The dearth of female directors in the film industry has been loudly pointed out this awards season, from Natalie Portman announcing the "all male nominees" for best director at the Golden Globes to Emma Stone congratulating "these four men and Greta Gerwig" at the Oscars.
With only one female director for every 22 male, the crusade marches on. To celebrate International Women's Day, here are eight excellent films by female directors that will change your life.
1 | Ladybird
Gerwig might not have won the directing category at the Academy Awards this year, but her masterful and touching coming-of-age story and directorial debut is an endlessly impressive watch. The story of Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson's last year of high school is a restrained look at relationships and adolescence. As Chris O'Falt noted in IndieWire, "Lady Bird is every inch as painstakingly planned out and precise in its complexity as Dunkirk, but without an inch of the directorial flex."
Out in cinemas now.
2 | The Hurt Locker
To this day Kathryn Bigelow is still the only woman to win a directing Academy Award for her 2008 film about a bomb-disposal team in Iraq. The unbearably suspenseful The Hurt Locker picked up a further five Oscars that year including Best Picture. Bigelow has also directed the similarly excellent Zero Dark Thirty and last year's Detroit.
3 | American Honey
British filmmaker Andrea Arnold is a two-time Cannes Jury Prize winner for her filmmaking. She followed up her electric 2009 film Fish Tank with the story of a teenage girl who runs away with a group selling magazines in the Midwest by day and partying by night. A pulsating and wild film that glows with energy and feels reckless at every turn.
4 | American Psycho
A terrifying and maniacal reimagining of Brett Easton-Ellis' now iconic businessman and serial killer Patrick Bateman. From the painstaking morning shower routine to the unbearably tense business card scene, American Psycho is a beautifully constructed thriller. Canadian director Mary Harron has more recently directed the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel 'Alias Grace'.
5 | Lost In Translation
Sofia Coppola's jet-lagged journey through Tokyo via two travellers who meet by chance is a mesmerising and moving story which captures the strange feeling of being lonely in a crowd of people. At last year's Cannes Film Festival, Coppola was the first woman in 50 years to win the Palme d'Or directing prize for The Beguiled.
6 | Selma
Ava DuVernay's retelling of the fight for black suffrage in Alabama and Martin Luther King's historic march from Selma to Montgomery brings America's violent path to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to life. DuVernay has since directed 13th, a powerful Netflix documentary about modern iterations of slavery in the US, and this year's sci-fi live action film, A Wrinkle in Time.
7 | Mudbound
This Netflix film follows two men who return from WWII to Mississippi and find their service hasn't erased the racism and isolation they feel from society. Director Diandrea "Dee" Rees creates a world wounded by war in which two men are trapped by what they have seen. This year, Mudbound's cinematographer Rachel Morrison was the first female to earn a nomination in this category from the Academy.
Watch on Netflix
8 | Monster
The story of serial killer and prostitute Aileen Wuornos is presented in all its dark complexities by American director and screenwriter Patty Jenkins. Monster makes us empathise with Wuornos before questioning who we've put our faith in. Jenkins last year broke records with her long-awaited take on Wonder Woman, which became the highest grossing superhero origin story of all time.
Source: Esquire UK