In our regular Netflix Hidden Gems feature, we focus on one movie and discuss it in great detail. Today, in honor of Women’s Equality Day and in an effort to highlight female directors on Netflix, I’m going to do something a little different. In this list, I won’t go into too much detail about each film, but I’ll do my best to help you find a large selection of great films of every genre directed by women and streaming on Netflix right now.
Women have a problem in film. According to a detailed study from 2012, women comprised just 18 percent of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. Women accounted for only 9 percent of all directors in the industry. That number has hardly changed since 2015, and in some studies, it’s reportedly gone down.
These numbers are stunning and disappointing. Think of the countless stories we’re missing out, the huge number of fresh perspectives we aren’t seeing represented through cinema.
So how can we fix the problem? Despite the low numbers, there are female directors making amazing films. Plenty of them. By watching their movies, by buying them, and by talking about the works these women are creating, we can raise awareness and help inspire a change. By fighting the good fight every step of the way and standing up for the underrepresented groups in Hollywood, we can help the industry evolve into something more inclusive and more representative. More directors means more movies, and more movies means the potential for better movies. As film fans, that’s something we can all rally around.
Here’s a list of movies you can start with. They’re all streaming on Netflix and directed by talented, trailblazing ladies:
Wayne’s World: Wayne’s World, a movie I would personally call a beautiful and important American classic, is directed by a woman. I repeat: WAYNE’S WORLD IS DIRECTED BY A WOMAN! Penelope Spheeris.
American Psycho – Bet you didn’t know this dark, fascinating study of American individualism and narcissism was directed and written by women. Yep! It’s directed by Mary Harron and written by Harron and Guinevere Turner.
The Babadook – Jennifer Kent’s complex, thoughtful, terrifying film took the horror world by storm after its release last year. It’s streaming on Netflix. Watch it if you love movies.
Blackfish – The first documentary on the list, but far from the only great female-directed documentary. Blackfish, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, is a shocking, aggressive exposé of SeaWorld. This film has had a real impact, and SeaWorld has been forced to launch a counter-campaign in an attempt to save its reputation and business.
Advantageous – This sci-fi film from director Jennifer Phang is gorgeously shot, superbly written, and beautifully acted. It’s one of the best-kept secrets on Netflix.
Pet Sematary – Based on a chilling Stephen King novel of the same name, Mary Lambert’s Pet Sematary is campy and a little ridiculous, but as a kid, it gave me some serious nightmares, and it’s perfect for a creepy night in.
The Hurt Locker – The only female director to win an Oscar for directing (Seriously, what the hell?!) Kathryn Bigelow’s movie about the Iraq War is visceral and ridiculously well made.
The Proposal – Thanks to Anne Fletcher’s direction, Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds make a surprisingly likable and charismatic couple in this fairly standard rom-com. The chemistry feels real, and it’s enough to elevate the film to something special.
The Kids Are All Right – Clever, warm, emotional, and with so much to say about family, it’s not hard to see why The Kids Are All Right, directed by Lisa Cholodenko, lit up the awards circuit.
The Queen of Versailles – Lauren Greenfield’s documentary about wealth and excess in America is somehow funny, humanizing, frustrating, and borderline exploitative all at once. It’s one of the most fascinating documentaries I’ve ever seen.
Twilight – Say what you want about this film, but director Catherine Hardwicke knew what her teenage fan base wanted and she delivered. (Trust me, I was part of that fan base at the time. I still remember my giddiness after watching this movie, and I refuse to regret it.)
Billy Madison – Remember when Adam Sandler was funny? Sigh. Those were the days. In reality though, maybe it was just director Tamra Davis who had comedy figured out. Billy Madison, in all its ridiculousness, is very, very funny.
Tig – Not only does this documentary tell the story of comedienne Tig Notaro, a brave, hilarious, intensely inspiring woman, but it’s also written by a woman — Jennifer Arnold — and directed by two women — Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York.
Clueless – All right, you’ve probably already seen this movie, but it’s always a good time to rewatch. We have director and writer Amy Heckerling to thank for Clueless.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – Hailed as the “first Iranian Vampire Western ever made,” Ana Lily Amirpour’s film is a piece of art. It’s a gorgeous film noir with hints of horror and romance, all shrouded in picturesque shadows of the night.
These aren’t the only movies on Netflix that were directed by women. There are tons more, but there aren’t enough. So get it on, people. Watch movies directed by women. Buy movies directed by women. Talk about them. Let’s push for equality in filmmaking.
Happy Women’s Equality Day!
Featured Image: Netflix