While female-directed studio projects have yet to regularly crack the U.S. box office top 25, 2018 was an incredible year for female directors. From an assortment of original indies to mainstream successes, women are garnering the attention and work they deserve as major studios sign deals that will hopefully lead to an influx of exciting new projects in the years to come. Until that time comes here are some curated selects of 2018!
Mary, Queen of Scots
Director: Josie Rourke
This starry royal drama follows Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie in a face-off as two of history’s most compelling queens. The period drama explores the turbulent life of Ronan’s Mary Stuart, who became Queen of France at age 16 and widowed at 18. Robbie plays Mary’s biggest rival, Elizabeth I. Each young Queen is fearful and fascinated by the other, but their loyalty to their countries is threatened when Mary asserts her claim to the English throne. Historically, we already know who will win, but it is the visual splendour and emotional battleground that makes this film worth the ride.
Director: Chloe Zhao
Zhao first made waves with her 2015 feature debut “Songs My Brothers Taught Me,” a story set in South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that tracked the bond between a pair of Lakota siblings. It’s also where she discovered young rodeo cowboy Brady Jandreau, who makes his debut in “The Rider” as an on-screen version of himself in the worst period of his own life. Zhao’s new docudrama blends fact and fiction into an intimate portrait of American masculinity as a solitary cowboy attempts to find his way back to the only life he’s known. Utilising a cast of non-actors — most of whom are tasked with playing versions of themselves, in a story pulled from their lives — Zhao’s film derives its power from the truth that both drives it and inspires it, making her one of the most humane storytellers of our time.
You Were Never Really Here
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Lynne Ramsay blends visual poetry with brutal human behaviour in this chilling thriller starring Joaquin Phoenix. Set in New York City, Phoenix plays a PTSD-stricken veteran and hired gunman named Joe. When Joe’s tasked with the recovery of a politician’s sex trafficked daughter, things quickly go awry in the bloodiest way possible. Few non-franchise stories have established the mythology of a character as well as Ramsay does here with Joe, who is as traumatized and sensitive as he is ruthless. The film flies by and leaves you wanting more, and also establishes Ramsay as one of the 21st century’s most inimitable auteurs.
+ 2018 films directed by women:
Angels Wear White (Vivian Qu), Blame (Quinn Shephard), Blockers (Kay Cannon), Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller), Dumplin’ (Anne Fletcher), Half the Picture (Amy Adrion), Happy As Lazzaro (Alice Rohrwacher), Mary Shelley (Haifaa Al-Mansour), Oh Lucy! (Atsuko Hirayanagi), On Her Shoulders (Alexandria Bombach), The Rachel Divide(Laura Brownson), RBG (Betsy West and Julie Cohen), Rafiki (Wanuri Kahiu), Seeing Allred (Sophie Sartain and Roberta Grossman), Set It Up (Claire Scanlon), Skate Kitchen (Crystal Moselle), The Spy Who Dumped Me (Susanna Vogel), The Strange Ones (Lauren Wolkstein), I Think We’re Alone Now (Reed Morano), Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin (Arwen Curry), What They Had (Elizabeth Chomko), A Wrinkle In Time (Ava DuVernay), Zama (Lucrecia Martel)