Kernel – Movie News and Reviews

Five Great Films You Probably Didn’t Know Were Directed by Women

5 min read

We now live in a world where female directors are beginning to receive the recognition and plaudits they deserve. There are more women directing mainstream movies and becoming household names in cinema, regardless of the fact that the academy awards snub them each year. Sofia Coppola for one has had much success, she directed the hit comedy Lost in Translation (2003) which, 17 years later, still receives high acclaim and wows audiences. Kathryn Bigelow has directed some great dramas, such as Zero Dark Thirty (2012) and is STILL the only woman to have won an Oscar for best director. That was for The Hurt Locker (2008) which swooped six awards on the night. More recently, Greta Gerwig, who is one of my favourite directors working today, has smashed it out of the park both with Lady Bird (2017) and then with Little Women (2019). These three directors, though amazing as they are, are very well known to movie buffs worldwide. However, I want to look at some of those films you may not have realised had female directors. So, here are five great films you probably didn’t know were directed by women.


Big (1988) is a real 80s classic and, along with Splash (1984) helped to kick start Tom Hanks’ long and illustrious career. Big was directed by Penny Marshall and is about a 13-year-old boy who makes a wish to a fortune telling machine at an amusement park, turning him into a fully grown adult. This sweet, fantasy drama plays its cards right and manages to keep the childish nature of the character present throughout. The recent DC film Shazam (2019) certainly owes a lot to the film with a very similar premise. Big, like The Goonies (1985), is a film which to anyone who was a child in the 1980s, is a perfect piece of cinema, above all criticism and they won’t hear a bad word said about it – take it from someone who’s tried!

You Were Never Really Here

Lynne Ramsay directed a hard-hitting psychological thriller with You Were Never Really Here (2017). The film won two awards at the Cannes Film Festival, Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix and Lynne Ramsey herself won the award for Best Screenplay. The film is based on the novel of the same name and follows Joe, a brooding hero saving young trafficked girls while caring for his elderly mother and struggling with his own mental health. I could have picked a few Lynne Ramsay films, such as We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) or Ratcatcher (1999), however You Were Never Really Here is the one that stands out for me. The film paints such a murky picture and bleakly portraits the subject matter with themes such as grief and death. Themes which are all too familiar to fans of Ramsay’s work.

Wayne’s World

Three years after Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) had teenagers in stitches at the brilliant Sc-fi comedy came Wayne’s World (1992). It’s fair to say that Penelope Spheeris took more than one leaf out of Bill & Ted’s joke book with Wayne’s World, I’ll leave it up to you to decide which comic duo is superior. Wayne and Garth run a rockin’ TV show but when a local station decides to hire them, things just don’t quite seem the same between the two. This may be the most surprising movie on the list to have been directed by a woman, after all who knew women could ever be so funny? Apparently, Hollywood still have a hard time believing it. All joking aside, or rather all joking front and centre, Wayne’s World has you laughing from the first minute and doesn’t let up, even well into the sequel.

The Babadook

Yes, there’s a horror film on the list. I haven’t forgotten about all you horror fans out there, even if every awards ceremony since the beginning of time has. The Babadook (2014) is often mentioned as one of the scariest films of the last decade and was extremely well received by critics and audiences alike. A single mother haunted by the death of her husband, struggles with her six-year-old son’s obsession with an imaginary monster which torments you only once you’re aware of its existence. Jennifer Kent directed a horror phenomenon with The Babadook and has continued to impress with her latest film, The Nightingale (2018). If she maintains this form, she may well be sitting on the modern horror director’s throne, alongside a certain Jordan Peele.

American Psycho

American Psycho (2000) is the Christian Bale movie in my opinion. That is a huge claim I know. For others it may be The Machinist (2004) or The Fighter (2010) or any of The Dark Knight films, but for me this is the epitome of Bale as an actor. As you may have guessed American Psycho is one of my favourite movies of all time, I cannot get enough of it. It was the first film to come to mind directed by a woman, Mary Harron, in this case and in all honestly, I could talk about it all day. I can’t go a week without quoting Patrick Bateman. Bateman is a wall street banker who has a psychotic side unbeknownst to his friends and colleagues. However, over time his blood lust becomes too much to handle. Harron directed a near perfect satire but in many cases, people can completely miss the fact it is indeed a satire and yet, still enjoy the horror/thriller elements. The novel it is based on brought a lot of criticism, particularly from feminist spokespeople. In fact, Bret Easton Ellis who wrote the book said he received 13 death threats before it was even published. So, what better idea from Lions Gate than to hire a female director to make all the hate go away? Well it didn’t exactly work out that way and the thought may be a touch cynical, but hey, when Patrick Bateman is involved maybe it’s best to be a cynic.

These are just a few films directed by women, of course there are plenty more out there to enjoy! Are there any films you think should’ve made our list? Let us know in the comment section or on Twitter. Be sure to download the Kernel App to keep up to date with all the latest movie news. Now if you excuse me, I have to return some video tapes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *