(Photo by A24. Thumbnail: Pixar, Vertical Entertainment, Compass International Pictures. Courtesy Everett Collection)
The 128 Best Movies Written by Women
Welcome to our guide of the best movies written by women: These are highly Certified Fresh films (nothing on the list falls below 94%) whose screenplay credit goes in part or fully to women.
The journey begins nearly a century ago with 1925’s Battleship Potemkin, written by Nina Agadzhanova, inspired by her own participation in Soviet uprisings. Just two years later, Metropolis, cinema’s first sci-fi feature masterpiece, emerged out of Germany, written by Thea von Harbou. The 1930s were one of those peak decades for movies, in no small part thanks to King Kong (co-written by Ruth Rose), The Wizard of Oz (co-written by Florence Ryerson), and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Walt Disney had hand-picked Dorothy Ann Blank, a movie magazine writer, to identify and adapt tales into animation. Snow White was the first, and in the process Blank founded the studio’s Story Development Department.
Women were a driving force behind Alfred Hitchcock’s best romantic psychological thrillers. Joan Harrison became the first woman to be nominated for Best Screenplay with Foreign Correspondent at the 13th Academy Awards, with the also Harrison-written Rebecca winning Best Picture that night. Sally Benson and Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville co-wrote Shadow of a Doubt. Elizabeth Reinhardt co-wrote Laura, and Strangers on a Train was co-written by Czenzi Ormonde, who also acted as Hitchcock’s chauffeur as he never learned how to drive.
Suso Cecchi d’Amico helped lay the foundations of key Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves, along with Luchino Visconti’s opulent epic The Leopard. Betty Comden and Adolph Green were showered with Oscar, Tony, and Grammy nominations and wins throughout their six-decade musical-writing partnership, with Singin’ in the Rain their most enduring work.
Novelist Leigh Brackett adapted Rio Bravo and The Big Sleep, and worked on an early draft of The Empire Strikes Back, though she died before the movie came out. George Lucas’ earlier feature, American Graffiti, was co-written by Gloria Katz, who would go on to doctor the script to A New Hope, infusing Star Wars with its trademark sense of humor and fleshing out Princess Leia’s personality and arc. Another sci-fi classic of the era, E.T., was written by Melissa Mathison.
Critics Consensus: Thought-provoking and beautifully filmed, Before Sunrise is an intelligent, unabashedly romantic look at modern love, led by marvelously natural performances from Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.
Synopsis: On his way to Vienna, American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets Celine (Julie Delpy), a student returning to Paris. After long... [More]
Critics Consensus: Playing as both an exciting sci-fi adventure and a remarkable portrait of childhood, Steven Spielberg's touching tale of a homesick alien remains a piece of movie magic for young and old.
Synopsis: After a gentle alien becomes stranded on Earth, the being is discovered and befriended by a young boy named Elliott... [More]
Critics Consensus: Building on the first two installments in Richard Linklater's well-crafted Before trilogy, Before Midnight offers intelligent, powerfully acted perspectives on love, marriage, and long-term commitment.
Synopsis: On the last night of their idyllic Greek vacation, longtime lovers Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) reminisce about... [More]
Critics Consensus:The Forty-Year-Old Version opens a compelling window into the ebbs and flows of the artist's life -- and announces writer-director-star Radha Blank as a major filmmaking talent with her feature debut.
Synopsis: A struggling New York City playwright finds inspiration by reinventing herself as a rapper.... [More]
Critics Consensus: Starkly emotional and beautifully directed, The Selfish Giant uses a lovely script and some powerful performances to present some of the best that modern British cinema has to offer.
Synopsis: A hyperactive boy (Conner Chapman) and his best friend, a slow-witted youth with an affinity for horses, start collecting scrap... [More]
Critics Consensus:Oh Lucy! roots its narrative quirks in universal themes and deep empathy for its characters, all brought to life by strong performances from a talented cast led by the thoroughly charming Shinobu Terajima.
Synopsis: A lonely woman in Tokyo discovers her alter ego when she takes an English class.... [More]
Critics Consensus: Steadily drawing viewers into its harrowing tale with equal parts grim intensity and startling compassion, Night Comes On heralds the arrivals of debuting director Jordan Spiro and her magnetic young stars.
Synopsis: Released from juvenile detention, a teen and her 10-year-old sister embark on a quest to avenge the death of their... [More]
Critics Consensus:Zama offers a series of scathingly insightful observations about colonialism and class dynamics -- and satisfyingly ends a long wait between projects from writer-director Lucrecia Martel.
Synopsis: Zama, an officer of the Spanish Crown born in South America, waits for a letter from the King granting him... [More]
Critics Consensus: Pulsing with authenticity and led by a stirring lead performance from Adepero Oduye, Pariah is a powerful coming out/coming-of-age film that signals the arrival of a fresh new talent in writer/director Dee Rees.
Synopsis: Teenage Alike (Adepero Oduye) lives in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood with her parents (Charles Parnell, Kim Wayans) and younger sister... [More]
Critics Consensus: Bringing a dose of humor and a fresh perspective to a very serious subject, No One Knows About Persian Cats is an exhilarating, quietly powerful tribute to the courage of Iran's underground musicians.
Synopsis: Two young musicians, Negar (Negar Shaghaghi) and Ashkan (Ashkan Koshanejad), are released from prison. They immediately immerse themselves in the... [More]
Critics Consensus: Another gorgeously animated, skillfully voiced entry in the Disney canon, Raya and the Last Dragon continues the studio's increased representation while reaffirming that its classic formula is just as reliable as ever.
Synopsis: Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when sinister monsters known... [More]
Critics Consensus:Daughters of the Dust addresses its weighty themes with lovely visuals and a light, poetic touch, offering an original, absorbing look at a largely unexplored corner of American culture.
Synopsis: At the dawn of the 20th century, a family in the Gullah community of coastal South Carolina -- former West... [More]
This week on home video, we’ve got a couple of Oscar nominees, an acclaimed TV series, and Pixar’s mos recent offering, as well as some smaller films and a handful of classics newly release on Blu-ray. Read on for details:
FX’s award-winning series turned back the clock 30 years to focus on state trooper Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) and his investigation into a bloody turf war that erupted from a murder that went terribly awry. The season two set includes a look at the setting, a longer cut of the fictional Ronald Reagan films utilized in the season, interviews, and more.
Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams star in this Certified Fresh Best Picture nominee about the investigative reporting team at the Boston Globe who uncovered widespread misconduct by the Catholic church in 2001. It comes with a short profile of the actual Globe reporters, a glimpse of the story, and a look at the state of journalism.
This Certified Fresh drama stars Gregg Turkington as an aging comedian who performs in a series of hostile clubs across the nation and meets some interesting folks along the way. The only special features listed are some deleted and extended scenes.
Oscar-nominated for Best Song, this documentary explores the state of the planet’s rapidly disappearing wildlife and the very human causes behind this mass extinction. The one bonus feature included is an almost hourlong look at endangered species and the groups making efforts to save them.
Pixar’s second release of 2015 is this Certified Fresh animated tale of an Apatosaurus on an Earth where dinosaurs never went extinct who gets lost far from home and finds his way back with the help of a feral human. Available in regular and 3D, it comes with lots of behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, and the Oscar-nominated short Sanjay’s Super Team.
Julia Roberts, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Nicole Kidman star in this remake of the Oscar-winning Argentine film about a trio of investigators who are haunted and morally compromised by the murder of one of their daughters. Bonus features include a look at the book adaptation process, an interview with Roberts, and a commentary track.
This week, we get two new releases of Fritz Lang films from Kino Classics, the first of which is this twisty espionage thriller co-written by Lang’s wife, Thea von Harbou. Included with this new hi-def transfer is a thoughtful documentary of the production of the film and the theatrical trailer.
The second Fritz Lang film from Kino is another collaboration between Lang and von Harbou, an uncommonly serious exploration of sci-fi that was also the director’s final film of the silent era. Special features include a new piano score and a 14-minute look at the film as one of the first serious treatments of the genre.
The Warner Archive Collection also gives us two new releases, namely a pair of collaborations between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The first is this iconic noir, in which literary gumshoe Philip Marlowe (Bogart) is hired to look into a mysterious man blackmailing a general’s daughter. Available on Blu-ray for the first time, the film comes with the original trailer, an alternate 1945 pre-release cut of the film, and a comparison between the two versions.
Also available for the first time on Blu-ray, this Bogie-Bacall mystery helmed by John Huston centers on a war veteran who takes on a ruthless local mobster (Edward G. Robinson) while visiting the widow of a fellow soldier in Florida. The only special feature listed is the original theatrical trailer.
And lastly, the first of two Criterion Collection releases this week is Mike Nichols’ Oscar-winning drama starring Dustin Hoffman as an unmotivated college grad and Anne Bancroft as the older married woman with whom he begins an affair. The new Blu-ray comes with a wealth of extras, including new interviews with Hoffman, screenwriter Buck Henry, and film historians, a doc on the film’s influence, screen tests, and more.
The second Criterion release this week is this drama from Antonio Pietrangeli that follows a young woman named Adriana (Stefania Sandrelli) in 1960s Italy over the course of several episodic interludes as she connects with different men. Bonus features include a new interview with Sandrelli, archival footage of her audition, and more.
Lots of Chandler’s stories have been made into movies, but like Variety says, the title "Trouble is My Business" has never been adapted for the silver screen. That’s the project that Miller and Owen will collaborate on for Universal. Production company Strike Entertainment "just recently decided on which title would kick off a potential series of films."
Why this particular book? Here’s why: "[It] was chosen partly because it provides the actor with a similar chance to frame the narrative with a compelling voiceover, using Chandler’s hardboiled prose as hard-drinking private eye Philip Marlowe cracks cases, busts heads and romances femme fatales in 1940s Los Angeles."
This week at the movies is a study in camaraderie: two college students on the run, a boy and two young superheroes, a teenage girl befriending a wizard, and Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton. And, oh yeah, Brad and Angelina. Here at Rotten Tomatoes, we know that the relationship between critics and films can be a little rocky at times. Which of this week’s wide releases will get some love and which will be kicked to the curb? Read on to find out.
Currently the most photographed human beings on the planet, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie team up in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” Doug Liman’s hotly anticipated tale of a bored suburban couple who just happen to be assassins – and are assigned to kill each other. “Brangelina” (as the tabloids call them) do indeed kill in this one, and critics say the onscreen sparks between the two stars are vastly more explosive – and interesting—than the many, many, many action sequences. At 64 percent on the Tomatometer, this one sure ain’t no “Gigli” – But it ain’t “The Big Sleep,” either.
Have characters in horror flicks ever been to the movies? Don’t they know that what they think will be a pleasant weekend in the woods will become a vortex of unspeakable horror and bloodshed? At least with the heroines of “High Tension,” they’ve got an excuse: They’re French, so they might have missed “Halloween,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” or “Friday the 13th.” Director Alexandre Aja has clearly seen those, and many other horror flicks, and critics say the film plays best when it works within, and expands upon, the established norms of the slasher genre. But, at 58 percent on the Tomatometer, many have complained about a late-in-the-game twist that turns the high tension into a low blow.
Every kid in the world has an active imagination. And every kid has wanted his or her daydreams and imaginary friends to transcend said imagination and be realized in some tangible form. This usually means busting out the crayons or maybe a video camera, not a multi-million dollar budget and cameos from celebs. But not every kid is the son of Robert Rodriguez. And while the director is adept at creating phantasmagoric visions (see “Sin City”) only 35 percent of critics say he has a winner with “The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D,” which is based upon the stories of Rodriguez’s seven-year-old son. The tale of a boy whose imaginary friends come to life and need his help to defeat evil on the planet Drool, these “Adventures” lack a certain magic.
Cedric the Entertainer is one of the funniest guys around. So it would seem natural that he would shine in an update of “The Honeymooners,” which, for those who’ve been “to the moon” and missed the last half century of popular culture, was a wildly popular and influential 1950s sitcom starring Jackie Gleason and Art Carney. Unfortunately, the critics have smacked the update right in the kisser. Despite the presence of a pretty solid cast, the scribes have derided the lack of laughs beyond a couple of mildly amusing gags, landing “The Honeymooners” at 14 percent on the Tomatometer.
No remakes for Hayao Miyazaki. The master of Japanese animation consistently creates worlds that are powerfully and poignantly original. His latest, “Howl’s Moving Castle,” is no exception. It tells the story of a teenage girl who has been turned into an elderly woman by a wizard, and enters a fantasy kingdom in turmoil. Miyazaki’s work is never less than intriguing and beguiling, and the critics have fallen under the spell of “Howl,” with 90 percent approving of the film’s surreal storyline, detailed animation, childlike wonder, and an absence of pandering gags.