From Dolly to Akwafina
Women’s History Month is underway, so it’s time to dive into some great, underrated movies that were directed by women. This list covers something for every mood you may be in, and who knows — you may even find a new favorite movie.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Hulu)
Directed by Céline Sciamma
It’s not your fault if you haven’t heard of this movie. It had a limited release in theaters in 2020 that lasted all of two weeks before pretty much every theater in America shut down due to COVID-19. Céline Sciamma’s latest film takes place on a remote island near France in the late 18th century. Portrait of a Lady on Fire revolves around the forbidden love affair of an aristocrat and the painter who is hired to take her portrait. It’s sad, it’s sensual, it’s celebratory. This is a good one to watch when you need a good cry, or you’re in the mood to watch some gorgeous cinematography.
The Farewell (Amazon Prime Video)
Directed by Lulu Wang
Akwafina (of Crazy Rich Asians) stars as the lead in this drama-comedy about a Chinese-American family that decides to not tell their grandmother that she is dying from terminal cancer to spare her feelings, but decides to host a fake large family gathering so everyone can see her one last time. I know it may sound crazy, but it’s based on Lulu Wang’s real experiences and gives an interesting glimpse into another social culture. Prepare to laugh and cry — possibly at the same time.
Directed by Anne Fletcher
If you’re looking for a heartwarming distraction from the world for a couple hours, look no further than Dumplin’. This film is the story of Willowdean, a young Texas girl who doesn’t feel like she fits in with the other girls in her small town because she doesn’t look like a traditional beauty queen. Willowdean’s mom decides to use her love of Dolly Parton to give her the confidence to compete in a local beauty pageant, turning the idea of beauty on its head. This is an absolute warm hug of a movie. The cast is perfect, and you will fall head over heels for them. If you are a Dolly fan (who isn’t?), it’s a must watch.
Always Be My Maybe (Netflix)
Directed by Nahnatchka Khan
A lot of people missed this romantic comedy about two high school besties that reconnect in their 30s after taking drastically different paths in life. Ali Wong plays Sasha, a celebrity chef, and Randall Park plays Marcus, a member of a failing neighborhood band. After a chance encounter in their hometown, they reconnect and … well, you’ll have to watch it to see what happens. This is a funny and slightly raunchy romantic comedy for the people who don’t normally like rom coms. The best twist comes, however, when Keanu Reeves shows up as himself. If you’re in need of a completely silly night in, this one’s for you.
Battle of the Sexes (Available to rent on Amazon)
Directed by Valerie Faris
This biopic about Billie Jean King’s legendary tennis match against Bobby Riggs did not have a very wide theatrical release. In fact, I’ve never heard anyone mention it in their conversations about their favorite movies directed by women. Much like the more popular A League of Their Own, it’s a true story with a big heart with some comedy sprinkled in throughout. It stars Emma Stone post-La La Land as King and Steve Carrell post-The Office as the insufferable Riggs. You will hate Steve Carrell and root for Emma Stone so intensely, you’ll be hooked from start to finish.