A New Year is here and with it comes new goals. Maybe you vowed to exercise, drink more water, or maybe to finish that book you’ve been putting off. Or maybe you decided to join the over 10,000 people who committed to Women in Film Los Angeles’ #52FilmsByWomen challenge: to watch one movie directed by a woman every week of the year. If that’s the case we’ve got you covered.
Even if you don’t plan on watching a film every week this year, highlighting female directors is tremendously important in an industry that continues to be dominated by men. It’s been nine years since Kathryn Bigelow won an Academy Award for directing the war drama The Hurt Locker. This year (like last year), there are no women even nominated for the directing category for the Golden Globes.
This list showcases just some of the films coming out this year directed by women. Some films on this list may surprise you! Here are the 15 Movies Directed By Women To Look Out For In 2017.
15. Wonder Woman – June 22, 2017
Director: Patty Jenkins
This one is kind of a no-brainer. Everyone knows the highly anticipated solo film for the Justice League heroine, Wonder Woman, is being directed by Patty Jenkins. But it’s still important to note. Wonder Woman is the first superhero blockbuster film being directed by a female for any studio. It is also the first female-directed feature to have a budget of over $100 million. DC is showing they have confidence in Jenkins and her vision. It’s a good place to start in an industry that needs to add more diversity both behind and in front of the camera.
Jenkins is best known for directing the 2003 film Monster, which won Charlize Theron an Academy Award for Best Actress. She also has experience directing television shows such as Entourage, Arrested Development, and notably, the pilot for The Killing.
Jenkins is passionate about this project. Since her first film she has dreamed of bringing Diana Prince to life on the big screen: “This is the movie I’ve wanted to make my entire life. I feel so grateful that I get to be able to do this,” she told EW during San Diego Comic Con this year. Hopefully Wonder Woman and Marvel’s Captain Marvel (which is still looking for its female director), will not be the only big franchise films we see with women behind the camera.
14. Underworld: Blood Wars – January 6, 2017
Director: Anna Foerster
Underworld: Blood Wars is the fifth film in the vampires vs. lycans (werewolves) action/horror Underworld series. The films star Kate Beckinsale as Selene, a vampire seeking revenge for the death of her family, and mix fantasy, horror, and a complex mythology which has earned them a devoted fan base. Blood Wars is the first film in the series to have a female director, Anna Foerster.
Blood Wars is Foerster’s first film. She has previous experience directing TV shows such as Criminal Minds, Outlander, and Madame Secretary, but counts herself as a fan of the film series. She has an appreciation for the “vibe and tone” of the previous films as well as her desire to bring out “a new side of Selene” and some “cool surprises”.
Foerster also has her next gig already lined up. Besides being attached to the sequel to the 2011 Duncan Jones’ film Source Code, she is also set to direct the thriller Lou for Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot. Working alongside producer J.J. Abrams could be an incredible chance for Foerster to become a more of a household name.
13. The Bye Bye Man – January 13th, 2017
Director: Stacy Title
The Bye Bye Man is a horror film based on the chapter, “The Bridge to Body Island” from Robert Damon Schneck’s book The Bye Bye Man: And Other Strange-but-True Tales. The story revolves around three college friends who discover an ancient evil being that may be responsible for possessing people and causing them to commit killing sprees and other horrific acts. The film is being directed by Stacy Title.
Title has experience with horror having previously directed The Last Supper, Let the Devil Wear Black, and Hood of Horror. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her first short film Down on the Waterfront. The January release date for this film, away from the fall movie season populated with horror releases, could help The Bye Bye Man stand out. The trailers look sufficiently creepy with their mantra of, “Don’t think it, don’t say it” and a cast featuring frequent horror actor Doug Jones along with Carrie-Ann Moss (Jessica Jones, Memento) and Faye Dunaway (Hand of God, Chinatown).
12. A United Kingdom – February 10, 2017
Director: Amma Asante
A United Kingdom is a historical drama based on the true story of Prince Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) and the white British office worker, Ruth Williams, he chooses to marry. The couple faces opposition from not only their families, but the Apartheid government in South Africa and the fear of the British Empire. Golden Globe-nominated actors David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike play Seretse Khama and Ruth, respectively.
This is Amma Asante’s third film. Her last film, Belle, was another moving romance period piece about the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Captain in the 18th century. Raised by her white, aristocratic aunt and uncle, Belle struggles to find her place between two worlds. Asante’s films tell the stories of those who history has swept aside. She provides beautiful costume dramas for actors of color, telling their stories and how they changed the landscape of the British Empire.
11. Lovesong – February 17, 2017
Director: So Yong Kim
Lovesong is a film that follows two longtime friends: single mother Sarah, played by Riley Keough, and free spirit Mindy played by Jena Malone. The women embark on an impromptu road trip that opens up their relationship in new ways. The film premiered at Sundance in 2016 to praise from critics and festival goers alike, and is being released in theaters this year for a wider audience.
Lovesong is directed by Korean American director So Yong Kim, known for her slow, minimalistic films such as For Ellen and In Between Days, which won the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006. The first trailer for Lovesong was released last week and highlights Keough and Malone amidst the picturesque scenery of their adventure and the fallout from their trip.
Kim has been praised for the film in numerous reviews from Sundance for the intimate and nuanced way she captures the changing relationship between the two women.
10. Raw – March 10, 2017
Director: Julia Ducournau
Raw is the story of Justine, played by Garance Marillier, a 16 year old vegetarian who is attending veterinary school for the first time. During a hazing ritual, Justine is forced to eat a rabbit’s kidney, which awakens in her a need to consume flesh. The French-Belgian film follows her growing hunger and how it affects her interactions with fellow classmates, including her older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf).
Raw got a lot of attention when it premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival. Some of the scenes were so bloody and disturbing in nature that they caused people to faint during screenings. At the same time, Ducournau was praised for the coming-of-age film’s handling of complex subject matter and intense visuals. All of this is especially impressive when you consider the fact that is is Ducournau’s first film, which she wrote as well as directed.
9. Their Finest – March 24, 2017
Director: Lone Scherfig
Their Finest is a “wartime romantic comedy”– not a genre you hear about every day. The film, based on the book Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans, is set in World War II during the Blitz of London. Gemma Arterton plays Catrin Cole, a scriptwriter charged with creating an inspiring (read: propaganda) film about the civilians who helped save the lives of soldiers at Dunkirk.
Lone Scherfig is a Danish filmmaker who is no stranger to period pieces. Her previous films, An Education and One Day also have settings in the past, beautifully evoking another time with a mix of costumes, music, and setting. Her storytelling ability captures both the passage of time as well as the struggles of growing up.
The events of Dunkirk are taking stage in not only Their Finest, but Christopher Nolan’s newest film as well. Dunkirk, with a release date in July, his film takes a look at the battle and subsequent retreat. Scherfig’s feature looks to be a more intimate (and potentially actually funny) affair than his war epic.
8. The Zookeeper’s Wife – March 31, 2017
Director: Niki Caro
The Zookeeper’s Wife is a film adaptation based on the book of the same name written by Diane Ackerman. It tells the true story of Antonia and her husband Jan, the director of the Warsaw Zoo, and their involvement with the Polish underground resistance during World War II. The couple saved the lives of 300 Jewish people, helping those who had been imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto. They hid the Jews who escaped in the empty cages and structures at the zoo. In the film, Antonia is played by Jessica Chastain and Jan by Johan Heldenbergh.
Niki Caro is the director of The Zookeeper’s Wife. The New Zealand director has had quite a diverse career already with a Disney sports film (McFarland, USA), a gritty drama (North Country), and a Maori family drama (Whale Rider) to her name. With her long and prolific career, Caro is one of the better known directors on this list, but still hasn’t managed to become a household name yet. Hopefully the release of this film will get the attention (and praise) of both animal lovers and history buffs alike.
7. Unforgettable – April 21, 2017
Director: Denise Di Novi
Unforgettable is a dark thriller in the “crazy ex-wife” genre of films. This film stars Rosario Dawson as Julia and Geoff Stults as David, a newly married couple. But David’s ex-wife Tessa, played by Katherine Heigl, can’t seem to let her husband go. Afraid Julia is taking over her life, Tessa plans to get her family back using whatever means necessary.
Chances are you’ve probably seen Denise Di Novi’s name on a film already without even realizing it. Di Novi has been a producer on numerous films spanning many different genres. She’s produced everything from romantic films such Crazy, Stupid, Love and A Walk to Remember to darker cult classics like Heathers and Edward Scissorhands. Unforgettable is Di Novi’s first time directing.
Having experience with so many notable films could work in Di Novi’s favor despite the fairly routine-looking film and subject matter. Here’s hoping it’s a middle of the year sleeper rather than a bust.
6. Everything, Everything – May 19, 2017
Director: Stella Meghie
Everything, Everything is a film adaptation of the young adult novel by the same name written by Nicola Yoon. The story follows a 17 year old girl named Maddie (played by Amandla Stenberg) who has severe combined immunodeficiency, a disease which makes her allergic to basically everything. She is unable to leave her home or seen anyone other than her mother (Anika Noni Rose) and nurse (Ana de la Reguera). Everything changes for Maddie when a cute boy named Olly (Nick Robinson) moves next door.
Stella Meghie is the director of Everything, Everything. Meghie’s film career is relatively new, but it is already going places. The Canadian director was working in public relations for beauty brands when she decided to go to go to school and get her masters in screenwriting. While in school she wrote the screenplay for her first film, Jean of the Joneses, which she then directed. Besides Everything, Everything coming out this year, Meghie is also working on a comedy optioned by BET, a pilot at Warner Brothers, and a feature for VH1. This director is definitely one to watch.
5. Rock That Body – June 16, 2017
Director: Lucia Aniello
Rock That Body is a comedy film about five friends on a wild bachelorette weekend in Miami. Think The Hangover, but starring Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Zoe Kravitz. Instead of looking for a missing groom, these women have quite a different problem on their hands: they accidentally kill a male stripper. Let the hilarity (and Weekend at Bernies gags) begin.
This female ensemble comedy is being directed by Lucia Aniello. She is known for her work as a director and writer on the Comedy Central show Broad City. She is also writing Rock That Body, alongside Paul W. Downs, a fellow Broad City writer. The two are also attached to write the all female spinoff of 21 Jump Street.
4. The Beguiled – June 30, 2017
Director: Sofia Coppola
The Beguiled is a remake of the 1971 film by the same name which featured Clint Eastwood in the lead role. The story is based on the novel A Painted Devil written by Thomas Cullinan. The new version of the film stars Colin Farrell in Eastwood’s role as a Union soldier imprisoned in a Confederate girl’s boarding school. The soldier cons his way into the hearts of the young women who live there (including Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst, and Nicole Kidman) leading them to turn first on each other, and then on him.
Sofia Coppola is the director of The Beguiled. She is one of the best-known female directors working today, with films such as Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, The Virgin Suicides, and The Bling Ring— all of which she also wrote the screenplays for. Coppola is known for her romantic and over-the-top style, combining big visuals with ordinary characters that she crafts into otherworldly beings.
3. Pitch Perfect 3 – December 22, 2017
Director: Trish Sie
Not much is known yet about the third installment of Universal’s Pitch Perfect series. The first film, about a college student named Beca (Anna Kendrick) who reluctantly joins an all-female acapella group, was a surprise success. The sequel did well at the box office, but was not as beloved or critically praised as the first. Now Beca and the Barden Bellas are back, as confirmed by an Instagram picture Kendrick posted. The returning cast featuring Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, and Rebel Wilson will also be joined by Prince protege Andy Allo and Orange is the New Black star Ruby Rose.
Pitch Perfect 3 is being directed by Trish Sie, taking over for Elizabeth Banks, who directed the second film. Sie has one film credit to her name: Step Up All In. She has also directed the crazy music videos for the band Ok Go including their first treadmill dancing one “Here It Goes Again” and the anti-gravity “Upside Down & Inside Out.” With such creatively impressive videos, it will be exciting to see what new approach she can bring to the franchise.
2. Lady Bird – No release date yet
Director: Greta Gerwig
Lady Birdy stars Saoirse Ronan as a high school senior spending her last year at home in Sacramento, California. Jordan Rodrigues plays Ronan’s older adopted brother Miguel, who wants to help his sister leave their hometown. The film also stars Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), Laurie Metcalf (The Big Bang Theory, Toy Story), and Tracy Letts (The Big Short).
Lady Bird is the first solo film written and directed by Greta Gerwig. Gerwig is an actress known for her work in Greenberg, Frances Ha (which earned her a Golden Globe nomination), Mistress America, and most recently, 20th Century Woman. Besides acting she also wrote the screenplays for Frances Ha and Mistress America. She previously co-directed Nights and Weekends with Joe Swanberg.
This is the first film Gerwig will be directing and writing on her own. The story is loosely based on her own experiences in high school and growing up in California. “I have always wanted to make a feature film in Sacramento”, she told The Sacramento Bee. “There are specific streets and houses and places and theaters that I have very deep feelings for.” This film looks to serve as the love letter to the town she grew up in.
1. Unicorn Store – No release date yet
Director: Brie Larson
Unicorn Store is an original film about a woman named Kit (Brie Larson), who moves back home to live with her parents. While there, she receives an invitation that will test her idea of what it means to grow up. The film stars Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Bradley Whitford, and Joan Cusack with a script by Samantha McIntyre (Married).
Brie Larson is making her directorial debut with Unicorn Store. The actress is fresh off her Oscar winning performance in Room and getting cast as Captain Marvel, Marvel’s first female superhero to get her own film. But she’s not stopping there.
In 2017 alone, Larson is starring in four other films besides Unicorn Store. There’s the blockbuster Kong: Skull Island, the 1970s action thriller Free Fire, the musical about a scientist selling genetically modified rice (yes you read that right) Basmati Blues, and The Glass Castle, the adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ memoir. Larson is non-stop and looks to be keeping her place as Hollywood’s quirky new It girl.
Which of these movies piques your interest the most? Let us know in the comments!