13 Must-See Movies Directed by Women

From the cinematic Greta Gerwig to the wickedly talented Ava DuVernay, we’ve pulled together a non-exhaustive list of some of the finest filmmakers around and their cinematic triumphs, because if the Oscars won’t give them the recognition they deserve, we sure as hell will.

Movie magic is bound to happen when there’s a woman calling the shots #justsaying.

From the cinematic Greta Gerwig to the wickedly talented Ava DuVernay, we’ve pulled together a non-exhaustive list of some of the finest filmmakers around and their cinematic triumphs, because if the Oscars won’t give them the recognition they deserve, we sure as hell will.

1. Lady Bird (2017) – Greta Gerwig

Greta’s stunning directional debut centres on a spiky teenager Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) and her turbulent relationship with her protective mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf). It’s a beautifully observed, coming-of-age story that portrays teenage milestones and the complexities of the mother-daughter dynamic with an explosive mix of wit, humour and authenticity. It’s no wonder it made Greta the fifth woman in HISTORY to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar. Please, tell us again how sexism doesn’t exist in the industry anymore.

2. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018) – Susan Johnson & Sofia Alvarez

Every generation gets its high school rom-com and this one was a mass hit. When Lara Jean’s secret love letters are exposed to each of her five crushes, she hatches an elaborate plan to fake-date Peter Kavinksy so that he can get back at an ex and she can get over another crush.

3. Selma (2014) – Ava DuVernay

The film chronicles Martin Luther’s King, Jr.’s battle for black voting rights and the epic marches from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, featuring a note-perfect performance from David Oyelowo as King. Ava DuVernay became the first African-American woman to be nominated for a best director Golden Globe.

4. Tallulah (2016) – Sian Heder

A comedy-drama written and directed by Orange Is The New Black’s Sian Heder and starring Elliot Page as an unlikely nanny who impulsively steals a baby from a neglectful mother and passes her off as her own.

5. 13th (2016) – Ava DuVernay

This blistering Netflix original Oscar-nominated documentary takes an unflinching look at the links between slavery and the 13th amendment and the US penal system that disproportionately affects black people.

6. Clemency (2019) – Chinonye Chukwu

A deeply human death row drama, starring Alfre Woodard as a conflicted prison warden struggling with the emotional demands of her job. Nigerian-American filmmaker Chukwu made history when she became the first black woman to win the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

7. Little Women (2019) – Greta Gerwig

Another sparkling example of Gerwig’s exemplary storytelling matched with Saoirse Ronan’s pitch perfect performance as the iconic Jo March.

8. The Farewell (2019) – Lulu Wang

Writer/Director Lulu Wang directs this beautiful semi-biographical tale about a family returning to china under the guise of a fake wedding – a well-intentioned lie to get everyone together to say goodbye to their beloved grandmother Nai Nai, the only one who doesn’t know she has a few weeks to live. Lulu Wang will make you howl with laughter and rip your heart out at the same time – and you’ll be forever grateful for the privilege.

9. A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (2019) – Marielle Heller

Based on a true story of a real-life friendship between the celebrated American children’s TV presenter, Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and a cynical journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), loosely based on Tom Junod. In Marielle Heller’s gentle hands and with a benevolent Tom Hanks at the helm, ABDITN was always going to be one remarkable movie wasn’t it!

10. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2020) – Céline Sciamma

A film shot by women, directed by a woman and starring an almost all-female cast, Portrait of a Lady on Fire is an intimate celebration of the female gaze and a Celine Sciamma masterpiece. Set in coastal Brittany in the 18th century, artist Marianne is tasked with secretly painting the wedding portrait for reluctant bride-to-be, Héloïse, who is against the idea of arranged marriage. What unfolds is a forbidden, achingly beautiful romance between artist and subject. It’s a visual feast.

11. Pariah (2011) – Dee Rees

Written and directed by Academy-Award nominee Dee Rees, Pariah is the coming-of-age coming-out story of a teenage African-American teenager from Brooklyn, beautifully played by Adepero Oduye. Warm, poetic and tender, it speaks to the queer, black female demographic all too often ignored by Hollywood.

12. Nomadland (2020) – Chloé Zhao

Chloé Zhao is a Chinese filmmaker powerhouse you need to get on your radar ASAP. Her latest film Nomadland, which she also wrote and edited just won a Golden Globe for best motion picture. Nomadland features Frances McDormand as a woman who leaves her home to travel around the American west.

13. One Night in Miami (2020) – Regina King

You may recognise Regina King as an actress but that hasn’t stopped her from picking up a Golden Globe nomination for her directorial debut with One Night in Miami. The film is a fictional meeting of Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke in 1964 after Ali’s title win over Sonny Liston. Regina became the first African-American female director to premiere a film at the Venice Film Festival in September 2020.

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Will be watching all the ones I haven’t seen 🙂
Brianna |

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