Top 50 Films Directed by Women (Part 1 of 2)

We know that 50% of moviegoers are women, and yet in the top 100 grossing films of 2019, women only represented 10.7% of directors, rising to 16% in 2020. To combat this discrepancy will require systemic change in the industry and an overhaul of attitudes and approaches to filmmaking at all levels, but the disparity also means that the stories we're being told (unless actively seeking beyond mainstream blockbusters) are disproportionately told from a male (and largely white) perspective.

As a way to promote and celebrate some of the best cinema directed by women, in August (2021), I asked the online film communities on Instagram and Twitter to vote for their favourite films directed by women. People were asked to submit a ranked Top 5, which were sorted accordingly and organised into a Top 50. Over 200 films were submitted but these are the ones which made it onto the list!

Here are the parameters that were outlined for submitting the picks:

- The choices can be from any country, year or decade, but must be a feature length film.

- Trans women are women.

- In situations where there is more than one director, at least 50% of them need to identify as a woman.

The vote resulted in a glorious array of films spanning seven decades, a wide range of genres, and a whole host of stories demonstrating innovation in cinematic storytelling. To be exact, the list includes 37 directors and films from 28 different years (with the 2010s being the most popular decade) and the number one film earned its spot by a landslide with 12% of the vote.

For the films ranked 51-100, please check my Instagram (@missenscenefilm) - I posted these as honourable mentions because it felt remiss to ignore them completely!

Here are numbers 50 - 26....

50. Sleepless in Seattle

Director: Nora Ephron

Writers: Jeff Arch, Nora Ephron, David S. Ward

Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn

Year of release: 1993

Budget: $40,000,000

49. Marie Antoinette

Director: Sofia Coppola

Writer: Sofia Coppola

Stars: Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn

Year of release: 2006

Budget: $40,000,000

48. Werckmeister Harmonies

Directors: Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky

Writers: László Krasznahorkai, Béla Tarr, Péter Dobai

Stars: Lars Rudolph, Peter Fitz, Hanna Schygulla

Year of release: 2000

Budget: FRF 10,000,000 (French Francs)

47. Speed Racer

Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski

Writers: Lilly Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, Tatsuo Yoshida

Stars: Emile HirschMatthew FoxChristina Ricci

Year of release: 2008

Budget: $120,000,000

46. Capernaum

Director: Nadine Labaki

Writers: Nadine Labaki, Jihad Hojeily, Michelle Keserwany

Stars: Zain Al Rafeea, Yordanos Shiferaw, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole

Year of release: 2018

Budget: $4,000,000 (estimated)

45. Mustang

Director: Deniz Gamze Ergüven

Writers: Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Alice Winocour

Stars: Günes Sensoy, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Tugba Sunguroglu

Year of release: 2015

Budget: €1,300,000 (estimated)

44. Wendy & Lucy

Director: Kelly Reichardt

Writers: Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt

Stars: Michelle Williams. Lucy, David Koppell

Year of release: 2008

Budget: $200,000 (estimated)

43. The Watermelon Woman

Director: Cheryl Dunye

Writers: Cheryl Dunye, Douglas McKeown

Stars: Cheryl Dunye, Guinevere Turner, Valarie Walker

Year of release: 1996

Budget: $300,000 (estimated)

42. Revenge

Director: Coralie Fargeat

Writer: Coralie Fargeat

Stars: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe

Year of release: 2017

41. Near Dark

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Writer: Kathryn Bigelow, Eric Red

Stars: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen

Year of release: 1987

Budget: 5m

40. Jennifer’s Body

Director: Karyn Kusama

Writer: Diablo Cody

Stars: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Brody

Year of release: 2009

Budget: $16,000,000 (estimated)

39. The Ascent

Director: Larisa Shepitko

Writers: Vasiliy Bykov, Yuri Klepikov, Larisa Shepitko

Stars: Boris Plotnikov, Vladimir Gostyukhin, Sergey Yakovlev

Year of release: 1977

38. First Cow

Director: Kelly Reichardt

Writers: Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt Stars: Alia Shawkat, John Magaro, Dylan Smith, Orion Lee

Year of release: 2019

37. Big

Director: Penny Marshall

Writers: Gary Ross, Anne Spielberg Stars: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia

Year of release: 1988

36. Shiva Baby

Director: Emma Seligman

Writer: Emma Seligman Stars: Rachel Sennott, Danny Deferrari, Fred Melamed

Year of release: 2020

35. The Edge of Seventeen

Director: Kelly Fremon Craig

Writer: Kelly Fremon Craig

Stars: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson

Year of release: 2016

Budget: $9,000,000 (estimated)

34. One Sings the Other Doesn’t

Director: Agnès Varda

Writer: Agnès Varda

Stars: Thérèse Liotard, Valérie Mairesse, Robert Dadiès

Year of release: 1977

33. A League of Their Own

Director: Penny Marshall

Writer: Kim Wilson, Kelly Candaele, Lowell Ganz

Stars: Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Tom Hanks

Year of release: 1992

Budget: $40,000,000 (estimated)

32. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Director: Ana Lily Amirpour

Writer: Ana Lily Amirpour

Stars: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh

Year: 2014

31. Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Director: Eliza Hittman

Writer: Eliza Hittman

Stars: Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin

Year of release: 2020

30. City of God

Directors: Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund

Writers: Paulo Lins, Bráulio Mantovani Stars: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Matheus Nachtergaele

Year of release: 2002

29. The Babadook

Director: Jennifer Kent

Writer: The Babadook Stars: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall

Year of release: 2014

28. The Virgin Suicides

Director: Sofia Coppola

Writers: Sofia Coppola, Jeffrey Eugenides (novel) Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, James Woods

Year of release: 1999

Estimated budget: $9,000,000

27. The Nightingale

Director: Jennifer Kent

Writer: Jennifer Kent Stars: Stars: Aisling Franciosi, Maya Christie, Baykali Ganambarr

Year of release: 2018

26. Booksmart

Director: Olivia Wilde

Writers: Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel Stars: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams

Year of release: 2019

Estimated budget: $6,000,000


Films 25 - 1 are in a separate post, which you can read here.

@missenscenefilm on Instagram / @missenscenefilm on Twitter