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Status Update: 2018 Movies Directed by Women, What You Should Have Already Watched, and What You Should Watch Next

By Roxana Hadadi | Lists | August 9, 2018 |

By Roxana Hadadi | Lists | August 9, 2018 |

PJ - Women Directors 2018 Header.jpg

I might be wrong about this, because I’m not the best at statistics, but the slate of new movies released this past Friday, Aug. 3, was kind of a big deal. Because FOUR movies released in theaters were directed by women! Whoo! Incremental progress!

+ The Spy Who Dumped Me, directed by Susanna Fogel, in wide release (3,111 theaters)
+ The Darkest Hours, directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, in wide release (3,127 theaters)
+ Night Comes On, directed by Jordana Spiro, in limited release (8 theaters) and VOD
+ The Miseducation of Cameron Post, directed by Desiree Akhavan, in limited release (2 theaters) and opening wide this weekend

That’s kind of a big deal! Especially for us here at Pajiba, where we try to keep you informed about as many female directors and female-led movie and TV projects as possible. Earlier this year Kristy put together a list of female-directed movies to look out for in 2018, and now that we’re more than halfway through, let’s check in and see where we are, what we Overlords thought about some of these movies, and what you should be looking out for next.


Forever My Girl
Directed by: Bethany Ashton Wolf
Did Pajiba review it? Yes! Read here.
Did we like it? Uh, Tori was not really a fan: “It’s almost cynical the way this movie knows you know what to expect from it, so it lets you do all the work of suspending your disbelief while almost actively making it impossible to. It dares you to question whether these two characters should really end up together, because based on the evidence presented THEY ABSOLUTELY SHOULD NOT.”

The Party
Directed by: Sally Potter
Did Pajiba review it? Yes! Read here.
Did we like it? I did! And not just because of Cillian Murphy’s killer cheekbones! From my review: “Right before you can think, “How much more of these cringe-worthy altercations could I take?” The Party recognizes the limitations of its narrative and chooses to end. At least it doesn’t overstay its welcome, unlike Janet’s initially classy, increasingly fractured guests.”

A Wrinkle in Time
Directed by: Ava DuVernay
Did Pajiba review it? Yes! Read here.
Did we like it? Hell yeah, Kristy did, calling it a “radiant miracle.” Here’s what else she said: “Reflecting on the film, I feel inspired, hopeful, and alive. With A Wrinkle In Time, DuVernay has given a fearlessly emotional and thrilling adventure to the world. I’m grateful that I got to experience its every breath-taking moment. And I can’t wait to share it with my nieces, warriors who bring light to the world with every kiddie cackle and silly face.”


Directed by: Kay Cannon
Did Pajiba review it? Yes! Read here.
Did we like it? We were skeptical of the trailer around these parts, but the movie itself was great, as Dustin wrote in his review: “It is its own unique comedy that just happens to explore female sexuality in ways that male sexuality has been explored for decades. It’s a great parenting comedy. It’s a great high-school sex comedy. It’s a great friendship comedy. It also features teenage women who have candid and honest and funny conversations about sex.”


You Were Never Really Here
Directed by: Lynne Ramsay
Did Pajiba review it? Yes! Read here.
Did we like it? Kayleigh was rapturous, and I agree; goddamn, this movie was good. As Kayleigh wrote, “It’s hard to recommend this film to everyone, as singularly excellent as it is, because it’s a story of scars and depravity that’s hard for even seasoned film-goers to stomach. Yet, for those prepared for the journey, this is an immensely rewarding experience that truly lingers in your mind. Harrowing but not without hope, expertly directed and helmed by one of the year’s great performances, You Were Never Really Here will stick with you for a very long time.”


The Rider
Directed by: Chloé Zhao
Did Pajiba review it? Yes! Read here.
Did we like it? I wrote about The Rider together with Lean on Pete, and I would recommend both fully, but The Rider is particularly immersive: “Each film makes sure to present the young men as on their own in the wilderness: Charley and Lean on Pete in the scrubby hills of Oregon, climbing dusty mountains side by side; Brady astride Apollo as they gallop through lands that once were only a fraction of what belonged to Native American tribes like the Sioux. Those images are gorgeous, but this is untenable in the New West: The prairies have already been crossed; horses can’t live forever; and the poverty that defines these lifestyles is suffocating. And both Lean on Pete and The Rider end in deeply personal tragedies that reinforce for Charley and Brady that the selfhood they’re looking for can’t be found in the cowboy narrative, and that the masculinity that defines this type of mythical figure doesn’t define them.”

I Feel Pretty
Directed by: Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein
Did Pajiba review it? Yes! Read here.
Did we like it? … Nahhhh. Kristy called it “even worse than you’re expecting,” and elaborated in her review, “Maybe Schumer genuinely believes this is empowering and not insulting. But don’t be fooled. I Feel Pretty is as mean-spirited, unfunny, and vapid as its infuriating heroine.”


Leave No Trace
Directed by: Debra Granik
Did Pajiba review it? Yes! Read here.
Did we like it? Yes. Yes. Yes! I’ve told people about this movie all summer, and this is what I wrote in my review: “[Granik] has now returned to feature filmmaking with Leave No Trace, another exploration of female power, matriarchal responsibility, and the impartial-to-humanity characteristics of our natural world. It’s an intentionally paced character study acted exquisitely by newcomer Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie and a more-fragile-than-usual Ben Foster, and it’s a powerful piece of cinema from Granik that you should seek out.”

Woman Walks Ahead
Directed by: Susanna White
Did Pajiba review it? Yes! Read here.
Did we like it? Not so much. Jessica Chastain’s lead performance is solid, but she shouldn’t have been the main character; Michael Greyeyes’s Chief Sitting Bull should have been. Overall, I though the movie was “well-meaning but bland, another white savior among natives story.”

The Darkest Minds
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Did Pajiba review it? Yes! Read here.
Did we like it? TK loved the source material, the YA novel by Alexandra Bracken, but found the movie shockingly lacking: “The Darkest Minds isn’t a good movie. In fact, it’s really boring. It somehow manages to be a very faithful adaptation of the source material… and a terrible movie. I’ve had a great deal of difficulty reconciling these facts.”

The Spy Who Dumped Me
Directed by: Susanna Fogel
Did Pajiba review it? Yes! Read here.
Did we like it? Tori was a fan, specifically praising Fogel’s direction: “While on the surface it might seem tonally jarring, I give credit to Fogel and [co-writer David] Iserson for making sure that the women are grounded in their friendship throughout the more standard super spy sequences. Really, the movie never stops being a female buddy comedy. It’s just that women are complex, and their friendships don’t need to halt simply because millions of lives are at stake and there’s a MacGuffin to protect. They can save the world on their own terms.”


Night Comes On
Directed by: Jordana Spiro
Did Pajiba review it? Yes! Read here.
Did we like it? Sure did. Here’s what I wrote in my review: “Night Comes On focuses on the challenge of trying to make sense of a situation that makes no sense at all, and its suggestion of revenge is one method, and its suggestion of love is another. How the film transforms from a movie about the former to one about the latter is on the strength of Fishback’s and Hall’s performances, and Night Comes On is a stellar debut from Spiro and one of the most deeply felt films so far this year.”


The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Directed by: Desiree Akhavan
When is it coming out? Opened in limited release on Aug. 3, and will expand Aug. 10
Plot deets from iMDB? In 1993, a teenage girl is forced into a gay conversion therapy center by her conservative guardians.

The Nightingale
Directed by: Jennifer Kent
When is it coming out? No release date in the U.S. yet, but it will screen at the Venice International Film Festival this fall, where hopefully it will pick up U.S. distribution
Plot deets from iMDB? Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Directed by: Marielle Heller
When is it coming out? Oct. 19
Plot deets from iMDB? When Lee Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception. An adaptation of the memoir Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the true story of best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel.

What They Had
Directed by: Elizabeth Chomko
When is it coming out? Oct. 19
Plot deets from iMDB? Bridget (Hilary Swank) returns home at her brother’s (Michael Shannon) urging to deal with her ailing mother (Blythe Danner) and her father’s (Robert Forster) reluctance to let go of their life together.

Directed by: Nadine Labaki
When is it coming out? Dec. 14
Plot deets from iMDB? A politically-charged fable, featuring mostly non-professional actors, about a child who launches a lawsuit against his parents.

Mary Queen of Scots
Directed by: Josie Rourke
When is it coming out? Dec. 7
Plot deets from iMDB? Mary Stuart’s attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England, finds her condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution.

On the Basis of Sex
Directed by: Mimi Leder
When is it coming out? Dec. 25
Plot deets from iMDB? The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her struggles for equal rights and what she had to overcome in order to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

Image sources (in order of posting): Twentieth Century Fox, Lionsgate Publicity, Film Rise, Samuel Goldwyn Films