Women Talking, a film written and directed by Sarah Polley, was just nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for the 2023 Academy Awards. The film is receiving much-deserved attention for the incredible story it tells. Of course, it was all made possible by Sarah Polley.
Sarah Polley is well known for her directing projects, but her success began years before that. At just eight years old, Sarah was cast as Ramona Quimby in the television series Ramona, based on the series of books by Beverly Cleary, about a humorous little girl’s adventures with her friends and family.
Over the next few decades, Sarah went on to appear in several critically-acclaimed films, such as The Sweet Hereafter (1997), Last Night (1998), and Mr. Nobody (2010). Her superb acting garnered her plenty of attention over the years, including the Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, and a nomination for Best European Actress by the European Film Academy.
Sarah’s directorial debut was her film Away From Her, which was an inarguably strong start, receiving an overwhelmingly positive critical response and earning her a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Away From Her was adapted from the novel The Bear Came Over the Mountain by Nobel prize winning author Alice Munro. The film is about a married couple whose relationship struggles when the wife develops Alzheimer’s and moves to a nursing home, where she begins to lose her memory of her husband. This touching film showcased Sarah’s strong writing and directorial skills from the start; in the words of FF2 Editor-in-Chief Jan Lisa Huttner, “Kudos to first-time writer/director Sarah Polley (one of our favorite actresses) for creating a terrific central character (Grant) & surrounding him with FOUR well-drawn & beautifully-acted female supporting roles.”
Sarah has also created a critically-acclaimed documentary, Stories We Tell, about her own family and its secrets; secrets in particular about her parents’ relationship, which Sarah herself didn’t uncover until shortly before she made the film. The film received the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Non-Fiction Film, the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Documentary Screenplay, and was shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Screenplay.
This past year, Sarah came out with Women Talking, which is probably her best work yet.
This past year, Sarah came out with Women Talking, which is probably her best work yet. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Miriam Toews, the film is about eight women from a small, isolated Mennonite colony, who grapple with the revelation that men in the colony had been drugging and assaulting the women at night for years.
Through a series of discussions, the women must decide whether to stay or leave, all the while reconciling their faith with the violence perpetrated by members of their own religion. With stellar acting performances from Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley, among others, the film is deeply intelligent, nuanced and powerful.
Though Sarah undoubtedly should have received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director for Women Talking, the nominations that she did garner are much deserved. Sarah is a vastly talented writer and director (and actor!), and hopefully her recognition at the Academy will bring her, Women Talking, and all of her films, even more success. We’re rooting for Women Talking at the Oscars this year!
© Julia Lasker (1/25/2023) FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Read Jan Lisa Huttner’s review of Away from Her here.
Read Jan Lisa Huttner’s review of Stories We Tell here.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured photo: “Sarah Polley – Stories We Tell” by Ross is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Bottom photo: Courtesy of United Artists Releasing