A few of the films on this list have been in my blogs before, but I’m going to include them anyway, because female directors never get enough recognition for their work.
Without any ado whatsoever, here are some of the best films directed by women in the last five years:
- ‘American Honey’ (2016), directed by Andrea Arnold. A young woman escaping an abusive home life with a band of misfits, this film is a journey in all of the ways.
- ‘Lady Bird’ (2017), directed by Greta Gerwig. Another complex female character in a moving coming of age, ‘Lady Bird’ will steal your heart, make you laugh, and make you think.
- ‘The Rider’ (2017), directed by Chloe Zhao. After a near-fatal head injury during a rodeo, a young man must rediscover himself. Zhao proves compassionate storytelling always wins.
- ‘You Were Never Really Here’ (2017), directed by Lynne Ramsey. A knockout performance by Joaquin Phoenix coupled with a masterful flipping of the script in the psych-thriller genre.
- ‘Wonder Woman’ (2017), directed by Patty Jenkins. This version of Wonder Woman brings a compassionate, strong, and determined female to the forefront of the story. Enough said.
- ‘Leave No Trace’ (2018), directed by Debra Granik. Like ‘Winter’s Bone,’ this film is a gritty and heart wrenching story of survival, but centered around a unique father-daughter relationship.
- ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ (2018), directed by Marielle Heller. While Melissa McCarthy’s Lee Israel is easy to dislike, Heller gives her the benefit of a sympathetic lens, and it works.
- ‘Late Night’ (2019), directed by Nisha Ganatra. Elevated by the performances of Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, this is a film about smart, funny women.
- ‘Booksmart’ (2019), directed by Olivia Wilde. ‘Booksmart’ is the perfect coming of age comedy for a new generation of high schoolers. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Denver are a winning pair.
- ‘The Farewell’ (2019), directed by Lulu Wang. I made the mistake of watching this subtle, beautiful family story on a plane. Awkwafina is captivating. There were tears.
- ‘Hustlers’ (2019), directed by Lorene Scafaria. In a film about female strippers, Scafaria manages to make the focus about the women themselves, and not their bodies.
- ‘Miss Juneteenth’ (2020), directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples. A film that says: Black women exist, they have hopes and dreams, they are beautiful. Full stop.
To the female directors out there: I salute you. We need your strong and unique voices in this industry. To the Hollywood Gods: give us more female-directed films!