelle Dunne, produced this documentary about the writer’s life, along with Didion’s nephew, Griffin Dunne, who directed the film.
Quote: “I have always found that if I examine something, it’s less scary.”
In theaters: Nov. 1
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Susan Sarandon
Why it’s worth watching: Three moms rebel against the emotional labor of Christmas and take a stand against traditional gender roles during the holidays.
Quote: “Moms don’t enjoy, they give joy. That’s how being a mom works.”
In theaters: Nov. 3
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf
Why it’s worth watching:Greta Gerwig (“Frances Ha”) wrote the script for her directorial debut, which is semi-autobiographical. It’s a coming-of-age film about a young woman and her mother.
Quote: “You know what? With your work ethic, just go to city college, and then to jail, and then back to city college.”
In theaters: Nov. 10
Why it’s worth watching: Writer and director Martin McDonagh wrote the script with Frances McDormand’s voice in his head, and critics say McDormand delivers. The movie follows a mother who gets fed up with authorities and puts up three attention-grabbing billboards after her daughter is murdered.
Quote: “The time it took you to get out here, whining like a b — , Chief Willoughby, some other poor girl’s probably being butchered right now.”
In theaters: Nov. 17, limited release
Starring: Saara Chaudry, Laara Sadiq
Why it’s worth watching: Irish filmmaker Nora Twomey directs this animated film about a young Afghan girl who pretends to be a boy in order to save her family. Twomey says Angelina Jolie mentored her throughout the filmmaking process.
In theaters: Dec. 1
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Maika Monroe
Why it’s worth watching: Jennifer Garner takes on a heartbreaking role as the mother of a disintegrating family.
Quote: “Find someone who loves you for who you are on the inside.”
In theaters: Dec. 8
Starring: Margot Robbie
Why it’s worth watching: It’s the true and shocking story of how infamous Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding became involved in the attack on her competitor, Nancy Kerrigan.
In theaters: Dec. 8
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer
Why it’s worth watching: It’s hard to tell if it’s a horror fairy tale or love story, but this sci-fi picture follows a woman who develops a close relationship with a nonhuman being.
In theaters: Dec. 22
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Ruby Rose, Hailee Steinfeld
Why it’s worth watching: The Bellas are back for one last performance, and Beca (played by Anna Kendrick) has to decide where her loyalty lies.
Quote:“They look like they were all breast-fed.”
In theaters: Dec. 25, limited release
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba
Why it’s worth watching: It’s based on the true story of Molly Bloom, an entrepreneurial woman who made big money running underground celebrity poker rings until she fell into trouble.
Quote: “If you think a princess can do what I did, you’re incorrect.”
In theaters: Feb. 2, limited release
Starring: Daniela Vega
Why it’s worth watching: Breakout trans actress Daniela Vega makes her film debut in this Chilean drama about a woman who struggles with grief after losing her older boyfriend.
Quote: “Don’t call her Daniel. Treat her like a woman.”