• Sun, 17, Feb, 2019 - 5:00:AM

13 Women-directed films on NZ Netflix

I’m excited. The Oscars, only the most important event in the global film industry, are a week away tomorrow. I can’t wait to see Debra Granik celebrated for directing Leave No Trace (a film with a cool 100% on Rotten Tomatoes). And I’m rooting hard for Marielle Heller, director of the wonderful Can You Ever Forgive Me (a film with a damn fine 98% on the tomatometer). Lynne Ramsey is an Oscar shoo-in for directing You Were Never Really Here (89%), although Sara Colangelo might give her a run for the gold, after turning in the hilarious Kindergarten Teacher (88%). Karyn Kusama is also a dark-horse with the experimental Destroyer (72%, for which she ‘uglied up’ Nicole Kidman). Or it could go to Tamara Jenkins, for the more universally beloved Private Life (93%).

Just kidding, no women were nominated for Best Director this year.

I mean, it’s not The Academy’s fault, women just have to step up their game. (Obvious sarcasm alert.)

If you can’t stand to watch the suit-and-tie fest that is going to take place in just over a week’s time, here are some woman-directed flicks to fire up on Netflix. Because it’s absolute bullshit that only five women (that’s right, FIVE women) have ever been nominated for Best Director at the Oscars.  

(Interestingly, ‘Female Directed’ is not a Netflix category, but ‘Steamy TV Show Featuring a Strong Female Lead’ is. Cos women can be strong, sexual protagonists, as long as their stories are directed by men? What gives, Netflix?)

1. To All the Boys I Loved Before (96%)

The film that revived the presumed-dead romantic comedy is unlike any romcom you’ve ever seen before (hint: it’s not white and predictable). Susan Johnson directs from Jenny Han’s book.

2. Dumplin’ (85%)

Male directors have been wasting Jennifer Aniston. Here, director Anne Fletcher actually gives her something funny to work with. Add pageantry, body positivity, and Dolly Parton to the mix, and you might just wonder why no one made this film earlier (hint: it’s because of men).

3. 13th (97%)

Ava DuVernay is more than just a boss on Twitter, you know. This exploration of the 13th amendment (it’s more interesting than it sounds) is among the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. Especially pertinent during American Black History Month.

4. Set It Up (90%)

Claire Scanlon’s Set It Up again makes the case that only women should direct romcoms (and perhaps everything?). 

5. Mudbound (97%)

Dee Rees’ historical-drama made history itself, when DP Rachel Morrison was nominated for Best Cinematography at last year’s Academy Awards. She’s the first woman ever nominated in the category, and no women have been nominated since.

6. Clueless (80%)

Amy Heckerling’s Clueless is one of the best comedies ever made. You think I kid? As if!

7. First They Killed My Father (88%)

If anyone still doubts that Angelina Jolie has legit directing chops, they should be pointed toward First They Killed My Father. The Cambodian-American story is obviously close to the multihyphenate’s heart – it shows in the work.

8. Miss Stevens (91%)

While a certain male director is oft credited with ‘discovering’ Timothée Chalamet, it should be noted that director Julia Hart did it first. And in an equally charming role, to boot.

9. Private Life (93%)

Tamara Jenkins’ film about making babies features precisely zero babies. This infertility drama, starring the always-magnetic Kathryn Hahn, is a proper adult film. But don’t let that scare you.

10. Tallulah (84%)

Sian Heder’s Tallulah sees Ellen Page and Allison Janney reunite – over slightly more subtle fare. It’s a very happy reunion.

11. Audrie & Daisy (81%)

Directed by Jon Shenk and Bonni Cohen, this unflinching documentary centres around two teenage rape cases. Go gently.

12. The Land of Steady Habits (86%)

If you’re looking for someone to replace Woody Allen, allow me to introduce Nicole Holofcener. It’s an unforgivable crime that everyone has seen at least one Allen film, while the far superior Holofcener is a relative unknown.

Holofcener actually is an Oscar nominee this year, for adapting Can You Ever Forgive Me to screenplay. She is the only woman nominated in the category.

13. Bird Box (62%)

While Susanne Bier’s post-apocalyptic thriller divided critics (hence the lower Rotten Tomatoes score) it achieved something else entirely: the best numbers a Netflix Original has ever done. Over 45 million viewers tuned in in the first week. No one watches women’s films? I have to laugh.  

Happy viewing!


  • TV /
  • Film /
  • Female Directors /
  • Angelina Jolie /
  • Women's Media /
  • Netflix /
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