Top 10 Female Directors
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Top 10 Female Directors

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Niki Neptune

Talented and creative, these are the women that really know how to put bums in seats. Join http://www.MsMojo.tv as we count down the top 10 Female Directors. For this list, we're looking at the prolific and popular female directors who are trailblazers in the industry, cutting a wide swath for future filmmakers. Whether they're at the helm of blockbuster action hits or shaping a poignant art-house flick, these women are flexing some major directorial muscle and making it look easy.

Special thanks to our users Bruno Kolic,nutso42, Aðalsteinn Sigmarsson, fudgecrackers, smizetillyoumakeit, Andrew A. Dennison, and Dangkhoa Nguyenhuynh for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at http://www.MsMojo.tv.
Transcript

Top 10 Female Directors


Talented and creative, these are the women that really know how to put bums in seats. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 female directors.

For this list, we’re looking at the prolific and popular female directors who are trailblazers in the industry, cutting a wide swath for future filmmakers. Whether they’re at the helm of blockbuster action hits or shaping a poignant art-house flick, these women are flexing some major directorial muscle and making it look easy.

#10: Kimberly Peirce


In 1999, Peirce made her feature film debut with “Boys Don’t Cry,” and made the world take notice. The film was a gut-wrenching look at the life, and murder, of transman Brandon Teena. The film’s star, Hilary Swank, would go on to receive an Academy Award for her portrayal of Brandon, while Peirce found herself among the Hollywood elite. She’s not a director who skimps on emotion, and with 2008’s “Stop Loss,” and 2013’s “Carrie” remake, we’re sure we haven’t seen the last of her powerful filmmaking.

#9: Deepa Mehta


With a vibrant and sumptuous directorial style, Deepa Mehta is one of India’s preeminent storytellers and filmmakers. Now working out of Canada, Mehta makes films that flout convention and tradition, and even elicit tons of controversy, Mehta hasn’t altered her vision. She tells stories that otherwise wouldn’t be told, regardless of the consequences. Not one to be deterred, Mehta continues to give us a glimpse into the inner workings of Indian culture.

#8: Nora Ephron

By writing hits such as “When Harry Met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” and “You’ve Got Mail,” and directing the latter two, Ephron helped shape the entire romantic comedy genre. This Oscar-nominated director gave us tons of wit and swoon-worthy romance, but she was also prolific in her vision of what a lighthearted comedy could be. Her stories were compelling and fun, but they were also interesting and full of surprises, even when you know the stars are going to end up together somehow. Her romantic comedies weren’t just chick flicks; they were classics.

#7: Claire Denis


With films such as “Beau Travail” and “Bastards,” Denis’ films are the farthest thing from a light-hearted romantic comedy. Not one to shy away from themes such as colonialism and cultural imperialism, her films tend to be gritty and evocative with a nod to her childhood in West Africa. Her feature film debut, 1988’s “Chocolat,” about a French woman who befriends her family’s servant, was a critical success and garnered her respect as a serious filmmaking powerhouse.

#6: Penny Marshall


Ms. Marshall went from starring as Laverne in the ‘70s hit sitcom “Laverne & Shirley,” to directing Oscar-nominated feature films. Her 1988 film “Big,” starring Tom Hanks, was commercial and critical success, helping Marshall to become the first female director to gross over $100-million at the box-office and setting Hanks on the path to stardom. With 1990’s “Awakenings,” Marshall would earn her first Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Going on to direct “A League of Their Own” and “The Preacher’s Wife,” Marshall’s career is full of remarkable of depth and variety, but not short on quality.

#5: Sarah Polley


Another actress turned director, Polley’s films are indie scene darlings, but they’re not saccharine. Intimate, poignant, and oftentimes emotional, Polley doesn’t shy away from feelings as they’re the undercurrent of many of her films. Her feature film debut, 2006’s “Away from Her,” about an aging couple dealing with the wife’s Alzheimer’s, was widely critically acclaimed. She earned an Oscar nod for Best Adapted Screenplay for her work on “Away From Her” and has shown no signs of slowing down.

#4: Julie Taymor


She may have honed her directing chops on the Broadway stage, but her unique vision has translated wonderfully to the big screen. Her 2002 feature film, “Frida” earned Salma Hayek an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and also shined a spotlight on Taymor’s eclectic and visually arresting directorial style. Highly stylized and not short on special effects, her films aren’t run of the mill. 2007’s Beatles-centric, “Across the Universe” and her stunning 2011 interpretation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” both further allowed Taymor to unleash her creativity and prove her mettle.

#3: Jane Campion


Campion already had an impressive résumé by the time she received a Best Director Oscar nod, won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar and became the first woman to win the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or for 1993’s “The Piano.” The film, starring Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin, earned the actresses both Academy Awards, and made Campion only the second female director in film history to be nominated for the Best Director Award. With her simmering and seductive storytelling, it’s easy to become wrapped up in the relationships unfolding on screen, even as it teeters on the edge of tragedy or bliss.

#2: Sofia Coppola


Daughter of industry legend Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia had a huge shadow cast over her career before she even picked up a camera. Thankfully, she’s risen to the occasion and developed her own unique voice, as well as a contemplative directorial style that leaves you feeling...haunted. She made a name for herself with 1999’s “The Virgin Suicides” before receiving an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay with 2003’s “Lost in Translation.” She brings a lush and romantic quality to her character-driven films that’s hard to duplicate, but it’s no less than you’d expect from a Coppola.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Angelina Jolie
- Amy Heckerling
- Tamra Davis
- Jodie Foster

#1: Kathryn Bigelow


Quite possibly the most famous female name in mainstream filmmaking, Bigelow’s directorial repertoire runs the gamut from action blockbusters like 1991’s “Point Break,” to a slew of war themed features like 2002’s “K-19: The Widowmaker.” And it would be one of her war films, 2008’s “The Hurt Locker,” that would solidify her place in film history as the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director. Detail oriented and meticulous in her vision, Bigelow’s monumental win highlights her immense talent as a storyteller.

Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite female director? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.
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It would be interesting to watch a Katherine Bigelow/Sofia Coppola collaboration about how the psychological horrors of warfare can change the mental state, especially when it comes to sexual obsession.