I know, I know-I suck. For the very small handful of you that read these columns I apologize that I’ve been so sporadic with them as of late.
This week I want to make reference (not a very timely reference) of that A.V. Club list of the top 100 movies of the last five years. I found very few female directed films on that list (I think there was maybe eight) and some of the omissions were glaring, especially when Lincoln of all films was included. Hell, I liked Bernie but I don’t see how it got placed so high either. Because I’m a human being with opinions, I could likely pick more out of this list that annoyed me (and conversely, things I loved like two Edgar Wright films being included) but the most pressing was the limited female representation. You’d think it would be something I’m used to…
So, to counteract this-here are some of the best female directed films of the past five years. Enjoy and let me know ones that I’m omitting so that I can add them to my ever growing list.
Selma (2014) Ava Duvernay
This was a monumental piece of film-making in the past year and one of the few biopics that didn’t feel as if it were cut from the same cloth. The voice behind the film was passionate, the cinematography abrasive and vibrant and the characters powerful. It was a film about unity, patriotism and hope from the point of view of the oppressed and it’s message was clear and important. Ava Duvernay is a welcome voice, one who is willing to speak out about important issues and make sure they have a lasting effect.
Beyond the Lights (2014) Gina Prince-Bythewood
I’ve already spoken about this film but it’s worth repeating that I love it. It’s core story is a love story and it’s emotional, silencing and impeccably acted. Romance should be painted like this and few are better at it than Bythewood.
Wadjda (2012) Haifaa al-Mansour
Wadjda is one of the greatest characters to come out of the past five years. She’s strong willed, confident and opinionated without ever loosing her childish curiosity. It’s a landmark of a film and Haifaa al-Mansour shot the film with delicacy, making sure to get us into the mindset of this young girl who’s main ambition was to play-to ride a bike with her friends and not be held back by her gender, without even knowing what that meant.
Tomboy(2011) Celine Sciamma
Gender identity and fluidity is addressed in this subtly moving film about a child grappling with who they are while planted in the middle of a loving family. It’s a quiet film, but it’s one that’s genuinely affecting. Celine Sciamma never holds back with her narrative and allows the lead the time and space to explore who they are.
Obvious Child (2014) Gillian Robespierre
It proved that the romantic comedy is not dead and deserves more attention. Jenny Slate and Gillian Robspierre are both voices I can’t wait to see more of and Obvious Child was one of the best films of 2014.
The Babadook (2014) Jennifer Kent
I won’t lie-I have not seen this film. I probably won’t see this film, but go and read the reviews that are almost unanimously raving and give me a reason why this shouldn’t be considered one of the best. I can’t watch it because I’m no good with horror movies and this looks terrifying but women’s voices need to be heard more in genre films.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) Ana Lily Amirpour
Now this is a horror movie I will see and hope that it’s not too scary. Stylish, black and white, a western, a vampire film-this movie has it all and with a female lead to boot. I cannot wait to see this. Looking to be beautifully authentic and highly stylized with a moody atmosphere it only continues to prove my point about female directors needing to be given the chance to steer genre films more often.
Take this Waltz (2011) Sarah Polley
Not one of my favorite films but the relationships are all so detailed, so uncomfortably fleshed out and another example of how female directors get the intricacies and intimacies of women and their relationships and insecurities.
Belle (2014) Amma Asante
A period piece that isn’t lead by a white protagonist. The screenwriter, the lead actress, the director and the composer all all women and it engages with the female perspective with more heart and intrigue then many films I’ve seen. It’s treats the women of their film, especially their lead, as the heroes they are.
Stories We Tell (2012) Sarah Polley
Considered one of the best movies of the given year it’s interesting to see how female directors seem to have more control when it comes to documentary making.
Pariah (2011) Dee Rees
Poetic, haunting, vibrantly shot and heart achingly acted Pariah isn’t one forget and it’s hard to after seeing it. The film addresses sexuality, race and religion in a minimalist setting and it gets to the heart of it at the very beginning of the story. If you haven’t seen this film I really recommend that you find a way to support it.
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011 ) Lynn Shelton
Lynn Shelton is considered to be a powerhouse of a director, one who doesn’t shy away from daunting or perilous stories and We Need to Talk About Kevin is one of them.
The Square (2013) Jehane Noujaim
One of the most powerful documentaries I’ve seen in a while and one that keeps your full attention from beginning to end. It’s timely, engaging and makes sure that each party is being heard and listened to.