Thursday Movie Picks: Films Directed by a Female Director

Here’s my second post for ‘Thursday Movie Picks’, a long-running series started by Wandering through the Shelves.

Poster for the film 'We Need to talk About Kevin'.

This week we’ve been asked to list three to five films directed by a female director. This theme made me realise that I need to brush up on my female directors: only Kathryn Bigelow and Sofia Coppola came to my mind before digging a little deeper.

We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)

Lynne Ramsay’s haunting film is based on the aftermath of a high school shooting. The subject matter is all too familiar and the powerhouse performances coupled with gritty realism make it unforgettable.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)

I really enjoy Bollywood films, and this one from Zoya Akhtar is up there in my favourites. Three childhood friends head to Spain for a bachelor road trip and it is a wonderful blend of humour, music and Indian & European culture. 

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

One of the finest romcom writers, directors and producers, there are several films by Nora Ephron that I have enjoyed and could have chosen. I’ve gone for Sleepless in Seattle because of its brilliant leads (Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks) and great combination of schmaltz and gentleness.

12 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Picks: Films Directed by a Female Director

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  1. I’ve seen We Need to Talk About Kevin and Sleepless in Seattle as the former is a favorite of mine as I love Lynne Ramsay’s films while the latter is a joy to watch as I do miss Nora Ephron for her wit. I haven’t seen your other pick but then again, I’m not into Bollywood.

    1. Yes, Ephron made so many classics. She defined an era really.
      I do enjoy the occasional Bollywood or Indian film. The Lunchbox featuring the late Irrfan Khan is a good starter film, as it doesn’t have any of the singing or glamour!

  2. I’d put off We Need to Talk About Kevin because I knew it was not going to be a happy experience but TCM showed it during their Women Make Film series last month so I DVR’d it. The acting was terrific but I was right to have avoided it. The subject matter is incredibly important but that’s just not entertainment to me.

    I LOVE Sleepless in Seattle though I have a couple of friends who hated it because of its main conceit that the characters don’t meet until the fade out. I liked that idea and Annie’s sense of connection with Sam even though she hadn’t met. Rosie O’Donnell is great fun as her wise and knowing friend as are Rita Wilson and Victor Garber as his.

    I’ve only seen a few Bollywood films, some good some bad, but my knowledge of them is sketchy and doesn’t include this one.

    Speaking of that TCM series it came in very handy this week for coming up with titles I was sure I hadn’t used before since three of my four were new to me. The other, the Ida Lupino film, is one I’ve enjoyed many times and I wanted to include it because I love Ida. She was quite a trailblazer. While women directors were not uncommon in the silent era by the 50’s they had all but vanished and during that period she was the only one registered with the DGA.

    The Hitch-Hiker (1953)-Two buddies Ray (Edmond O’Brien) and Gilbert (Frank Lovejoy) head off for what is supposed to be a relaxing fishing trip but make the mistake of picking up an innocuous hitchhiker Emmett Myers (William Talman) who turns out to be a sociopath on the run from the law. Knowing that he’s a killer and sure that as soon as he’s done with them they are dead they plot an escape. But their plan is hampered by the fact that even when he sleeps Myers keeps one eye open. Director Ida Lupino, the only woman in the 50’s listed as a member of the DGA, keeps the action economical and the atmosphere tense.

    The Ascent (1977)-In the deep winter of the German countryside during WWII a pair of starving Soviet soldiers leave their unit in search of food but are captured by a Nazi patrol. Tortured for information they don’t possess one of them stands by his principles while the other seeks a way out but both pay a heavy cost. A big success upon release this proved to be the final film of director Larisa Shepitko who was killed along with her crew in a car accident shortly afterwards scouting locations for her next film.

    Daughters of the Dust (1991)-Julie Dash directed this look at the Gullah community off the coast of South Carolina at the turn of the last century where the descendants of former slaves kept a mix of African and colonial ways alive. As the changing times intermingle with the old ways conflicts ensue.

    Zero Motivation (2014)-Stationed in a remote desert location a disparate group of female Israeli soldiers wait until their period of service is up while they bicker, bond and fight against the ennui that comes with living in such an isolated spot. Tayla Lavie directs this with a fine mix of humor and gravitas.

    1. I’ve just had to look up TCM (I’m in the UK) – looks like a good channel!

      I understand what you mean about it not being “entertainment to me”. I feel the same about horror films, especially psychological ones like the Saw series.

      I’m with you on Sleepless in Seattle – it’s all about the connection they feel through hearing each other’s voices and stealing those glimpses of each other (although they don’t realise it yet). And totally agree – the supporting cast are excellent.

      Thanks for bringing Ida Lupino to my attention. I’ll look out for films by (and starring) her.

      Interesting picks:
      The Hitch-Hiker sounds very tense!
      – What a tragic death for Shepitko
      Daughters of the Dust sounds like it is worth watching (just looked it up online)
      Zero Motivation sounds fun. Hopefully I’ll be able to watch that sometime. I’m not sure I’ve seen any Israeli films before

  3. I LOVED We Need To Talk About Kevin. She did a great job of adapting the book, and I wish she would’ve gotten an Oscar nom for directing that. (among many other Oscars it deserved)

  4. I have only seen Sleepless in Seattle which is a great romcom and one I can watch over and over. I’d love to see the Bollywood film which seems very interesting and fun.

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