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The 20 Best Movies Produced by Women

The movie business is not exactly known for its progressive gender parity. Before the #MeToo movement exposed sexism and sexual harassment in the industry (which affects mostly, though not only, women), Hollywood has been lambasted for decades by critics for its one-dimensional representations of female characters on the screen. But is anyone surprised, considering the lack of gender equality behind the scenes? As it turns out, women movie producers remain heavily underrepresented: between 1998 and 2019, the percentage of women working as movie producers increased by just 3 percent, going from a sad 24 to a still-sad 27 per cent. To champion their best works, we’ve rounded up the top movies produced by women that are available to stream.

Enough Said (2013)

You know you're in for a treat when you see Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini heading the cast of a sweet and slightly goofy comedy. Steadily going beyond his persona in The Sopranos, you see James Gandolfini playing a role that his fans have probably always imagined him playing: a nice, funny guy with an endearing personality. Directed by Nicole Holofcener, Enough Said almost has a sit-com feel to it: a divorced single parent and masseuse, Eva (Louis-Dreyfus), is looked up by a guy, she briefly met at a party, Albert (Gandolfini). Upon finding out they have much in common, the two start dating. At the same time, she meets Marianne (Catherine Keener), who she becomes friends with and who cannot stop talking ill of her apparently awful ex-husband. You guessed it: it's her new, promising date, Albert. Things get muddy and very funny as she starts to doubt, whether she has made a big mistake. Hilarious, romantic, and smart, it's very much like we expected: a real treat.

(Abd)
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Actor: Amy Landecker, Ben Falcone, Catherine Keener, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Eve Hewson, James Gandolfini, Jessica St. Clair, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Michaela Watkins, Sarah Burns, Toby Huss, Toni Collette, Tracey Fairaway
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Rating: PG-13
A Man Called Ove (2015)

Based on Fredrick Backman's 2012 best-selling book of the same name, this Swedish hit comedy-drama introduces us to Ove, an elderly man who feels like his life is over. After losing his wife, the short-fused retiree spends his days grumpily enforcing block association rules in his neighborhood. He is your typical unhappy, old neighbor, somebody you would try to avoid. One new family does not give up and befriends Ove, played by an impeccable Rolf Lassgård, despite his best intentions to put them off. As the plot unfolds, however, you learn more about the story behind the man, and, in classic walk-a-mile-in-his-shoes fashion, start to find him rather loveable. After all, nobody is born grumpy and cynical. Naturally, this is a sweet and sentimental film. But an amazing lead performance and a charming, darkly funny script rescue it from drifting too far off the shore. The result is a wholesome, fun, and thoughtful dramedy with a beautiful message.

(Roy Pass)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Anna Granath, Bahar Pars, Borje Lundberg, Chatarina Larsson, Filip Berg, Ida Engvoll, Johan Widerberg, Klas Wiljergard, Poyan Karimi, Rolf Lassgård, Stefan Godicke, Tobias Almborg
Director: Hannes Holm
Rating: PG-13
Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Winning him Best Director at the Academy Awards, Kenneth Lonergan's drama Manchester By the Sea is a delicate and profound study of loss and grief—and a true triumph. Its focus on characters, well-paced unfolding as well as world-class acting are only equal to the very best of European dramas. This type of quiet exploration of the possibility that grief cannot be overcome has rarely been successful in American cinema, if ever. The last best attempt was probably You Can Count on Me. Originally a playwright, this is Lonergan's third film and Manchester by the Sea is where he unveils his full potential. It follows a depressed handyman, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), who leads a quiet but angry life. After his brother dies, he returns to his hometown only to discover that he is the only left to take care of his teenage nephew. There, he is confronted with his past and the blue-collar community from which he was raised. Co-produced by Matt Damon, it grossed around $80 million on a budget of $8.5 million. One of the most noted films of 2016.

Genre: Drama
Actor: Anna Baryshnikov, Ben O'Brien, C.J. Wilson, Casey Affleck, Gretchen Mol, Heather Burns, Josh Hamilton, Kara Hayward, Kenneth Lonergan, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Matthew Broderick, Michelle Williams, Missy Yager, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Richard Donelly, Robert Sella, Stephen Henderson, Susan Pourfar, Tate Donovan, Tom Kemp
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Rating: R

Free Watching Options:

Watch Manchester by the Sea (2016) on Amazon Prime for free
Booksmart (2019)

Do you keep re-watching Superbad when you're hungover? Next time you are, try the film that has been praised as 'the female Superbad”: the amazing Booksmart. Yes, it's coming-of-age comedy, but, like Superbad, it tried something a little different. Like its two main characters, one could say it's a bit smarter than Greg Mottola's seminal bromedy. Molly (Beanie Feldstein, incidentally, Jonah Hill's younger sister) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) are best friends, class presidents, and academic overachievers. Nice girls, too. With excellent grades in their pockets, they head off to college only to find that the same in-crowd from high school that was doing nothing but partying, now goes to the same college as them. Why, oh why, did they choose academic success over partying, when, clearly, they could have had both? On their last day in high school, now here's a trope, they decide to make up for all the years of lost partying on one night. This sets off a raucous, raunchy, and wildly entertaining ride. And with a feminist twist!

Genre: Comedy
Actor: Austin Crute, Beanie Feldstein, Billie Lourd, Billie Lourde, Diana Silvers, Eduardo Franco, Jason Sudeikis, Jessica Williams, Kaitlyn Dever, Lisa Kudrow, Mason Gooding, Maya Rudolph, Mike O'Brien, Molly Gordon, Nico Hiraga, Noah Galvin, Skyler Gisondo, Victoria Ruesga, Will Forte
Director: Olivia Wilde
Rating: R

Free Watching Options:

Watch Booksmart (2019) on Hulu for free
The Edge of Democracy (2019)

In this powerful documentary, Brazilian filmmaker Petra Costa intertwines her own family history with the democratic journey of her home country. As she says herself, Costa and her country's democracy are of the same age. This is not the only reason why she was uniquely positioned to make a film like this: her parents were left-wing activists in the 1970s, who went to jail for their beliefs, while her grandparents were part of the ruling class have made Brazil's strong-man politics and right-wing backlash possible. Her mother was held at the same prison that ex-president Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016) was sent to. Costa tells the story of Rousseff's demise as well as that of Luiz Inácio da Silva (2003-2011) aka Lula, whose future remains up in the air. The Edge of Democracy is thus a gripping and urgent warning that democracy in the world's sixth most populous country is under attack. In content and form, Costa is obviously opinionated, but she makes a strong point.

Genre: Documentary
Actor: Barack Obama, Dilma Rousseff, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva, Petra Costa
Director: Petra Costa
Rating: TV-14
Millenium Mambo (2001)

The atmosphere in Millennium Mambo is magical. The opening scene alone will leave you enchanted, with long walks through a tunnel-like space and dreamy techno music playing in the background. We are misled into thinking that this will be a movie full of colors and dance, and to some degree, this is true, as it portrays Taipei and its neon colors of green, pink, and blue, featuring dance sequences in a bar that serves flashy drinks. But as the movie develops, a chilling shadow is cast as we become entangled in a brutal relationship that is as full of cruelty as it is of love and lust. Narrated from the future, the story shows how the present-day protagonist, Vicky, grapples with her identity as she looks back upon her past self from ten years ago.

Chaotic, messy, but also peppered with moments of serenity and shot with flawless camerawork and cinematography, Millennium Mambo makes time feel fluid, and serves as a reminder that no matter how rough the journey may be, everything is always okay in the end.

(Oppie A)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Actor: Chun-hao Tuan, Jack Kao, Pauline Chan Bo-Lin, Qi Shu, Shu Qi
Director: Hou Hsiao-hsien, Hsiao-Hsien Hou
Rating: R
Mary and Max (2009)

Mary and Max is the tale of an overlooked 8-year-old girl from Australia starting an unlikely friendship via mail with a middle-aged Jewish man from New York. Shot completely in monocromatic claymotion, it is the first feature film by Australian stop-motion animation writer, Adam Elliot, and the first ever animated film to score the opening slot at Sundance Festival. In all its playful absurdity, Mary and Max is an emotional and wise gem of a film that examines the human condition through the eyes of a troubled child and an autistic American. In contrast to its clay-based animation, it deals with some pretty dark and adult themes, but succeeds in balancing those with happiness and absurd humor. Moreover, Elliott gathered an ensemble cast to do the voice-overs, which includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Toni Collette, and Eric Bana. We recommend it 8 condensed milks out of 10.

(Harrison Shanley)
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Drama
Actor: Barry Humphries, Bethany Whitmore, Carolyn Shakespeare-Allen, Christopher Massey, Eric Bana, Ian Meldrum, John Flaus, Julie Forsyth, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Renée Geyer, Renée Geyer, Toni Collette
Director: Adam Elliot
Rating: Not Rated
The Farewell (2019)

Many things clash in this beautifully layered, semi-autobiographical film of American director Lulu Wang: cultures, morals, and emotions. The result is a type of comedy that is complex and bittersweet⁠—and based on a true lie: this is the story of a Chinese grandma whose family won't tell her that she is fatally ill. Instead, they organize a fake wedding in China, where everyone gets together to bid a farewell to the unwitting matriarch (played by Zhao Shuzhen). The fake wedding is, in fact, a premature funeral for a person unaware that she is going to die. Played by rapper and comedian Awkwafina, Billi, a New-York-based Chinese-American with a complicated relationship to China, embodies the cultural and moral question at the heart of this story: is it right or wrong not tell grandma? It is thanks to Wang's deft writing and Awkwafina's outstanding performance that The Farewell homes in on answers without ever being melodramatic. Warm, honest, and beautiful.

Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Awkwafina, Shuzhen Zhao, Tzi Ma, X Mayo
Director: Lulu Wang
Rating: PG

Free Watching Options:

Watch The Farewell (2019) on Amazon Prime for free
Sorry We Missed You (2020)

The British social-critical director of I, Daniel Blake and The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Ken Loach, delivers another scathing indictment of our economic system, the slashing of worker protection, and the gig economy. While these are indeed the themes of this affecting drama, Loach always makes it about the people. In this case, a struggling family man who tries to turn his life around by working in package delivery. Gig economy workers are usually freelancers who own their trucks and are made fully responsible for packages until they reach their respective recipients. From peeing in a bottle to save time to seamless monitoring by an overlord hand-held device, Sorry We Missed You manages to capture the indignity and gives you an intimate introduction to the human cost of having everything delivered to your doorstep at a moment's notice. Thanks to Loach's use of amateur actors, it has a raw and real feel to it without being melodramatic. Sorry We Missed You makes sure that the habitually unseen take center stage.

Genre: Drama
Director: Ken Loach
Rating: 12
The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)

A slow-burning Argentinian thriller about a retired legal counselor and the one case he investigated that just would not die, The Secret in Their Eyes is a taut and sharp mystery. As layers of mystery unfold, the story draws the viewer in and becomes entangled with the deteriorating political situation in Argentina. Notably, the film features a single-take 5 minute shot - a fantastic technical achievement and a testament to the directorial vision and skill.

(Fergus MacElhatton)
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Romance
Actor: Alejandro Abelenda, Barbara Palladino, Carla Quevedo, Guillermo Francella, Javier Godino, Jose Luis Gioia, Mariano Argento, Mario Alarcon, Pablo Rago, Ricardo Darín, Rudy Romano, Soledad Villamil
Director: Juan J. Campanella, Juan Jose Campanella
Rating: R

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