OPINION: My current favorite female directors


Graphic by Bradley Hinkson

Bradley Hinkson

Our news feeds for the entire month of March have been bombarded with constant updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s all anyone is talking about, which has swept any celebration of Women’s History Month to the side.  

In a way to hopefully give ourselves a little bit of a distraction from the panic going on outside, I want to celebrate this month by looking at some of my favorite current female directors.

Greta Gerwig

Right off the bat this is an admittedly easy choice but one that is rightfully deserved.

With her films, Gerwig has shown herself to be an extremely personal but tender filmmaker. She deeply cares about her characters and bringing them to life. You can see it in “Lady Bird” with the relationship she crafts between Lady Bird and her mother. You also see it in “Little Women” with each of the March sisters and the focus she puts on them. You start to feel like you’ve known these characters for so long.

Her dialogue is quick and witty but can also pack a seriously emotional gut punch. In “Little Women,” you have these great sequences where the March sisters are exchanging quips with each other, with a lot of overlapping dialogue, but then you also get these moments where Jo exclaims how much she pains to see women be destined for love while also feeling lonely herself. 

Gerwig is making herself a household name.

Story continues below video.

Marielle Heller

For me, Heller doesn’t get the recognition she so rightfully deserves.

With “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” Heller has shown how she can craft intimate character studies that break the mold of traditional biopics.

In “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” she takes a fairly unlikeable person like Lee Israel and paints a sympathetic portrait of someone who likes loneliness and struggles with writer’s block. With “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” she doesn’t decide to make a biopic about Fred Rogers’ life but one about the legacy and impact he had on people. She makes real human stories.

Two years in a row she was snubbed for her work during award show season.

Heller is the kind of filmmaker who should be on people’s radar. The way she deeply cares about the emotion and lives of people in a genre of film that cares more about their story is something really special.

Story continues below video.

Lulu Wang

Wang gained much acclaim after “The Farewell” came out last year and with it showed that she is going to be a name people will be on the lookout for. 

With “The Farewell,” Wang shows that she can take an emotional story and not fall into some sort of cheap sentimentality. She takes this personal story, based on a real experience with her grandmother, and focuses on how the choices made are based around culture and generational differences. 

Just with this film alone, Wang has proven herself. She tells a very human story that finds its emotional beats through real emotions, not anything forced. She has these great moments where we watch this family simply discuss their beliefs or watch them play games at the wedding. She makes these characters feel real, not like props to get an emotional reaction out of the audience.

Wang has a big career ahead of her and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Story continues below video.

Lily Wachowski and Lana Wachowski

Despite creating one of the most influential films of all time, “The Matrix,” I feel like the Wachowski sisters don’t get the recognition they deserve.

To me, they are some of the most ambitious filmmakers working in the mainstream. Whether you like their films or not, there’s no denying that these two are incredibly ambitious in their scope and stories. I am a huge sucker for pure, unfiltered directorial ambition.

They’ve been ambitious since “The Matrix” and have gone on to do these strange but completely original films. Their 2008 film “Speed Racer” is one of the most formally unique blockbusters ever made and deserves a full on revaluation from how it was perceived when it was released.

They don’t do films constantly but when a new film by them comes out, it’s always something different and special. I can’t wait to see what Lana will be doing now that she is returning to make another “Matrix” film.

Story continues below video.

Recognizing female directors is so important. The field is extremely male centric and women still have to fight to be seen on the same level as their male counterparts. To this day, only one woman has won Best Director at the Oscars. 

But it isn’t just important to recognize them, you must also support them. Try to find these filmmakers and watch their work. Show that you care about their voices and that you want to see more from them.