The Best Female Directors

Originally By 3.5k votes 429 voters 32k views 111 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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  1. 1
    + 163
    - 64
    Kathryn Bigelow is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Female Directors


    Kathryn Bigelow The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, Near Dark

  2. 2
    + 154
    - 70
    Sofia Coppola is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Directors

    most listed
    Sofia Coppola Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides, The Bling Ring

  3. 3
    + 81
    - 42
    Jane Campion is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Female Directors


    Jane Campion The Piano

  4. 4
    + 94
    - 50
    Penny Marshall is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Female Directors


    Penny Marshall Big, Awakenings, A League of Their Own

  5. 5
    + 52
    - 32

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

    ;
  6. 6
    + 55
    - 37


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

    ;
  7. 7
    + 46
    - 8

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

    ;
  8. 8
    + 31
    - 15


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

    ;
  9. 9
    + 52
    - 40


    Frida, Titus

    ;
  10. 10
    + 83
    - 69


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

    ;
  11. 11
    + 22
    - 14

    added by weik
    Monster

    ;
  12. 12
    + 66
    - 67


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

    ;
  13. 13
    + 21
    - 14

    added by Ibetolis
    Fish Tank, Wasp, Red Road

    ;
  14. 14
    + 32
    - 16
    Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Female Directors

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

  15. 15
    + 41
    - 40

    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

    ;
  16. 16
    + 30
    - 18

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

    ;
  17. 17
    + 40
    - 36

    added by carlybobarly
    An Education

    ;
  18. 18
    + 24
    - 22


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

    ;
  19. 19
    + 24
    - 21
    Lynne Ramsay is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Female Directors

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

  20. 20
    + 37
    - 37
    Lisa Cholodenko is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Female Directors

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

  21. 21
    + 12
    - 8

    added by weik
    The Man Who Cried, Orlando, Yes

    ;
  22. 22
    + 24
    - 27
    Angelina Jolie is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Female Directors

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

  23. 23
    + 30
    - 33

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

    ;
  24. 24
    + 31
    - 31
    Drew Barrymore is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Female Directors

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

  25. 25
    + 13
    - 7

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

    ;
  26. 26
    + 9
    - 6
    Niki Caro is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Female Directors

    added by weik
    Niki Caro Whale Rider, North Country, McFarland^! USA

  27. 27
    + 12
    - 8
    No image

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

    ;
  28. 28
    + 20
    - 2

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

    ;
  29. 29
    + 20
    - 21

    added by hrundo
    The Intruder, White Material, Beau Travail

    ;
  30. 30
    + 20
    - 21

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

    ;
  31. 31
    + 15
    - 14

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

    ;
  32. 32
    + 8
    - 12

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

    ;
  33. 33
    + 7
    - 8

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

    ;
  34. 34
    + 27
    - 28

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

    ;
  35. 35
    + 15
    - 14


    Daisies, Something Different, Fruit of Paradise

    ;
  36. 36
    + 10
    - 6
    Betty Thomas is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Female Directors

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

  37. 37
    + 6
    - 7
    No image

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

    ;
  38. 38
    + 13
    - 4

    added by weik
    The Graduate, Tootsie, Heaven Can Wait

    ;
  39. 39
    + 19
    - 19

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

    ;
  40. 40
    + 13
    - 23

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

    ;
  41. 41
    + 8
    - 4
    No image

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

    ;
  42. 42
    + 16
    - 13

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

    ;
  43. 43
    + 11
    - 8

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

    ;
  44. 44
    + 16
    - 2
    No image

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

    ;
  45. 45
    + 11
    - 23

    often listed & added by hrundo
    Blood & Sand

    ;
  46. 46
    + 18
    - 23
    Agnieszka Holland is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Female Directors

    added by weik
    Agnieszka Holland The Secret Garden, Three Colors: Blue, Europa Europa

  47. 47
    + 11
    - 11
    Lina Wertmüller is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Female Directors

    added by weik
    Lina Wertmüller Swept Away, American Pop, Swept Away

  48. 48
    + 9
    - 7

    added by weik
    Last Tango in Paris, Fat Girl, Romance

    ;
  49. 49
    + 5
    - 8

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

    ;
  50. 50
    + 6
    - 6

    added by weik
    The Ascent, Wings, Farewell

    ;
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