1. Monsoon Wedding- Mira Nair
This BAFTA winning family drama is a significant film in Indian Director Mira Nair’s filmography. Centred around the big-fat-Indian-wedding, it weaves a rich tapestry of memorable characters and asks uncomfortable questions about kinship, gender, and class, while also being a fun, feel-good watch that audaciously indulges the theatricality and delight of an Indian wedding
2. The Hurt Locker- Kathryn Bigelow
To this day, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker is the only Best Picture and Best Director winner to be made by a woman. It explores the life of a bomb disposal expert in the Iraq War, it looks at the gritty realities of war with cold, rational objectivity, but also looks at the human suffering of war with great sensitivity. With its masterful pacing, aesthetics, and writing, The Hurt Locker is one of the most important films if the last decade.
3. Nomadland- Chloe Zhao
Chinese filmmaker Chloe Zhao made history in 2020 by becoming the first woman of colour to win a Golden Globe award for Best Director for her film Nomadland. Starring a phenomenal Frances McDormand as a grieving woman travelling through the American West, Nomadland is a deeply sensitive, transcendental character study that is beautiful and unsettling at the same time.
4. Portrait of a Lady on Fire- Celine Sciamma
A love story between two women left alone on a deserted island, Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a fiercely feminist period piece that completely removes the male gaze from the narrative and simply explores the love, the desire, and the fraternity women share. It is a beautifully shot, profoundly emotional, extremely intelligent film leaving you with a feeling that lingers long after you’re done with it.
5. Lost in Translation- Sofia Coppola
A film about two lonely people finding each other in the foreign city of Tokyo, Lost in Translation is a moody, quietly funny, beautiful film examining the joys of brief encounters. It won Coppola an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and cemented her as one of the most influential filmmakers of her time.
6. The Piano- Jane Campion
The only film made by a woman to ever win the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Piano is a thoroughly hauntingly beautiful period drama about a psychologically mute woman and her daughter who are dropped off at a beach in a remote part of New Zealand with all their belongings, including a piano, and how the both of them find their voice.
7. Selma- Ava DuVerney
Based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Dr Martin Luther King Jr., Ava DuVerney’s Selma examines the racist brutalities of the 60s as well as sensitively studies the humanity behind greatness. It is an especially relevant film today, considering the racial reckoning the American society is undergoing, that forces us to question if we really have come very far .
8. Manto- Nandita Das
Manto is biographical drama based on the life of Urdu author Saadat Hasan Manto. Das masterfully weaves Manto’s life with vignettes of his work and how one influenced the other. It is a politically charged film that is brimming with empathy and longing.
9. Lady Bird- Greta Gerwig
Lady Bird is a funny, heartfelt coming of age film about Christine McPhearson, a teenager trying to survive her last hear of high school before going off to better things she’s sure she’s destined for. At its core- Lady Bird is a love story between a mother and daughter. It’s a film about complicated, stubborn, and unapologetically real women.
10. Persepolis- Marjane Satrapi
Presepolis is an animated film based on a graphic novel with the same name, based on the life of Marjane Satrapi herself. It explores her childhood spent in a fascist country and her life in Europe after escaping it. It’s personal, it’s political, and it’s thoroughly riveting.