E.L. James’s ungodly successful Fifty Shades books have become the Lord of the Rings of bondage stories that feel like they were written by someone who learned everything about sex from old Mickey Rourke movies. The inevitable film versions were always going to be huge, but they were never going to be easy. During the week leading up to Fifty Shades of Grey’s Valentine’s Day release, The Hollywood Reporter published an article that detailed the appropriately sadomasochistic working relationship between James (a control freak) and director Sam Taylor-Johnson (who, like anyone that signs on to helm a big studio movie, enjoys being punished, you have to assume).
Despite the fact that the movie turned out pretty well—our review called it “the rare studio romance in which the characters actually try to understand one another”—and grossed more than $550 million on a $40 million budget, Taylor-Johnson has officially relinquished the director’s chair for the rest of the franchise. In a statement she submitted to Deadline yesterday, the filmmaker said: “Directing Fifty Shades Of Grey has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful…I will not be returning to direct the sequels.”
Needless to say, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed are still going to happen, and they’re going to happen soon. Considering that we loved what Taylor-Johnson brought to the first installment, and that Fifty Shades Darker is nothing if not an excellent platform for a strong female filmmaker, here are five women who we’d love to see direct the next chapters.
Despite the fact that she only has one feature to her name, Jennifer Kent is way too good for the Fifty Shades Darker adaptation. Be that as it may, The Babadook sure as hell proved that this emerging Australian director knows how to make a good movie about a woman being tormented by a relentless, inexpressive monster who came out of a book.
Yes, it’s true that Kathryn Bigelow is also way too good for this series. But there are a couple of things you have to remember: First, Bigelow is unique among the women on this list (and this planet) in that Fifty Shades Darker would pretty much be the smallest movie she’s ever made. Seriously, the Zero Dark Thirty director could probably knock out one of these E.L. James adaptations during a lunch break from her inevitable film about Jessica Chastain and Chris Pratt defeating ISIS. Fifty Shades Darker would be the perfect time for Bigelow to climb aboard, especially considering that it climaxes with Christian Grey surviving a wimpy commercial helicopter crash, the pretty little rich boy exhibiting none of the piloting skills required to fly a team of Navy SEALS on a mission to kill Osama Bin-Laden.
We know what you’re thinking, and yes, The Headless Woman director Lucrecia Martel is way too good for a Fifty Shades movie. Still, the poet laureate of Argentinian class warfare would be a perfect fit for the second chapter of E.L. James’s immortal romance, as everyone knows that the Fifty Shades series is really just an extended metaphor about how the rich exploit the bodies of the poor in order to maintain the upper class’ illusion of control (James’s writing cleverly extrapolating Karl Marx’s theory of commodity fetishism into butt play). Given that Fifty Shades Darker is so focused on the BDSM contract between Christian and Anastasia, Martel’s affinity for exploring sociopolitical hierarchy through a feminist lens makes her a natural choice to direct the next installment of this major motion picture franchise.
Sure, Frozen director Jennifer Lee might be just a touch too good for a Fifty Shades of Grey sequel (after all, her last movie grossed more than $1.2 billion and has been singlehandedly babysitting an entire generation of American children since debuting on DVD), but Lee’s experience with computer animation makes her uncommonly prepared to work with two-dimensional characters and compensate for the uncanny valley of Jamie Dornan’s face. Besides, what is Anastasia Steele if not an ice princess who tries to “Let it Go” in order to thaw someone’s heart by realizing that love is the key to controlling her power?
Whatever, Ava DuVernay should direct everything.