Recommended Rents: Movies Strong Enough for a Man but Made by a Woman

Recommended Rents: Movies Strong Enough for a Man but Made by a Woman

Mar 10, 2010

Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman to ever win a Best Director Academy Award, but for The Hurt Locker’s great depiction of men at war, not for what comes to mind when you think of most female directors: corsets, romantic comedies and women’s issues. With all due respect to Jane Campion, Nora Ephron, Sofia Coppola, Penny Marshall and others who direct such material with varying degrees of success, the cold reality is their movies don’t typically appeal to a red-blooded, meat-eating, alpha-male audience. However, like Bigelow, a few female pioneers have brushed aside the preconceptions and surprised audiences by crafting movies with muscle instead of the chick flicks people expect. Time to go rent these films by women that break the mold…

  •  The Hurt Locker - Kathryn Bigelow Of all female directors, Kathryn Bigelow is the one who seems to embrace her male audience time and time again with films like Near Dark, Strange Days and Point Break. Her latest, the critically acclaimed The Hurt Locker, follows an American Army unit around as it defuses bombs during the Iraq War. The tense action picture won several Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Bigelow. As the first woman to win an Academy Award for direction, she’s certainly earned her stripes to play with the big boys and might inspire other female directors to take her lead.

  •  Monster – Patty Jenkins Charlize Theron won an Oscar for bringing the crazy to her portrayal of Aileen Wuornos, a real-life prostitute turned serial killer who was later executed for her crimes. Director Jenkins doesn’t shy away from Wuornos’s ugly encounters with her male victims, but she does try to balance the brutal murders with Wuornos’s desperate attempts for love with Christina Ricci’s manipulative character.

  •  Near Dark - Kathryn Bigelow Near Dark is a vampire flick with real bite thanks in part to the tough gang Bigelow borrowed from then-boyfriend James Cameron’s Aliens—Lance Henrickson, Bill Paxton and Jenette Goldstein. The atmospheric cult classic is part Western, part tragic romance, and infinitely more adult in nature than the Twilight movies.

  •  American Psycho – Mary Hannon Author Bret Easton Ellis’s Patrick Bateman embodies the most chilling qualities of the 1980s—he’s obsessed with money and status, emotionally bankrupt and even homicidal. In this outrageous interpretation of Ellis’s novel, Christian Bale’s Bateman is all of those things and devilishly handsome. Watch a bloody, chainsaw-swinging Bale—wearing nothing but tennis shoes— chase a naked hooker through a building in American Psycho and you quickly realize that Hannon isn’t on Team Rom-Com.

  •  Surveillance – Jennifer Lynch Critics didn’t exactly throw down a carpet of rose petals for David Lynch’s daughter Jennifer’s debut movie, Boxing Helena, and the backlash scared her away from feature films for years. She made her triumphant return with Surveillance, a dark and gripping crime thriller featuring Bill Paxton and Julia Ormond as FBI agents tracking a serial killer. You’ll never see the brilliant twist coming toward the end that turns the movie upside down. Hey, M. Night Shyamalan—take notes and go to school with this one.

  •  Lords of Dogtown - Catherine Hardwicke Before she got soft and made millions of teenage girls scream for Robert Pattinson in Twilight, Hardwicke directed a gritty little drama called Lords of Dogtown. Written by original Z-boy Stacy Peralta, the biographical film starring Heath Ledger, John Robinson and Emile Hirsch follows the skateboarders who revolutionized the sport in 1970s Venice Beach. Although Hardwicke later hit box office gold with lots of soulful, longing looks between the Twilight kids, she passed on directing its sequel, New Moon -- which was, surprisingly, directed by a man.

  •  Punisher: War Zone - Lexi Alexander It’s somewhat difficult to believe a woman directed this graphically violent cinematic reboot of the Marvel comic series. Heads explode—literally—as hardened vigilante Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson) hunts down a mob boss and his goons. Roger Ebert called it “one of the best-made bad movies” he has ever seen and pointed out that the film’s only flaw is “that it’s disgusting.” A female director who peddles gratuitous, over-the-top violence? It’s a brave new world.

  •  Fast Times at Ridgemont High - Amy Heckerling The 1980s wouldn’t have been the same without this coming-of-age teen classic written by Cameron Crowe and directed by Amy Heckerling. Sean Penn’s Jeff Spicoli became the template for every baked surfer dude that has chased a “tasty wave” since then, and Heckerling’s slo-mo shot of Phoebe Cates emerging from a swimming pool in a red bikini became a sexual awakening for millions of American teens. Righteous!



Who is your favorite female director? Let us know at editorial@movies.com.

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