Jane Campion made history earlier this year when she was nominated for Best Director Oscar multiple times for her film The Power of the Dog. Many people praised Campion’s achievement while criticising the Academy’s failure to recognise women’s contributions throughout its history. Though women’s films were few and far between in the twentieth century, when directors like Ida Lupino and Elaine May were frequently the only female filmmakers employed by their studios, the number of female directors has increased significantly in recent years.
Although the twenty-first century is just a few years old, it has already produced a slew of instant classics, ranging from established auteurs to budding indie talents and everything in between. The following are the top ten.
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1. Toni Erdmann (2016)
Director- Maren Ade
While passing the time in Aachen, Winfried, a divorced piano instructor who is prone to practical jokes. He seeks to reunite with Ines, his estranged only daughter who is now a determined business consultant in Bucharest. Surprisingly, as the brazen dad takes on a new persona, Toni Erdmann, who is flamboyantly vocal and wonderfully opulent. He takes everyone by surprise, penetrating Ines’ well-ordered life and her close professional network. After years of estrangement, Winfried—as his alter ego, Toni—attempts to make a difference in the hopes of bridging the gap between them; but, is his unconventional approach to reconciliation too little?
2. Lost In Translation (2003)
Director- Sofia Cappola
Bob Harris is a long-retired American film actor. He travels to Tokyo for commercial work and meets Charlotte, the young wife of a visiting photographer. Bob and Charlotte are in exhaustion, which makes them great though unlikely travelling partners. Bob is content with a middling stateside marriage. While Charlotte searches for “her place in life.” They live the American experience in Tokyo, both individually and collectively. Due to the cultural and linguistic contrasts between themselves and the Japanese, Bob and Charlotte are both perplexed and amused. As Bob and Charlotte’s love grows, they realise that their trips to Japan. As well as their visits to one other, would soon come to an end.
3. American Psycho (2000)
Director- Mary Harron
It’s the end of the 1980s. Patrick Bateman, a twenty-seven-year-old Wall Streeter, travels among a tight network of the proverbial beautiful people. A closed network in which only they are able to allow others like themselves in with a sense of superiority. Patrick follows a strict morning routine to maintain his looks and health. He, like the others in his network, is vain, egotistical, egomaniacal, and competitive, always trying to outdo the other in that presentation of oneself. But he, unlike the others, understands that all of these are masks to disguise what is truly beneath, someone/something inhuman in nature.
In other words, he is made up of a human-like shell that is simply greedy and disgusted, greedy for what others have. Also, disgusted for those who do not meet his standards and for himself for not being first or best. That contempt manifests itself in a desire to rid the world of those people. The one he does not regard as humans but as embodiments of the characteristics he wishes to eradicate.
4. The Power Of The Dog (2021)
Director- Jane Campion
Rural Montana in 1925. The polar opposite Burbank brothers—swaggering, boorish Phil and stylish, mild-mannered George—have been operating the family’s rich ranch for decades, harbouring a silent but apparent conflict over everything. Phil takes tremendous joy in harassing his soft-spoken sibling, completely oblivious to the fact that change is on the way. Thanks to his late mentor “Bronco” Henry’s magnetism and unrelenting skill. As an accidental encounter with widowed lodging house owner Rose and her sensitive adolescent son Peter develops to an unexpectedly deep friendship. The cruel Phil chooses to focus his attention away from his problems and on the silent boy—an easy target. Harassment and abuse are increasingly leading to depression and alcoholism. However, secrets can occasionally be hidden in plain sight.
5. Persepolis (2007)
Co-Director- Marjane Satrapi
Marjane ‘Marji’ Satrapi, a young Iranian woman in the 1970s, witnesses the defeat of the despised Shah in the Iranian Revolution of 1979 through the eyes of her idealistic family. Marji, on the other hand, sees firsthand how the new Iran, now dominated by Islamic fanatics. It has devolved into its own brutal tyranny. Marji’s parents send her to Vienna to study for a better life. As she is dangerously unwilling to remain silent about this injustice. This move, however, proves to be an equally challenging challenge for the young woman. As she finds herself in a strange culture full of caustic individuals and severe disappointments. Marji discovers that both she and her hometown have changed too much when she returns home. Also, she and her loving family must decide where she truly belongs.
6. The Babadook (2014)
Director- Jennifer Kent
Amelia lost her husband in a car accident while on her way to give birth to their only child, Samuel. She is struggling to cope with her new life as a single mother. Samuel’s continual fear of monsters, as well as his violent reaction to alleviate that fear, don’t assist her cause, and her friends grow estranged as a result. They read a bizarre novel about the ‘Babadook’ monster that hides in the dark regions of their house when things seem hopeless. Amelia, too, appears to be affected by Babadook and strives in vain to destroy it. The rest of the novel is made up of the two’s nightmare experiences.
7. Monsoon Wedding (2001)
Director- Mira Nair
The Verma family in Delhi is overjoyed because their daughter, Aditi, is about to marry Hemant Rai, who lives in Houston, Texas. Aditi’s father, Lalit, is busy giving a slacker wedding contractor, P.K. Dubey, a piece of his mind for being late. His niece, Ria, is thinking about travelling to the United States to pursue a career; his wife, Pimmi, is sneaking cigarettes into the toilet; and then the family and guests start to arrive from all around India, the United States, and Australia. Everyone departs to get some much-needed sleep after the engagement ceremony, save the bride-to-be, who is heading to meet her beloved, a TV Producer, unaware that her visit at this late hour will change her life forever.
8. Mustang (2015)
Director- Deniz Gamze Erguven
School is out for the summer in a little Black Sea seaside town. Lale and her older sisters, Sonay, Selma, Ece, and Nur, whose ages vary from 11 to 16, decide to go to the beach and playfully frolic on the beach with their male classmates while fully dressed. However, when the orphaned sisters return home, they are unaware that their scandalised neighbours have already dealt them a serious harm to their reputation. Suspicion leads to confinement, and the house quickly transforms into a jail and a wife factory. Uncle Erol has arranged for the girls to be married off as soon as possible in order to avert the scandal. When conservatism stands in the way of freedom, however, disobedience is a viable option.
9. Julie & Julia (2009)
Director- Nora Ephron
Paul Child, a diplomat, and his wife Julia are exiled to France in 1949. Julia, bored in Paris, resolves to learn to cook and then publish a book instructing American housewives how to prepare French cuisine. Julie, a disgruntled government secretary, and her husband, the editor Eric Powell, move to a Queens apartment above a pizzeria in 2002. She is an aspiring writer who enjoys cooking, and her husband advises that she establish a blog to pass the time. Julie decides to start a culinary blog and sets a goal of cooking all 534 dishes in Julia Child’s book in 365 days.
10. Tomboy (2011)
Director- Celine Sciamma
A family moves to a new neighbourhood, and a 10-year-old girl named Laure presents herself to the neighbouring kids as a boy named Mickäel. Mickäel’s identity as a transsexual boy is heavily implied. This film chronicles his interactions with his newfound acquaintances, Lisa, his younger sister, and his parents, as well as his potential love affair. It emphasises on the importance of gender identity in social contact from a young age, the challenges of being transgender and young, and how Mickäel navigates these issues while playing and loving as a child.