21 Iconic Films You Probably Didn’t Realize Were Directed By Women

It goes without saying that women are pretty kick-ass creatures and the world would be at a loss without us. Though we should be celebrated each and every day of the week, today is an occasion in which females are especially revered.

Every March, International Women’s Day seeks to commemorate the women throughout history who have fought relentlessly for gender equality and recognition.

In honor of such a meaningful holiday, these are just a few of Hollywood’s most iconic films that you probably didn’t realize were directed by women. #WhoRunTheWorld

1. Big (1988)

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This Oscar nominated 80s classic starring Tom Hanks was directed by the wonderful Penny Marshall. Hanks portrays Josh, a teenage boy who’s only wish is to be made big and wakes up one morning to find himself in the body of an adult. It’s easily one of Hanks’ best movies, aside from Forrest Gump of course.

Directed by: Penny Marshall

Watch the trailer HERE

2. Point Break (1991)

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An epic duo, Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves star in this Kathryn Bigelow film about an FBI agent who goes undercover to investigate a gang of surfers who are suspected bank robbers. One of Bigelow’s first films, Point Break was rebooted in 2015 under the direction of Ericson Core.

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Watch the trailer HERE

3. Wayne’s World (1992)

We’re not worthy!

If you’ve never watched Wayne’s World, please go ahead and see yourself out. Okay, not really but this cult classic film directed by Penelope Spheeris is an absolute must. Mike Myers and Dana Carvey take on the roles of two dimwitted pals who are trying to promote their public-access cable show.

Directed by: Penelope Spheeris

Watch the trailer HERE

4. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

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Another classic Tom Hanks film, Sleepless in Seattle was born from the visionary mind of Nora Ephron. This story about a widower’s son who is on a mission to find his father a new partner was nominated for two Academy Awards and three Golden Globes.

Directed by: Nora Ephron

Watch the trailer HERE

5. Clueless (1995)

As if! 

Though this may not come as a shock to avid Clueless fans, the film was in fact directed and written by another kick-ass female, Amy Heckerling. She also directed several other popular movies such as Look Who’s Talking and National Lampoon’s European Vacation.

Directed by: Amy Heckerling

Watch the trailer HERE

6. You’ve Got Mail (1998)

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Apparently Tom Hanks has an affinity for female directors, because this highly accredited actor starred in a second Nora Ephron film with his familiar counterpart Meg Ryan. The pair portray two business rivals who detest each other in real life and unexpectedly fall head over heels on the internet. *Gasp*

Directed by: Nora Ephron

Watch the trailer HERE

7. American Psycho (2000)

This disturbing AF Christian Bale drama/thriller came from the ingeniously twisted mind of Mary Harron. Bale embodies a psychotic banking executive who can’t control his hedonistic fantasies which include chopping up the bodies of his victims.

Directed by: Mary Harron

Watch the trailer HERE

8. Love & Basketball (2000)

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This is by far one of my all-time favorite romance films and tbh, I wasn’t too shocked to discover that it came from the wonderfully talented Gina Prince-Bythewood. BET winner, Love & Basketball tells the story of Monica and Quincy, two professional players whose on-and-off relationship began in high school and re-blossomed when they crossed paths at USC.

Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood

Watch the trailer HERE

9. Shrek (2001)

We all know the story of the green ogre and his goofy donkey side kick who are on a journey to rescue the delicate Princess Fiona. However, you probably didn’t realize that this Dream Works film was directed by Vicky Jenson who also created other popular films like Post Grad and Shark Tale.

Directed by: Vicky Jenson

Watch the trailer HERE

10. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Not only was this film directed by a kick-ass female, but it also captures the story of one. Bend It Like Beckham follows the journey of Jess (Parminder Nagra) who’s biggest dream in life is to play football like David Beckham, but feels she must hide this from her traditional Indian family. That is, until she’s offered the chance to play professionally in America.

Directed by: Gurinder Chadha

Watch the trailer HERE

11. Lost in Translation (2003)

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Though we are prone to enjoy any film starring Bill Murray regardless of its director, Lost In Translation is an especially remarkable piece of cinema brought to life by Sofia Coppola. This tale of an unlikely pair crossing paths in Tokyo won an Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Screenplay and was nominated for Best Picture.

Directed by: Sofia Coppola

Watch the trailer HERE

12. Monster (2003)

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This Academy Award winning film starring Charlize Theron takes viewers deep into the mind of Aileen Wuornos a Daytona Beach prostitute who became a real life serial killer. Not intended for the faint of heart, Patty Jenkins sheds light on the tumultuous life that created a vicious monster.

Directed by: Patty Jenkins

Watch the trailer HERE

13. Something’s Gotta Give (2003)

An Oscar nominated rom-com from director Nancy Meyers, Something’s Gotta Give stars Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, and Keanu Reeves in a story about a swinger with a taste for younger women who unexpectedly falls for an accomplished woman his own age.

Directed by: Nancy Meyers

Watch the trailer HERE

14. The Producers (2005)

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From the musically inclined mind of Susan Stroman comes a taste of Broadway comedy, The Producers, featuring Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, and Uma Thurman. This story of a struggling producer and his accountant’s get-rich scheme has been nominated for 4 Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture.

Directed by: Susan Stroman

Watch the trailer HERE

15. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear star in this Valerie Faris film about a family determined to get their daughter to the finals of a beauty pageant across the country. Though this movie is amazing, it’s definitely an acquired taste, imho. It took me a few times to really enjoy it.

Co-Directed by: Valerie Faris

Watch the trailer HERE

16. The Hurt Locker (2008)

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Another phenomenal Kathryn Bigelow creation, The Hurt Locker swept the Oscars in 2010 winning 6 separate awards including Best Motion Picture of the Year. A Sergeant stationed in Iraq during the war is assigned to an army bomb squad and is at odds with his mates for his manner of handling work.

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Watch the trailer HERE

17. The Proposal (2009)

This Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock rom-com is another personal favorite, but I didn’t realize until writing this article that it was directed by the talented Anne Fletcher who is also famous for 27 Dresses and Step Up. If you have yet to see this movie, please go watch it now with copious amounts of wine and junk food.

Directed by: Anne Fletcher

Watch the trailer HERE

18. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

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Yet another Bigelow cinematic treasure, Zero Dark Thirty is an encapsulating chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. The film was nominated for 4 Oscars in 2013 and won for Best Achievement in Sound Editing.

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Watch the trailer HERE

19. In a World…(2013)

Suggested to me by my editor, In A World is directed by and also stars the stunning Lake Bell. Her story is one of an under-accomplished vocal coach who finds herself competing in the movie trailer voice-over profession against her arrogant father.

Directed by: Lake Bell

Watch the trailer HERE

20. Selma (2014)

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This Academy Award winning film directed by Ava DuVernay captures Martin Luther King’s historic march to secure equal voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. If you have yet to watch it, Selma is an absolute must-see.

Directed by: Ava DuVernay

Watch the trailer HERE

21. The Babadook (2014)

Last, but certainly not least on our list is the deeply unnerving horror film The Babadook. A single widowed mother desperately tries to cope with the death of her husband must battle with her son’s fear of a monster living in their house. Before long she realizes there is something much more sinister afoot.

Directed by: Jennifer Kent

Watch the trailer HERE

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