The Best Female Directors

Originally By 3.9k votes 472 voters 42k views 115 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Only women who are film directors

The best female directors include an Academy Award winner, members of Hollywood's royal families and a whole bunch of ladies who make beautiful things happen when they're behind the camera. While women might be the minority among the greatest directors in movie history that doesn't mean they are any less talented.

It's hard to argue against Kathryn Bigelow as a top pick for the best female director of all time. For her work on "The Hurt Locker" in 2009, she became the first woman to take home the prized Oscar for Best Director. Bigelow proved herself as no one-trick pony in 2012 when she received numerous accolades for her direction of "Zero Dark Thirty."

Bigelow's Oscar buzz was easily the most mainstream of any female director in the recent past but she surely isn't the first female director to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. In 1976 Lina Wertmuller received a nomination for "Seven Beauties,in 1993 Jane Champion was nominated for "The Piano," and in 2003 Sofia Coppola, daughter of the great Francis Ford Coppola, was up for the award for "Lost in Translation."

But for every Oscar-nominated female director, there are dozens right behind also creating great movies. Isa Lupino, Penny Marshall, Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers and Amy Heckerling are just a few of those names and each directing poignant and quality films on a regular basis.

Has a female director become an inspiration or favorite of yours? Have a beloved female director in mind that's not listed? Vote for those you enjoy, add any not listed or re-rank this list of the best female directors below. Who knows, maybe these talented women will soon be considered some of the greatest living American directors.
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  • 11 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 168
    - 70

    the people's #1
    The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, Near Dark

    ;
  2. 2
    + 160
    - 77


    Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides, The Bling Ring

    ;
  3. 3
    + 86
    - 47

    most listed
    The Piano

    ;
  4. 4
    + 102
    - 58


    Big, Awakenings, A League of Their Own

    ;
  5. 5
    + 57
    - 36

    added by carlybobarly
    Away From Her, Stories We Tell, Take This Waltz

    ;
  6. 6
    + 34
    - 19


    Last Tango in Paris, Cleo from 5 to 7, Vagabond

    ;
  7. 7
    + 60
    - 42


    American Psycho, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, I Shot Andy Warhol

    ;
  8. 8
    + 24
    - 17

    added by Ibetolis
    Fish Tank, Wasp, Red Road

    ;
  9. 9
    + 41
    - 19

    added by jobill
    The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, Contact

    ;
  10. 10
    + 51
    - 14

    ranked low on reranks & added by micktravis
    Triumph of the Will, Olympia, The Holy Mountain

    ;
  11. 11
    + 54
    - 46


    Frida, Titus

    ;
  12. 12
    + 24
    - 17

    added by weik
    Monster

    ;
  13. 13
    + 86
    - 77


    Julie & Julia, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail

    ;
  14. 14
    + 68
    - 72


    Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, I Could Never Be Your Woman

    ;
  15. 15
    + 32
    - 20

    added by weik
    Boys Don't Cry, Carrie, Stop-Loss

    ;
  16. 16
    + 42
    - 39

    added by carlybobarly
    An Education

    ;
  17. 17
    + 42
    - 44

    added by wiabux
    The Parent Trap, Father of the Bride, Something's Gotta Give Something's Gotta Give, It's Complicated, What Women Want, The Holiday, Parent Trap

    ;
  18. 18
    + 27
    - 24

    added by carlybobarly
    We Need to Talk About Kevin, Morvern Callar, Ratcatcher

    ;
  19. 19
    + 14
    - 11

    added by weik
    The Man Who Cried, Orlando, Yes

    ;
  20. 20
    + 23
    - 22

    added by hrundo
    The Intruder, White Material, Beau Travail

    ;
  21. 21
    + 10
    - 7

    added by weik
    Whale Rider, North Country, McFarland

    ;
  22. 22
    + 25
    - 27


    Wayne's World, Suburbia, The Decline of Western Civilization

    ;
  23. 23
    + 21
    - 22

    added by hrundo
    Persepolis, Chicken with Plums, Les beaux gosses (The French Kissers)

    ;
  24. 24
    + 16
    - 14

    added by Ibetolis
    Wendy and Lucy, Wendy and Lucy, Meek's Cutoff

    ;
  25. 25
    + 23
    - 3

    ranked low on reranks & added by Mollevangsvagen
    Metropolis, M, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

    ;
  26. 26
    + 27
    - 32

    added by Trioxin245
    Kung Fu Panda, Maleficent, Mr. & Mrs. Smith

    ;
  27. 27
    + 33
    - 34

    added by PeteBoyle
    Whip It, Curious George, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

    ;
  28. 28
    + 18
    - 2
    No image

    ranked low on reranks & added by Mollevangsvagen
    The Adventures of Prince Achmed, Das Ornament des verliebten Herzens, ...

    ;
  29. 29
    + 37
    - 42

    added by weik
    The Kids Are All Right, Laurel Canyon, High Art

    ;
  30. 30
    + 13
    - 9

    added by micktravis
    Esmeralda, Algie the Miner, La Fée aux Choux

    ;
  31. 31
    + 9
    - 13

    added by weik
    Real Genius, Valley Girl, The Prince and Me

    ;
  32. 32
    + 12
    - 10
    No image

    added by weik
    Little Women, Oscar and Lucinda, Charlotte Gray

    ;
  33. 33
    + 31
    - 38

    added by weik
    Winter’s Bone, Down to the Bone, Stray Dog

    ;
  34. 34
    + 7
    - 7
    No image

    added by weik
    Slums of Beverly Hills, Happy Accidents, The Savages

    ;
  35. 35
    + 7
    - 8

    added by weik
    Bridget Jones's Diary, Incendiary, Call Me Crazy: A Five Film

    ;
  36. 36
    + 16
    - 14


    Daisies, Something Different, Fruit of Paradise

    ;
  37. 37
    + 28
    - 30

    added by weik
    Monsoon Wedding, Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala

    ;
  38. 38
    + 10
    - 7

    added by weik
    Can't Hardly Wait, John Tucker Must Die, Private Parts

    ;
  39. 39
    + 20
    - 19

    added by carlybobarly
    My Father and I, Adore, Coco Before Chanel

    ;
  40. 40
    + 13
    - 4

    added by weik
    The Graduate, Tootsie, Heaven Can Wait

    ;
  41. 41
    + 13
    - 23

    often listed & added by hrundo
    The Blot, Hypocrites, Where Are My Children?

    ;
  42. 42
    + 12
    - 8

    added by weik
    Meshes of the Afternoon, At Land, Cinema16: American Short Films

    ;
  43. 43
    + 22
    - 39

    often listed & added by carlybobarly
    Elsker dig for evigt (Open Hearts), Brothers (Brødre), Efter ...

    ;
  44. 44
    + 16
    - 13

    added by weik
    Enough Said, Lovely and Amazing, Friends with Money

    ;
  45. 45
    + 8
    - 4
    No image

    added by weik
    I Am Sam, So I Married an Axe Murderer, Stepmom

    ;
  46. 46
    + 19
    - 10


    The Deer Hunter, Out of Africa, Kramer vs. Kramer

    ;
  47. 47
    + 11
    - 23

    added by hrundo
    Blood & Sand

    ;
  48. 48
    + 7
    - 10

    added by weik
    Me and You and Everyone We Know, Jesus' Son, The Center of the World

    ;
  49. 49
    + 6
    - 9

    added by schuechen
    The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, Vision – From the Life of Hildegard von ...

    ;
  50. 50
    + 2
    - 0

    added by iandmph
    The Forest for the Trees, Sleeping Sickness, Everyone Else

    ;
116 +

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