WATCHing: Women Behind the Camera

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Five Great Films Directed by Women

For as long as Hollywood has been making movies, women have found themselves at a distinct disadvantage. Historically, there has been a severe lack of women on screen, and those working behind the scenes have long faced ridicule and backlash from male superiors and coworkers. Women who work behind the camera continue to face misogyny today, and it’s reflected in the numbers; according to the 2013 Celluloid Ceiling report, women comprised only 17 percent of directors, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors in the 250 top-grossing films. Despite facing adversity, female directors have not been deterred from creating some amazing (and successful) works of film. Complex characters, spot-on casting and cutting-edge camerawork are just some of the elements that make the following five films must-sees.

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 12.18.25 PMThe Kids are All Right (2010)

Directed by Lisa Cholodenko

This brilliant film uses humor to portray a realistically tension-filled relationship between a lesbian couple and their two children. This family navigates the myriad challenges that emerge when the sperm-donor father enters the mix. Audiences will learn that true love is much more than a perfect happy ending as they see two flawed individuals connect, love, fight and forgive.

Winter’s Bone (2010)Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 12.14.28 PM

Directed by Debra Granik

In this indie drama, Jennifer Lawrence delivers a magnificently raw performance as Ree, a strong, defiant young woman who becomes the head of household when her drug-dealing father abandons their family. The stark, bare landscape of backwoods Missouri provides a rugged backdrop for the tale of a daughter driven to search for her father at the threat of eviction. Though this film is filled with aggressively dominant men, Granik shows her audience an array of hardened, formidable women who fight to survive the economic plights of rural America.

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 12.16.41 PMSelma (2014)

Directed by Ava DuVernay

Selma takes audiences back to 1965, Alabama, its lens fixed upon the protests to secure equal voting rights led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo). You can’t help but be equally horrified and captivated by the brutality protesters faced — and also admire their courage in the face of adversity. DuVernay also shows us a flawed, human side of Dr. King that we don’t usually see, and Oyelowo delivers a spectacularly powerful performance.


Carrie (2013)Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 12.15.23 PM

Directed by Kimberly Peirce

The most recent movie adaptation of Stephen King’s classic horror tale, Carrie centers on a timid girl ostracized by her classmates and abused by her intensely religious mother. After a triggering experience at her senior prom, Carrie unleashes her terrifying supernatural powers onto her small town. This film is worth a watch purely for the unexpected ending — you won’t be able to tear your eyes from the screen.

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 12.17.34 PMThe Hurt Locker (2008)

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Set in war-torn Baghdad, The Hurt Locker tells the story of an army bomb squad as they struggle to work with a recklessly bold Sergeant. Unconventionally shaky camerawork and perfectly timed slow motion shots transport audiences into the Iraqi war zone and the perspective of the soldier. Anyone who says that a woman can’t direct action will eat their words after viewing The Hurt Locker — the entire film will keep you on the edge of your seat. There’s a reason Bigelow won an Academy Award for this one.


Katie Grimes is a professional writing and religious studies student. She enjoys using obscure words (such as “colloquial” and “pastiche”) in all contexts and has a strange fascination with Star Trek. Her varied interests include feminism, reading Shakespeare and drinking caffeinated beverages.


Tags: Carrie, Hollywood, march 2016, Movies, Selma, The Hurt Locker, The Kids Are Alright, Winters Bone, Women Directors