Directing is one of many male-dominated positions in the film industry. But unbeknownst to most people, many female directors have made legendary and industry-changing films over the years. Here are ten of the most important films directed by women, all of which put out vital messages.
1. The Babadook
The Babadook, an Australian horror film, was released in 2014 and was directed (and written) by Jennifer Kent. It was received well worldwide, earning excellent reviews and grossing $7.5 million. While it is a horror movie, it also tells the tale of a widow raising her son as a single mom.
2. Wonder Woman
Yay for films directed by women, about women! Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, was released in 2017 and instantly became a huge hit. It was a massive talking point because it showed a female superhero in the same way male superheroes have been shown for so many years, while appealing to a wide audience. The women working on the film payed special attention to accuracy of costumes (specifically armor) while maintaining effectiveness. This is contrary to much of the skimpy battlewear worn by other female fighters across the industry.
Belle was released in 2013 and was directed by Amma Asante. Not only was the film directed and written by women of color, it is based on the tale of a real mixed-race woman in the upper class of 18th-century England. It discusses real issues of race, class, and gender in society.
Yentl was directed by Barbara Streisand, who also starred in the film. Streisand is the only woman who won the Golden Globe, and it was for Yentl. The film itself is revolutionary. It tells the tale of a rabbi that teaches his daughter about the Jewish faith in a time period where women were not allowed to study religion and scripture. The character disguised herself as a boy to attend religious school.
Big is one of the most popular movies of all time, but the fact that it was directed by Penny Marshall often goes overlooked. It is one of Tom Hanks’ most iconic movies and is considered a classic. It tells the story of a boy whose wish to grow up comes true.
6. Zero Dark Thirty
Zero Dark Thirty tells the tale of the manhunt of Osama bin Laden. It was directed by Kathryn Bigelow and shows star Jessica Chastain as a strong woman and a (fictional) military analyst. It was well-received by viewers and critics alike.
7. Lady Bird
Lay Bird was released in 2017 and was directed by Greta Gerwig. Not only does it tell the story of a woman who is the primary breadwinner for her family when her husband loses his job, it also focuses on the relationship of a mother and daughter, which is such an overlooked narrative in many movies today.
8. Mamma Mia
Mamma Mia is the 2008 film adaptation of the musical. It was directed by Phyllida Lloyd and tells the tale of a daughter trying to figure out who her real dad is before she gets married. The film is based on the music of Swedish pop supergroup, Abba.
9. Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey is controversial for its sexual content, but it has allowed female sexuality to dominate the mainstream media. It was directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and is one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. The book version even made it into the movie, Book Club, which is out now.
10. Wayne’s World
Wayne’s World is iconic and changed movies forever. It stars Mike Myers in his big film debut and was directed by Penelope Spheeris. It was released in 1992 and is a spinoff of a Saturday Night Live skit.