Five women directors you should know

These women made a name for themselves in a male-dominated industry

Despite adversity, women are breaking through in the film industry. Actress Soirse Ronan and director Greta Gerwig in Lady Bird. (Photo Courtesy of IAC Films)

Despite adversity, women are breaking through in the film industry. Actress Soirse Ronan and director Greta Gerwig in Lady Bird. (Photo Courtesy of IAC Films)

The 2023 Academy Awards, one of the most prestigious award ceremonies in film, took place last month. Though this year was not a huge one for women at the Oscars, there were some notable wins—especially Michelle Yeoh’s win for Best Actress in “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” which made her the first Asian woman to win an Oscar for that category.

Over the years, women have carved their way into film as not only exceptional actresses, but screenwriters and directors as well. Unfortunately, women’s work is often eclipsed by their male colleagues that mainly populate the industry. So, in light of the Academy’s shortcomings, here is a list of remarkable women directors who have not won an Oscar (yet). 

Lynne Ramsay 

Ramsay is a Scottish filmmaker who has been active in the industry since the mid ’90s. She started her career creating short films that garnered attention. This allowed her to breakthrough and make her first feature film “Ratcatcher.” From there she went on to make a number of feature films that have meaningful themes like death, guilt, childhood and rebirth. She often ties these themes into psychological thrillers wrapped beautifully by her visual displays. Pair that with A-list performers like Tilda Swinton and Joaquin Phoenix and you get a phenomenal film experience. 

Céline Sciamma 

Sciamma is a French filmmaker who got her start in the film industry in the early 2000s. In 2007 she released her debut film “Water Lilies,” which was screened at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and received nominations at the César Awards. Sciamma has directorial credit on both live and animated films. She explores themes such as family, and sexual identity. Her films are emotionally centered and will pull at your heart strings while poking you a jolt of delight. Her fourth feature film “Portrait of Lady on Fire” won Queer Palm and Best Screenplay at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

Greta Gerwig 

Gerwig is an American filmmaker and native daughter of Sacramento. Gerwig got her start in the film industry as an actress in the mid 2000s. Eventually she started to work together with her partner and esteemed filmmaker Noah Baumbach. Though her directorial experience has not been a long one, Gerwig’s talent in this area has not gone unnoticed. For the two films that she has directed she has received Academy Award nominations for both. Gerwig bases her dialogue-driven films on her experiences. “Lady Bird” and “Little Women” both explore themes like personal identity, family and love. In 2018, she was named on Time’s 100 list of the most influential people in the world.

 Agnès Varda

Varda is a Belgian-born French filmmaker. She was active in the film industry from 1951 until she died in 2019. Varda is a well-known pillar in film. Martin Scorsese said that she was “one of the Gods of cinema.” She was well regarded for her impact on the French New Wave movement. Through her early films, like “La Pointe Courte” and “Cléo from 5 to 7”, she created her own unique style. Varda touched on important themes that transcend time, such as women’s issues and relationships. Although she never won an Oscar for any of her work, she did win an Academy Honorary Award in 2017.

Ava DuVernay

Duvernay is an American filmmaker. She made her directorial debut in 2010, and in 2012 she was the first Black woman to win the directing award at the Sundance Film Festival. Within her work, DuVernay tries to capture and display the Black experience in America. Themes such as racism and injustice are highly present in her work. Her documentary film “13th” is a perfect example of this, as DuVernay attempts to shine a light on the issue of mass incarceration in the United States and how it compares to slavery. She is an important figure for not only women, but for Black women, who are often not represented in the film industry.