192 Best Movies to Watch by Female director (Page 12)

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Shot almost entirely in one take and on a tiny budget, and yet the central performance in this movie is still better than most big-budget dramas I’ve seen this year.

Two indigenous women, one upper-class and the other impoverished, meet on the day that the rich one gets an IUD and the other one, pregnant, finds herself kicked out of her home. They spend a few hours together: they talk, they take cabs, walk, etc; and you as a viewer, follow them throughout their intimate yet difficult moments.

If you like subtle movies that showcase how people live and interact with one another, beyond plot-obsessiveness, this is for you.

19-year-old Dominican pitcher Miguel Santos, a.k.a. Sugar, dreams of making it into an American baseball team and pulling himself and his family out of poverty. He gets a chance to train for a team in Kansas, but on arrival struggles to be accepted in his new community.

Poignant and beautifully performed, Sugar is not the usual film about chasing the American dream, and it’s far from a typical baseball movie. It’s an honest portrayal, one that avoids sports-movie clichés in favor of an exploration of identity and the immigrant experience.

This movie is a complete no-brainer.

It follows two assistants in busy New York City, both of them overworked and underpaid. They come up with a plan to set up their bosses (Set it Up) so that when their bosses finally take some personal time together, they could too. In a lot of ways, it’s the perfect argument to anyone who says that the rom-com genre is dead. It’s light, it’s easy, and it’s entertaining.

At the same time, there is a heartwarming vibe that’s not too cliché, and a couple of well-known actors — Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs — that help carry the plot. Don’t expect to be mind-blown but this film will leave you feeling content.

An uplifting and inspiring movie with Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer. Jones stars as Supreme Court Justice Associate Ruth Bader Ginsburg in this biopic centered around her hallmark case against sex-based discrimination. While it doesn't feel like it truly conveys the power of Ginsburg's story, her determination, or all the odds that were stacked against her, it serves as a mellowed-down preview of her remarkable story. Watch this if you're in need of a good dose of inspiration.

Craig Foster’s bond with an octopus takes the spotlight in this heartfelt documentary set in the cold seas of South Africa. The title hints at the nature of this bond: the tentacled creature shows the human outsider the ropes in her watery den.

Both parties have an endless curiosity about one another, giving the filmmakers Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed much fuel for this sentimental doc. My Octopus Teacher features Foster diving in the ocean every day and waxing poetic through voiceovers about the remarkable ability of a wild animal to connect with him. This all takes place amidst his obsessive mapping of said animal’s habitat during what appears to be a mid-life crisis. It’s beautiful, yes, both visually and in its message of nature being something we can connect with to find meaning, but much of the story revolves around what Foster feels the octopus is doing in relation to him, and not about what it’s doing, period. The documentary becomes an exercise in making something that exists peacefully in its own little world all about some guy.

For a film that centers on an unlikely emotional attachment, it does explore the ocean and present the adventures one can embark on due to curiosity. Despite its faults, it manages to be informative and shows off gorgeous underwater cinematography.

In Tina Mabry’s first full length feature film Mississippi Damned she tells the story of three poor, Black adolescents as they advance into adulthood. The story is mostly centered on Kari Peterson, portrayed by Tessa Thompson, who has fallen witness and victim to violence/abuse since her childhood. As she navigates her trauma while facing poverty and familial issues, we begin to understand the inner machinations of Kari and those who have harmed her.

While Mississippi Damned isn’t particularly easy to digest, I consider it essential. As unflinchingly brutal as this film is, it taught me a lot about trauma and how to navigate my own. With performances as powerful as these, it’s impossible to forget this film.

This documentary is about filmmaker Lacey Schwartz, who stands out from her devout New York Jewish family with her darker skin tone. For most of her life, the family attributed this to genes from a distant Sicilian ancestor.

But suspicions have always been there, what a family member calls “the 500-pound elephant in the room”. Schwartz embarks on a journey of untangling family secrets, self-discovery, with fascinating questions on race and identity. If you like family history documentaries like Stories We Tell, you will love this.

It’s been years since Fahrije and the women of her village lost their husbands to the war. It’s one thing to move on after their passing, but quite another to never be sure about their whereabouts, dead or alive. Hive tells the story of how, in the wake of this inexplicable loss, the women of a Kosovo village reluctantly band together and make a new life for themselves and their families.

Thanks to its grit and restraint, Hive avoids the cheesy trappings of a melodrama. The dialogues are straightforward and the performances taut but affecting. Their battle with poverty and misogyny is sadly a familiar tale, but told through the lens of single mother/burgeoning entrepreneur Fahrije, it is rendered deeply personal and illuminating. 

 

Joy is a dutiful, overseas Filipino worker supporting her entire family back home. Ethan is a well-off bartender who has, time and again, put himself first before others. They couldn’t be any more different, yet in Hong Kong, their alien status and ambitious goals make them kindred spirits. What starts as a low-stakes bond quickly turns into an essential relationship, one that puts their personal commitments to the test. 

Hello, Love, Goodbye may appear formulaic at first, but it is heightened by a keen understanding of life overseas. It avoids romanticizing the migrant experience and sees it for what it truly is: a harsh but necessary means to an end. If this seems too severe, it’s also softened by an enchanting romance and some welcome comic relief in the form of the pair’s friends. Because of this nice mix, it’s no surprise that Hello, Love, Goodbye instantly broke domestic records and remains the highest-grossing Filipino movie of all time. 

This musical drama about a Mumbai street rapper was India’s official submission to the Oscars. It was also produced by U.S. artist Nas.

Murad, who grew up poor and with an abusive father, starts working as a part-time chauffeur, which exposes him to the substantial inequalities that exist in Mumbai.

He incorporates all of this into his lyrics, and hopes to make it as a rapper in a story that sits somewhere between a musical and an adventure movie.

This excellent new drama is about three indigenous Māori women and their upbringing in colonial New Zealand.

The story is split into two timelines: the present, where two of them are trying to protect their ancestral land from a government project, while the third, Makareta, is wandering aimlessly through a big city. And the past, the story of how they got separated and how Makareta got taken away by a residential-school-like orphanage.

It's a heartbreaking tale, one of how a people can be ravaged by colonialism and decades of discrimination. But being focused on the personal lives of the three women, it’s also heartwarming and deeply humane.

CODA has all the trappings of a predictable, feel-good family drama. You’ll recognize immediately the talented teen, the family pulling her back, the cute love interest, the do-gooder mentor, and the swirl of coincidences that blend them all together in one sweet story. But CODA is so irresistibly heartfelt, well-acted, and vital (all the deaf characters are actually played by deaf actors), that you can’t help but be won by its charms. 

Aside from its big heart, the film’s decision to express itself mostly through ASL and music is an impressive technical feat as well. Altogether, these elements make for a refreshing, enjoyable, and simply heartwarming watch. 

A poetic and peculiar movie from Senegal about a girl who is forced to marry a wealthy businessman instead of her love interest. The latter, a poor construction worker, embarks on a risky journey across the sea to Europe. The story takes a supernatural turn thereafter, one that is unlike anything seen before in stories around immigration, but one which makes sense. Still, the excellent acting and the long takes that immerse you in what life is like in Senegal, both in and out of the margins of society, are the reasons to watch here. Atlantics' characters are believable and will capture your interest throughout the usual and unusual parts of the movie. They provide rare insight into narratives that most of us have never been exposed to.

American Girl follows 13-year-old Fen as she returns to Taiwan from the US and tries to make sense of a culture that’s supposedly her own. In addition to her awkward but relatable attempts to understand identity and adolescence, Fen also struggles to connect with her mother Lily, whose own problems further push her away from her teenage daughter. If you’ve seen Lady Bird, you may recognize a bit of Christine and Marion in Fen and Lily as they throw themselves into an endless tug-of-war of emotions. Their fights are genuinely frustrating, but only because of how true-to-life they are.

As painful as it sometimes is to see them clash, it’s their love-hate dynamic that charges much of the film’s emotional energy and makes it ultimately irresistible to watch. 

Inspired by her own mother, director Hilda Hidalgo tells the story of Violeta, a 72-year-old woman with an enviable appetite for life. After divorcing her husband of more than forty years, Violeta now lives alone in the beautiful home in which she grew up. When she discovers that the bank is threatening to repossess her beloved house, she is determined to hold on to it against her children's wishes, and no matter the cost.

Violeta at Last is, above all, a movie about a woman determined to face the future on her own terms.