Just watched Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and feeling a sudden surge of appreciation for female-directed movies? Here are some other female directors with arresting filmographies and the abilities to make you feel anything from heart-thudding excitement to heart-wrenching sadness.
After the success of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, filled to the brim with hot pink joy, surprisingly relatable and powerful speeches, and lots and lots of laughs (courtesy of Ryan Gosling’s totally Kenough Ken), we are keeping our eyes peeled for the product of female directors like Gerwig. Good news is that we have compiled a list of the best female directors for you to keep your eye on.
From Sofia Coppola to Lynne Ramsay, let’s take a look at some of the best in the industry and a few of their best works.
Here are famous female directors and some of their best films
Sofia Coppola is the daughter of legendary director Francis Ford Coppola, but that doesn’t mean she can’t hold her own. Her directorial debut film The Virgin Suicides (1999), starring a young Kirsten Dunst, was received incredibly well by critics. She secured the novel rights and adapted the screenplay herself, proving that she did not need help from her father in order to do so. This is not a nepo-baby situation, people.
Her second movie was Lost in Translation (2003), which won the Academy Award for original screenplay and also won her three Golden Globe awards. She later went to direct Marie Antoinette (2007) which garnered initial mixed reviews, but showcased exquisite costume design. Coppola’s next film, Priscilla, set for a release in September 2023 and distributed by A24, will follow the life of Priscilla Presley.
Coppola’s style is very female focused; her scenes treat female characters as complex humans rather than one-sided caricatures. In addition, she is very character focused. Her movies usually focus on themes of loneliness, privilege, and femininity, all brought out through the lenses of her character work.
Charlotte Wells’ first directorial debut film is Aftersun (2022) starring Paul Mescal and young Frankie Corio. Aftersun released to explosive critical acclaim and even snagged an Academy Award nomination for Paul Mescal.
Before Aftersun, Wells created short films at NYU which all earned recognition at various newcomer talent awards. Aftersun is a tender coming-of-age drama which was both written and directed by Wells. We were in tears when we watched Aftersun. Aftersun’s beautiful nostalgic tone evoked by the humid holiday setting, superb acting from the stars, and general well-cut shots all point to Wells’ directorial genius.
We don’t know what else is coming for Wells, but we’re sure whatever it is, it’ll be genius.
Kathryn Bigelow is one of the biggest names in director history. Who else was the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director? Who else was included in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world?
Bigelow is the director for the classic Point Break (1991) starring Keanu Reeves (look at how absolutely young, handsome and charming he is here) and Patrick Swayze (Dirty Dancing! Dirty Dancing!). Point Break earned approximately $80 million at the global box office. Next up of her famed movies is The Hurt Locker (2008) starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and a bunch of other famous names in the industry. The Hurt Locker won her the Academy Award for Best Director, making Bigelow the first woman to win this accolade.
Bigelow usually works with action heavy movies and loves to make her movies very movement based. She also focuses especially on the theme of violence. If you’re looking for some excitement and big action stars, maybe watch some of Bigelow’s films.
Lynne Ramsay (surprisingly another Scottish director, like Charlotte Wells) is best known for the film We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011). The film is heartbreaking and deals with the relationship of a mother, acted superbly by Tilda Swinton, and her son, played by Ezra Miller. We Need to Talk About Kevin earned Ramsay a BAFTA nomination for Best Director and later allowed her to win Best Director at the British Independent Film Awards.
Next of note is Ramsey-directed You Were Never Really Here (2017) starring Joaquin Phoenix. You Were Never Really Here won Best Screenplay at the 70th Cannes Film Festival, again, cementing Ramsay’s talent in her craft.
Ramsay’s style is comprised of realistic imagery shots with unique storylines and textures. We’re warning you: We Need to Talk About Kevin will have your mind spinning for weeks.
Ava DuVernay is the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director and Academy Award for Best Picture for Selma (2014). Her second feature film Middle of Nowhere (2012) won the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s directorial award, which made her the first black woman to win that award.
In 2017, DuVernay was also included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Younger audiences might know DuVernay from her director’s credit on A Wrinkle in Time (2018), which was one of the top 100 grossing movies of 2018. DuVernay also directed the Netflix documentary 13th (2016), which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
DuVernay’s films usually investigate the relationships of Black American families as well as highlight the injustices done to Black communities. She hasn’t won that many awards for nothing.
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[Featured and hero image credit: Sofia Coppola / IMDb]
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok