Underrated Films Directed by Women That You Need to Watch
As January draws to a close with lockdown and restrictions still in place, it is clear that February is the month for streaming. The choice of films to watch on streaming services has never been greater and makes staying at home during these colder months easier than ever. Here is a list of female-directed films that are not only underrated, but perfect for the cosy evenings ahead.
1. The Farewell, directed by Lulu Wang
The Farewell explores the universal themes of grief, family and loss in a bittersweet film beautifully shot in China. The film follows, Billi played by Awkwafina, as she learns that her beloved Grandmother has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, however, in accordance with Chinese culture, the family refrain from sharing the diagnosis with the grandmother herself, instead they stage a wedding in which the family can come together to see her one last time. Especially now, with the current climate making it difficult to be with our loved ones, The Farewell reminds us that we should never take them for granted.
The Farewell is available to stream right now on Prime Video.
2. Hustlers, directed by Lorene Scafaria
Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers is the very definition of star-studded; it boasts names such as Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, Lizzo, Constance Wu, Julia Stiles as well as a surprise cameo from Usher mid-way through! The plot revolves around Destiny (Wu) and Ramona (Lopez), two former strip club employees. Scafaria’s film is a high-energy, fast paced, gritty and equal parts entertaining and heart-breaking. The soundtrack, cinematography, make-up and costume design and direction are all superbly executed to create a masterpiece. Jennifer Lopez’s performance is perhaps the best in her filmography and Scafaria effortlessly finds the perfect balance of drama and fun.
Hustlers is available to stream right now on Prime Video.
3. Booksmart, directed by Olivia Wilde
Most famously known for her acting, this is Olivia Wilde’s first time behind the camera. Booksmart highlights that having fun is just as important as working hard as we watch the coming-of-age adventures of Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) as they prioritise partying in their last days of high school, putting their friendship to the test. The film is reminiscent of eighties style Molly Ringwald films, but modernised to tackle issues facing young girls in todays culture with the rise of social media and the pressure to be good at everything.
Booksmart is available to stream right now on NowTV.
This film is one hour and fifty minutes of happiness. Anne Fletcher directs Jennifer Aniston and rising star Danielle Macdonald as a mother-daughter duo immersed in the world of beauty pageants. Despite the adversity that Willowdean (Macdonald) faces by not fitting the typical beauty pageant aesthetic, Fletcher’s film is one of acceptance, self-love, community and most importantly – Dolly Parton.
Dumplin’ is available to stream right now on Netflix.
5. Rocks, directed by Sarah Gavron
Instantly after I watched Rocks, I searched the cast to see the other films they had worked on and to my surprise, Rocks is the first feature film that almost all of the cast had been involved in. The on-screen talent is phenomenal and is only enhanced by the talent behind the camera in the form of Gavron. The titular character of Rocks, played by Bukky Bakray, is a schoolgirl that finds herself fending for herself and her younger brother after her mother leaves unexpectedly. The on-screen chemistry of the supporting cast leave you with a film that is moving, funny and needed.
Rocks is available to stream right now on Netflix.
6. Late Night, directed by Nisha Ganatra
This is a typical Sunday afternoon film if there ever was one. Emma Thompson plays an American chat show host, oddly reminiscent of Ellen DeGeneres, whose show is in decline just as she employs a new writer played by Mindy Kaling. The film is sweet and fun, with Emma Thompson and Mindy Kalings performances being full of energy. Ultimately, this is a charming film by Ganatra that highlights the importance of female friendships and women in the workplace.
Late Night is available to stream right now on Prime Video.
7. Can You Ever Forgive Me?, directed by Marielle Heller
Based on the true events surrounding the forgery of famous letters, Marielle Heller directs Melissa McCarthy from Gilmore Girls and Bridesmaids fame, in her first ‘serious’ role. Heller creates a film that highlights McCarthy's talent in a serious role without making her any less entertaining to watch. It is a shame that Heller didn’t get the recognition she deserved during the 2020 award season as this film is one of the perfect examples of the new wave in female directors that are entering and improving Hollywood right now.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is available to stream right now on SkyGo.
About Maddie Peacey
I am a content writer from Oxford with a passion for film, fashion and travel. I hope to inspire other women with my work just as so many amazing women have inspired me.