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.
In 2017 I saw 72 new releases, which I believe was a record number for me. This year I saw 117! I attribute this to several of this year’s new releases being Netflix films (so convenient, if not ideal) and MoviePass. Yes, MoviePass. I saw a few things I may have skipped in previous years because of MoviePass. For awhile I could watch one film a day via MoviePass and then see a second one that I paid for. This led to a lot more double features at the Midtown Art Cinema than in pervious years. Also last year I saw 32 new releases that were directed by women. This year I saw 59 new release films directed by women (170 in total, but I’ll write more about that in tomorrow’s end of the year post), which is half of the new release films I saw this year. I plan to at least keep up that ratio next year, if not do better. You can see all the new release (and festival) films I watched in 2018 and how I ranked them here. After the cut you’ll find my Favorite Fifteen Films, and as always I remind you that this is subjective and in no way should be considered a “best” list.
I didn’t see as many films in April as I normally would have, mostly because I work A. LOT. of late nights. That said, most of what I watched in April was directed by women and it was so refreshing. It felt like A Year With Women again. There’s just so many great films by women left for me to discover! The end of April included the TCM Classic Film Festival, but attending the festival as an employee is very different from when I attended as press (read: I actually have to work and don’t get to see very many films), but I did attend TCMFF again this year (my 8th festival; 3rd being on staff) and it is always the best week of my year. I only saw four films (all ones I’d seen before) + one short (new-to-me by Bill Morrison!), but I was lucky enough to see several fascinating panels and I got to meet Gillian Armstrong (!!!), James Ivory, and John Toll so it was a blast. As always, everything I watched plus some 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.
Anne Marie: Ma, I asked you to put Tom Jones on. You weren’t listening. I told you to put Tom Jones on! Put Tom Jones on! Tom Jones! Tom Jones!
Ma: You lot wouldn’t know a good tune if it came up and bit you.
Anne Marie: Put Tom Jones on!
Ellen: Stop screaming in my ear.
Anne Marie: Tom Jones!
James: Tom Jones is shite, Anne Marie.
Anne Marie: You’re shite. You’re a big shite!
Eva: Haven’t you ever wished you had somebody else around to play with?
Eva: You might like it.
Kevin: What if I don’t like it?
Eva: Then you get used to it.
Kevin: Just because you’re used to something doesn’t mean you like it. You’re used to me.
Eva: Yes, well, in a few months we’re all gonna get used to somebody new.