Lately I’ve become more and more frustrated with the various “best ever” lists that have been released because they rarely feature films by women, or if they do it’s usually one or two films. I think this is more a reflection of those who are polled for these kinds of lists, as well as a compounding of history on itself. For so long films by men have made up the bulk of the film canon and I think people are afraid to add new films to these revered lists. I also think many people haven’t seen very many films by women, or if they have it’s always the same handful of films. In an attempt to create a better, more inclusive list of great films by women, I polled over 500 critics, filmmakers, bloggers, historians, professors and casual film viewers, asking them to tell me what films directed (or co-directed) by women are essential viewing. Some people only responded with as little as five votes, others submitted hundreds of films. In the end, I received over 7,000 votes for 1,100+ different films. After tallying up this data, with ties factored in, I then had a list of 103 essential films directed by women.
Lenny Cantrow: I don’t mind saying, this is one of the finest meals that I’ve ever had.
Mrs. Corcoran: Oh, thank you Leonard. It’s simple, you know. Mr. Corcoran doesn’t really care for fancy food. Though, I imagine you’ve tried just about every exotic dish in New York.
Lenny Cantrow: Exactly. See, that’s the trouble, it’s exotic, but it’s not honest. I mean, it’s fancy, but it’s not real. I mean, this is honest food. There’s no lying in that beef. There’s no insincerity in those potatoes. There’s no deceit in the cauliflower. This is a totally honest meal. You don’t know what a pleasure it in this day and age to sit down and eat a meal you can believe in.
There is an awful lot that has been and can be written about this film. I touched briefly on 1967’s impact on American cinema a few years back, so I’m not really going to delve into that aspect of the film, though I will point out a few things that made it a game-changer. I remember when I first saw this film, I wasn’t all that impressed to be honest. But the more I watch it the more its genius reveals itself to me. I saw it on the big screen at the Castro last spring and I am so glad that I did. A few weeks ago some kind stranger anonymously bought it for me from my Amazon wishlist, so I decided it was time for another revisit. The result is going to be this rather epic look at what I now realize is one of the most exquisitely directed films of all time. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, though it only won one: Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress Katharine Ross, Best Actress Anne Bancroft, Best Actor Dustin Hoffman, Best Director Mike Nichols (won) and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Bonnie and Clyde, Doctor Doolittle, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and winner In The Heat of the Night.
Julie: I miss Dorothy.
Michael Dorsey: You don’t have to. She’s right here. And she misses you. [beat] Look, you don’t know me from Adam. But I was a better man with you, as a woman than I ever was with a woman, as a man. You know what I mean? I just gotta learn to do it without the dress. [beat] I mean, at this point in our relationship, there might be an advantage to my wearing pants. [beat] The hard part’s over, you know? We were already. . .good friends.
Lyle Rogers: What a smuck I was…
Chuck Clarke: Schmuck! It’s not smuck. Schmuck!
Lyle Rogers: Smuck!
Chuck Clarke: [loud] Schmuck!
Lyle Rogers: Sssssssssmuck!
Chuck Clarke: Say “ssshhhh”
Lyle Rogers: Ssshhhhhh.
Chuck Clarke: Now say “muck”.
Lyle Rogers: [soft] Muck.
Chuck Clarke: Now say “ssshhh” and “muck” together real fast.
Lyle Rogers: Smuck!
Chuck Clarke: …Closer.
Lyle Rogers: You really know the lingo.