Here’s the thing: we all know that women are just as capable as men. We know that they’ve been out there killing it in writer’s rooms, director’s chairs, and every other possible position you can think of since the beginning of time. You know, when they’re given the opportunity to do so. If they do manage to bite and claw their way into a room that many others can simply walk into, then they face a whole slew of other hurdles. Female, trans, and non-binary greatness is often overlooked in favor of the status quo – and the status quo is usually the work of men.
Before we get started, let’s just get the commentary on male directors out of the way. There are plenty of deeply talented dudes in the film industry. It’s legitimately staggering how much incredible content we have across all platforms of entertainment in current times. This conversation is at no point degrading the capability of men. What we’re here to discuss are the women bringing it just as hard and still not receiving the nominations and general acknowledgment they deserve.
With all that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the incredible films directed by women in 2018. They might not get the additional push that a Best Director nomination at the Oscars would bring, but if you’re as annoyed as I am about another all-male category, here are some films directed by lady-folk that deserved some more Oscars love, whether for Best Picture, Best Director, or other categories.
1. ‘Destroyer’ – Karyn Kusama
Lead by the ever-remarkable Nicole Kidman, Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer gives us a bleak look at the life of a cop after an undercover operation with the FBI changes her life forever. No lace, no frills, just a raw and unrelenting look at what a woman can become when everything she has is taken from her after a mundane robbery.
Other films of hers to check out: The Invitation, Jennifer’s Body, Aeon Flux, Girlfight
2. ‘Revenge’ – Coralie Fargeat
There are few things more satisfying than a good revenge flick. Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge takes that concept to the next level. An already smart and capable Jen (Matilda Lutz) is raped and left for dead by some rich monsters on their annual manly man hunting trip. The hunters quickly find themselves the hunted in their own rewardingly gruesome ways.
Other films of hers to check out: Reality+, Passion of Mind, Le télégramme
3. ‘Leave No Trace’ – Debra Granik
Will (Ben Foster), a veteran suffering from PTSD, and his daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie) have lived off the grid in Oregon for years. Leave No Trace explores what happens when they’re eventually discovered, they’re forced to acclimate to the new society they’ve found themselves in. The rest is a struggle filled journey of the two trying to find their way home, and figuring out whether that home is together or apart.
Other films of hers to check out: Winter’s Bone, Down to the Bone, Stray Dog
4. ‘On The Basis Of Sex’ – Mimi Leder
The unstoppable Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life depicted through a “based on a true story” lens is something to behold. On the Basis of Sex follows Ruth’s life as she meets her husband, Martin (Armie Hammer), fights for equality and grows into the unstoppable force of a woman that we all root for today.
Other films of hers to check out: Thick as Thieves, Pay It Forward, Deep Impact, The Peacemaker
5. ‘RBG’ – Julie Cohen & Betsy West
Because if anyone is worth both a feature film and a documentary within a twelve-month span, both of which are directed by women, it’s the notorious RBG. Shifting from the “based on a true story” to the true story, RBG examines the life, the landmark cases, and the unstoppable nature of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a fascinating documentary.
Other films of hers to check out: American Veteran, The Sturgeon Queens, Ndiphilela Ukucula: I Live to Sing
6. ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ – Susan Johnson
Based on Jenny Han’s incredible novel by the same name, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before follows Lara Jean (Lana Condor) as she deals with the fallout from the private letters she wrote for herself making their way to all of her ex-loves. It’s charming, it’s chaotic, and it’s absolutely must-see.
Other films of hers to check out: Carrie Pilby, Destiny Stalled, Call My Name, Second Coming
7. ‘You Were Never Really Here’ – Lynne Ramsay
You stick with what you know. Unfortunately, for many veterans, what they know is violence. Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) must find the balance between the nightmares of his PTSD and reality as he acts as a hired gun to help find the daughter of a New York Senator in this quick and bloody mystery.
Other films of hers to check out: We Need to Talk About Kevin, Morvern Callar, Ratcatcher
8. ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ – Ava DuVernay
When Meg’s (Storm Reid) father disappears, she embarks on an epic journey to find him. Based on the incredible novel by Madeleine L’Engle, this adaptation missed the mark for some. But, whether you found it your speed or were left wanting a little something more, it’s hard to deny the importance of the film. The costumes were stunning, the visuals were breathtaking, and seeing a little black girl be the brainy heroine on the big screen was a powerful image.
Other films of hers to check out: Selma, Middle of Nowhere, I Will Follow
9. ‘Mary Queen Of Scots’ – Josie Rourke
A literal game of thrones ensues as Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) battles her cousin Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) for the throne of England. Mary Queen of Scots is a beautiful and heartbreaking look at two women struggling to find a balance between societal norms (read: getting married) and their own independence.
Other films of hers to check out: The Vote (written by)
10. ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ – Susanna Fogel
Don’t you hate it when your boyfriend breaks up with you and then you find yourself tangled in a tale of international espionage with your best friend? Audrey (Mila Kunis) does, too. The Spy Who Dumped Me is undoubtedly a comedy, but it’s one that shows off what women can do when thrown into tricky situations while at the same time making you laugh.
Other films of hers to check out: Life Partners, Washingtonienne (written by), Joni & Susanna (written by)
11. ‘Blockers’ – Kay Cannon
This perfectly sex-positive little beauty will have you rolling with laughter in between tackling incredibly important themes. Julie (Kathryn Newton) and her two best friends Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon) make a sex pact for Prom Night, and their parents are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure they don’t go through with it.
Other films of hers to check out: The Pitch Perfect trilogy (written by)
Each of these films deserved more attention than they got. Do all of them deserve a Best Director nomination? Nah. Do some of them? You bet your butt. We’ll try again next year, but, for now, I hope you take some time to check out some of the great films listed above. Heck, there are a ton of movies from women this year that aren’t even featured here. Change only happens when we all put our money where our mouths are. So, with that in mind, go support your local girl gang and get your eyes on some lady-directed awesomeness!
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