Looking for something dramatic, romantic, heartfelt, or hilarious to relax into this evening? Here are just a few excellent romantic films directed by women to help you ring in your International Women’s Day right.
5. My Brilliant Career (1979)
Dir. Gillian Armstrong
Gillian Armstrong came to international renown with her 1994 adaptation of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s influential 1860s domestic drama. But fifteen years earlier, she made another widely respected literary adaptation of a classic drama, this time Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career. The film follows Sybylla, a young woman in 19th century Australia who dreams of a more exciting life than her drab days on the farm. But when she moves in with her grandmother in an attempt to distill some family loyalty into her, she meets two local boys – shepherd Frank and well-off Harry – who both begin courting her. Will she settle down with one of the two, or pursue her dreams of further glory?
My Brilliant Career is available to stream free with a subscription to Hulu+.
Dir. Amy Heckerling
Amy Heckerling is one of the great directors of the 80s and 90s, and the fact that we don’t talk about her work more is a crime. One of her most enduring films is 1995’s Clueless, a riff on Jane Austen’s Emma that transplants the notorious matchmaker to 1990s California. Clueless follows Cher Horowitz, a popular Valley Girl with rich parents, as she tries to set up friends and teachers in their ideal romantic pairings, all while ignoring Josh, a handsome older guy working with her father. The film is funny, fashionable, and far smarter than anyone gives it credit for being – much like its lead.
Clueless is available streaming on Netflix today.
3.Lost in Translation (2003)
Dir. Sofia Coppola
Sofia Coppola has made very few bad or even mediocre movies in her strong twenty-year career as a director, but even on a list of excellent films, Lost in Translation stands out for many as the best. In it, an aging movie star in Tokyo to film a commercial meets a lonely, disaffected twenty-something in town with her photographer husband. The two meet and strike up an unlikely friendship that constantly flirts with becoming something more as they explore the town, do karaoke together, and just generally talk about life. It’s a low key hangout movie, sure, but it’s one of the best, thanks in part to winning turns from Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.
Lost in Translation is currently streaming on Amazon Instant Video, free for Prime members.
2.Wuthering Heights (2011)
Dir. Andrea Arnold
Wuthering Heights is a… let’s just say ‘problematic’ book, Twilight before there ever was a Twilight in the way it romanticizes a dangerous, potentially abusive relationship. Film adaptations have always struggled to find a way to depict the nuanced, uncomfortable relationships of Emily Brontë’s only novel, but none have done so better than Andrea Arnold’s 2011 adaptation. The story remains the same, tracking the tempestuous relationship between Catherine and Heathecliffe across the years, but Arnold’s lush visuals and inspired casting breathe new life into an old story.
Wuthering Heights is currently streaming on Amazon Instant Video, free for Prime members.
1.Beyond the Lights (2014)
Dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood
I’ve already written extensively about this one, and I don’t see myself stopping anytime in the near future. One of my all-time favorite romance films, Beyond the Lights follows a Kaz, an LA cop with political aspirations, and Noni, a pop star driven to a deep depression by the life she leads. After Kaz saves Noni from leaping to her death, the two begin a tentative relationship that threatens everything either of them wants from their careers, and they must fight to figure out who they are when the cameras are no longer on them.
Beyond the Lights is currently streaming on Netflix.
These are just 5 films that you can stream today to celebrate some of the work of women in film. Women in film have produced some of the finest film noir (Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker), coming-of-age stories (Haifaa al-Mansour’s Wadjda or Celine Sciamma’s Girlhood and Tomboy), superhero action (Lexi Alexander’s Punisher: War Zone), underdog sports stories (Natasha Arthy’s Fighter), and horror (Karyn Kusama’s Jennifer’s Body), and they continue to do so every damn day. This list could have been ten times as long, and it still would only just scratch the surface of women’s contribution to cinema.
So I hope you’ll all join me today in watching the work of one of our great female directors, and chime in with some of your favorites in the comments below.
Happy International Women’s Day!