Following a disappointing Oscars trend of overlooking female directors in its major categories, none of the Best Director nominations are women, either. Indeed, in the Academy Awards 91-year history, only five women have been nominated in the Best Director category (and only Kathryn Bigelow, who was nominated for The Hurt Locker in 2010, has won).
But from Debra Granik’s understated Leave No Trace and Marielle Heller’s elegant Can You Ever Forgive Me? to Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, this has been a gala year for female-helmed films. So, to celebrate this bounty of talent, we’ve picked five films directed by women that were criminally overlooked by the Oscars.
This contemplative, outsider’s-eye look at modern America, about a dad and daughter living in the wild, could have been nominated for its acting (Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie are both terrific) or for Debra Granik’s understated, intuitive direction. It wasn’t. For shame, Academy.
While ‘Roma’ deservedly picked up ten Oscar nods, Tamara Jenkins’s ‘Private Life’ – another bittersweet Netflix film – was overlooked altogether. If the idea of dream double act Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti sharing the screen sounds like a good one, you can catch the movie on the streaming site now.
Genius filmmaker Lynne Ramsay stormed back last year with a hitman thriller like no other. Joaquin Phoenix plays a PTSD-stricken vet who speaks softly and carries a whacking great hammer. Ramsay drapes it all in an impressionist mood and Jonny Greenwood’s ace score.
Utterly gorgeous and humane to its bones, Chloé Zhao’s beguiling drama pitches Lakota Sioux rodeo rider Brady Jandreau into his first film role. Turns out, he’s really good at it. Chinese director Zhao is pretty special too: her story of injury, heartbreak and redemption casts a mighty spell.
This year’s Best Documentary category is packed with worthy contenders, like ‘Free Solo’ and ‘Minding the Gap’. Still, there was surely space for Sandi Tan’s enthralling film. Tan follows the fate of the missing indie movie she made as a teen, uncovering a mysterious abduction story along the way.