very time there is an open directing assignment, a list of possible directors is put together. You might have to do this as an assistant, or as a producer or writer yourself trying to attach the RIGHT director to your project. That’s why we’re going to go over an extensive list of the best female directors. There are countless talented female filmmakers out there, and any list for a prospective director should include many of them. Here are the best female directors working today.

Female Directors Today

Why we need this list

A lot of the women on this list don't have the same name recognition as their male peers do, but we aim to change that. Why?

Because there is a ton of untapped talent on this list just waiting to be used on the next great project. Also because as Hollywood changes and looks to a new progressive future, anyone who isn't focused on inclusivity will be left in the dust.

Women in Film keeps track of the statistics on how many women are working in the film industry every year. While the numbers are gradually getting better, it’s up to everyone make that change.

Best female Directors list

Female directors, A-Z

So, without further ado, here is our list of amazing and accomplished directors who also happen to be women. They come from all over the world, work in every genre, and have made some of the best films and television of all time.

best directors

Alice Winocour

Best Female Directors Working Today - Alice Winocour

Best Female Directors  •  Alice Winocour

Winocour wrote the 2015 smash, Mustang, and immediately parlayed that into a directing career. She also made her name directing AugustineDisorder, and Proxima

While working primarily in France, Winocour has recently made the shift to American film, and seems to be next in line for bigger budgets, considering Proxima takes place in outer space.

best female directors

Amma Asante

Best Female Directors - Amma Asante

Best Female Directors  •  Amma Asante

A female director and writer known for Belle and A United Kingdom. Asante used to be an actress but has achieved more success behind the camera. She recently directed episodes of Mrs. America

best women directors

Ana Lily Amirpour

Best Female Directors Working Today - Ana Lily Alumpoor

Best Female Directors  •  Ana Lily Amirpour

Amirpour made waves when she released A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. It was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards and catapulted her into the spotlight. Amirpour followed that up with The Bad Batch and episodes of LegionCastle Rock and The Twilight Zone. She’s tackling a new and diverse take on tired genres and that’s exciting. 

great female directors

Andrea Arnold

Best Female Directors - Andrea Arnold

Best Female Directors  •  Andrea Arnold

Long before she was set to direct the entirety of Season Two of Big Little Lies, Arnold commanded attention with 2009’s Fish Tank. That movie caught the world by storm and won Best British Movie at the BAFTAS. Before that, Arnold won an Academy Award for Best Short Film in 2003. She’s remained very active in Hollywood, making her mark with her epic opus, American Honey. It’ll be cool to watch this female director take the reins on future projects.

famous female directors

Angelina Jolie

Best Female Directors - Angelina Jolie

Jolie is one of the most successful female directors today

Jolie’s career as an actress defined the late 1990s and early 2000s, but her emerging work as a director has been both powerful and impactful. Jolie began directing with the crushing, In the Land of Blood and Honey. She’s been prolific over the past few years. Releasing UnbrokenBy The Sea, and First They Killed My Father. She’s tackled multiple genres and frequently gets involved in the writing as well. A true Jill-of-all-trades. Female directors get it done. 

Did You Know?

Woman were just 7% of all directors working in the top 250 domestic grossing films in 2016.

famous directors list

Anna Boden

Best Female Directors Working Today - Anna Boden

Best Female Directors  •  Anna Boden

Along with her writing and directing and life partner, Ryan Fleck, Bolden has made a name for herself with strong, character-centric, work. The duo met in film school but Hollywood took notice when they released Half Nelson starring Ryan Gosling. 

Recently, they completed Captain Marvel for Marvel. Their documentary and editing backgrounds assure their films come in tight and keep you on the edge of your seat, even in the most dramatic stories. 

top movie directors

Anne Fletcher

Best Female Directors - Anne Fletcher

Best Female Directors  •  Anne Fletcher

Fletcher was a renowned choreographer who stepped into the director’s chair for the breakout hit, Step Up, in 2006. Since then she’s worked consistently, often with top stars like Sandra Bullock, Dolly Parton, Ryan Reynolds, and Barbra Streisand. Her latest film, Dumplin', was released to great acclaim and belongs on any top female directors list. 

popular directors

Ava Duvernay

Best Female Directors - Ava Duvernay

DuVernay is another one of the top directors working today

It’s hard to imagine a time when Ava DuVernay wasn’t a household name. Selma helped DuVernay break out and A Wrinkle In Time certified her as a visionary. She’s expected to tackle the DC Universe next with The New Gods while we await word on Wrinkle sequels. 

She’s made it a point to work with other women and focus on equality for all. DuVernay has become more than a female director, or director of any kind. She's become a major cultural influencer. 

famous female directors

Barbra Streisand

Best Female Directors - Barbra Streisand

Best Female Directors  •  Barbra Streisand

Certainly the most famous person on this list. Though less prolific than others, Streisand forged a path that helped many female directors. She was already an acclaimed actress and singer when she directed Yentl, but she received a Best Picture nomination for The Prince of Tides and won the Cecile B. Demille Award in 2000 at the Golden Globes. 

top Hollywood directors

Catherine Hardwicke

How to Shoot a Fight Scene with Twilight Director Catherine Hardwicke  •  Subscribe on YouTube

Hardwicke scared a lot of parents with Thirteen, but became a hero to their daughters when she directed the initial installment of Twilight. She works a lot, bouncing from indies like Lords of Dogtown to big-budget studio fare like Red Riding Hood.  

Her versatility makes her an interesting pick for any film and can handle the pressure of adapting beloved titles like Twilight.

best women directors

Debra Granik

Best Female Directors - Debra Granik

Best Female Directors  •  Debra Granik

In 2010, no one knew who Jennifer Lawrence was but then she debuted in a little film called Winter’s Bone by this female director. Debra Granik was nominated for an Academy Award for her writing on that film but her directing put us into the Ozarks with unforgiving relentlessness. 

In 2018, Leave No Trace found its way onto many "Best of the Year" lists and boasts a 100% Tomatometer rating.

women directors

Dee Rees

Best Female Directors - Dee Rees

Best Female Directors  •  Dee Rees

Rees broke onto the scene with Mudbound, making history as the first black woman to earn an Academy Award nomination for Writing. Rees was also nominated for an Emmy for her work on the HBO film, Bessie. Rees started as an indie force with Pariah and is ready for the big time. 

‘‘A big part of getting a ‘shot’ is about studio execs seeing themselves in you. As a woman and a black filmmaker, I’m often not that person.”

— Dee Rees

female directors

Deniz Gamze Erguven

Best Female Directors - Denis Gamze Erguven

Best Female Directors  •  Deniz Gamze Erguven

The director of the acclaimed film, Mustang, created an interesting character drama that brought a ton of heart and comedy to what essentially was a tragedy. It’ll be exciting to see how Erguven handles her next project. 

great female directors

Elizabeth Banks

Best Female Directors - Elizabeth Banks

Elizabeth Banks is a female director on the rise

This female director started as an actress that dominated on the screen and has now also moved behind the camera. Banks took over the Pitch Perfect franchise and rebooted Charlie’s Angels. Banks has articulated the desire to make bigger movies and tackle huge-budget films. She also pushes for more women directors in general.

female comedy directors

Gail Mancuso

Best Female Directors - Gail Mancuso

Best Female Directors  •  Gail Mancuso

A stalwart in television. Mancuso is shifting to the theatrical world with A Dog’s Journey and Besties. She’s previously directed episodes of Modern FamilyMan with a Plan, and Black-ish. As Mancuso makes the jump into features it’ll be interesting to see where she lands. Especially with so many high-profile comedies on her resume. 

women film directors

Gia Coppola

Best Female Directors - Gia Coppola

Great directing clearly runs in the Coppola family

Coppola has pedigree coming from the Godfather himself. In 2013, she directed the anthology film, Palo Alto, based on James Franco’s book of the same title. She’s worked in television as well. Palo Alto’s vignette style proved Coppola could handle different tones and genres.

female film directors

Gillian Robespierre

Best Female Directors - Gilian Robespiere

Best Female Directors  •  Gillian Robespierre

The subversive comedy Obvious Child helped Robespierre wade into Hollywood’s waters. Since then she’s refined her character work with the painfully funny, Landline. She’s also dominated TV work, with several episodes of Casual. She’s a rising star who subverts the typical tones and surprises the audience with laughter.

female movie directors

Gina Prince-Bythewood

Best Female Directors - Gina Prince-Bythewood

Best Female Directors  •  Gina Prince-Bythewood

It seems like yesterday when Love and Basketball debuted, but it was all the way back in 2000. Since then, Prince-Bythewood has worked in television, independent cinema, and is about to drop an action film with Charlize Theron on Netflix called The Old Guard. Hopefully she can add her emotional depth to the blockbuster. 

women film directors

Jamie Babbit

Best Female Directors - Jamie Babbit

Best Female Directors  •  Jamie Babbit

The release of But I’m A Cheerleader was a landmark moment in Queer Cinema. Babbit has become a staple in television directing. Her career spans from Malcolm in the Middle to Silicon Valley, with stops at It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and countless others in between. Now she’s got The Stand-In due soon — her first feature in a few years.

top female directors

Jane Campion

Best Female Directors - Jane Campion

Best Female Directors  •  Jane Campion

In 1993, The Piano seemed like it came from nowhere but was instantly showered with accolades. Women directors looked at Campion like an idol. Campion took home the award for Best Screenplay but lost her Best Director Oscar. Since then she’s continue to direct. 

Surging back into the spotlight with the limited Hulu series, Top Of The Lake. Campion is making a comeback and it will be interesting to see what she does next. 

Did You Know?

According to Women In Hollywood, in 2017, females comprised just 24% of sole protagonists, 37% of all major characters, and 34% of all speaking characters.

female film directors

Jennifer Getzinger

Best Female Directors - Jennifer Getzinger

Best Female Directors  •  Jennifer Getzinger

Primarily a television director, Getzinger has been involved with some of the greatest television shows of all time. Mad MenJessica JonesOutlanderOrange is the New BlackWestworld, among others. She’s frequently at the forefront of popular drama and character-centric shows. TV is all about the writing, but these huge shows have put trust in Getzinger to make their stories come to life. 

women directors

Jennifer Kent

Best Female Directors - Jennifer Kent

Best Female Directors  •  Jennifer Kent

If you saw The Babadook, chances are you still haven’t gotten a good night's sleep. Kent is another director whose career started as an actress and shifted over time. She released her follow-up to The BabadookThe Nightingale, to rave reviews and heated controversy.  

The Babadook character transcended the movie and became part of the cultural lexicon and the film is one of the most audacious debuts in recent memory.

top female directors

Jennifer Lee

Best Female Directors - Jennifer Lee

Best Female Directors  •  Jennifer Lee

Lee cut her teeth in the animated world as a writer on projects like Wreck-It Ralph. Then she had everyone in your family singing “Let It Go” with her debut feature, Frozen. This marked the first time a female had directed a Disney animated feature — and then became the first female to direct a movie that made over $1 billion at the worldwide box office. Frozen II did similar numbers and she currently is the Chief Creative Officer at Disney. Killing it much?

“Don’t lose faith in what you are trying to do, even though you will get pummeled emotionally left and right. There are a lot of NOs to any YES. And that’s OK.”

 — Jennifer Lee

female directors

Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Best Female Directors - Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Best Female Directors  •  Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Yuh Nelson had previously only worked in animation as a story artist until she put her stamp on the Kung-Fu Panda franchise by directing the 2nd and 3rd films. Then she transitioned seamlessly into live action with The Darkest Minds.

"Sometimes, you just have to go in there and bowl people over with your sheer force of will."

— Jennifer Yuh Nelson

women film directors

Jill Soloway

Best Female Directors - Jill Soloway

Best Female Directors  •  Jill Soloway

Soloway was busy writing for television and building indie cred until she put Amazon TV on the map with her hit dramedy Transparent. Soloway has directed many episodes of the series and for her other Amazon show, I Love Dick. She’s become a force in television, highlighting unique and inclusive stories.  

top female directors

Jodie Foster

Best Female Directors - Jodie Foster

Best Female Directors  •  Jodie Foster

Foster was already an American icon when she stepped behind the camera. Since then, she’s dedicated her work to tackling emotional issues like family, the financial crisis, and parenting. Foster was nominated for an Emmy for her work on Orange Is the New Black and is fearless when it comes to choosing her directing assignments. After doing a Black Mirror episode about the loss of child, it’ll be fun to track where Foster goes next.  

female movie directors

Julia Leigh

Best Female Directors - Julia Leigh

Best Female Directors  •  Julia Leigh

Leigh got off to a stunning start — her directorial debut, Sleeping Beauty, was included in the main competition of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. While she has only directed one film, she’s also an accomplished novelist and continues to tell stories.

great female directors

Julie Delpy

Best Female Directors - Julie Delpy

Best Female Directors  •  Julie Delpy

Perhaps best known to Americans for her role in the Before trilogy, Delpy is also active behind the camera. She blends both French and American language films with her movie 2 Days in Paris and the follow-up, 2 Days in New York. While mostly working in comedy, her latest, My Zoe, is a drama. Delpy is adept at capturing the humanity of a situation and making us laugh or cry with the characters. 

women movie directors

Julie Taymor

Best Female Directors - Julie Taymor

Best Female Directors  •  Julie Taymor

One of the most visually striking directors working in Hollywood, Taymor came onto the scene in 1999 with Titus, after working in theater and directing operas. Her film, Frida, received six Oscar nominations. She’s recently debuted her Gloria Steinem biopic, The Glorias. Taymor is widely known for her styling, set design, and production values.

women film directors

Karyn Kusama

Best Female Directors - Karyn Kusama

Best Female Directors  •  Karyn Kusama

Kusama felt like she came from nowhere in 2000 with the movie Girlfight. Since then she’s handled both large studio ventures like Aeon Flux, as well as cult films like The Invitation. Kusama has also worked extensively in television in both comedy and drama. Kusama works with outside-the-box ideas and can handle even the most difficult tones.  

Did You Know?

Of the top 250 grossing films, Women comprised 18% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers. Women comprised 11% of all directors. 88% of the films had no female directors.

american directors

Kathryn Bigelow

Best Female Directors - Kathryn Bigelow

Best Female Directors  •  Kathryn Bigelow

Bigelow began her directing career in 1981 with The Loveless but she became a household name with Point Break in 1991. Since then, Bigelow has worked in film and television. In 2008, she was thrust back into the spotlight with The Hurt Locker and became the first woman to win the Best Directing Academy Award. She’s proven over and over again that she’s one of the best female directors in the business.

“If there’s specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can’t change my gender, and I refuse to stop making movies”  

— Kathryn Bigelow

best women directors

Kay Cannon

Best Female Directors - Kay Cannon

Best Female Directors  •  Kay Cannon

Cannon is a producer and writer who made a name for herself in TV before transitioning into film. She was behind the camera for 2018’s massive hit comedy, Blockers, and hopefully will be at the top of every comedy directing list. Her work on 30 Rock and New Girl was stellar and it’s exciting to see her as part of the new theatrical comedy wave.

top directors today

Kelly Reichardt

Best Female Directors - Kelly Reichardt

Best Female Directors  •  Kelly Reichardt

One of the most important indie filmmakers working in Hollywood, Reichardt has put out consistent work since 1994. Certain Women was nominated for a Spirit Award and she achieved cult status with dramas Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy

Reichardt asks hard questions with her work. She brings you into characters lives and leaves you there, allowing you to make your own decisions about them.

female directors

Kimberly Peirce

Best Female Directors - Kimberly Pierce

Best Female Directors  •  Kimberly Peirce

Peirce hoisted the Spirit Award for Best First Feature in 2000 for Boys Don’t Cry. Since then, the director has worked in film and television with some popular titles like Dear White PeopleAmerican Crime, and the remake of Carrie. Peirce has a specific talent of bringing out the humanity in even the most horrific situations and it echoes in her work. 

female directors in hollywood

Lana & Lilly Wachowski

Best Female Directors - Lana & Lily Wachowski

Do you know these famous female directors?

Once in a while a movie comes along that changes the industry. In 1999, that movie was The Matrix. Since then, the Wachowskis focused on building out that franchise and creating singular science fiction works that include Cloud Atlas and Speed Racer. They even pushed into television with Sense8 on Netflix. This trans duo has supported each other through the work and change and important to Hollywood’s visual style and CGI in general.  

best female directors

Lena Dunham

Best Female Directors - Lana Dunham

Best Female Directors  •  Lena Dunham

Before her meteoric rise, Dunham toured the country with her indie film Tiny Furniture. Then Girls premiered on HBO and everyone instantly knew who she was and what she was all about. She directed 19 episodes of that show and we’re all waiting to see what she’s going to do next.  She stays busy writing books and promoting her magazine, Lenny Letter. 

“The fact is that I write under duress, often in my bed, often at the last minute. I’m kind of a binge writer I would say, which I don’t support. I was always kind of that way. Probably the time I was the most regular as a writer was college. It was like, what else is there to do when you’re living in the Midwest studying creative writing?”

— Lena Dunham

female film directors

Lesli Linka Glatter

Best Female Directors - Lesli Linka Glatter

Best Female Directors  •  Lesli Linka Glatter

For the better part of the past thirty years, Linka Glatter has been a go-to director in television. She has been nominated for Emmys for her work in Mad Men and Homeland and even was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Film. She continues to push the boundaries in TV and help series achieve their look and feel. 

women film directors

Leslye Headland

Best Female Directors - Lesley Headland

Best Female Directors  •  Lesli Linka Glatter

Headland was a playwright who transitioned to TV writing for the cult classic, Terriers. She made the leap to directing with Bachelorette and Sleeping With Other People. She also became a force in television with SMILF and directing the pilot of Heathers. Headland has crushed in recent years and as SMILF takes off she’ll be someone to watch. 

“Maybe even to the great men, a woman directing is like a dog playing the piano: at best, a novelty or fad; at worst, an aberration.”

— Leslye Headland, writer and director

top female directors

Lexi Alexander

Best Female Directors - Laxi Alexander

Best Female Directors  •  Lexi Alexander

Now a stalwart in television, Alexander got her start as a World Karate Champion. She grappled her way to the screen with Green Street Hooligans and followed it up with the exciting Punisher: War Zone

Alexander’s specialty is action and fight scenes and that’s allowed her to make a name for herself on shows like Arrow and Supergirl. Alexander is also vocal about Hollywood on Twitter and frequently interacts with fans and haters alike.

female movie directors

Lisa Cholodenko

Best Female Directors - Lisa Cholodenko

Best Female Directors  •  Lisa Cholodenko

Cholodenko bounced around between TV and smaller films but really became a part of the conversation with her project, The Kids Are All Right. Since then she’s worked with HBO on Olive Kitteridge. Her work in character-centered dramedy creates a delicate balance between comedy and tragedy. 

female film directors

Lisa Joy

Best Female Directors - Lisa Joy

Best Female Directors  •  Lisa Joy

Joy broke in writing on Pushing Daisies and Burn Notice. Then a little show called Westworld broke out and became a major hit. Joy recently directed her first episode of Westworld to critical success and it will be interesting to see what happens next with her career.  

best female directors

Lorene Scafaria

Best Female Directors - Lorene Scafaria

Best Female Directors  •  Lorene Scafaria

Scafaria wrote Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist but was able to parlay that into directing her next feature, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World. Since then she’s directed three episodes of New Girl and The Meddler. In 2019, she directed one of the year's best films, Hustlers. Scafaria has shown the delicate ability to understand deep emotion while still being able to make people laugh.

Did You Know?

Of the top 1,100 grossing  films from 2007-2017, 95.7% of all directors were male and 4.3% were female. This translates to 22 male directors hired to every 1 female director.

best film directors

Lynn Shelton

Best Female Directors - Lynn Shelton

Best Female Directors  •  Lynn Shelton

As far as subversive debut comedy goes, Lynn Shelton held nothing back with 2009’s Humpday. She released numerous independent features like LaggiesYour Sister’s Sister, and Outside In. She also dominated the television landscape directing episodes of The Mindy ProjectNew GirlCasualShamelessG.L.O.W.Love, and AP Bio.

Shelton crushed character work and often displayed people who are stuck in various stages of their life, trying to break out of their shells. We unfortunately lost her much too soon.

women directors

Lynne Ramsay

Best Female Directors - Lynne Ramsay

Best Female Directors  •  Lynne Ramsay

Truly an auteur, Ramsay's You Were Never Really Here is a powerhouse. She’s truly royalty of independent cinema, working to create singular visions about often controversial subjects.

We Need To Talk About KevinRatcatcher, and Morvern Callar have all been critical successes and pushed the boundary of cinema. Audiences are clamoring for more of her work, and we hope Hollywood helps finance her next vision.  

female directors in hollywood

Marielle Heller

Best Female Directors - Marielle Heller

Best Female Directors  •  Marielle Heller

Heller started in Hollywood as an actress but made noise in a big way with Diary of a Teenage Girl. Since then she’s done a stint on Casual, directed some Transparent, and the critical darling, Can You Ever Forgive Me? Like a few others on this list, she does well turning tragedy into comedy and always brings a humanity to her character’s less than perfect decisions.

women film directors

Marjane Satrapi

Best Female Directors - Marjane Satrapi

Best Female Directors  •  Marjane Satrapi

A graphic novelist, Satrapi broke into directing after adapting her own graphic novel, Persepolis, to the big screen. She’s continued to work in film, with the 2014 Ryan Reynolds vehicle, The Voices. Satrapi most recently debuted a biopic of Marie Curie called Radioactive. Satrapi has conquered several mediums and her unique visual gifts will be a must-see as she tackles a historical drama. 

top Hollywood directors

Mary Harron

Best Female Directors - Mary Harron

Best Female Directors  •  Mary Harron

Harron delivered two of the 1990’s cult classics in I Shot Andy Warhol and American Psycho. After those two successes she worked mainly in television with episodes of Six Feet UnderBig Love, and the Anna Nicole TV Movie. 

She’s getting back into features with Charlie Says and Dali Land. Harron is great at keeping an audience guessing and highlighting our darkest thoughts and feelings. 

female movie directors

Mia Hansen-Love

Best Female Directors - Mia Hansen-Love

Best Female Directors  •  Mia Hansen-Love

Hansen-Løve was discovered as an actress at 18 but has risen to prominence as a director since. She works primarily in independent cinema in France, and recently dropped a crime-reporter drama called Maya. She’s making the leap to American films after, with Bergman Island. It’ll be interesting to see how she rises in Hollywood.

women directors

Michelle Maclaren

Best Female Directors - Michelle Maclaren

Best Female Directors  •  Michelle Maclaren

MacLaren made her directorial debut with an episode of The X-Files. She worked on various shows in the early 2000s but came into her own with an extended run of episodes for Breaking BadGame of ThronesThe Leftovers, and The Walking Dead

Her name has been attached to various features including the long-delayed Cowboy, Ninja, Viking. It seems everyone’s long wait for MacLaren to make the jump to the big screen will soon be over.

female directors

Mimi Leder

Best Female Directors - Mimi Leder

Best Female Directors  •  Mimi Leder

Leder has been directing consistently for the past 30 years. She started with an episode of L.A. Law and did a series of TV movies. Then flipped those into The PeacemakerDeep Impact, and Pay It Forward

She transitioned back into television in the 2000s with runs on West Wing and The Leftovers. Leder can handle big science fiction but always grounds it in personal struggles.  

great female directors

Mira Nair

Best Female Directors - Mia Nair

Do you know this famous female director?

Nair started in documentary film, but quickly shifted into creating personal stories like Monsoon Wedding and The Namesake. 

Recently she’s focused on creating interesting characters, as seen in her Amelia Earhart biopic, Amelia, and her chess movie, Queen of Katwe. She’s visually gifted and always finds the nuance of every scene. Truly focused on “show, don’t tell.”

female directors in hollywood

Miranda July

Best Female Directors - Miranda July

Best Female Directors  •  Miranda July

A multi-hyphenate and artist, July has spread her wings in the indie scene. Her movie, Me, You, And Everyone We Know, won the Golden Camera Award at Cannes. She’s since focused on her own work and creating personal stories. Her characters and situations are always left of center and unique. 

“My husband is shooting a movie, and our son is 3, and everyone around him is not going, ‘Oh, my god, what are you going to do with your son?’ We give fathers all kinds of permission to focus on their work, to be creatively consumed, but mothers with that same determination make everyone uneasy. The guilt is unreal.”

— Miranda July, writer, director and actress

women film directors

Nancy Meyers

Best Female Directors - Nancy Meyers

Best Female Directors  •  Miranda July

In 1980, a little movie called Private Benjamin put Goldie Hawn into the spotlight and helped Meyers break into Hollywood. After that successful writing assignment, Meyers continued to be a reliable writer, finally getting the chance to direct with 1998’s Parent Trap remake. 

Since then she’s been a force in Hollywood, tackling memorable movies like The Holiday and Something’s Gotta Give.  She’s now at the top of the Hollywood Directing tier, which means she usually gets to direct what she writes, like she did on The Intern.   

top female directors

Nicole Holofcener

Best Female Directors - Nicole Holofcener

Best Female Directors  •  Nicole Holofcener

Holofcener is a versatile director whose scope ranges from TV comedy and drama to personal, independent, films. She’s directed episodes of Gilmore GirlsParks and Rec, and One Mississippi

Her films usually star prominent actresses that she lets delve deep into character work like Julia Louis Dreyfus in Enough Said. She has a way of making quiet moments count and makes movies about being an adult. 

“What’s the trick to writing a great female character? Make her human.”

—  Nicole Holofcener

female movie directors

Niki Caro

Best Female Directors - Niki Caro

Best Female Directors  •  Niki Caro

This New Zealand director achieved universal acclaim for her work on Whale Rider. Since then, she’s worked on several dramatic films, North CountryThe Zookeeper’s Wife, Disney’s live-action Mulan. Caro’s visual style is unique and refreshing. She knows how to convert big action and big heart.

top female directors

Patty Jenkins

Best Female Directors - Patty Jenkins

One of the top directors working today

In 2003, it seemed like Patty Jenkins could turn the buzz coming off her movie, Monster, into anything. Instead, she wound up directing TV until she came back in a big way with Wonder Woman. Jenkins’ style and vision made Wonder Woman a blockbuster smash, and the follow-up, Wonder Woman 1984, looks like a blast.

Did You Know?

In TV for 2016-2017, the Directors Guild reported the percentage of episodes directed by ethnic minorities rose by 3 percentage points to a record 22% of all episodes, while the percentage directed by women went up 4 points to 21% of all episodes, another all-time high.

female movie directors

Penelope Spheeris

Best Female Directors - Penelope Spheeris

Best Female Directors  •  Penelope Spheeris

Spheeris rose to prominence in the '80s and was the mind behind household comedies like Wayne’s WorldThe Little Rascals, and Black Sheep. Since then she’s fluctuated between TV movies, episodes, and even some documentaries. Still, she made an indelible mark on comedy and is poised for a noisy comeback.

female movie directors

Phyllida Lloyd

Best Female Directors - Phyllida Lloyd

Best Female Directors  •  Phyllida Lloyd

This determined British director can do it all, helming the musical Mamma Mia! And then chasing it with the prestige picture, The Iron Lady two years later. She’s currently in development on a few ideas. With her range she’s proven she can tackle anything.   

female film directors

Reed Morano

Best Female Directors - Reed Morano

Best Female Directors  •  Reed Morano

Morano made waves while directing The Handmaid’s Tale. She started out as a cinematographer before stepping into the director's chair. Her debut film, I Think We’re Alone Now, is fantastic and her most recent film, The Rhythm Section, is a knockout. 

best female directors

Sam Taylor-Johnson

Best Female Directors - Sam Taylor-Johnson

Do you know this famous female director?

Another Brit, Taylor-Johnson worked on the rise of the Beatles in Nowhere Boy but came to fame when she landed the job of directing the smash-hit novel adaptation of Fifty Shades Of Grey

Since then she’s delved into television but is going back to adapt another noisy novel, A Million Little Pieces. She can handle the pressure of a best-seller and knows how to get the audience involved. 

women directors

Sarah Polley

Best Female Directors - Sarah Polley

Best Female Directors  •  Sarah Polley

Polley stepped away from acting in 2010 to pursue directing full time. Her first three films have been a tour-de-force of emotion. Away From HerStories We Tell, and Take This Waltz have all garned awards consideration and thrust Polly into the limelight as an important filmmaker to keep track of as she moves forward. She excels at emotionally crushing tales and tearjerkers.

female directors

So Yong Kim

Best Female Directors - So Yong Kim

Best Female Directors  •  So Yong Kim

Kim was born in Korea but has been working consistently in Hollywood since 2006. She started with low-budget indies but has since moved to television where she’s directed episodes of Queen SugarThe Good FightThe Exorcist, and Get Shorty. Her flexibility to move between tone and genre keeps her highly sought after.

top female directors

Sofia Coppola

Best Female Directors - Sofia Coppola

Best Female Directors  •  Sofia Coppola

Another in the Coppola family tree, Sofia branched out from her father's prestige mafia movies. Instead, she focuses on her own independent voice, pushing modern ideas like Somewhere and Bling Ring while also bending genre and tone with Marie Antoinette and The Beguiled. She’s constantly changing and inventing with every project. 

female movie directors

Susanne Bier

Best Female Directors - Susanne Bier

Best Female Directors  •  Susanne Bier

Born in Copenhagen, Bier flourished in the European markets, helping break Mads Mikkelsen as an actor in After The Wedding. She’s since directed all six episodes of the Golden Globe Nominated The Night Manager and the sci-fi thriller, Bird Box. She keeps audiences on the edge of their seats and can create tension out of any moment. 

female film directors

Tamara Jenkins

Best Female Directors - Tamara Jenkins

Best Female Directors  •  Tamara Jenkins

In 1998, Slums Of Beverly Hills burst through the indie scene and into the mainstream. Jenkins had a long break between that and The Savages, but came back in a big way with the drama, Private Life. Jenkins thrives in realism and gives actors room to take over.

best female directors

Tamra Davis

Best Female Directors - Tamra Davis

Best Female Directors  •  Tamra Davis

When Davis emerged from the music video landscape of the late '80s and early 90’s, she directed comedies like CB4, Billy Madison and Half Baked. She's spent a lot of time since in TV, working on some of the biggest comedies like You’re the Worst and Alone Together. Her ability to extract comedic performances out of actors is uncanny. 

women directors

Valerie Faris

Best Female Directors - Valerie Faris

Best Female Directors  •  Valerie Faris

Along with her directing and writing partner, Jonathan Dayton, Faris has made a name for herself with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, and REM music videos.

They made the switch to movies with the massive success, Little Miss Sunshine, and have continued their success with Ruby Sparks and Battle of the Sexes. Faris is driven by subverting tropes and bringing interesting stories to the screen. 

up Next

How to become a director

While this is a comprehensive list of female directors, there are more women filmmakers naming names for themselves every day. It’s important to seek out female directors on your own, and please let us know of any female directors we may have missed on our list. 

Are you a female filmmaker trying to get your project off the ground? In the next article, we'll go through the process of how to become a director. From getting work on on sets to directing short films and working the festival circuit.

Up Next: Becoming a Director →
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