My favorite female directed films

Here are some personal standouts from overlooked women in the industry

Mary+Harron+%7C+Wikimedia+Commons

Mary Harron | Wikimedia Commons

By Ashviny Kaur, Staff Writer

For as long as I can remember, I was raised on movies. Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around my dad and I watching movies together, from horror movies, chick-flicks, mysterious thrillers and everything else under the sun. While I was oblivious to it as a young girl, growing up made me realize that the film industry is saturated with men. From famous directors to producers to sound mixers, the film industry is a male-dominated industry. As I got older and broadened my horizons, I came to realize that movies directed by men are wildly different experiences compared to movies directed by women. Whether it be the writing, casting choices or the plot as a whole, movies directed by women have a much different feel to them. Here are some of my favorite female-directed films:

 

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (2019)

Director: Céline Sciamma

French romance period-piece, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” is one of the most beautiful films I have watched to date. The story follows Marienne and Héloïse, two women who fatefully cross paths in the eighteenth century. Their relationship blossoms into much more than a friendship, as they grow closer and begin opening up to one another. Unable to confide in anyone about their feelings for each other, the two women are forced to navigate their secret affair behind closed doors. Sciamma’s film, at its core, is a heart wrenching tale of forbidden and untimely love, coupled with a great script and gorgeous cinematography.

 

“American Psycho” (2000)

Director: Mary Harron

Anyone who knows the least bit about film knows of “American Psycho.” Its resurgence in recent years has solidified its stereotype of being a “male manipulator” film, yet many fail to realize that it was directed by a woman. Revolving around Patrick Bateman, a successful businessman turned serial killer by night, the unsettling film follows the monstrous sociopath traversing New York City. With its gruesome murder scenes and dry, witty humor, Harron’s film is a unique take on one man and the traits that make him a monster.

 

“The Babadook” (2014)

Director: Jennifer Kent

I haven’t slept with my lights on since I was four years old. However, after watching ”The Babadook” in high school, I slept with a nightlight for two nights. A metaphor for grief and postpartum depression, this film is a terrifying look on how motherhood isn’t exactly for everyone. After the death of her husband, young Amelia is plunged into a world of parenting that she cannot seem to understand. Her son has visions of a creepy, lanky monster and she is left to pick up the pieces while also navigating being a single mother. Consistently gripping, amazingly paced and truly scary, ‘The Babadook’ is a standout directorial debut from Kent.

 

“The Edge of Seventeen” (2016)

Director: Kelly Fremon Craig

Centered around high school junior, Nadine, “The Edge of Seventeen” is a raw and powerful look at how high school really isn’t “all that.” With a much more popular brother, a single mother and the most awkward personality one can have, growing up is hard and Nadine understands it all. This film is one of the only movies that I truly relate to, as it made me feel seen. I relate to Nadine on many levels and watching it for the first time gave me a sense of relief and comfort. Craig’s film is an honest look at an honest girl, and while that doesn’t sound compelling, the film does a great job at being interesting, funny and real. It’s a no-frills story, existing simply as a magnifying glass on teenagers and their experiences.

 

“You Were Never Really Here” (2017)

Director: Lynne Ramsey

Finding an edge-of-your-seat thriller is a rare experience in today’s climate, as every film seems to be either predictable or gripping, but never as stressful as “You Were Never Really Here.” The film follows Joe, a mercenary suffering from PTSD. Joe is tasked with saving a politician’s daughter from a human trafficking ring by any means necessary. The film is a white-knuckle thriller that leaves no room for imagination, and every gruesome detail is left out in the open. In one of his best roles, Joaquin Phoenix delivers a performance so harrowing that I was left speechless, literally. Paired with a short but meaningful script, this film immediately stole a spot among my favorites. Ramsey delivers a film so suspenseful that I was afraid to even blink while watching it; it’s a film so dark and grim, yet extremely entertaining.


Ashviny Kaur can be reached at [email protected]