I started this on International Women’s Day, but procrastination is a thing. Better late than never, right? So here’s a list of films directed by women that I enjoy.
(Note that it’s been a while since I watched some of them, and thus there may be content I’ve forgotten about. Watch at your own risk.)
Little Women – Greta Gerwig
This is the first movie I’ve seen twice in theatres. And it’s the third movie to ever make me cry. I adore this film, how it’s full of life and affection and kinetic energy. Greta takes a familiar story and makes it fresh, a period piece that is oh-so-relevant to today. Little Women inspired me to go out and make my art, which is something that the best films do.
Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig
My acting teacher would say over and over again, “Every scene is a love scene.” Never have I seen this more clearly than I have in Lady Bird. It oozes love for and between the characters, romantic, familial, platonic. The love for place is striking. Lady Bird also gave me the freedom to tell my own story. Gerwig said that everything in this film is true, though not everything actually happened (but it could have). And that’s what I want my films to do.
Also. Greta wore dresses while directing Lady Bird which is basically LIFE GOALS.
Awakenings – Penny Marshall
Why don’t more people know about Awakenings?! It’s an absolutely gorgeous story, about a doctor working to find a cure for patients with a mysterious locked-in syndrome. It features Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams.
Awakenings will make you love humanity all over again.
The Farewell – Lulu Wang
Poignant, funny and beautiful. Seriously, the cinematography and soundtrack are gorgeous. I also love the window into another culture. And the ending! I’m not going to spoil it, but it was great.
Belle – Amma Asante
I love Belle for two main reasons: First of all, the costumes. 18th century is one of my favourite eras. And secondly, as a sort of third-culture kid, I really relate to Belle’s story of not fitting into either the culture of your mother or father. (I also like to think of this as a prequel to Amazing Grace, which is another movie I love.)
And if you like Belle, be sure to check out A United Kingdom, also directed by Amma Asante.
Carrie Pilby – Susan Johnson
Whimsical, fresh and fun. Carrie Pilby is such a charming protagonist. Also. William Moseley. It’s a really sweet indie film.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Susan Johnson
I didn’t realize that Susan Johnson had also directed Carrie Pilby when I watched this film. This teen rom-com has all the cute comedic romance without excessive amounts of angst or dumb conversations where people don’t communicate properly. It’s also really pretty to look at, thanks to great cinematography and production design.
Band Aid – Zoe Lister-Jones
A couple works to save their marriage by starting a band and putting all their arguments into song. (But this is not a musical.) I love seeing a movie about a marriage, because so many romance movies are about dating relationships. This movie is offbeat but humourous and poignant.
Another fun thing about Band Aid: It’s one of the first films with an all-female crew.
Aquamarine – Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum
The perfect sleepover movie. There’s depth to each of the characters, the plot is magnificently constructed, and the acting is on point. And it’s super fun to have the Male Gaze flipped on its head. Plus. . . MERMAIDS!
Selma – Ava DuVernay
Not an easy story to watch, but a good and important one. It’s been a while since I watched so I can’t comment in more detail, except to say that the song Glory from this movie’s soundtrack is AWESOME and should be listened to with the dial turned up.
Mamma Mia! – Phyllida Lloyd
Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep and more singing and dancing to ABBA songs in Greece? HECK YEAH!
Rip Tide – Rhiannon Bannenberg
Rip Tide is close to my heart, because it was filmed in the area where I grew up. I discovered it through a serendipitous Netflix scroll, and confirmed the filming location through IMDB research.
I started out with low expectations. It looks like a cheesy teen movie about a model who moves to Australia and discovers herself. But this movie is far more emotionally resonant and beautiful than I expected. I especially loved the focus on women and their relationships. Also the inevitable romance was the least contrived and most convincing I’ve ever seen in a teen-centred movie. And I ADORED all the little Australian things like the morning bird warbles and the Norfolk Island Pine and “How ya goin?”
There are a lot of surfing montages, but strangely I didn’t mind. It’s a lovely film, and worth the watch. Thematically this movie resonates with me a LOT, even months after watching it.