18 Movies Directed By Women in 2018 You Should Watch

movies directed by women in 2018

At the beginning of 2018, Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig became only the fifth woman in history to be nominated for a Best Director award at the Oscars. “That’s one hand!” she enumerated to USA Today following her indoctrination into the sadly small mile-high club. It’s a club that unfortunately looks to remain small as most female directors remain out of the awards conversation and new reports emerge that female filmmakers saw their numbers shrink in 2018.

But before you write off 2018 as a bad year for women — or at least a step backwards after 2017’s industry-shattering breakthrough success with Gerwig, Patty Jenkins, and more — I implore you to take a closer look. Last year saw Anna Boden, along with Ryan Fleck, taking the helm for Marvel’s upcoming Captain Marvel, and the announcement of Cathy Yan directing Birds of Prey for DC and Warner Bros. And the slate of Sundance darlings were overwhelmingly female-fronted — from Sarah Colangelo‘s unnerving The Kindergarten Teacher, to Desiree Akhavan‘s ebullient The Miseducation of Cameron Post, to Jennifer Fox‘s harrowing abuse drama The Tale. Lynne Ramsay, Josephine Drecker, and Chloe Zhao achieved some of the highest critical acclaim of the year for their films You Were Never Really HereMadeline’s Madeline, and The Rider, respectively. Hell, there were two movies about Ruth Bader Ginsburg directed by women in 2018.

The numbers may not be speaking, but the quality remains unquestionable. Female directors are slowly making inroads in Hollywood, and while they may not be breaking the Top 100 — or may get unjustly snubbed by the Oscars yet again — don’t believe anyone when they say there are no female directors. Here 18 movies directed by women in 2018 that you should watch.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller)

Melissa McCarthy stars as celebrity biographer Lee Israel who turns to running a scam of forging letters from famed literary figures in the dark and witty comedy-drama based on the 2008 memoir of the same name.

Destroyer (Karyn Kusama)

The relentlessly grim cop drama follows the moral and existential odyssey of LAPD detective Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman in a powerhouse performance) who is worn down by her years undercover with a gang in the California desert.

Free Solo (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin)

More gripping thrill ride than documentary, Free Solo chronicles the story of Alex Honnold‘s quest to complete the first free solo climb of famed El Capitan’s 3,000-foot vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park, while the anxious crew debate the ethics of capturing his journey.

Happy As Lazzaro (Alice Rohrwacher)

Italian realism meets magical realism in the story of a naive and optimistic young sharecropper (Adriano Tardiolo) who finds himself lost in time in Alice Rohrwacher‘s enchanting socially conscious fairy tale.

The Kindergarten Teacher (Sara Colangelo)

Maggie Gyllenhaal delivers an unnervingly committed performance as a kindergarten teacher who becomes convinced that her 5-year-old student is a poetic genius, and goes too far to nurture his talents in this adaptation of the 2014 Israeli film of the same name.

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik)

A quietly stunning survivalist tale and character drama, Leave No Trace is anchored by two powerful performances from Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie, who star as a father and daughter who live off the grid in the forests of Portland until they’re discovered and put back into society, forcing them to grapple with their relation to trauma and familial duty.

Let the Sunshine In (Claire Denis)

Claire Denis makes a foray into the offbeat rom-com with Let The Sunshine In, which stars Juliette Binoche as a divorced Parisian painter searching for love but refusing to settle for the parade of flawed men who drift in and out of her life.

Madeline’s Madeline (Josephine Decker)

Josephine Decker‘s trippy cinematic experiment follows young theater performer Madeline (Helena Howard in a lauded debut performance) for whom reality and fiction begins to blur as the workshop’s ambitious director (Molly Parker) pushes the teenager to put her troubled history with her mother (Miranda July) into their collective art.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Desiree Akhavan)

This quietly revolutionary coming-of-age story follows the titular Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) as she’s shipped off to conversion camp, where finds unlikely connections among her fellow struggling LGBT peers.

Private Life (Tamara Jenkins)

Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn as a couple struggling with infertility, in a moving and dryly funny narrative of adult relationships and middle-class anxieties.

RBG (Betsy West and Julie Cohen)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg transforms into a modern-day rockstar in Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s illuminating documentary.

Revenge (Coralie Fargeat)

Grimy, gory, and unapologetic, Revenge is a stylish vengeance story about a girl (Matilda Lutz) who is attacked by her boyfriend’s friends and left for dead, only to rise and retaliate in a brutal fashion.

The Rider (Chloé Zhao)

Chloe Zhao’s poetic, deeply affecting Western follows Brady Blackburn (Brady Jandreau) as a once rising star of the rodeo circuit whose career is cut short by a tragic riding accident, and returns home to find a new sense of purpose.

Shirkers (Sandi Tan)

Director Sandi Tan goes on a globe-hopping investigation into the the disappearance of her Singapore-made 1992 cult classic that never came to be in an mesmerizing and personal documentary.

Skate Kitchen (Crystal Moselle)

A slice-of-life skateboarding drama immerses the audience in the story of an introverted teenage skateboarder (newcomer Rachelle Vinberg) from Long Island who meets and befriends an all-girl, New York City-based skateboarding crew called Skate Kitchen.

The Tale (Jennifer Fox)

Jennifer Fox takes a critical, unrelenting eye to her autobiographical film about her own childhood abuse in a film starring a stunning Laura Dern that weaves reality and memory.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Susan Johnson)

Probably the biggest “hit” of this list,To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a sugary-sweet teen rom-com phenomenon that follows the charming but introverted Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) as her love life spirals out of control after her secret letters to her crushes are mysteriously mailed out.

You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)

Lean and devoid of thrills, You Were Never Really Here is Lynne Ramsay’s anti-lone wolf narrative that follows Joaquin Phoenix as a hired gun who targets men who traffic young girls, but one day finds himself embroiled in a city-wide conspiracy that endangers his loved ones.

Honorable Mentions:

Angels Wear White (Vivian Qu), Blame (Quinn Shephard), Blockers (Kay Cannon), Dumplin’ (Anne Fletcher), Half the Picture (Amy Adrion), Mary Shelley (Haifaa Al-Mansour), Oh Lucy! (Atsuko Hirayanagi), On Her Shoulders (Alexandria Bombach), On the Basis of Sex (Mimi Leder), The Rachel Divide(Laura Brownson),  Rafiki (Wanuri Kahiu), Seeing Allred (Sophie Sartain and Roberta Grossman), Set It Up (Claire Scanlon), The Spy Who Dumped Me (Susanna Vogel), The Strange Ones (Lauren Wolkstein), I Am Not a Witch (Rungano Nyoni) I Think We’re Alone Now (Reed Morano), Night Comes On (Jordana Spiro), Outside In (Lynn Shelton), Tigers Are Not Afraid (Issa López) Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin (Arwen Curry), What They Had (Elizabeth Chomko), A Wrinkle In Time (Ava DuVernay), Zama (Lucrecia Martel)

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