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Top movies directed by women

  • Top movies directed by women

    Women directors have made lasting impacts on film since its inception, despite well-documented and persistent barriers in the form of funding, industry perceptions, distribution, and publicity. To honor the contributions of women filmmakers across all genres and style, Stacker compiled data on the movies that topped BBC's November 2019 industry survey for best movies directed by women. BBC Culture polled 368 film experts from 84 countries in order to determine the list. They are ranked according to the BBC results, not the IMDb or Metacritic data.

    Women's contributions to film been immense, even as the number of women filmmakers has dipped considerably in recent years. The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University found women directors tied to the top 250 grossing movies fell in 2018 to 8% from 11% the year prior. Part of the disconnect comes from the Academy itself: Just one woman director (Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”) has ever won for Best Director in 92 years of the Oscars; only five have ever been nominated for the award.

    For these reasons, the way we compile lists about films made by women differs from the way we usually compile data. There are a lot of ways in which female-directed films have a harder chance of being on any Best Movies Ever lists. Most big blockbusters are made by men because the industry favors male directors. Media coverage of films includes more movies made by men because they often receive the most attention from readers. Historically, films made by women have not been viewed as important and artistically impressive as films made by prominent male directors. Because of all this, data journalism looks to surveys and other research methods to get a fuller understanding of the history of women directors.

    The full BBC Culture list we consulted includes two Leni Riefenstahl films, ranked at #37 and #45: “Triumph of the Will” and “Will & Olympia Part One: Festival of Nations.” We have declined to include them here for their highly controversial nature and Riefenstahl’s pro-Nazi sympathies.

    Keep reading to learn more about this diverse pool of talented filmmakers.

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  • #100. The Kids Are All Right (2010)

    - Director: Lisa Cholodenko
    - IMDb user rating: 7.0
    - Metascore: 86
    - Runtime: 106 min

    Julianne Moore and Annette Bening star as a same-sex couple raising two teenagers, each conceived by the same sperm donor. Their relationship strains when they meet the sperm donor, who charms his way into their family. The movie, directed and co-written by Lisa Cholodenko, was based on many of her own experiences with her partner, Wendy.

  • #99. The Souvenir (2019)

    - Director: Joanna Hogg
    - IMDb user rating: 6.5
    - Metascore: 91
    - Runtime: 120 min

    Julie is a reserved film school student from a posh family, but a relationship with an exciting yet dangerous man threatens to derail all of her ambitions. Joanna Hogg delivers a vivid look at young love and class that occupied many critics’ lists of the best movies from 2019.

  • #98. Somewhere (2010)

    - Director: Sofia Coppola
    - IMDb user rating: 6.3
    - Metascore: 67
    - Runtime: 97 min

    In this drama written and directed by Sofia Coppola, a washed-up Hollywood actor has his 11-year-old daughter dropped into his care after her mother has a breakdown. He has to learn to grow up by taking care of her while going through an existential crisis. Coppola’s film received the Golden Lion at the 67th Venice Film Festival.

  • #97. Adoption (1975)

    - Director: Márta Mészáros
    - IMDb user rating: 7.3
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 89 min

    Kata becomes interested in adopting young children with misfortunate pasts after she meets Anna, who escapes a children’s home and moves in with Kata. Hungarian director Márta Mészáros usually made documentaries, but all of her films centered on stories about ordinary women like this one.

  • #96. The Meetings of Anna (1978)

    - Director: Chantal Akerman
    - IMDb user rating: 7.4
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 128 min

    Notable Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman directed this movie about a film director traveling across Europe to promote her latest movie. As she travels, people seem to be drawn to her and open up their lives to her, even though she does not seem to be very affected. The movie was originally welcomed with little fanfare in comparison to Akerman’s other, more outwardly radical movies, but has since become appreciated by many.

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  • #95. Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946)

    - Director: Maya Deren
    - IMDb user rating: 6.9
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 15 min

    Avant-garde filmmaker and choreographer Maya Deren explores the intersection between film and dance in this short film. Through disjointed storytelling and jarring camerawork, Deren shows women performing rituals on screen. One of the women featured in the film is famous writer Anaïs Nin.

  • #94. News from Home (1977)

    - Director: Chantal Akerman
    - IMDb user rating: 7.5
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 85 min

    One of Akerman’s most well-regarded films is “News From Home,” an avant-garde documentary about her time in New York City. Akerman reads letters her mother wrote to her over long-take shots of various places in New York City. The movie gives a fantastic look at New York City in the 1970s and what it means to be a transplant there.

  • #93. Red Road (2006)

    - Director: Andrea Arnold
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Metascore: 73
    - Runtime: 113 min

    Jackie sees a frightening man from her past as she works as a CCTV operator and feels compelled to confront him. This was director Andrea Arnold’s debut, and she creates the kind of dynamic thriller that would make most directors’ careers.

  • #92. Raw (2016)

    - Director: Julia Ducournau
    - IMDb user rating: 7.0
    - Metascore: 81
    - Runtime: 99 min

    While Justine studies to be a vet, she develops a taste for raw meat thanks to the school’s odd traditions. Julia Ducournau serves up one of the most grotesque and sickening horror films of the previous decade in her very first theatrical feature.

  • #91. White Material (2009)

    - Director: Claire Denis
    - IMDb user rating: 6.9
    - Metascore: 81
    - Runtime: 106 min

    Isabelle Huppert stars in this Claire Denis movie about a woman trying to run her family’s coffee plantation during civil unrest in Africa. Huppert and Denis had known each other for years prior to the making of "White Material," but this was their first movie together, resulting in a fantastic character study and thrilling political drama.

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