The Challenge of BBC’s List of Movies Made by Women

A few months ago, I was asked by the BBC to participate among hundreds of other critics in a global poll to decide the 25 greatest films directed by women. The final list has now been published. Reading it is obviously very interesting, as it differs from my personal choices. It’s a chance to learn something new, to be encouraged to find and watch the movies that others consider so important, so engaging.

Making the list wasn’t easy. Women still do not get the appreciation and the opportunities they deserve, even if the industry is changing fast. That means a lot of movies simply don’t find their way to audiences, and in many cases critics. A list like the one I made will likely be irrelevant in a very short while, and that’s a good thing. We’ll continue to see great movies by women; not long after making the list I saw Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale and realized that this is easily one of the year’s best films. Perhaps it shouldn’t be part of the 25 best ever, but that list could change fast.

Especially when I get a good look at some of the classic movies that other critics named on this list and I have yet to see. That was one of the aspects of making the list that I found embarrassing. My picks are relatively modern, movies that are easy to find. There are many older examples that I have failed to come across over the years and that I perhaps should have made a greater effort looking up. Flaws in my cinematic education, if you will.

I’m glad BBC Culture launched this project. Trying to correct one’s omissions is part of the fun. Here’s the top ten list I contributed, written in September 2019, with links to my reviews on this website. Far from the definitive version, I hope:

1 The Piano

Jane Campion, 1993.


2 Lost in Translation

Sofia Coppola, 2003.


3 Priest

Antonia Bird, 1994.


4 The Hurt Locker

Kathryn Bigelow, 2009.


5 Selma

Ava DuVernay, 2014.


6 The Kids Are All Right

Lisa Cholodenko, 2010.


7 After the Wedding

Susanne Bier, 2006.


8 Elegy

Isabel Coixet, 2008.


9 Fish Tank

Andrea Arnold, 2009.


10 Queen of Hearts

May el-Toukhy, 2019.

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu