Thursday, November 26, 2020

Girl Week 2020: Women Directed Films I'm Watching

   Happy Thanksgiving! Eat, drink, and be merry!

    Of course, that goes out to all who celebrate Thanksgiving. If you're in a country that doesn't, or just choose to abstain I hope you enjoy your day as well. Thanks for spending a small part of it with me. While you're here, let's talk movies.

    It's day 4 of Girl Week 2020. Today, I want to do something just a little bit different. I'm going to let you know how I disappointed myself so far this year, and possibly help you find something to watch, too.

    Over the last few years I've noticed a lot of people online taking part in a challenge. It's to watch 52 films directed by women in a given year. I haven't officially decided to try it. Truth is, most of the time I don't pay attention to who the director is of a movie before watching. Sure, some films I do know beforehand who made them. For instance, I knew Martin Scorsese made The Irishman long before it was released. My willingness to watch any movie combined with the amount of movies I watch made me overconfident with regards to the challenge. Even before this pandemic-riddled year I was watching four or five films a week. In 2020, thanks to lots of extra time at home due to COVID-19, that number is closer to seven, or a movie a day. I figured I'd make it to 52 female-helmed films thanks to the sheer volume of what I was taking in. Boy, was I wrong.

    Dead wrong.

Dee Rees, director

    As of this writing I've watched 319 movies in 2020. I don't say that to brag, but to point out how I was completely wrong in assuming I would just bump in to 52 female-directed films just because. It just doesn't work that way. Of all those movies only 34 were directed or co-directed by women. I might still make it to 52 this year, but it's going to take a more personal effort over the next month. This won't be a problem next year. I am definitely going to take part in that challenge in 2021. 

    If you're already taking part in the challenge, or you're just looking to watch more female helmed films, I'm going to share the titles and directors of all 34 that I was fortunate enough to watch. They're listed in chronological order of when I watched them.

Cathy Yan, director

Quick Key: [A] = Animated  [D] = Documentary  [N] = Non-English  [X] = Exploitation


Tall Girl (2019) - Nzingha Stewart

Lost in Translation (2003) - Sofia Coppola

Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) - Cathy Yan

The Photograph (2020) - Stella Meghie

Queen & Slim (2019) - Melina Matsoukas

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) - Celine Sciamma [N]

Fast Color (2018) - Julia Hart

Selah and the Spades (2019) - Tayarisha Poe

Honey Boy (2019) - Alma Har'el

Double Agent 73 (1974) - Doris Wishman [X]

Abominable (2019) - Jill Culton [A]

The Last Thing He Wanted (2020) - Dee Rees

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron (2002) - Lorna Cook and Kelly Asbury [A]

On Body and Soul (2017) - Ildiko Enyedi [N]

Knives and Skin (2019) - Jennifer Reeder

The Old Guard (2020) - Gina Prince Bythewood

Desperados (2020) - LP (aka Lauren Palmigiano)

Loving Vincent (2017) - Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman [A]

Diary of a Nudist (1961) - Dorothy Wishman [X]

The One and Only Ivan (2020) - Thea Sharrock

Black is King (2020) - Beyonce Knowles-Carter, Jenn Nkiru, and 7 others

The Matrix (1999) - Lilly and Lana Wachowski

Teach Us All (2017) - Sonia Lowman [D]

The Sleepover (2020) - Trish Sie

The Slumber Party Massacre (1982) - Amy Holden Jones [X]

Slumber Party Massacre II (1987) - Deborah Brock [X]

Slumber Party Massacre III (1990) - Sally Mattison [X]

Mulan (2020) - Niki Caro

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) - Marielle Heller

Charlie's Angels (2019) - Elizabeth Banks

Loop (2020) - Erica Milsom [A]

The 40-Year-Old Version (2020) - Radha Blank

Becoming (2020) - Nadia Hallgren [D]

Memory Games (2018) - Janet Tobias and Claus Wehlisch [D]

Elizabeth Banks, director/actor

Some of these movies will show up later in the week when I do the Quick and Dirties, so you'll get a better feel for some. One or two might even get full-length reviews. Hope you find something to watch. Feel free to suggest something for me to watch, as well.

Addendum: Just as a way to keep track, I'm adding female directed films I watched in 2020 after this post was originally published.

Frozen II (2019) - Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) - Patty Jenkins

The High Note (2020) - Nisha Ganatra

Check out yesterday's post for Girl Week 2020:

Super-reader Joel


  1. So far, I've seen 30 films this year based on my list so far as I got some films in my DVR that I hope to watch though it's been really slow for me right now. I hope to reach 52 by the end of the year.

  2. That's a good goal to set! I've only seen two of these-The Matrix (hated it!) and Another Day in the Neighborhood (liked very much) but I've heard of several others. Okay I saw bits (no pun intended) of Slumber Party Massacre but unsurprisingly discovered it was not for me!

    Even though I've only seen a couple of these I've seen a great many women directed movies this year thanks to a 14 week series TCM is running right now (though it's winding down) called Women Make Film. Each Tuesday the two female host-Alicia Malone and Jacqueline Stewart-along with guests who join via video present about half a dozen movies from around the world. It's been a treasure trove, though like any treasure there have been a few slugs mixed in!

    I've discovered after multiple tries that I hate all Chantal Akerman directed films! Her most famous picture is Jeanne Dielman which was agony. To give you some idea here's Roger Ebert's review of the film “I hated this movie. Hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it"

    Anyway it's been a very interesting and for the most part rewarding series.

    Here's the ones I liked the most though there were several more that I either indifferent to or disliked. The ones with a * are the ones I liked the most:

    Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)-Dorothy Arzner
    Olivia (1951)-Jacqueline Audry*
    Mädchen in Uniform (1931)-Leontine Sagan*
    In the Empty City (2004)-Maria João Ganga
    The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) Lotte Reiniger
    Entre Nous (1983) Diane Kurys
    Harlan County U.S.A. (1976) Barbara Kopple
    Zero Motivation (2014) Talya Lavie*
    Strangers in Good Company (1990) Cynthia Scott
    Daughters of the Dust (1991) Julie Dash*
    Krane’s Confectionery (1951) Astrid Henning-Jensen
    Middle of Nowhere (2012) Ava DuVernay
    Beau Travail (1999) Claire Denis*
    My American Cousin (1985) Sandy Wilson
    Antonia’s Line (1995) Marleen Gorris
    The Ascent (1977) Larisa Shepitko*
    The Erl King (1931) Marie-Louise Iribe
    Dogfight (1991) Nancy Savoca
    Danzón (1991) Maria Novaro
    Tomka and His Friends (1977) Xhanfize Keko
    Fools in the Mountains (1957) Edith Carlmar
    Party Girl (1995) Daisy von Scherler Mayer
    Mabel’s Strange Predicament (1914) Mabel Normand
    Foreign Letters (2012) Ela Thier
    Hannah Arendt (2012) Margarethe von Trotta*
    Shoes (1916) Lois Weber
    This is the Sea (1997) Mary McGuckian
    The Teckman Mystery (1954) Wendy Toye

    They also showed Outrage directed by Ida Lupino which I'd seen before but in the 50's she was the only woman who was an accredited member of the DGA. All her films are worth seeking out but I'd recommend The Hitch-Hiker (her best film as director), The Trouble with Angels and The Bigamist (where she directs herself) as the best place to start.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. So, you haven't seen Lost in Translation? Interesting. Of the others, I recommend Portrait of Lady on Fire, Fast Color, and Queen and Slim.

      I haven't seen any of yours. Daughters of the Dust has been hitting my radar a lot in recent weeks. Hopefully, I'll get to see that one soon.

    2. Ack Dell! How did I miss that Lost in Translation was on the list? I did see that one, I just didn't care all that much for it. I didn't hate it but I wasn't overly impressed with it either. I'll never watch it again. I've seen both her Marie Antoinette and The Virgin Suicides (that one was part of the Women Make Film batch but I didn't mention it because I'd seen it previously) and didn't love either of them. Virgin Suicides was the best of the bunch.

      I love Elizabeth Banks as an actress so I should check out her take on Charlie's Angels though to be honest I was never that much of a fan of the original series often finding it dumb as dirt.

    3. Truth told, I didn't care much for Lost in Translation, either. It was..ok.

      I too love Banks as an actress. As a director, she leaves lots to be desired. If you thought the original series and/or the early 2000s movies were dumb then definitely don't bother with this version. It's arguably the worst of the lot.

    4. Younhave a great list too Joel and I haven’t seen any although I want to see some of the ones you mentioned and would love to see Lois Weber’s films since she was a breakout in early cinema,

  3. 34 is still an impressive number and most definitely more than me this year (I think - I haven't check yet).
    Sorry I haven't put anything together this week myself, it's been an odd week and I haven't been blogging. Your post today is the kind of post I did for the last 2 years though so I'm hoping to do that again tonight or tomorrow night!

    1. Thanks, but it's disappointing to me because the ratio is still far more lopsided than it should be. I knew there were lots more movies directed by men, but I was under the impression that it was getting better. Most of the films I've watched this year were released 2017 or later and struggled to get as many as I did. Plus, I'm fully aware that the average person doesn't watch nearly as many movies as I do. So, how many who only watch the occasional film will not see a female directed movie at all in a given year?

      I'm looking forward to your post. I understand that life intervenes, though. If for some reason you don't get to it, no worries. Take care of what's important first.

  4. I haven't gone back and looked at how many female directed films I've gotten to this year. I'd like to do that 52 challenge one day too, but like you I don't always look at the director before I watch. I need to go count those.

  5. Ok, i suck at seeing films directed by women. I saw the Matrix...not a fan of these flicks and Lost In Translation which I didn’t mind. I wasn’t got smacked like so many but it was good. What happened to Giovanni Ribisi? I have seen a few films directed by women but few.

  6. I'm officially giving it a shot next year as I need to watch more films directed by women. Anyway, I've seen several of those you mentioned and I really, really loved Lost in Translation and Birds of Prey. Becoming was good too but I didn't love it because I read Michelle's memoir before watching the documentary so I wasn't always engaged. But I'd say that it's very interesting and informative for someone who hasn't.