7 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Directed By Women

Only 6 of the 82 Best Picture nominees from the years 2008–2016 were female-directed. This isn’t because women can’t hack it, nor is it that the Academy thinks they’re icky. Instead, in a world that is male-dominated from the first day of film school to end of the red carpet, they are simply granted too few opportunities.

In 2017 Greta Gerwig did get a shot (though she had to write it for herself), and the resulting Lady Bird made her the first female Best Director nominee of all time (not to mention the Best Picture stat increase to 7 of the last 91). If you’ve seen these lady-led flicks, her thriving after glass-ceiling impact isn’t all that surprising.

1. Fast Times at Ridgemont High — Amy Heckerling — 1982

At first it’s funny because a stoner played by Sean Penn orders pizza in class. Subsequent viewings will unveil layers of character depth and brief glimpses of future thespian mastery from not only Penn, but Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Forest Whitaker, and Nicholas Cage. Heckerling also directed the beloved Clueless.

2. Wayne’s World — Penelope Spheeris — 1992 + Billy Madison — Tamra Davis — 1995

BONUS — From two different wisegals come two SNL-led 90s films which are almost exclusively about dudes bein’ goofy, crass, weird, and gross. Wayne’s World fans know exactly what a pelvic thrust and simultaneous “Shwing!” means, while Billy Madisonians can probably remember every word of the musical fantasy sequence, including “Don’t I have a nice rack?”. Spheeris did not direct Wayne’s World 2 and it’s both bogus and sad compared to the first, so, *point women* I guess.

3. Boys Don’t Cry — Kimberly Peirce — 1999

One of the most intense straightforward dramas of all time made turn-of-the-century audiences squirm because of its transgender subject matter and also an onscreen female orgasm that was deemed too long (relatable). In 2019 you’ll be uncomfortable at the intended moments — every single one involving Peter Sarsgaard.

4. American Psycho — Mary Harron — 2000

In the launch performance of his adult career Christian Bale chainsawed prostitutes and examined business cards closely. Based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel, this horrific satire is as relevant as ever.

5. Lost in Translation — Sofia Coppola — 2003

It would be easy to write off Sofia Coppola as a benefactor of nepotism being that she is the daughter to the man who directed perhaps 2 of the top 5 films ever made (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now). Building her case for individual merit (something a man wouldn’t have to worry about) is this heartbreaking & funny piece starring ScarJo and late career renaissance-mode Bill Murray.

6. Monster — Patty Jenkins — 2003

Jenkins was behind 2017’s Wonder Woman, which everyone claims they saw and loved. Save your groupthink tweets and watch this jaw-dropping, real-life-inspired, lesbian murder movie instead. Charlize Theron won an Oscar for it.

7. Zero Dark Thirty — Kathryn Bigelow — 2012

In 2010, Avatar was the hot ticket heading into Oscar night; so you can imagine director James Cameron’s level of misery when it was not him, but instead his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow taking the stage to collect the statuettes for both Best Picture and Best Director. Ouch. That was for The Hurt Locker, but Zero Dark Thirty is even better. SPOILER — The bad guy gets it in the end; it’s Osama Bin Laden.

DOUBLE BONUS Point Break — Kathryn Bigelow — 1991

That aforementioned Oscar darling? She once directed this movie where Keanu Reeves plays Johnny Utah — a former college football quarterback who is now a cop and, with the help of Gary Busey, infiltrates a gang of bank-robbing surfers led by Patrick Swayze, fights the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and goes skydiving. I didn’t type my birthday month and the street I grew up on into a nonsense generator; this is a real movie.

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