Jane Campion's biopic An Angel At My Table feels far more epic in its devotion to writer Janet Frame's small moments than courtroom scenes that turn history into playacting and battle sequences that turn soldiers into figurines. These are the films women should be making. They are often the films I want to see, particularly if they fail to receive Academy recognition.
Mattie Ross, the young protagonist of the Coen brothers' acclaimed 2010 film True Grit, is so compelling and memorable because she is so odd. Her eccentricities are characterized by what I would call "autistic difference" but, given the nature of the film, my aim is not read autism onto Mattie. I want to map Mattie onto autism.
Writer-director Sandra Goldbacher's 2001 feature Me Without You champions the girl who gets overlooked and now serves as further evidence for the kind of actress Michelle Williams was to become. Attempting a British accent, Williams plays mousy intellectual Holly. At first glance, she is no match for her glamorous best friend Marina (Anna Friel). But the film makes clear that Holly is the better, more substantial person, especially by her jealous confidant's own estimation. We've seen this dynamic play out between Betty and Veronica, Angela and Rayanne, and Nina and Nina. But it also challenges the binary I constructed between Holmes and Williams. Why is the girl with the most cake cast as the villain while the wallflower is valorized for being ignored?
The 2009 romantic drama Adam features a relationship between a non-autistic woman and a man with Asperger syndrome. Any portrayal of autistic sexuality has the potential to be subversive, but unfortunately this particular movie squanders that potential and reinforces existing tropes about autism and disability.