I'm about to wax rhapsodic about a cheesy, transparently manipulative martial arts film. But seriously: Prachya Pinkaew's 2008 movie Chocolate is the best film I've ever seen that features an autistic protagonist. And it's the only piece of media I've personally encountered that features a nonverbal protagonist.
Darnell Martin's I Like It Like That may push the boundaries of the Bechdel Test, but its insights into black Latina motherhood, sisterhood, and professional identity are fascinating, rare, and in need of recognition.
When I first conceived the idea for this blog, I knew that I had to write a post about Lisbeth Salander. For the most part, any discussion of queer autistic sexuality in fiction must focus on lack, on the absence of representations, but Stieg Larsson's lurid Millenium novels and the films based on them feature an antiheroine who is both queer and (probably) autistic.
Set in 1968, Made in Dagenham fictionalizes a true story about a group of female sewing machinists employed by Ford who were tired of being classified as unskilled labor and went on strike for equal pay. Their efforts ultimately led to the Equal Pay Act of 1970. The women are led by Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins), a modest working-class woman who continues to surprise herself and others with her natural aptitude to organize, negotiate, and lead an important political cause that is still relevant.
Elaine May gained notoriety for directing the 1987 Hollywood mega-disaster Ishtar, but before that she broke barriers for women in comedy with longtime partner-in-crime Mike Nichols, and for women in film with her gripping Mikey and Nicky and hilarious The Heartbreak Kid. She's worked against the grain as a writer and director, pushing against systems that normally value women only for their looks and not their wit. And, to top it all off, she's still pretty damn funny.