Thursday, September 27, 2012

MASTER LIST #24: The 111 Greatest Films Directed By Women


I have only the vaguest idea as to why female filmmakers, despite having shown much aplomb behind the camera, haven't gained more traction in the industry as directors.  Throughout history, there've existed a surplus of female screenwriters, editors (so many!), producers, and designers (suspiciously few cinematographers, though, which is a telling fact, because they and their crews literally call so many shots).   Okay, why so few household-known female directors? I chalk it up to either male arrogance or insecurity.  I'm thinking that women don't get the opportunity to direct large-scaled, bigger budgeted or Oscar-aimed movies because men in the front office simply don't think that super-testosteroned crews will take direction gladly from a woman. If you take a look at the following list--and every one of these movies are worthy of huge audiences--you begin to notice that, with the exception of Kathryn Bigelow, Julie Taymor and perhaps Leni Riefenstahl, none of these filmmakers have made epic-scaled films that require the ongoing set work of a bunch of burly Union dudes (or in Riefenstahl's case, actual Nazis). There are few action movies, superstar vehicles, award-screaming sagas or beautifully out-of-control banquets mentioned here; most of the films on this list are often intimate and achingly humanistic (it's likely that these are just the movies women want to make; however, and I hate to say it, but maybe this is another reason women aren't occupying the director's chair more centrally--these aren't exactly the sort of films that set the box office on fire these days). Anyway, I find it lucky these are JUST the sort of movies I prefer.  It's insulting to think women need to make movies that look like they've been directed by a man in order to make them acceptable; the movies that they make, by choice or ambition, are even better. When I see a film is directed by a woman, I make a fervent note to see it, simply because I appreciate different voices in the film world and know women all over the world are clamoring to take their best place in the industry. I'm not trying to be ultra-PC here, but I've seriously rarely been disappointed by a woman's cinematic work; I look forward to the day when fully 50% of the movies being made are being completed by more than 50% of the population. 

The movies on this list were included according to (1) personal affection, (2) overall quality, and (3) influence. Make sure to check 'em all out! (By the way, that's the ultra-cool Agnes Varda pictured above...)

1) Seven Beauties (Lina Wertmuller, 76 (Italy))
2) Triumph of the Will (Leni Riefenstahl, 35 (Germany))
3) Chilly Scenes of Winter (Joan Micklin Silver, 81)
4) Wanda (Barbara Loden, 70)
5) Harlan County USA (Barbara Kopple, 75)
6) Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai di Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 75 (Belgium))
7) Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009 (New Zealand/Australia/UK))
8) The Beaches of Agnes (Agnes Varda, 2008 (France))
9) Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, 2006)
10) Entre Nous (Diane Kurys, 83 (France))
11) Europa Europa (Agnieszka Holland, 90 (Germany/France/Poland))
12) Tiny Furniture (Lena Dunham, 2010)
13) The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May, 72)
14) Olympia (Leni Riefenstahl, 38 (Germany))
15) Madchen in Uniform (Leontine Sagan, 31 (Germany))
16) The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
17) Beau Trevail (Claire Denis, 99 (France))
18) The Decline of the Western Civilization (Penelope Spheeris, 81)
19) Dogfight (Nancy Savoca, 91)
20) Between The Lines (Joan Micklin Silver, 77)
21) Cleo from 5 to 7 (Agnes Varda, 62 (France))
22) Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay, 99 (Scotland))
23) Day Night Day Night (Julia Loktev, 2006 (Belgium))
24) The Hitchhiker (Ida Lupino, 53)
25) Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt, 2008)
26) Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
27) American Dream (Barbara Kopple, 90)
28) Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Amy Heckerling, 82)
29) Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 91)
30) Daisies (Vera Chytilova, 66 (Czechloslovakia))
31) A New Leaf (Elaine May, 71)
32) The Father of My Children (Mia Hansen-Love, 2009 (Belgium))
33) An Angel at My Table (Jane Campion, 90 (New Zealand/Australia))
34) My Brilliant Career (Gillian Armstrong, 79 (Australia))
35) Vagabond (Agnes Varda, 85 France))
36) The Cool World (Shirley Clarke, 64)
37) Lovely and Amazing (Nicole Holofcener, 2001)
38) Eve's Bayou (Kasi Lemmons, 97)
39) Beautiful Thing (Hettie McDonald, 96)
40) Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (Eleanor Coppola (w/ George Hickenlooper & F. Bahr), 91)
41) Titus (Julie Taymor, 99 (US/UK))
42) Girlfriends (Claudia Weill, 78)
43) Strangers in Good Company (Cynthia Scott, 90 (Canada))
44) Little Dorrit (Christine Edzard, 88 (UK))
45) The Night Porter (Liliana Cavani, 74 (Italy))
46) Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July, 2005)
47) Old Enough (Marisa Silver, 84)
48) We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011 (UK/US))
49) Testament (Lynne Littman, 83)
50) Bastard Out of Carolina (Angelica Huston, 96)
51) Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 95)
52) White Material (Claire Denis, 2009 (France))
53) American Splendor (Shari Springer Berman (w/ Robert Pulchini), 2003)
54) In The Realms of the Unreal (Jessica Yu, 2004)
55) Friends with Money (Nicole Holofcener, 2006)
56) Dance, Girl, Dance (Dorothy Arzner, 40)
57) True Love (Nancy Savoca, 89)
58) The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko, 2010)
59) River of Grass (Kelly Reichardt, 94)
60) The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola, 99)
61) Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009 (UK))
62) Sugar Cane Alley (Euzhan Palcy, 83 (France/Martinique))
63) Little Women (Gillian Armstrong,  94 (US/Canada))
64) Hester Street (Joan Micklin Silver, 75)
65) Faithless (Liv Ullmann, 2000 (Sweden/Norway))
66) Smithereens (Susan Seidelman, 82)
67) Away From Her (Sarah Polley, 2006 (Canada))
68) Araf (Yasim Ustaoglu, 2012 (Turkey))
69) The Piano (Jane Campion, 93 (New Zealand/Australia)
70) Smooth Talk (Joyce Chopra, 85)
71) The Bigamist (Ida Lupino, 53)
72) Please Give (Nicole Holofcener, 2010)
73) Rambling Rose (Martha Coolidge, 91)
74) C'est La Vie (Diane Kurys, 90 (France))
75) Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow, 87)
76) The Boys Next Door (Penelope Spheeris, 85)
77) Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (Marina Zenovich, 2008)
78) Player Hating: A Love Story (Maggie Hadleigh West, 2011)
79) Gas Food Lodging (Alison Anders, 92)
80) Fatso (Anne Bancroft, 80)
81) Little Man Tate (Jodie Foster, 91)
82) Meek's Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2011)
83) I've Heard the Mermaids Singing (Patricia Rozema, 87 (Canada))
84) Valley Girl (Martha Coolidge, 83)
85) Monster (Patty Jenkins, 2003)
86) Goodbye First Love (Mia Hansen-Love, 2012 (Belgium/France))
87) Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola,  2006)
88) Boys Don't Cry (Kimberly Peirce, 99)
89) First Love (Joan Darling, 77)
90) Jesus Camp (Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, 2006)
91) Crossing Delancey (Joan Micklin Silver, 88)
92) The Ballad of Little Jo (Maggie Greenwald, 93)
93) Peppermint Soda (Diane Kurys, 77 (France))
94) Party Girl (Daisy Von Scherler Meyer, 95)
95) Yentl (Barbara Streisand, 83)
96) Children of a Lesser God (Randa Haines, 86)
97) The Future (Miranda July, 2011)
98) Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (Charlotte Zwerin, 88)
99) Grace of My Heart (Alison Anders, 96)
100) Big (Penny Marshall, 88)
101) Love Serenade (Shirley Bassett, 96 (Australia))

BONUS: 10 Great Short Films Directed by Women
1) Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 43)
2) Special Delivery (Eunice Macaulay (w/ John Weldon), 78 (Canada))
3) Powers of Ten (Ray (and Charles) Eames, 77)
4) Quasi at the Quackadero (Sally Cruickshank, 76)
5) The Street (Caroline Leaf, 76 (Canada))
6) Moonbird (Faith Hubley (w/ John Hubley), 58)
7) Trevor (Peggy Rajski, 94)
8) Born in Beirut (Liliane Matta, 2002 (Lebanon))
9) Bob's Birthday (Alison Snowden, 94 (UK))
10) Kudzu (Marjorie Anne Short, 77)