With increasing concern about representation in Hollywood—not to mention the serious allegations of sexual assault following the #metoo movement—it seems more important than ever before to support films directed by women.
To help you on your quest to make informed decisions about your media consumption, here are our favorite women-lead movies from the last year.
Free Solo (directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin)
Free Solo is a documentary about mountain and cliff climbing done without gear. It follows professional rock climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to conquer the first free solo climb of El Capitan’s 900-meter vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park. The cinematography is stunning and also a little vertigo-inducing, as Hannold courts death through his risky climbs.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (directed by Susan Johnson)
Last summer saw a bit of romcom resurgence, thanks in large part to Netflix’s “Summer of Love” releases. Arguably the cutest one of the lot was To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, based on the novel of the same name by Jenny Han. The story follows Lara Jean Covey as she finds herself in a mess once her secret love letters get mailed out to her former and current crushes. To get herself out of the mess, she concocts a plan that only leads to further complications (and, spoiler alert: love).
Set It Up (directed by Claire Scanlon)
Another Netflix romcom from last summer, Set It Up feels like the older sister of To All the Boys. The story follows two personal secretaries of high-strung execs who conspire to set their bosses up to ease a bit of the pressure of off their own lives. Of course, complications ensue. For her part, Scanlon’s directorial experience includes The Mindy Project, The Office, The Good Place, GLOW and Fresh Off the Boat, so it’s no wonder that Set It Up is charming and hilarious.
A Wrinkle in Time (directed by Ava DuVernay)
If your feminist susceptibilities needed any more reasons to watch a movie starring Oprah, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon, we can confirm that A Wrinkle in Time was also directed by a boss lady. The 2018 film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 book, is a science fantasy adventure story about a young girl who sets off on a quest to find her missing father.
The Spy Who Dumped Me (directed by Susanna Fogel)
The only thing better than a BFF-spy-action-comedy is one directed by a woman. Starring hilarious-SNL-darling Kate McKinnon and That ‘70s Show’s Mila Kunis, The Spy Who Dumped Me is an undeniably fun movie about two friends who unwittingly become entangled in an international conspiracy when one of the women discovers her ex-boyfriend was actually a spy. Yes, please.
Mary Queen of Scots (directed by Josie Rourke)
This royal historical drama that stars Ladybird star Saoirse Ronan as Mary, Queen of Scots, and Wolf of Wall Street actress Margot Robbie as her cousin, Elizabeth I. The film delves into their complicated relationship with each other—and the men who are trying to take their power.
Dumplin’ (directed by Anne Fletcher)
Based on the young adult novel by Julie Murphy, Dumplin’ is a coming-of-age comedy film about an overweight teenager (Danielle Macdonald) who’s the daughter of a former beauty queen (Jennifer Aniston). The movie is a feel-good empowerment story set to a Dolly Parton soundtrack. What else do you need?