Great hollywood films made by women?
May 21, 2015 6:02 PM   Subscribe

What are some great movies from the 80's and 90's that were either directed by or written by women?

I was surprised to learn that Real Genius was directed by Martha Coolridge, and would like to learn about other classic films with prominent women behind the scenes. So far I'm only aware of Real Genius and Mrs. Doubtfire (written by Randi Mayem Singer and Leslie Dixon), but would love to see more!
posted by Orange Pamplemousse to Media & Arts (37 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Clueless and A League of Their Own.
posted by kat518 at 6:06 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) directed by Amy Heckerling. Great movie!
posted by primate moon at 6:06 PM on May 21, 2015 [7 favorites]

Wayne's World!
posted by kat518 at 6:07 PM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

Big, another one by Penny Marshall.
posted by Melismata at 6:10 PM on May 21, 2015

Just One of the Guys (1985) - directed by Lisa Gottlieb
posted by yeahyeahrealcute at 6:14 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Amy Heckerling directed and wrote Clueless, and she directed Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Penny Marshall directed Big (written by a woman and a man), Awakenings, and A League of Their Own (written by women and men).

Penelope Spheeris directed Wayne's World.

You might be interested in this Wikipedia list.
posted by John Cohen at 6:14 PM on May 21, 2015

Gale Anne Hurd wrote "The Terminator". "Near Dark" was directed by Kathryn Bigelow.
posted by gsh at 6:17 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Piano. Written & Directed by Jane Campion. I think it's a great film, I wasn't sure from your examples if you were looking for comedies only, this is a little bit of a heavy film for some tastes, but so beautifully filmed & the 2 lead actresses rock. Oh she also wrote & directed Holy Smoke which got less critical acclaim but is also a great film.

Directed by Gillian Armstrong you've got Little Women.
posted by wwax at 6:20 PM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

"Thelma and Louise" was written by a woman and directed by Ridley Scott. Kallie Khouri. Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis.

If you haven't seen "We Need to Talk About Kevin", it's a wonderful movie directed by Lynne Ramsay, but it's very emotionally intense and dark. Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller.
posted by effluvia at 6:21 PM on May 21, 2015

Allison Anders - Gas, Food, Lodging; Mi Vida Loca; Four Rooms
posted by rhizome at 6:22 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nora Ephron wrote Silkwood and When Harry Met Sally in the 1980s. Her directorial debut was in 1992 with This is Your Life. The next year she directed (and wrote) Sleepless in Seattle, followed by You've Got Mail.
A quintessential 80s flick was Desperately Seeking Susan, directed by Susan Seidelman (starring Madonna).
posted by third rail at 6:25 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

The work of Penelope Spheeris.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:30 PM on May 21, 2015

I can't say that I think Ephron's films are great, but tastes vary.
ET: The Extra-Terrestrial was written by Melissa Matheson
Daughters of the Dust--Julie Dash
Howard's End--Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Sunday Bloody Sunday--Penelope Gilliatt
Seven Beauties--Lina Wertmuller (1975, too early?)
Salaam Bombay!--Mira Nair
Europa Europa--Agnieszka Holland
posted by Ideefixe at 6:32 PM on May 21, 2015

Sophia Coppola.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:33 PM on May 21, 2015

Slums of Beverly Hills - Tamara Jenkins. 1997
posted by asockpuppet at 6:34 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

And I think Gwen Turner did Go Fish 1993ish?
posted by asockpuppet at 6:38 PM on May 21, 2015

Point Break was directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

Return to Me was directed and written by Bonnie Hunt. It came out in 2000 so it might not strictly qualify, but I think it's a great movie that came from a premise that could have gone really wrong.
posted by ODiV at 6:46 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Strange Days, also Kathryn Bigelow. It's sort of Blade Runner for the Singles generation, near-future-pocalyptic with MiniDiscs.
posted by holgate at 6:57 PM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

Walking and Talking was written and directed by Nicole Holofcener.

More obscurely, Tully was directed and co-written by Hilary Birmingham.
posted by plastic_animals at 7:17 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Not sure if they count as "Hollywood," but Salaam Bombay, Mississippi Masala and Monsoon Wedding (among others) by the great Mira Nair
posted by Mchelly at 7:30 PM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I can't say that I think Ephron's films are great, but tastes vary.

Ha, although I'm the one who listed Ephron I actually agree with this -- but I was going for what the question posed as the era's "classic" films made by "prominent" women, rather than the "great" part...
If we're talking actually "great films" I'd for sure list High Art -- Lisa Cholodenko's first.
posted by third rail at 7:34 PM on May 21, 2015

I'm not going to defend it here, but I don't think this list is complete without 1987's Ishtar, directed by Elaine May.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:36 PM on May 21, 2015

Eve's Bayou (dir. Kasi Lemmons, 1997)
posted by sea change at 7:40 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Elaine May also made A New Leaf, and The Heartbreak Kid, which are excellent (not 80's though)

Also can't believe I forgot it - Susan Seidelman's Desperately Seeking Susan
posted by Mchelly at 7:44 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Waiting to Exhale - Terry McMillan (author of the book) co-wrote the screenplay.
Private Benjamin - co-written by Nancy Meyers
Girl, Interrupted - screenplay co-written by 2 women (Lisa Loomer & Anna Hamilton Phelan) and 1 man
Mermaids - screenplay written by June Roberts
Sense and Sensibility - screenplay written by Emma Thompson (and she won an Oscar for it!)
posted by SisterHavana at 7:46 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Little Rascals! Another Penelope Spheeris film!
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:52 PM on May 21, 2015

I've Heard the Mermaids Singing, 1987, written and directed by Patricia Rozema. Although, not Hollywood - Canadian.
posted by rtha at 8:04 PM on May 21, 2015

It's not good (and yet it's so watchable), but I think lots of people would be surprised to know that Billy Madison was directed by Tamra Davis. A movie that I consider terrible but that was loved by my friends when I was a teen is Antonia Bird's Mad Love.

But also in directors I don't see here yet:
Mary Harron, I Shot Andy Warhol
Jill Sprecher, Clockwatchers
Kimberly Peirce, Boy Don't Cry
Sally Potter, Orlando

And just the other night I was watching some scenes from a favorite music movie, written by Nancy Dowd, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains.
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 8:13 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I see I was beat on Desperately Seeking Susan (literally watching it right now).

I know you just asked about movies written/directed by women, and that's really important but ...

You may be interested in Gale Anne Hurd's career. She was a producer (mostly working with her husband at the time, James Cameron) but I think she probably had a greater influence (even in terms of writing) than she is given credit for. (Cameron, I've seen The Terminator many times. I've seen your other movies. Yeah, there's a difference in the writing there ...)

Also, Polly Platt, who is a bit earlier (more '70s into the '80s but continued working until her death, more or less). She was a producer and production designer. I love Peter Bogdanovich's movies, but I realized after Polly Platt's death what I really loved were the movies he directed that she worked on.

As much as I want to see women in Hollywood have more prominent roles, I don't want the contributions of women who work more "behind the scenes" to be disregarded either. I think women who are producers often have a tremendous influence. I think the work they do also deserves a lot of respect.
posted by darksong at 8:23 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Someone mentioned Dogfight. I love this movie, it's Nancy Savoca, she also did Household Saints.

I don't think anyone mentioned Alison Anders : Gas, Food, Lodging and Mi Vida Loca. (Eta: of course the same person who mentioned Dogfight mentioned just this, duh)

Patricia Cardoso's Real Women Have Curves.
posted by vunder at 10:31 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Lost in Translation and The Virgin Suicides were both directed by Sofia Coppola
posted by 256 at 7:23 AM on May 22, 2015

Agnes Varda did Vagabond in 1986. She is amazing. Her body of work spans 6 decades. 6 DECADES!!!!
posted by zerobyproxy at 11:15 AM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

Little Man Tate, directed by Jodie Foster (1991)
posted by Room 641-A at 11:34 AM on May 22, 2015

Barbra Streisand also directed some high-profile films then - Yentl, The Mirror Has Two Faces and The Prince of Tides - Not sure I'd categorize any of them as great movies, but they're all definitely intelligent and worth watching, with great performances.
posted by Mchelly at 1:11 PM on May 22, 2015

Fried Green Tomatoes - Fannie Flagg... One of my favourites!
posted by MeatheadBrokeMyChair at 7:06 PM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

You may find this list interesting: 85 Films By and About Women of Color
posted by sea change at 6:53 AM on May 24, 2015

A Question of Silence by Marlene Gorris. Great Dutch film.
posted by effluvia at 2:38 PM on May 24, 2015

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