female professionals The Greatest Female Film Directors  

Jeff Moore
Originally by
5.1k votes 605 voters 48k views 100 items Embed

List Rules 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. Though women might be the minority among the greatest directors in movie history, they are not any less talented than male directors. Who is the best female director? 

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, Patty Jenkins, 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. Including American female film directors and more, this list of great women in directing has them all.

Vote for the best woman directors in Hollywood. Feel free to add any good female directors missing from the list. Only women who directed movies are qualified. 

list ordered by

1
199 81
Kathryn Bigelow is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Kathryn Bigelow Detroit, Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker

25 Celebrities Who Quit Being Famous The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors

2
185 96
Sofia Coppola is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Sofia Coppola La Traviata, The Beguiled, The Bling Ring

3
98 60
Jane Campion is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Jane Campion Bright Star, In the Cut, Holy Smoke

4
125 66
Penny Marshall is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Penny Marshall Riding in Cars with Boys, The Preacher's Wife, Renaissance Man

5
57 25
Patty Jenkins is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman, Monster

6
67 28
Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
jobill added Jodie Foster Money Monster, The Beaver, Home for the Holidays

7
65 46
Sarah Polley is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
carlybobarly added Sarah Polley Take This Waltz, Away from Her

8
46 29
Agnès Varda is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Agnès Varda Jacquot de Nantes, Jane B. for Agnes V., Le petit amour

9
72 51
Mary Harron is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Mary Harron The Moth Diaries, The Notorious Bettie Page, American Psycho

10
62 27
Leni Riefenstahl is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
micktravis added Leni Riefenstahl Lowlands, The Blue Light

11
65 54
Julie Taymor is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Julie Taymor A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, Across the Universe

12
101 83
Nora Ephron is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Nora Ephron Julie & Julia, Bewitched, Lucky Numbers

13
31 28
Andrea Arnold is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Ibetolis added Andrea Arnold American Honey, Wuthering Heights, Fish Tank

14
82 79
Amy Heckerling is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Amy Heckerling Vamps, I Could Never Be Your Woman, Loser

15
45 26
Kimberly Peirce is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Kimberly Peirce Carrie, Stop-Loss, Boys Don't Cry

The Worst Movie Directors of All Time The Most Rewatchable Movies

16
21 17
Sally Potter is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Sally Potter Ginger & Rosa, Rage, Yes

17
34 33
Lynne Ramsay is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
carlybobarly added Lynne Ramsay We Need to Talk About Kevin, Morvern Callar, Ratcatcher

18
53 53
Nancy Meyers is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
wiabux added Nancy Meyers The Intern, It's Complicated, The Holiday

19
31 33
Penelope Spheeris is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Penelope Spheeris Balls to the Wall, The Kid & I, The Thing in Bob's Garage

20
26 29
Claire Denis is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
hrundo added Claire Denis Bastards, White Material, 35 Shots of Rum

21
40 40
Drew Barrymore is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
PeteBoyle added Drew Barrymore Whip It

22
46 47
Lone Scherfig is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
carlybobarly added Lone Scherfig Their Finest, The Riot Club, One Day

23
17 15
Niki Caro is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Niki Caro The Zookeeper's Wife, McFarland, USA

24
20 22
Kelly Reichardt is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Ibetolis added Kelly Reichardt Certain Women, Night Moves, Meek's Cutoff

25
42 47
Lisa Cholodenko is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Lisa Cholodenko The Kids Are All Right, Cavedweller, Laurel Canyon

26
24 10
Thea von Harbou is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Mollevangsvagen added Thea von Harbou Hanneles Himmelfahrt, Elisabeth und der Narr

27
31 40
Angelina Jolie is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Trioxin245 added Angelina Jolie First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, By the Sea, Unbroken

28
16 14
Alice Guy-Blaché is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
micktravis added Alice Guy-Blaché Vampire, Tarnished Reputations, The Great Adventure

29
13 18
Martha Coolidge is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Martha Coolidge Material Girls, The Prince and Me, Out to Sea

Animaniacs Fan Theories That Are Zany To The Max 40 Adorable Throwback Pictures Of Your Favorite Heartthrobs

30
19 10
Elaine May is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Elaine May Ishtar, Mikey and Nicky, The Heartbreak Kid

31
37 43
Debra Granik is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Debra Granik Winter’s Bone, Down to the Bone

32
22 29
Marjane Satrapi is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
hrundo added Marjane Satrapi The Voices, The Gang of the Jotas, Chicken with Plums

33
18 8
Lotte Reiniger is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Mollevangsvagen added Lotte Reiniger Daughter, Kalif Storch, Sissi

34
11 14
Sharon Maguire is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Sharon Maguire Bridget Jones's Baby, Incendiar, Bridget Jones's Diary

35
16 16
Gillian Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Gillian Armstrong Death Defying Acts, Charlotte Gray, Oscar and Lucinda

36
15 11
Betty Thomas is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Betty Thomas Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, John Tucker Must Die, I Spy

37
34 36
Mira Nair is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Mira Nair Queen of Katwe, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Amelia

38
16 20
Věra Chytilová is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
Věra Chytilová Pleasant Moments, Expulsion from Paradise, Traps

39
10 11
Tamara Jenkins is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Tamara Jenkins The Savages, Slums of Beverly Hills

40
20 25
Anne Fontaine is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
carlybobarly added Anne Fontaine The Innocents, Gemma Bovery, Adore

41
27 44
Susanne Bier is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
carlybobarly added Susanne Bier Serena, A Second Chance, Love Is All You Need

42
14 14
Maya Deren is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Maya Deren

43
10 10
Jessie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Jessie Nelson Love the Coopers, I Am Sam, Corrina

The Best Movies of 2017, Ranked The Best New Kids Movies Since 2015

44
12 15
Miranda July is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Miranda July The Future, Me and You and Everyone We Know

45
14 30
Lois Weber is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
hrundo added Lois Weber White Heat, Angel of Broadway, Topsy and Eva

46
12 15
Catherine Breillat is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Catherine Breillat Abuse of Weakness, Bluebeard, The Last Mistress

47
4 5
Jasmila Žbanić is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
iandmph added Jasmila Žbanić Love Island, For Those Who Can Tell No Tales, On the Path

48
9 16
Margarethe von Trotta is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
schuechen added Margarethe von Trotta Die abhandene Welt, Hannah Arendt, Vision

49
18 24
Barbra Streisand is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
LanaYoshii added Barbra Streisand The Mirror Has Two Faces, The Prince of Tides, Yentl

50
18 20
Nicole Holofcener is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Female Film Directors
weik added Nicole Holofcener Enough Said, Please Give, Friends with Money