20 Famous Movies You Didn’t Realize Were Directed by Women

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We’re in the thick of awards season, which means lots of conversations are happening both in real life and on the internet. One of the more popular topics has to do with the lack of female directors nominated. For instance, Greta Gerwig and Patty Jenkins were both left off the Golden Globe nominee list for Best Director. Despite both women directing two of the most critically acclaimed films this year, they got snubbed.

And then the most wonderful thing happened: throughout all of the outrage, Gerwig was nominated for a much-deserved Oscar. It still sucks – badly – that Jenkins is nowhere to be seen even though Wonder Woman broke pretty much every record there is to break, and the fact that Gerwig is the only female director nominated. (Where’s Dee Rees’ nomination?!)

Because it’s ridiculous that men are still reaping the benefits of literally everything, we decided to put together a list of 20 movies you didn’t realize (or forgot) were directed by women. Because females are strong as hell…and they make dope movies.

Pet Sematary directed by Mary Lambert.

You probably know this movie as the film that really scared you when you were little. It’s horrifying, and totally directed by a woman. Seriously, am I the only one who still gets nightmares from this?

Brave directed by Brenda Chapman.

The Disney/Pixar animated film was co-directed by Brenda Chapman. It made over $500 million dollars in the box office and won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

The Babadook directed by Jennifer Kent.

You may know The Babadook as being an LGBT icon, but he’s also the titular monster from Jennifer Kent’s 2014 horror flick. It’s a cult classic and arguably one of the scariest movies from the last few years.

The Hurt Locker directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

This isn’t the firs time you’ll see Kathryn Bigelow’s name on this list. The powerhouse director helmed this 2008 drama starring Jeremy Renner.

Boys Don’t Cry directed by Kimberly Peirce.

Hilary Swank took home the Oscar for her role as the transgendered Brandon Teena. The film was remarkably poignant and beautifully directed, and we have Kimberly Peirce to thank for that. Keep reading for more films directed by women!

Monster directed by Patty Jenkins.

Okay, let’s just call it like it is: Patty Jenkins is a real life Wonder Woman. Before she directed Gal Gadot in 2017’s biggest superhero movie, she directed Charlize Theron as serial killer Aileen Wuornos.

We Need To Talk About Kevin directed by Lynne Ramsay.

“Disturbing” doesn’t seem like a strong enough word to describe this movie about the life young Kevin, who is mentally troubled enough to wreak havoc on his family and school. Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly star alongside Ezra Miller in this harrowing film.

Winter’s Bone directed by Debra Granik.

Would we have J. Law if it weren’t for Debra Granik? Yes, probably, but Granik directed Lawrence in the movie that earned the actress her first Academy Award nomination.

Bend It Like Beckham directed by Gurinder Chadha.

This movie is everything, and we don’t say that lightly. It’s so good and so adorable and funny that you need to view it ASAP. It stars a baby-faced Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll probably want to start playing soccer.

The Kids Are All Right directed by Lisa Cholodenko.

Cholodenko directed this movie starring Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, and Mark Ruffalo. Talk about a star-studded cast! Also, this movie will 100% make you want to throw a dinner party with expensive wine and fresh, locally-grown produce. What other movies were directed by women?

Lost In Translation directed by Sofia Coppola.

With a last name like Coppola, you pretty much have to go into the movie-making business, right? The daughter of legendary Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia is an artistic force in her own right.

Big directed by Penny Marshall.

Penny Marshall (sister of Gary Marshall, once married to Rob Reiner) directed Tom Hanks in Big and this fact alone is the greatest gift to mankind. What a joy this film is, and what a wonderful director bringing it to life.

Fast Times At Ridgemont High directed by Amy Heckerling.

You may be thinking, “Wait. Why do I recognize Amy Heckerling’s name?” Probably because she also directed (and wrote) Clueless, everyone’s favorite movie. Which still totally holds up to this day. Heckerling gave us two movies that defined pop culture when they were released.

American Pyscho directed by Mary Harron.

Harron not only directed the movie that defined Christian Bale’s career, but she also adapted the screenplay from the book. Girl knows her horror/thriller/slasher genre.

Wayne’s World directed by Penelope Spheeris.

Did you know Wayne’s World was directed by a woman? Because we sure didn’t. In what has to be the most dude buddy comedy of all time, it’s pretty spectacular that a woman was behind the film. Keep reading for more women-directed movies!

Billy Madison directed by Tamra Davis.

Davis directed this Adam Sandler gem that hit theatres in 1995. We honestly just want to thank her for the “stop looking at me swan!” scene.

Half Baked directed by…yep, Tamra Davis.

Davis hits the list again with the stoner comedy starring Dave Chappelle. The film was made just three years after Billy Madison.

Deep Impact directed by Mimi Leder.

Leder directed this wild action movie starring…well, everyone: Robert Duvall, Téa Leoni, Elijah Wood, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell…the list goes on and on. You might recognize Leder’s name from credits more recent – she’s the executive producer of HBO’s The Leftovers (which she also directs), and directs Shameless. 

Zero Dark Thirty directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

Our girl Bigelow again! She directed the 2012 film starring Jesscia Chastain that chronicles the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Point Break directed by…YOU GUESSED IT! KATHRYN BIGELOW.

To say we’re obsessed is an understatement. Hi Kathryn, we love you. Bigelow directed this 1991 surfer crime flick starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze.