We don’t live in a man’s world any longer, as women are gradually beginning to make their presence felt in society. As regards the film industry, women have begun to take over Hollywood, as many of the greatest box office hits and award winners of the last two decades have been starred, produced, or directed by women. In this list, we’ll go over the 22 best movies directed by women that you simply can’t miss.
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After writing the first three seasons of the iconic drama series Orange Is the New Black, Sian Heder wrote and directed her first feature-length film, Tallulah. This comedy-drama film was released in 2016 and stars nothing less than Ellen Page.
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The film is about a young woman with financial problems whose life changes radically from one day to the other when she rescues a baby from her neglecting mother and pretends the kid is her own. Not bad for a directorial debut!
#21. Lost In Translation
Lost in Translation is an American romantic comedy-drama film released in 2003 and written and directed by Sofia Coppola, the daughter of the movie legend Francis Ford Coppola. The film is about the romance between an aging movie star and a lonely young woman who meet in Tokyo.
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This was Coppola’s second film as a director, her first being The Suicide Virgins. The film received critical acclaim, and she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director and an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Brave is a computer-animated fantasy movie co-directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman. Released in 2012, Chapman became the first female director of a Pixar feature film. She also wrote the screenplay together with Irene Mecchi and Steve Purcell.
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The film tells the story of Merida, a young princess who defies tradition when she expresses her wish not to be betrothed, but this decision triggers great chaos in her kingdom. Chapman claimed that the story was inspired by her relationship with her own daughter.
#19. Something’s Gotta Give
Something’s Gotta Give is a romantic comedy film released in 2003 and written, directed and produced by Nancy Meyers. The film stars Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, and Frances McDormand.
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The film tells the story of a senior swinger who goes out with much younger women but unexpectedly falls in love with a woman his age. The film was a major box office hit, grossing over $266 million. Another of Meyer’s greatest hits was her romantic comedy The Holiday, which she wrote and directed three years later
Monster is a biographical crime film about serial killer Aileen Wuornos. It was both written and directed by Patty Jenkins and starred by Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci. The movie received critical acclaim and received many awards and nominations.
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Jenkins was nominated for her directorial work in the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the Berlin International Film Festival. But apart from this, Theron won the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Actress for the first time in her career.
#17. Even The Rain
Even the Rain is a Spanish drama film released in 2010 and starred by Gael García Bernal and Luis Tosar. It tells the story of a director and his crew who shoot a controversial film about Colombus in Bolivia in the middle of great social and political unrest.
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The movie was directed by Iciar Bollaín, this being her fourth feature-length film. She received several nominations for her work and won the Cinema Writers Circle Awards both in the Best Director and Best Film categories.
Persepolis is an animated film based on Marjane Satrapi’s homonymous autobiographical graphic novel. Satrapi herself wrote the screenplay and directed the film. Persepolis was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Academy Award, and Satrapi received several nominations for Best Directing in an Animated Feature Production.
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This autobiographical drama is about a young girl who comes of age during the Islamic Revolution. In this sense, the movie represents how this tumultuous political process affected both Satrapi and her family’s lives.
#15. Advanced Style
Advanced Style is a biographical film about the lives of seven eclectic and stylish New Yorkers between 63 and 95 years old and their approach towards aging. The film is based on a blog with the same name, created by Ari Seth Cohen.
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The movie was directed by Lithuanian filmmaker Lina Plioplyte. In fact, this documentary was her first feature-length film. She is currently working on her second documentary as a director, Gods Arise.
#14. Boys Don’t Cry
Boys Don’t Cry is a biographical drama released in 1999 and directed by Kimberley Peirce. It tells the story of Brandon Teena, an American transsexual man who tries to find love in a rural town in Nebraska. The role of Teena was played by Hilary Swank, who won her first Academy Award for Best Actress.
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This was nothing less than Peirce’s directorial debut for a feature-length film. Her brilliant work earned her the Best New Filmmaker Award in the Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, among many other awards and nominations. Without a doubt, Peirce’s film has become one of the greatest all-time classics of LGBT cinema.
#13. The Babadook
The Babadook is an Australian horror film released in 2014 and both written and directed by Jeniffer Kent. It tells the story of a widow who tries to deal with her son’s fear of a monster that supposedly lurks the house.
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This film was Kent’s directorial debut, and she won several awards for her brilliant job, including the Australian Film Critics Association Award for Best Director. She directed her second film in 2018, the period thriller The Nightingale, which also received critical acclaim.
Frida is a biographical drama film about the professional and love life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Released in 2002, it was directed by Julie Taymor and starred by Salma Hayek. Not only did Taymor direct the film, but she also contributed to the costume design and the writing of the songs.
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Taymor received plenty of nominations and a few awards for her directorial work, including the Venice Film Festival Award for Best Film. Five years later, she directed the British musical romantic drama film Across the Universe, which received critical acclaim.
#11. The Green Bicycle
The Green Bicycle – or Wadjda in its original language – is a Saudi Arabian film written and directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour. It tells the story of a young Saudi girl who participates in her school’s Koran recitation competition, but only as a way to win the prize money to buy a green bicycle.
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This was al-Mansour’s directorial debut and she was critically acclaimed for her work. She is Saudi Arabia’s first female director, and The Green Bicycle is the only feature-length film shot in Saudi Arabia directed by a woman.
Capernaum is a Lebanese drama film released in 2018 written and directed by Nadine Labaki. It tells the story of a young boy who sues his parents for child neglect while serving a sentence for a crime.
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Capernaum became the highest-grossing Arabic film in history, and it earned Labaki her first Academy Award Nomination in the Best Foreign Film category. Let’s not forget that she directed two other great films, Caramel and Where Do We Go Now?
#9. Fish Tank
Fish Tank is a British drama film released in 2009 and written and directed by Andrea Arnold. Arnold catapulted to fame after winning an Academy Award thanks to her short film Wasp, and ever since then, her work has been critically acclaimed.
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Fish Tank tells the story of Mia, a lonely teenager whose life changes after her mother introduces her to her new boyfriend. Arnold received several awards and nominations, including a BAFTA Award for Best British Film and a British Independent Film Award for Best Director.
#8. American Psycho
American Psycho is a satirical horror film written and directed by Mary Haron. It stars many several legends such as Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Reese Witherspoon, and Jared Leto.
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The film is about a rich banking executive who hides his psychopathic ego from his friends and co-workers, but as time goes on, he delves deeper into his violent fantasies. Without a doubt, Harron achieved one of the best film adaptations of a novel of this century.
Clueless is a romantic comedy movie written and directed by Amy Heckerling. It was released in 1995 and stars Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd, and Brittany Murphy. This coming-of-age story focuses on Cher, a teenage student who befriends a new classmate and goes to great lengths to boost her popularity.
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Heckerling received a National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay. With no doubt, Clueless is one of the most iconic high school movies ever made and it left its mark on American pop culture.
Suffragette is a historical drama film which follows the life of a young working-class mother who gets engaged in the fight for women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom. It was directed by Sarah Gavon and written by Abi Morgan.
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Gavron received a few awards and many nominations for her directorial work, including two Women Film Critics Circle Awards. She directed other successful films such as Brick Lane (2007) and her most recent work, Rocks (2019).
#5. Lady Bird
Lady Bird is a coming-of-age comedy-drama film about a 17-year-old high-school senior and her troubled relationship with her mother. It was written and directed by Greta Gerwig and starred by Saoirse Ronan.
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Without a doubt, this was one of the most successful directorial debuts ever, as Gerwig received two Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay. She also won several awards for her directorial work, including the Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award.
#4. The Kids Are All Right
The Kids Are All Right is a comedy-drama film starred by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, and written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko. It follows the lives of two children conceived by artificial insemination who try to track down their biological father and bring him to their lives.
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The film received critical acclaim and Cholodenko received an Academy Award for Best Writing in an Original Screenplay. She also received several nominations for her directorial work, such as in the Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards.
#3. The 13th
The 13th is an American documentary directed by Ava DuVernay. The analyzes the U.S. prison system from a critical viewpoint, as it tries to convey how it expresses the country’s long history of racial and social inequality.
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The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature and DuVernay received several awards, including the Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award and the Critics’ Choice Documentary Award for Best Woman Director.
#2. Paris Is Burning
Paris Is Burning is an American documentary film that delves into New York City’s drag scene during the 1980s. It focuses on the African-Americans and Latinas within the LGBT community and shows how they struggled against racism, homophobia, and social and economic exclusion.
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The film was directed by Jennie Livingston, this being her first documentary film. She won several awards for her work, including the Berlin International Film Festival Award for Best Documentary Film. Recently, Livingston worked as a producer and director in the successful series on Netflix, Pose.
#1. The Matrix
The Matrix is a dystopian science fiction film directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski, starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne. Released in 2001, the film is about a computer hacker who learns he is trapped inside a simulated reality created by machines and wages a war against them.
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The film received four Academy Awards, and the Wachowski sisters received the Best Director Award by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films USA. Ever since its release, it has become one of the most iconic films in its genre.