A movie marquee with black font that says “8 Female Directors to Watch Right Now” Description: Image made on Canva

8 Female Directors to Watch Right Now

By Arlett Ramirez
Assistant Web Content Manager

For this International Women’s Day, I’d like to take a minute to recognize all the important and talented female directors who have graced us with emotional, dramatic, action-packed, funny, heart wrenching and heartwarming films over the years.

Since the Academy Awards likes to repeatedly not mention female directors. 

The 2020 Academy Awards were criticized for not having any female director nominees in the Best Director category. Some of the biggest movies of the year were directed by females, yet they weren’t acknowledged.

However, this isn’t the first time the award shows have received backlash for their nominees. Actress Natalie Portman attended the Oscars wearing a dress that had the names of the snubbed female directors stitched into her dress to call attention to the issue. 

Marielle Heller

Heller directed “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” a biographical film about Fred Rogers and his show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Hanks’ portrayal of Rogers received praise. He got nominations from the Academy, Golden Globes, Critic’s Choice, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA among others. However, Heller did not receive a single nomination from any of these awards. 

Time magazine named the film as one of the ten best films of 2019, yet no nominations were given to Heller – only Hanks. Wouldn’t it make sense that the director gets at least one nomination for her hard work? I think so. 

Greta Gerwig 

Gerwig is not a new director. She’s been in Hollywood for years now, but recently her movies have received universal praise. The film “Lady Bird,” released in 2017, earned five nominations at the 90thAcademy Awards. For this film, Gerwig received a nomination for Best Director. 

Her next film, “Little Women,” a film adaptation of the book released in 2019, received praise as well. It received six Academy Award nominations, but Gerwig did not get a Best Director nomination, which rubbed a lot of people the wrong way (including me). “Little Women” was one of the best films of the year and Gerwig didn’t get a Best Director nomination. The Academy definitely snubbed her!

Both of these films are phenomenal, and I highly recommend taking the time to watch them. If you’re a fan of the book “Little Women,” I guarantee you’re going to enjoy the film. 

Pattie Jenkins

Jenkins is best known for directing the superhero film, “Wonder Woman.” I must say that I went to go see this film twice in theaters because I absolutely loved it! It’s without a doubt the best DC Universe movie to date. “Wonder Woman” broke the record for the highest-grossing film for a female director. Plus, it was the first female superhero led female and directed by a woman! Go ladies!

What I loved about “Wonder Woman” is that Diana Prince and Steve Trevor work together as equals. They don’t try to get the upper hand on each other when they easily could. Both balance each other. 

For example, when Prince leaves her home to go to London, she’s confused with the cultural differences and expectations, but Trevor doesn’t fault her for it. Instead, he’s patient and takes time to explain things to her. Prince possesses superhuman strength, the ability to judge bullets and is well trained in combat. You would think that Trevor would be intimidated by her strength and skill, but he respects and admires her. 

Soon after the release of “Wonder Woman,” talks about a sequel began and were later confirmed with Jenkins set to return as director. “Wonder Woman 1984” is set to be released this summer, and judging from fans’ reactions to the trailer, audiences can’t wait to see the highly awaited sequel. 

Lorena Scafaria

Scafaria directed the 2019 film “Hustlers,” a film based on a 2015 magazine article. The film follows a crew of strippers in New York City who begin to steal money by drugging stock traders and CEOs who visit their club, then running up their credit cards. 

Before this film was released, it got a lot of buzz due to JLo’s strict diet and workout regimen. She even documented the process on her YouTube channel. Lopez had to learn how to pole dance for the film. For her portrayal, Lopez received Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe nominations. It was Lopez’s second Golden Globe nomination since “Selena.” There were also rumors that Lopez could’ve been nominated for an Oscar, but that didn’t happen.   

Ava DuVernay

DuVernay became known for directing the film “Selma.” For her work on “Selma,” she became the first black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture and an Academy Award for Best Picture. 

Last year, she directed the Netflix mini-series “When They See Us,” based on the 1989 Central Park jogger case. The series was only four episodes, but let me say that those four episodes will take you through a rollercoaster of emotions. By the final episode, I can promise that tears will appear.  What made this story extra touching is that one of the actors who portrayed the real person have become very close friends. 

Kathryn Bigelow

As of 2020, Bigelow is the only woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director for her film “The Hurt Locker.” One of my favorite films of hers is “Point Break” (a cult classic) starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend it. Plus, this film helped Reeves cement his status in Hollywood. 

Bigelow is absolutely fearless in her style of directing. During production of “The Hurt Locker,” she would film in up to 130º heat in Jordan. For “Point Break,” during surfing scenes, she would either paddle on a longboard or lean over a nearby boat as far as possible to get the best shots. She will do anything to get the best shots and her commitment shows her effort and craft.

Bigelow doesn’t shy away from social issues in her movies. Her film “Zero Dark Thirty” is her most controversial movie to date and it tells the story of the nearly decade-long international manhunt for Osama bin Laden. The reason this film is so controversial is because people (critics and politicians) thought it was pro-torture or that the filmmakers had access to confidential information regarding bin Laden. Even though it was a controversial film, it received acclaim and appeared on many top ten lists of 2012. 

Olivia Wilde

Wilde has been a prominent Hollywood actress for years now. She made her directorial debut last year with the high school comedy “Booksmart.” This film made me laugh and cringe. If you’ve seen the film, you know exactly what scene I’m talking about. 

The film follows two girl best friends who realize that they haven’t made the most of their time in high school because they’ve been focused on getting good grades getting into the best colleges. The night before graduation, they decide to break the rules and party. Like any comedy, things don’t go according to plan, and drugs are involved (duh!)

All of these directors are making their mark in Hollywood and some of them have been working for years and perfecting their craft. It doesn’t matter if they’re working on their first film or their tenth, they’re taking down the wall of a male dominated field and killing it. Just because the Academy repeatedly ignores their hard work doesn’t mean the public has to. I highly encourage you to check out these directors and their films, you won’t be disappointed. 

Featured image by Arlett Ramirez.

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