To help people with their 52 Films By Women challenge this year I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favorite films directed by women that are easily accessible on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Keep in mind that this is in no way all of the films directed by women available on these services, but rather a selection of films I have seen and enjoy. There are also many more films available to rent on Amazon Video as well. Think of this as a jumping off point! Also if you have not taken the 52 Films By Women pledge yet you can do so here.
August was Summer Under The Stars at TCMHQ and I watched SO MANY MOVIES. A lot of what I watched was revisiting old favorites starring Janet Gaynor, Jean Harlow, Jean Arthur, and more incredible stars. But I also watched several new-to-me films (including five featuring Robert Montgomery!). I also saw a lot of great film in theaters and a few non-TCM gems. Overall, August was a great month of viewing. As always, a full list of what I watched and a few favorites can be found after the cut.
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.
Full disclosure: I have not actually read Louisa May Alcott’s book (it’s the first thing I am going to read in 2015, though.) I have, however, seen Gillian Armstrong’s masterpiece more times than any other movie. I first saw it when it was in theaters. I went with my mother and we both loved it so much and when it was over she told me all about how much she loved the book (and its sequel), and yet for some reason I still haven’t read the book! *holds head in shame* This movie celebrates its 20th anniversary on Sunday and as far as I can tell the studio that has the distribution rights doesn’t give a hoot and isn’t doing anything for it; no anniversary Blu-ray, no anniversary screenings in LA, nothing! So I thought I would pay tribute to this beautiful film by writing about it for Female Filmmaker Friday right around its anniversary.
Gillian Armstrong is one of my favorite directors. Later on I will write about My Brilliant Career and Little Women (1994), which is one of my all-time favorite movies. I’ve seen that one more than any other film I think. Which brings me to this week’s Female Filmmaker Friday on Armstrong’s sophomore feature Startruck. I actually bought this film without knowing anything about it other than it was directed by Armstrong and came in a shiny pink DVD case. Amazon recommended it when I bought Susan Seidelman’s Smithereens. Definitely one of the best cold-buys I’ve ever done.