10 New Must-See Films Directed by Women

Only three of the top 10 certified-fresh films of 2019 on Rotten Tomatoes are directed by women. Documentaries Hail Satan? and Knock Down the House are both 100 percent fresh, while Olivia Wilde’s buzzy comedy Booksmart sits at 97 percent.

Members of FF2 Media’s all-female staff watch and review every film released theatrically in New York City with a female director and/or screenwriter attached. Of the 96 films that fit that criteria released so far this year, 10 have perfect scores from our critics (five points on a five-point scale).

Some of our favorite films have such small distribution and limited press coverage that Rotten Tomatoes scores are not even calculated, but they are still absolutely worthy of your time. Cherry Scores are accumulated from thecherrypicks.com, a site that ranks movies “according to reviews published by writers who self-identify as female, femme, or nonbinary.”

All of these films are directed by women and pass the Bechdel-Wallace test, measured by how often female characters exchange dialogue unrelated to men.

Ask For Jane

Release Date: 5/17

Where to Watch: In Theaters Now

Director: Rachel Carey

Writer: Rachel Carey, Cait Cortelyou

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Unavailable

Cherry Score: 93%

FF2 Media Review: Ask for Jane is a powerful piece about the simple procedure that is abortion. Focusing on a group of young ladies who are passionate about the rights of women and their bodies, this is a timely feature that serves as a reminder of our fight for these rights, especially in this day and age when we see history repeating itself.” -Sophia Jin

Knock Down the House

Release Date: 5/3

Where to Watch: Netflix

Director: Rachel Lears

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Cherry Score: 88%

FF2 Media Review:Knock Down the House is more than just a film. It’s a part of a movement. It’s available on Netflix so that as many people as possible can access it. It is meant to spread a message to the people of the US: we do have the power to advocate for ourselves and see our country run the way we want it to.” -Julia Lasker

Catching Sight of Thelma & Louise

Release Date: 4/5

Where to Watch: catchingsightof.com

Director: Jennifer Townsend

Rotten Tomatoes/Cherry Scores: Unavailable

FF2 Media Review: “Following the 1991 release of Thelma & Louise, director Jennifer Townsend conducted a questionnaire as a research project: did other people share a similar, visceral reaction to the film? After sorting through handwritten letters and cassette-tape voicemails, Townsend follows up with her responders two decades later. This uniquely touching documentary shows how impactful art can be, how many people it can reach and just how long it can last.” -Brigid Presecky

Blowin’ Up

Release Date: 4/5

Where to Watch: In Theaters Now

Director: Stephanie Wang-Breal

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Chery Score: Unavailable

FF2 Media Review:Blowin’ Up speaks of a unique judicial system that helps female victims of sex trafficking (mostly Black an Asian) get back on track with their lives. It’s not only inspiring but insightful.” -Stephanie Taylor

Working Woman

Release Date: 3/29

Where to Watch: VOD and DVD

Director: Michal Aviad

Writer: Michal Aviad, Sharon Azulay Eyal, Michal Vinik

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Cherry Score: 80%

FF2 Media Review: Working Woman chronicles the painful story of a woman who returns to the workplace to support her family and their new business, and is faced with increased sexual harassment from her employer, in a job she comes to depend on….An important film that has come out at a vital time—in the midst of the #MeToo movement, and during active opposition and protest against workplace violence and sexual assault.” -Farah Elattar

Captain Marvel

Release Date: 3/8

Where to Watch: iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon, DVD

Director: Anna Boden

Writer: Anna Boden, Geneva Robertson-Dworet

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%

FF2 Media Review: “It’s pretty refreshing to see Brie Larson being (basically) a regular person in this movie. She has a funny and sweet relationship with her best friend on Earth, she’s good with kids, and not every line she says is meant to be level-10 dramatic (or worse, that often-nauseating brand of quippiness that Marvel movies tend to feature in lethal doses).This doesn’t cancel out the other reason I dislike Marvel movies–the fact that movies that market feminism to the masses are just a vehicle for corporate interests/a way for capitalists to profit on social change–but as you can see, I like Carol Danvers a lot more than Natasha Romanova.” -Giorgi Plys-Garzatto

Birds of Passage

Release Date: 2/15

Where to Watch: Vudu, DirecTV Cinema, Amazon, DVD

Director: Cristina Gallego

Writer: Maria Camilla Arias

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Cherry Score: 95%

FF2 Media Review: “Both mesmerizing and terrifying at once, watching Birds of Passage feels like roaming the Colombian desert yourself, and finding yourself deep into a waking nightmare. Nothing less than art, directors Cristina Gallego Ciro Guerra’s work is also a wonderful example of how film can do right by the culture it represents.” -Roza Melkumyan

The courtship ritual between Rapayet (José Acosta) and Zaida (Natalia Reyes) sets a tone for Birds of Passage that this is no ordinary organized-crime dram
Who Will Write Our History

Release Date: 1/18

Where to Watch: Vudu, Amazon

Director: Roberta Grossman

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Cherry Score: Unavailable

FF2 Media Review: “Grossman spins most of the film’s story with the narrated texts of the people who lived and died in the Warsaw Ghetto. Outside commentary is used sparingly and diaries are brought to life with beautifully rendered re-enactments of history. The documentary itself melts away and you are drawn into something that feels very real.” -Roza Melkumyan

What Is Democracy?

Release Date: 1/18

Where to Watch: YouTube, Amazon, Google Play

Director: Astra Taylor

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Cherry Score: 100%

FF2 Media Review: “A cross-continental and 3000-year journey investigating [Taylor’s] titular question: What Is Democracy? This film brings in academics as well as ordinary citizens who are at the forefront of activism and social unrest, all weighing in to give us a picture of what democracy is and could be.” -Giorgi Plys-Garzatto

Adult Life Skills

Release Date: 1/18

Where to Watch: Vudu, Amazon, DirecTV Cinema

Director: Rachel Tunnard

Writer: Rachel Tunnard

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%

Cherry Score: 70%

FF2 Media Review: “Rachel Tunnard’s brilliantly written and directed Adult Life Skills manages to sensitively discuss the effects of grief and helplessness while maintaining a ridiculously witty humor. With an incredible cast of Lorraine Ashbourne and Jodie Whittaker as mother and daughter, Tunnard asks what it truly means to be an adult – and if it’s even worth trying to be one.” -Maiya Pascouche

Find more reviews from women critics at ff2media.com/thehotpinkpen.

Photos: Knock Down the House (Courtesy: Netflix); Captain Marvel (Courtesy: Marvel); Birds of Passage (Courtesy: The Orchard); Working Woman (Courtesy: Zeitgeist Films).

Tags: Ask for Jane, Blowin' Up, Catching Sight of Thelma & Louise, Knock Down the House

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