Yesterday a tally of the best (i.e., most popular, significant, important or essential) films by women directors surfaced on Cinemafanatic.com, a blog by movie-worshipper and journalistic pinch-hitter Marya Gates. The list came from a poll that Gates conducted of “over 500 critics, filmmakers, bloggers, historians, professors and casual film viewers.” I agree with nearly every film that made it. Not with the rankings in some cases, but the list is a reasonable one. Except, that is, for Amy Heckerling‘s Clueless being the #1 film of them all.
True, Clueless has 142 votes compared to the 144 votes cast for Sofia Coppola‘s Lost in Translation so maybe Gates just forget to switch them out, but even Clueless in second place is pretty weird. Clueless above Zero Dark Thirty, The Piano, The Hurt Locker, Orlando, Winter’s Bone, et. al.?
“Again, not criticizing Clueless but to me when you’re talking about ‘best’ you’re not talking about ‘favorite.’ You’re talking about incomparable works of art that are unequivocal. The Coen brothers, Scorsese, Hitchcock, Fincher, Coppola, Welles…on the female side, Campion, Bigelow, Wertmuller, Kent, Coppola, Ramsay, DuVernay, etc. I’m going to say it because probably no one else will. No one wants to be the one who is the asshole in the room shitting all over something as beautiful as this poll. And I’m not shitting on it. I’m not even shitting on Clueless.
“I’m just saying that if women want to really compete, if they want to really be taken seriously as artists on par with their male counterparts, we have to up the game a little here.”
I discussed the Clueless shocker with Sasha during our weekly podcast recording, and then I wrote the following to Gates:
“Sasha and I are both kinda gobsmacked by this. Our two reactions were basically (a) ‘what the fuck?’ as Clueless, a well-done, mid-level, Amy Heckerling-directed studio satire (a zeitgeist capturing of the mid ’90s suburban-vapid-girl thing…”helloo?”) but a film that is nowhere near the top of anyone’s list of great, substantial or even noteworthy female-directed films, and (b) who are these ‘critics, filmmakers, bloggers, historians, professors and casual film viewers’ who voted in this thing? Because they don’t sound quite as learned or cultured as…well, you know. Seriously, Clueless?”
Restricting myself to Gates’ list, here are my top ten female-directed films:
1. Zero Dark Thirty (d: Kathryn Bigleow)
2. The Babadook (d: Jennifer Kent)
3. The Hurt Locker (d: Kathryn Bigelow)
4. Boys Don’t Cry (d: Kimberly Peirce)
5. Lost in Translation/Somewhere (d: Sofia Coppola)
6. Orlando (d: Sally Potter)
7. Winter’s Bone (d: Debra Granik)
8. Big (d: Penny Marshall)
9. American Psycho (d: Mary Harron)
10. The Piano (d: Jane Campion