It’s hard to know what ‘appreciate’ or ‘support’ should mean to you, specifically, as a filmmaker or a fan of films. How do we put that into action? Is it just a matter of acknowledgment or credit to the women who’ve pioneered filmmaking in the past?
Well, we think there’s one key thing you can do to ‘appreciate’ and ‘support’—watch films made by women. Sure, it’s important to give credit and acknowledgment, but it’s far more important to actually buy/rent/stream movies created by women. The film industry is a big machine and it doesn’t move quickly. If we want to steer the ship in a different direction, we need to do it little by little on an individual basis. And that almost always starts with the consumer (i.e. people watching films).
So, that’s what we’re hoping to accomplish in this blog post. Obviously, this isn’t a complete list. There are hundreds of incredible movies released by women over the years. But, this is simply a short list of movies we highly recommend.
A League of Their Own by Penny Marshall
The late great Penny Marshall was a titan of cinema before she passed in 2018. Many may think of Big as her biggest accomplishment to modern movies, but we think A League of Their Own takes the cake. This movie was living proof that women were capable of not only great art, but also great blockbusters. This movie is a crowd-pleaser all around, tackling important issues while just being damn funny.
Rent or Buy it here.
Zero Dark Thirty by Kathryn Bigelow
It’s hard to make a movie that’s topical, but also stands up on its own outside of the zeitgeist. A few movies have done it in the past—All The President’s Men, for example, is still relevant today—but perhaps no movie does it better than Zero Dark Thirty. Director Kathryn Bigelow tackled the monumental task of portraying the hunt for Osama bin Laden, doing so with the utmost intentionality and skillful storytelling. There are no traditional heroes in this story. Just a set of extraordinary circumstances and people who were thrown into them headfirst.
Rent or Buy it here.
The Farewell by Lulu Wang
Lulu Wang’s The Farewell is what happens when a director takes something personal and makes it universal. Cinema, at its best, connects on an elemental level, and this movie does so in spades. This story exists somewhere between comedy and drama (what in life doesn’t), but explores family and relationships in ways that could only be told by someone who’d actually been through something like this. It’s personal to everyone.
Mudbound by Dee Rees
Adapted from Hillary Jordan’s novel of the same name, Dee Rees directed a moving exploration of racism in the Post-WWII South. Mudbound set 2017 Sundance festival records and earned sweeping praise including four Academy Award nominations. Set in the segregated Mississippi Delta, Mudbound tells the story of two families pitted against a barbaric social hierarchy and an unrelenting landscape, simultaneously fighting a battle at home and abroad. Dee created a necessary film, delivering powerful and heart-wrenchingly beautiful results.
Watch on Neflix here.
Lost in Translation by Sofia Coppola
Sofia Coppola’s incredible Lost in Translation is a masterclass in subtlety and grace. Everytime you think this film is going to devolve into something, it doesn’t. It could have been a romantic comedy. It could have been a campy drama. Instead, it’s a character study that explores the connections we share with each other and how emotional needs can be fulfilled. Plus, Coppola pulled incredibly affecting performances from Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson. It’s one of the most refreshing, charming and least cliché movies you’ll ever see.
Selma by Ava Duvernay
Ava Duvernay is currently standing toe to toe with some of the most famous directors in the industry, regardless of their gender. Having created incredibly impactful work like 13th, When They See Us, and Selma, Ava approached Martin Luther King’s 1965 voting-rights march with both reverence and relevance. And although she received no screenwriting credit, 90% of Paul Webb’s original script was re-written by Ava — including writing all of King’s speeches — to ensure the film was true to the history of racial injustice in the United States. Her intentional direction and unflinching honesty make this film a must-watch.
Rent or Buy it here.
You Were Never Really Here by Lynne Ramsay
Lynee Ramsay is fearless. Her unflinching portrayal of parenthood gone wrong in We Need to Talk About Kevin turned heads in 2011, but You Were Never Really Here decidedly kicked it up a notch. This thriller is unlike any other we’ve seen before. It’s artful, violent, and takes some notes from Scorsese and then turns them on their head. The entire film is an exercise in efficiency and tension.
Nomadland by Chloé Zhao
Shot over the course of four months traveling the American West in an RV with nomadic workers, actress Frances McDormand recruited Chloé to write and direct Nomadland after seeing her breakout film The Rider at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival. All four major fall film festivals invited Nomadland to participate in 2020: New York, Telluride, Toronto, and Venice. And now, the Oscar buzz has begun. Nomadland is captivating, unconventional, and every bit worth your watch.
Little Women by Greta Gerwig
It’s hard not to get excited about anything Greta Gerwig releases. Whether in front of the camera or behind it, she has the uncanny ability to tell a fascinating, rich story without you even knowing it. She proved it with Lady Bird, giving fresh life to the sometimes overdone coming of age story. But, with Little Women, she proved that she can also breathe new life into old classics. Her portrayal of Louisa May Alcott’s iconic characters is astonishing because it pays homage to its source material, but frames them in entirely new ways. Little Women is not just for women—it’s an incredibly smart film for any audience.
Buy it here.
Candyman by Nia DaCosta
After releasing her indie film Little Woods, Nia was on the radar of Hollywood’s best producers. That included Jordan Peele, who was looking for a director for his Candyman retelling. Now, Nia’s reimagined the story, developing the mythology to pull back the curtain on what makes a villain and who gets to define a monster. Nia is a powerhouse director, and her work shouldn’t be overlooked. In fact, it was recently announced she would also direct the upcoming sequel to Captain Marvel, becoming the first black woman and youngest filmmaker to direct a Marvel film. While the pandemic delayed the original release of Candyman, we believe this is a film you should keep tabs on until its tentative August 2021 release.
Visit the official movie site here.
Luckily for all of us, there are more movies being made by women than ever before. These 10 films are the result of it. Like we said, there are hundreds more to watch, but hopefully, this list gives you a headstart on a rich history of women in film.