The Top 20 Female-Directed Films of the Decade

     November 26, 2019


The past 10 years have been filled with some incredible moments for women working behind-the-camera in Hollywood. From Kathryn Bigelow — who became the first (and, unfortunately, only) woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director for The Hurt Locker — to Patty Jenkins — who was the first woman to helm a superhero film from a major studio, Wonder Woman — there were some monumental accomplishments worth celebrating. Unfortunately, Hollywood still has a long way to go before it can even scratch the surface of equality in the industry.

Although small steps are being taken to fill the gap, statistics show that Hollywood is still falling behind when it comes to gender parity. According to a report from The Celluloid Ceiling, in 2018 only 8% of directors on the years top 250 domestic films were made by women. This was a dip from the year prior where female filmmakers made up 11% of the top 250 films. Thankfully, 2019 saw that percent tick upwards between major studio films and independent films, with the latter taking the greatest leaps towards equal representation in the industry via film festivals. Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, and even the Toronto International Film Festival boasted lineups that had a record number of female directors. Tribeca even reached gender parity in their competition lineup this year for the very first time and Sundance had a record-setting 46% of female-directed films in competition.

There are also a number of initiatives being created to help achieve gender equality. For example, ReFrame Rise, which is organized by Women in Film and the Sundance Institute, pairs eight female directors with A-list producers and executives in Hollywood who help them find job opportunities, refine pitches, and sharpen business practices. There’s also the 4% Challenge, a campaign launched by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and Time’s Up, that aims to increase the number of women, especially women of color, directing studio films.

But, it’s not just Hollywood that needs to make big changes, audiences also play their part in evolving the industry. In an interview with Variety, Lulu Wang (The Farewell) exclaimed that, “box office is proving that telling stories from different perspectives is what the audience wants […] Audiences are demanding different stories from different perspectives — and that is driving part of the change.” All of these accomplishments and steps, as small as some may seem, are showing that there is indeed a shift happening in Hollywood. The desired end result may still be a way off, but it’s worth honoring the moments and accomplishments that continue to propel us forward. So, with the end of the decade dawning on us, we wanted to celebrate some of the greatest projects from women in film. In no particular order, here are 20 of the best female-directed films from the past 10 years.

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