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  • Writer's pictureEllen Cheshire

2020's 222 Films #DirectedbyWomen

Updated: May 5, 2023

Using letterboxd for the first time in 2020 I began logging all films in the diary, making a list of those #DirectedbyWomen. Thereby making this blog detailing my Top 10 of the Year, and Five Faves from each decade from 1930s to 2020 much easier to compile.

What with being at home recovering from a broken ankle in January/February followed by working from home from March, I certainly watch more films in 2020 than any other. 863 films logged, 222 #DirectedbyWomen - slightly more than a quarter.

These 222 were a mix of repeats of old favourites (it was that kind of year) and first-time watches. Some of the first-time watches came about via Carol Morley's online watch party #FridayFilmClub, others were watched as part of the #FemmeFilmFest20. In an effort to explore unwatched films in my collection and make new discoveries, I also created my own viewing projects #AlphabetFilm for which I watched films from a different letter of the alphabet, ensuring that at least one was directed by a woman, and #1930to2020 which saw me watching films sequentially from 1930 - 2020, watching as many directed by women as possible.

Here's my list of the Top 10 first-time watches...

1) The Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019, Céline Sciamma)

2) The Watermelon Woman (1996, Cheryl Dunye)

3) Judy & Punch (2019, Mirrah Foulkes)

4) Star Struck (1982, Gillian Armstrong)

5) System Crasher (2019, Nora Fingscheidt)

6) Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy Blache (2018, Pamela B. Green)

7) Edge (2010, Carol Morley)

8) Away from Her (2006, Sarah Polley)

9) Sita Sings the Blues (2008, Nina Paley)

10) Le Bonheur (1965, Agnès Varda)

Given my project to watch films directed by women from 1930 through to 2020, here's my fave five (or as many as I watched) from each decade. Links to related blogs added.

Bonus: Pre-1930

The Cigarette (1919, Germaine Dulac)

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy Blache (2018, Pamela B. Green) I know the film's not pre-1930, but as it celebrates the work of the first female filmmaker working from 1896 through the first two decades of the 20th century, worth adding here.


Craig’s Wife (1936, Dorothy Arzner)

The Bride Wore Red (1937, Dorothy Arzner)


Dance, Girl, Dance (1940, Dorothy Arzner)

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943, Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid)

First Comes Courage (1943, Dorothy Arzner)

The Private Life of a Cat (1946, Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid)

Not Wanted (1949, Elmer Clifton, Ida Lupino)


Olivia (1951, Jacqueline Audry)

The Hitch-Hiker (1953, Ida Lupino)

The Widow (1955, Nam-ok Park)

Eyewitness (1956, Muriel Box)

The Wayward Girl (1959, Edith Carlmar)


Too Young to Love (1960, Muriel Box)

Sparrows Can’t Sing (1963, Joan Littlewood)

Rattle of a Simple Man (1964, Muriel Box)

Le Bonheur (1965, Agnès Varda)

Uncle Yanco (1967, Agnès Varda)


The Velvet Vampire (1971, Stephanie Rothman)

Hester Street (1975, Joan Micklin Silver)

Peppermint Soda (1977, Diane Kurys)

Girlfriends (1978, Claudia Weill)

My Brilliant Career (1979, Gillian Armstrong)


Starstruck (1982, Gillian Armstrong)

Grease 2 (1982, Patricia Birch)

Just One of the Guys (1985, Lisa Gottlieb)


Orlando (1992, Sally Potter)

Sleepless in Seattle (1993, Nora Ephron)

The Watermelon Woman (1996, Cheryl Dunye)

But I’m a Cheerleader (1999, Jamie Babbit)


My Life Without Me (2003, Isabel Coixet)

Away from Her (2006, Sarah Polley)

Sita Sings the Blues (2008, Nina Paley)


Dreams of a Life (2011, Carol Morley)

13th (2016, Ava DuVernay)

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy Blache (2018, Pamela B. Green)

Judy & Punch (2019, Mirrah Foulkes)

The Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019, Céline Sciamma)


Emma. (2020, Autumn de Wilde)

The Half of It (2020, Alice Wu)

Soundtrack to Sixteen (2020, Hillary Shakespeare)

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020, Patty Jenkins)

Summerland (2020, Jessica Swale)

Note: These are not necessarily my favourites of all time from each decade (another blog perhaps), just from those watched/re-watched in 2020.


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