How fitting was that? Alanis Morissette, belting out the fierce, defiant “You Oughta Know” on ABC’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” celebration as we waited for the Times Square ball to drop on a new decade.
Morissette is 45 years old, and we loved that she was a headliner at the biggest New Year’s party on TV (along with other performers we can identify with: Sheryl Crow, Paula Abdul and Salt-N-Pepa). The way we see it, 2020 is going to be a huge year for women Morissette’s age and older—following on the momentum of the past couple of years, when older women have taken more prominent roles in so many areas of life. “It’s not fair, to deny me,” Morissette’s song goes. Yes, indeed.
Every year at this time, we like to look at the cultural contributions women like us will be making in the 12 months ahead. It just so happens that one of them is from Morissette herself. She has a new album, Such Pretty Forks in the Road, and a tour coming up in the spring. We’ll be listening, especially to the lead single, “Reasons I Drink,” that’s already dropped, even though that won’t help us make it through a Dry January.
Here’s what we’re taking note of now, starting with the topic that will surely dominate our minds (and nightmares) this year.
“The path to victory for candidates in the 2020 elections will run through women age 50 and older,” declares AARP, citing a survey that showed 95 percent of women in this age group plan to vote (87 percent say they’re very likely). Pity the fool who doesn’t pay attention.
Not only will women our age have a big say in the success of candidates on regional and national levels, many leading candidates are from our demographic. Two of the top six Democratic candidates for president are women: Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, both of whom have qualified for the January debates.
More people—men included—are speaking out that the fate of the nation is, or should be, in the hands of women like us. In Washington at this moment, women hold a powerful place. Nancy Pelosi has been managing the difficult impeachment process, and Republican Lisa Murkowski seems to be the lone Senator in her party who is committed to impartiality in the trial of President Trump that is coming. We admire Murkowski because she’s independent (she also voted against Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court), we just hope she is persuasive as well.
Why We Can’t Sleep by Ada Calhoun (January)
This could be the perfect companion for Morissette’s “Reasons I Drink.” Author Ada Calhoun talked to Gen X women across the country and found that most were exhausted, terrified about money, under-employed, and overwhelmed. Calhoun looks at causes and solutions for the predicament Gen X women find themselves in. Says Booklist: “Calhoun balances bleakness with humor and the hope inherent in sharing stories that will make other women feel less alone.” And may help them sleep again, since we know how hard that is.
Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende (January)
We love almost anything by Isabel Allende, and this epic novel that starts during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s and spans decades and continents promises to be as brilliant as her other stories.
Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict (January)
Women from history are way too often portrayed merely as helpmates to the powerful men who get the statues and kudos. We’re happy to see Winston Churchill’s wife, Clementine, get her due. Though this is a fictionalized account of her life, history is woven into every scenario as she lives through the sweeping darkness of war.
The Night Watchman by Louise Erdich (March)
Master storyteller Louise Erdich bases her 15th novel on her own grandfather, who led the fight against the dispossession of Native American lands in rural North Dakota. Says Kirkus Review: “In this kaleidoscopic story, the efforts of Native Americans to save their lands from being taken away by the U.S. government in the early 1950s come intimately, vividly to life.”
It’s Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan (March)
If there were ever a book written for NextTribe readers, this is it. Terry McMillan (top photo, right), the author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale, offers another tale of a woman (this time in her 60s) who relies on friends and her own steely determination to thrive and pursue joy, and in this case, to prove that many concepts about aging are just plain wrong.
Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner (March)
Gather round, all you fans of “The Crown.” This is an extraordinary memoir by a long-time member of the royal circle and a former Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret. Secrets will be revealed! “Lady Anne Glenconner’s life story is a combination of royal magic, personal tragedy and resilient survival,” says Tina Brown.
Death in Her Hands by Otessa Moshfegh (April)
Two reasons we’re so interested in this novel, which has been described as a combination of horror, suspense, and black comedy. First, the protagonist is an elderly woman. How often does that happen? The story is kicked into action when the woman finds a cryptic note while walking in the woods. Reason two: Otessa Moshfegh is a fascinating, provocative writer, who won numerous awards for her last novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation.
The New York Times has declared that 2019 was a coming out party for older women in Hollywood. We couldn’t agree more and expect more of the same in the year ahead.
The Woman in the Window (May)
Amy Adams takes the starring role in this film adaptation of the bestselling suspense novel of the same name. Her character, an agoraphobic, sees something suspicious from her window, and we’re off on a Rear-Window-like thriller that also stars two NextTribe heroes, Julianne Moore and Jennifer Jason Lee.
Artemis Fowl (August)
The Artemis Fowl series may have been a favorite book of your kids, and you may wonder why it’s on this list. That’s because everyone’s favorite dame, Judi Dench, takes on the role of Commander Root, a character who in the books is a man, a father figure of sorts. The gender-swapping is refreshing, and the photo of Dench in a her green fairy police force costume (top photo, center) is exhilarating.
Death on the Nile (October)
This is another remake of an Agatha Christie classic by Kenneth Branagh. We loved Death on the Orient Express from 2018, and look forward to seeing Annette Bening and Jennifer Saunders (from Absolutely Fabulous fame) get twisted up in this boat-based plot.
Julianne Moore stars as Joy Mothertrucker, an Instagram celebrity and female ice road trucker. The film is based on the book of the same name by Amy Butcher, which chronicles her friendship with the woman who spent 13 years driving big rigs through the “the deadliest road in America.” Jill Soloway, (Transparent) is directing.
It seems as if 2020 could be The Year of Julianne Moore. Here she portrays Gloria Steinem (top photo, left) in a film based on Steinem’s memoir, My Life on the Road. Directed by Julie Taymor. Juicy bonus: Bette Midler as Bella Abzug.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
We see another Oscar nomination in Viola Davis’s future as she takes the title role in the film version of August Wilson’s play of the same name. It tells the story of Ma Rainey, considered to be the ‘Queen of the Blues.’ Sing it Viola!
Beloved Sandra Bullock plays a woman who has just been released from prison after serving a 15-year sentence and is looking to connect with her estranged younger sister. We smell a weeper in the works.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus mixes it up with Will Ferrell in this film that looks to be part disaster flick, part comedy, and part domestic drama. It’s the story of a family ski vacation gone wrong in a way that reveals one of the couple is big baby. Who could that be?
The Prom (Fall)
The film version of the Broadway musical reunites Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep—the very uneasy mother and daughter-in-law duo from Big Little Lies. It will be nice to see the two together on friendlier terms and to hear them sing.
Jennifer Hudson playing Aretha Franklin? We get goosebumps just thinking of the combo in this biopic. Reportedly, Franklin herself requested that Hudson be cast as her, and of course her wish got the R-E-S-P-E-C-T it deserved.
Black Widow (May)
The film stars Scarlett Johansson, who is nowhere near NextTribe age, but we’re really interested in this because Cate Shortland, 51, is the director. We appreciate that women are getting tapped to lead big blockbusters.
The live-action version of this animated Disney classic is also directed by a woman. While the character of Mulan can inspire young women to realize they can do anything a man can, New Zealand director Niki Caro, 53, does the same for the over-50 crowd.
There are plenty of great TV series returning in 2020, and we’ll be doing the happy dance when new seasons of Outlander (Feb), The Crown, Grace & Frankie (January), and Killing Eve (April?) flicker on our screens. But here is a new crop of shows that have us equally jazzed up.
The Hulu series Mrs. America goes back to the 70s, when the country was debating the ERA, which we are still doing today. Sigh. Cate Blanchett plays Phyllis Schlafly, the conservative woman who led the backlash against the amendment. This is another occasion for some fun casting. Juicy bonus here: Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan.
Here’s another chance to see Nicole Kidman on the small screen. She’s back on HBO (after last year’s Big Little Lies) to play a successful therapist whose life unravels after her husband goes missing following a violent crime.
One of filmdom’s memorable characters—Nurse Mildred Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest—gets her own series on Netflix, which will trace her origins. Sarah Paulson will star as the battle axe. We assume we will find out what made her such a cold monster—besides the fact that she was originally created in a man’s imagination.
In March, prepare for Octavia Spencer to bowl you over as Madam C.J. Walker, the trailblazing African American haircare entrepreneur who was America’s first female self-made millionaire. Netflix has given the four-part series this as a tag line: “Grit, Moxy and a Whole Lotta Hustle.” We can’t help but feel that this describes many of you out there.