It’s time to show women some love! The Oscar season has not been as rewarding as it should have been, while great movies by Sam Mendes (1917 is one of my personal favorites) or Parasite by Bong Joon-Ho received plenty of praise, female directors have been snubbed.
Unfortunately, that’s not a one-time thing. Kathryn Bigelow is – to this day – the only woman to have won the ‘Best Director’ award for The Hurt Locker and female directors are still largely overlooked in the entertainment industry.
You can blame patriarchy, not their supposed lack of talent. Women have directed all kinds of great movies: action movies, comedies, coming-of-age stories, romcom, musicals, dramas and even animated movies. Are you down to (re)discover some of them?
The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig
One of the greatest coming-of-age movies of the last decade (I’m recommending this one A LOT). It is – to me – the next The Perks of Being Wallflower as it tackles the same themes such as friendships, sex and mental health. Hailee Steinfeld is amazingly touching and funny (I guarantee you, you’ll laugh within 2 minutes) and the rest of the cast is phenomenal (for my fellow Supernatural stans: Alexander Calvert also stars in it!)
Plus, the crew is mostly made of women. Yay.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
by Loveleen Tandan and Danny Boyle
2008 was a busy year for Dev Patel as he starred in both British comedy-drama Skins and 8-times-Academy-Award winner Slumdog Millionaire. The drama follows Jamal as he reflects on his life after being accused of cheating on the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire ?”.
Loveleen Tandan co-directed the movie with Danny Boyle (who recently directed the very cool Yesterday) but wasn’t credited for her work when he won Best Director that season.
Captain Marvel (2019)
by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
In this post-Infinity War installment, long-awaited Carol Danvers (played by Brie Larson, the love of my life) teams up with Nick Fury way before the Avengers Initiative became a thing.
Walking in the footsteps of Patty Jenkins who was the first woman to direct a superhero movie (Wonder Woman), Anna Boden made one of the highest-grossing Marvel films.
The Holiday (2006)
written, produced and directed by Nancy Meyers
One of the most famous Christmas movies in which Brit Kate Winslet and American Cameron Diaz exchange houses and both find love overseas. Many things are great about this movie, but mostly Cameron Diaz singing her heart out to Mr Brightside, Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack and Jude Law’s reading glasses.
Total Eclipse (1995)
by Agnieszka Holland
Two years before rising to fame with Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed Arthur Rimbaud in this indie drama. Starring alongside him (and falling in love with the French poet) is our very own Remus Lupin, David Thewlis (beware: once you’ve seen his penis, there’s no going back).
by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson
Do we still have to introduce Shrek? With voices from Eddy Murphy, Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz, the 2002 Oscar-winner became a hit among millennials and remains one of the best films of its genre. Ed Sheeran actually watched it 12 times.
by Sarah Gavron
Suffragette is a movie about women, written by a woman (Abi Morgan) and directed by a woman. A smart move to tell the story of the suffragettes’ fight for equality, emancipation and the right to vote in 1913.
Mamma Mia! (2008)
by Phyllida Lloyd
The West End musical Mamma Mia! by Catherine Johnson finally got its own movie! Bride-to-be Sophie comes across one of her mum’s old journals and decides to invite her three ex-boyfriends to her wedding. Each one of them could be her father (including Bond. James Bond.), why not find out while singing ABBA’s songs?
Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001)
by Sharon Maguire
Sharon Maguire gave life to an entire generation’s spirit animal by turning Helen Fielding’s novel into a film. 32-year-old Bridget Jones is a bit of a train-wreck: obsessed with her weight, politically incorrect and making all the wrong choices.
Renée Zellweger’s British accent is so convincing that I haven’t been able to watch the movie ever since I found out. Still a classic.
Lady Bird (2017)
written and directed by Greta Gerwig
Actress Greta Gerwig made her directorial debut with none other than Saoirse Ronan in this coming-of-age film. We meet Christine McPherson at a crossroad as she’s getting ready to leave for college. More than a movie for teenagers, Lady Bird is about finding one’s place in the world and maintaining a healthy relationship with one’s mother.
Greta Gerwig went on to direct another masterpiece: Little Women (2019) starring Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Laura Dern and Timothée Chalamet.
The Matrix (1999)
by the Wachowski sisters
Before he became John Wick, Keanu Reeves was computer-fighter Neo. Lana and Lilly birthed one of the most bankable franchises in Hollywood and had a massive impact on worldwide pop culture. The fourth installment will be released next year – more than 20 years after the global success of the first one.
But I’m a Cheerleader (2000)
by Jamie Babbit
Natasha Lyonne (Orange is The New Black) is sent to LGBT conversion therapy camp where she ends up falling in love with one of the campers. Jamie Babbit brilliantly managed to raise awareness on a very serious matter by mocking clichés in a super funny comedy.
by Olivia Wilde
I know, that’s the third coming-of-age movie to be featured in this article but don’t close the tab just yet! This one is about two type-A best friends (Molly is fat and Amy is a lesbian, how about that?) who decide to go wild before graduating high school.
Olivia Wilde made her directorial debut with this critically acclaimed film. Are you convinced yet or do you need me to mention that the writing team is entirely composed of women?
Point Break (1991)
by Kathryn Bigelow
An FBI agent (Keanu Reeves) goes undercover to catch bank-robber Swayze and his gang. Violent, yet moving, Point Break makes for a great movie night.
The plot inspired one of Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s narrative arc in season 4.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
by Nora Ephron
This list wouldn’t be complete without Nora Ephron. She had many talents including directing and writing great American romcoms.
Her go-to actress was Meg Ryan as they have worked together on three occasions (When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail and this one). I don’t think we can thank her enough for this gift. Sleepless in Seattle is also Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s second collab.
Did your favourite movie make the list? Which one are you gonna watch? Let me know in the comments.
#StayHome and turn that quarantine time into a movie marathon! Take care! 😘
2 thoughts on “15 great movies directed by women”
The films of Joanna Hogg, notably Archipelago. The Selfish Giant is a good one. The Levelling very good. https://monthlycritic.wordpress.com/2020/03/26/lost-girls/ My latest review if you fancy reading. The show must go on and thank heaven for Netflix, Curzon, etc. Welcome to follow.