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The Top 10 Movies Directed By Women

March 20, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Wayne's World Bohemian Rhapsody Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Oscars recently happened, and once again, there were no Women nominated in the Best Director category, reversing a trend of… well, just two years. But in 2021 and 2022, there were women nominees! But none this year.

But in the face of that and March being Women’s History Month, I thought I’d take a look back at cinematic history and give credit to some of my personal favorite flicks from fine female filmmakers.

Also: any reason for alliteration is a good reason.

Let’s get into the list!



I LIKE Near Dark, but I don’t love it. Going fully by preference, I should have a different movie here, but I’ll get more into the “Honorable Mentions” as it were in a second. The reason I included Near Dark was that it’s my favorite movie (that I have seen), by the first woman (and one of only TWO) to win the Best Director Academy Award, Kathryn Bigelow. And I felt her inclusion was mandatory on that statute alone.

Near Dark is “the other” 1987 vampire movie, but you know what? I actually prefer it to The Lost Boys. The Lost Boys is almost a bit immature in my mind. Like it wants to be a kid’s movie, but can’t commit all the way. So you have this R-rated vampire flick that feels like it is aimed at, like, 12 year olds. But Near Dark is more menacing. Near Dark has young protagonists, but they aren’t children. It more embraces what it is, and therefore feels like a more properly developed vampire flick.

And you can tell it’s made by a woman because the moral of the story breaks down to “If a girl tells you to take her home from a date, don’t push your luck. Do what she says!” Good lesson!


DIRECTED BY: Penelope Spheeris

With Near Dark being my unquestionable #10 due to Bigelow’s work on it, I was left with three choices for the #9 spot, Wayne’s World obviously won out, but the other options were:

* The Farewell by Lulu Wang

* A League Of Their Own by Penny Marshall

I have them all scored the same, so it came down to “Which of these would I watch RIGHT NOW?”, and today that winner was Wayne’s World. Some of the cornball early 90’s references haven’t aged amazingly well, but the performances by Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, and Tia Carrere all have. And it’s a surprisingly smart movie, with some early throwaway lines and scenes paying off late. It’s still the standard for SNL skits turned movies.


DIRECTED BY: Halina Reijn

Man, do I think this flick was underrated in 2022. By year’s end, as far as horror (or “horror”, or suspense-thriller, or mystery, or whatever you consider this) goes, I was hearing a lot about The Menu, Pearl, and Barbarian, but I thought Bodies Bodies Bodies was far better than each of those. Murder mystery whodunnits can oh-so-often come down to their reveal and how much sense it makes and how it works retroactively in the movie. And in that sense, I will say I really liked the flick as it played out, but I LOVED the ending. It was just so fitting and perfect for the characters involved!

It’s funny, it’s suspenseful, and the characters are all either suspicious or unlikable enough to be believable suspects the entire time. Maria Bakalova, Rachel Sennott, and Lee Pace are the standouts of a great cast. But you know what? All of that, and it still wasn’t my favorite 2022 horror movie directed by a woman…


DIRECTED BY: Emerald Fennell

Emerald Fennell did not win, but we do get another Oscar nominee here, as she was eventually defeated in the 2021 race by another woman (Chloe Zhao, who became the other woman to win Best Director). I haven’t seen Nomadland, but I have seen Promising Young Woman, and I thought it was a lot of fun… in a sad, not-that-fun kind of way. It’s an interesting take on the revenge flick, a genre dominated by testosterone and dudes shooting and stabbing the fuck out of each other. The protagonist here is much more cerebral.

It doles out its backstory slowly and in bits-and-pieces, but primarily through exposition, so there is a bit more “telling” when I might prefer “showing”. We don’t really have any signs of Cassie’s life before Nina died or any physical grasp of their relationship. If this movie wanted to cut some stuff and then add in some flashbacks, that would probably make it stronger. But aside from that, this was a really stellar concept that I quite enjoyed.


DIRECTED BY: Angela Robinson

This is kind of a fictionalized documentary, a look at the creator of Wonder Woman through a lens of “it probably went down something like this…” I had known a little about Marston’s life, just what I’d gathered being a comic fan. I knew he invented the lie detector and was into some kinky stuff, but I did not know this whole story about his polyamorous life before such a thing was widely called that.

The Wonder Woman stuff is mostly background material here, and it doesn’t really even start until the second half. This is more the story of three people in love and trying to figure out how to live in a world that didn’t accept them. And as that story, it was well done.


DIRECTED BY: Olivia Wilde

Side note on the poster and this movie’s tagline: “Getting Straight A’s; Giving Zero F’s” is one of the greatest tags I’ve ever seen. I love that. This was a movie that the first time I watched it, I liked it, but that was all. The second time I caught it, I enjoyed far more. It still has some scenes that work less for me than others, but the charm of the two leads is really great. And the circumstances in which they find themselves are a ton of fun.

I’m just not generally a HUGE fan of raunchy teen comedies, but this as about as good as they get for me.


DIRECTED BY: Hannah Barlowe

So THIS is my top horror movie directed by a woman from 2022… and IT’S not even my highest rated 2022 movie on the list! I really loved 2022 for films, you guys. Sissy is another barely horror movie about a girl who took the bullying she faced as a child and refocused it into turning herself into a positivity guru. The limits of her ability to escape her past are tested when her bullies re-emerge and invite her on a weekend away.

Aisha Dee is a revelation here, and I now want her to be in everything. There is a midway turn that I thought would ruin the movie, but it actually enhances it and gives us a terrific second half. I didn’t see everything coming here, but the ride was a blast. I loved the ending, too. Even though the movie probably didn’t want me to. It gave me exactly what I wanted to see and what I thought was most merited. So what does that say about me?


DIRECTED BY: Amy Heckerling

Clueless is proof that you can sometimes make a very “of-its-era” time capsule movie, and that doesn’t mean it has to age poorly. With brilliant writing and casting, a movie meant to capture a moment in time can weirdly turn out to be timeless.

It will never NOT blow my mind that Alicia Silverstone did not become a megastar A-list celebrity in this film’s wake. She is perfection here. I mean… Paul Rudd became a big name! And Donald Faison carved out a hell of a career. And Stacey Dash… well. Okay, let’s not discuss Stacey Dash.

Whatever. This movie is as wonderful in 2023 as it was in 1995.


DIRECTED BY: Sophie Hyde

So Good Luck To You, Leo Grande ended up as my top 2022 movie here. And of course it was; it’s the kind of movie that’s right up my alley. A low-stakes comedy drama about interpersonal relationships and two characters in particular navigating a new friendship and what all they need from it. Keep that description in mind. It’s going to be relevant again in a moment.

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande made me just smile like a goof for the whole first hour I watched it. Emma Thompson is her usual glowing self, and Daryl McCormack matches her every step of the way. The two delighted me and saddened me over the run time, and at the end, I’d found one of my top three movies of a very high quality year.


DIRECTED BY: Sophia Coppola

OH LOOK. It’s a low-stakes comedy drama about interpersonal relationships and two characters in particular navigating a new friendship and what all they need from it. It’s also, gender of the director be damned, one of my five favorite movies ever.

In 2004 when I watched Lost In Translation, it changed how I watched movies. It altered what I thought movies could do. I was mesmerized by this little nothing movie about Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Japan. I suddenly wanted every movie to make me feel the way this did.

And without my love and respect for this, I may never have sought out Leo Grande. Huh!

That’s my list! Give me yours! What are your top ten movies helmed by women directors?

And if you want more lists to compare notes on, click HERE for some of the MANY others I (and others) have written!

Until next time… take care!