Change could come from us. As movie watchers, appreciating the small percentage of existing women-led projects could be our way of getting them more exposure, and therefore a way for their makers to be given more opportunities. Nowadays we have services like Netflix, and we don't need cinemas, distributors, or channels to decide whether to show the movie or not - we can just hit play.
Below are 10 of the best little-known films on Netflix with either a strong female lead, a female director, or both. All are highly-rated by both critics and viewers and so in a perfect world this list should not be named anything other than "10 absolutely amazing movies on Netflix".
Frances (Greta Gerwig) lives in New York – but not the glamorous NYC of Woody Allen movies. Taking place primarily in gritty and rapidly gentrifying North Brooklyn, the black and white film paints a picture of an extended adolescence. Focusing on the goofy and carefree Frances, who rapidly loses her boyfriend, her best friend and her dream of being a dancer. She moves in with two guys, both of whom are more successful than her, and becomes even more determined to fulfill her goals, impractical as they may be. Fans of HBO’s Girls and other odes to not being a “real person” yet will love this film.
A group of male friends become obsessed with a group of mysterious sisters who are sheltered by their strict, religious parents after one of them commits suicide. Sofia Coppola does a great job taking the novel and turning it into a full featured movie. The movie is admittedly a bit slow, but it paints such a great picture into the characters lives and everyone around them, that your attention will quickly be turned to that. The casting is spot on and even though it may seem like a very dark subject matter, the film is very enjoyable to watch no matter your taste in movies.
Emma, a free minded girl with blue hair, influences Adele’s life dramatically, teaching her how to be honest with herself and discover her true desires about love. The film beautifully and realistically portrays the evolution of Adele, from a highschool girl to a grown-up woman, even though the spirit which Emma lighted up in her never dies. Blue Is the Warmest Color or La Vie d’Adèle is a very honest, intense, and charming picture, prepare not to blink much and have your face glued to screen from start to finish.
The acting… oh the acting! Your Sister’s Sister is a fantastic comedy which makes great use of the amazing talents and suitability of its cast, including the criminally underused Emily Blunt. Far smarter, quicker and grown-up than most other Rom-Coms, it’s a film built on secrets, lies and, yes, love, sex and family.
“As fragile as she was strong, as vulnerable as she was dynamic, she was African royalty. How does royalty stomp around in the mud and still walk with grace?”. What Happened, Miss Simone? will teach you and surprise you no matter how much you think you know the soul singer, not only in its exploration of Nina Simone’s personal life and complexities, but by being both a personal and political documentary. As you get to discover an original singer with talents that reach all the way to performance art, you will also learn about a Civil Rights activist’s journey and an unstable woman’s struggle. The documentary is not about answering the question of what happened, Miss Simone? – it’s an exploration of why that question is so important.
20 Feet From Stardom is a movie made with love, and a highly enjoyable take on the compelling yet criminally unrecognized role of backup singers. Like all great documentaries, however, it is is more than its subject matter – it’s also about success, undeserved failure, and regret.
Winner of an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2013 Academy Awards, the movie itself might just be enough of a compensation to the lack of credit given to the people it portrays.
Short Term 12 is exactly like being injured in a part of your body where you didn’t think it was possible to get injured before. It will hurt but it will make you care.
Natural and understated by budget and by purpose, it is powered by perfect performances that will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride you will never forget. It is at times sweet, at times depressing and at times hilarious.
The thing is, without even taking into consideration its small budget or the importance of the issues it talks about – we would still consider Short Term 12 as one of the best movies of the past 20 years.
A sincere portrayal of the gritty British working class life through the coming-of-age story of a girl who loves rap music and dancing to it. It features a stunning and powerful performance from newcomer Katie Jarvis who had no acting experience whatsoever, and who was cast in the street after she was spotted fighting. She plays Mia, a 15 year old teenager whose world changes drastically when her mother’s new boyfriend (played by Michael Fassbender) turns his eyes to her. Don’t watch this movie if you are looking for a no-brainer, definitely do watch it if you are interested in films that realistically portray others’ lives and let you into them.
There is a unique emotional approach to Danish films rarely matched by anything else, that has to be seen to be understood. Oscar-nominated After The Wedding perfectly embodies that. Jacob Peterson (played by Mads Mikkelsen) is an idealist who runs a financially struggling orphanage in India. He returns to Copenhagen to seek a large donation when he discovers that in order to get the money he will be unveiling dark secrets about his own personal past. Scenes are stretched, and feel incredibly realistic. But because of the great plot and premise as well as the fantastic cast, they’re never boring — on the contrary, After the Wedding is thrilling and at all times interesting. You will also feel that it is capturing every emotion you’ve ever encountered, or will ever encounter in the short two hours it spans.