Top Ten Female Film Directors of All Time

Originally published by Best Online

Being a film director is a tough job. From managing egomaniacs to picking the perfect costumes, directing is one of the most demanding, intense, and rigorous jobs in the art world. But good film directors can have a huge impact on the success of a film. Female directors have made a major impact on the film industry, and their entertaining contributions to the genre have garnered substantial critical acclaim, especially in recent years. Here are the top 10 female film directors of all time:

  1. Sofia Coppola

    It’s no surprise that Sofia Coppola, daughter of esteemed director Francis Ford Coppola, followed in her father’s footsteps, but it wasn’t until she won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Lost in Translation in 2003 that she received the kind of attention and respect she deserved. This was a major accomplishment for the mostly amateur filmmaker, who had only directed two other movies before making it big. In 2010, Coppola did it again with her successful drama Somewhere, which earned her a Golden Lion, the highest prize awarded at the Venice Film Festival.


  2. Lone Scherfig

    Lone Scherfig is a Danish director who has developed a reputation for “mastering the art of subtle characterization” in her critically-acclaimed films. Scherfig made her international directing debut with the 2000 romantic comedy Italian for Beginners, which earned her the Silver Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival. Scherfig’s involvement in the Dogme 95 filmmaking movement has helped her gain recognition for her excellent directing and given her a chance to truly connect with the audience through the Dogme’s rules that forbid props, lighting, and costumes from the set. Scherfig made an even bigger splash with her 2009 independent masterpiece, An Education, which was nominated for three Academy Awards.

  3. Mira Nair

    Mira Nair is an Indian film director, best known for her gritty documentaries, independent shorts, and feature films that are moving and culturally enlightening. Nair’s breakthrough film,Salaam Bombay! told the story of a young boy’s struggle to survive alone on the streets of Bombay. The movie earned Nair a great deal of respect worldwide for her impressive directing skills and poignant storytelling.

  4. Maya Deren

    Maya Deren was one of the greatest female film directors of the ’40s and ’50s. The avant-garde filmmaker was best known for her silent movie Meshs of the Afternoon, which has become regarded as one of the best experimental movies of all time. Deren was a trailblazer in cinema and helped pave the way for other experimental and independent filmmakers with her unique perspective and keen eye for details.


  5. Kathryn Bigelow

    Kathryn Bigelow is one of the most well-known female film directors in Hollywood, and rightfully so. She is the first woman to ever win the Academy Award for Best Director, which she earned for her 2008 war drama The Hurt Locker. This achievement put Bigelow on the map as a notable director, but it wasn’t her first movie. The former wife of Hollywood director James Cameron has been making movies since the early ’80s, including action flicks Point Break and K-19: The Widowmaker. Known for her use of violence and action-driven plots, Bigelow isn’t afraid to make people squirm and that’s one of the things that make her movies so great.

  6. Jane Campion

    Jane Campion is a critically-acclaimed New Zealand director who has entertained audiences for years with her films, An Angel at My TableThe Portrait of a Lady, and The Piano, which earned her an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and a best director award from the Australian Film Institute. Despite her denials of being a feminist, her films are notorious for featuring strong, independent women who defy all odds.


  7. Nancy Meyers

    By directing films like The Parent Trap,It’s Complicated, and Something’s Gotta Give, Nancy Meyers has become one of the most accomplished female directors of our generation. But she’s more than just a successful director. She’s also a mother of two daughters. In fact, the two young girls in The Parent Trap, one of her most successful movies, were named after her daughters. Meyers has worked with some of the biggest stars in the showbiz industry, like Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Quaid, Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin. Meyers has also written many of her movies, in addition to directing them, such as the blockbuster romantic comedy It’s Complicated, starring Meryl Streep.

  8. Julie Taymor

    Julie Taymor is a very talented lady. She directs films, Broadway musicals, stage productions, and even operas. She’s also an accomplished writer of both books and music. Last but not least, she’s an accomplished actress. But it’s Taymor’s directing skill that has earned her two Tony Awards. She is perhaps best known for directing the Broadway Musical The Lion King, and in recognition of her work on that play, she was the first woman director in history to receive a Tony Award for directing a musical. But her prowess is not limited to the stage. She’s also directed critically acclaimed films such as Frida, which was nominated for no less than 6 Academy Awards in categories like Best Makeup and Best Original Score.

  9. Nora Ephron

    Nora Ephron is an accomplished director focusing on the genre of romantic comedies. She not only directs successful romantic comedies, such as Sleepless in Seattle, andWhen Harry Met Sally, but she also writes films with her sister, Delia Ephron. In addition to films, Ephron has also written multiple books, and is active in the academic community. Recently, Ephron teamed up with her sister to write and direct Julia & Julia, which starred Meryl Streep and has received positive reviews.

  10. Catherine Hardwicke

    Native Texan Catherine Hardwicke is the directing force behind the Twilight, saga. For those individuals living under a rock for the past four years, Twilighthas been one of the most successful films of all time and has spawned a rabid following of fans and critics alike. In fact, the opening weekend of Twilight was the biggest opening day for a female director of all time. However, Hardwicke only directed the debut, and turned her attention to other projects before the successful Twilightsequels were launched. More recently, Hardwicke directed the critically acclaimed film Little Red Riding Hood, starring Amanda Seyfried.


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