The Five - Female Directed Movies
By Emma Mayeux
Compiled by Emma Mayeux and Cameron Galvin
It’s no secret that film is a male dominated industry, but female directors are increasingly making names for themselves every year. In 2018, women comprised only 20% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films in the USA. This list is dedicated to five female directors who have showcased their talents through their films. Honorable mentions go to Wonder Woman (2017) directed by Patty Jenkins, Big (1988) directed by Penny Marshall, and Lost in Translation (2003) directed by Sofia Coppola.
5. The Hurt Locker (2009)
This film earned Kathryn Bigelow an Oscar for best director, making her the only woman to ever win this award. The Hurt Locker follows an elite army bomb squad unit in Iraq who must escape death in a war torn city. Bigelow showcases the psychological affects to war and how each soldier responds differently to trauma. The Hurt Locker is tense, something is constantly going wrong as these soldiers attempt to find the bombs in time. This film offers a raw, grim portrayal of war and steers clear of glorifying real life violence that American soldiers face. She is able to demonstrate a realistic portrayal of modern day American soldiers and how their trauma follows them throughout their lives. Bigelow does not hold back, showing the audience the horrors of war, making her film one of the greatest war films of the 21st century.
4. American Psycho (2000)
This horror thriller follows the life of Patrick Bateman, a mild mannered investment banker who is a serial killer on the side. Mary Harron adapted this gory story from Bret Easton Ellis, which was notorious for its graphic descriptions of murder. On initial release, this film faced swarms of protests against violence in the media in response to the Columbine shootings. Anti violence and feminists groups deemed Harron’s film misogynist and encouraged businesses to not let her film in their establishments. Harron, however, made sure that her film was not senseless violence towards women. Unlike in the novel, Harron’s film shows the murders from the perspective of Bateman’s female victims. She explained that this was because “the perspective in those murder scenes wasn't through Patrick Bateman but the women.” American Psycho is now seen as a classic satire on corporate capitalism, violence in the media, and America’s materialistic culture.
3. You Were Never Really Here (2018)
This film directed by Lynne Ramsay flew under the radar in 2018. It follows Joaquin Phoenix’s character, a hitman, as he suffers the consequences from a job gone wrong and must save a young girl from a sexual predator. Ramsay commits to her own style by employing an unnerving score, unique cinematography, and surrealist elements. The audience is left wondering what is reality and what is fantasy throughout the film as the main character struggles to grasp his own reality. Ramsay ignores standard action movie conventions, by making the hitman an empathetic human. He cares for his mother, abused children, and comforts one of the antagonists as he dies. You Were Never Really Here mimics the shattered psyche of the main character by forcing its audience feel his hallucinations and his past through flashbacks and its eerie score. Ramsay’s film is hyper stylized and unapologetic about its eccentricity.
2. The Babadook (2014)
The Babadook is an Australian horror film directed by Jennifer Kent about a dark entity called the babadook that haunts a widow and her troubled son. The babadook is first introduced as a friendly storybook character, but takes a dark turn. When Amelia, the mother, tries to destroy the book, the babadook invades their lives. This film isn’t about a scary monster, however, it’s about grief. After five years, Amelia is still unable to move on from her husband’s death. She carries around her grief and guilt, blaming herself for her husband’s death, while struggling to control her son’s violent outbursts. The real monster is not the babadook, but Amelia’s resistance to let go of her husband and forgive herself for his death. Kent communicates Amelia’s struggle to reconcile with her husband’s death through the babadook, making the monster even more terrifying. The end to this film is unexpected and subverts monster movie tropes, really sticking to its main message of grief and loss. Kent offers a refreshing horror film with an underlying theme, and ditches the conventional jump scare tactics.
1. Lady Bird (2017)
Greta Gerwig takes her turn behind the camera in her coming of age film, Lady Bird. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird follows the life of a high school senior as she desperately tries to leave California in hopes for a drastically new life. Christine, aka Lady Bird, navigates through her last year of high school, facing the challenges of love, friendships, and sex. Gerwig creates a relatable representation of American teenagers who are not kids, but not yet adults either. Lady Bird tries the whole movie to run away to New York, only to realize how much she did not value her family when she had them. Gerwig shows the conflict that all young adults must face when leaving home. She shows the excitement of change and the despair of loss of connections with friends and family. Lady Bird is a modern coming of age film that deals with the loss of youth and newly discovered maturity that all teenagers face, defining a generation.