Film directing is a field seemingly dominated by males. Despite making up roughly 50% of the population there has only ever been four women nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director, and only one winner. One win in 87 tries doesn’t exactly feel like fairness, and it isn’t just “prestige pictures” that women are being shut out of. Nearly every big-budget studio movie is directed by males; even the female skewing movies The Hunger Games, Sex and the City, The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, and the very recent The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones were all directed by males. The one time a female gets to direct a big-budget movie is for Twilight, and even poor Catherine Hardwicke got taken off the bigger-budgeted sequels.
More and more we are seeing women directing TV shows, which is a good sign due to the increased interest and praise of television artistry in shows like Breaking Bad (with episodes directed by Michelle MacLaren), Mad Men (with episodes directed by Jennifer Getzinger), and the oft-mentioned series Girls created by director Lena Dunham. But even though things seem to be trending upward in television, high profile movies rarely have female directors. So a few names on this list may be unfamiliar, but their work stands out not just as “good efforts by a female director” but great films that just happen to be directed by a woman. Many have only directed a few features (such is the nature of being in a male-centric medium), but their work stands out nonetheless.
A few honorable mentions who just missed the cut: Maggie Carey, Mira Nair, Nicole Holofcener, and the recently on-hiatus Penny Marshall. Now onto the list.
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