January 10, 2019
98 Movies Directed by Women to Look Forward to in 2019
If 98 features seem like a lot, the truth is it isn’t, not when compared to the number of movies released overall. And for this year’s list, I’ve pulled in VOD and Netflix releases as well as a lot of TBD and Sundance Film Festival titles that might not actually make their IMDb-stamped deadline. I thought I might make it to 100, but the further into the listings I go, the smaller the production and the less the chance they’ll, in fact, come out in the next 12 months.
Still, we like to spotlight the women who are getting work as feature film directors, and it’s nice to see that many of this crop are making their debuts in 2019. So, here are at least 98 women-directed (or co-directed) fiction and nonfiction movies set to open in some format this year.
Communion — directed by Anna Zamecka. This Polish film about a teenage girl taking care of her father and autistic brother has won numerous festival awards plus the European Film Award for Best Documentary, and it’s been shortlisted for the Oscar. Release date: January 4th.
Rust Creek — directed by Jen McGowan (Kelly & Cal). When a young woman is lost in the Kentucky wilderness, she must survive the elements and ruthless outlaws in this IFC release simultaneously heading to theaters and VOD. Release date: January 4th.
Loophole — directed by Jenni Ivers. This straight-to-VOD faith-based sci-fi movie involving the search for the bloodline of Judas Iscariot. Release date: January 8th.
Adult Life Skills — directed by Rachel Tunnard. The new star of Doctor Who, Jodie Whitaker, leads this British comedy, also written by Tunnard as she makes her feature directorial debut. Release date: January 18th.
Close — directed by Vicky Jewson (Born of War). Noomi Rapace stars as the bodyguard of a rich teen girl (Sophie Nelisse), with whom she’s forced to go on the run. Release date: January 18th (on Netflix).
Miss Bala — directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen). This remake of the 2011 Mexican film of the same name by Gerardo Naranjo stars Gina Rodriguez as an American woman who is kidnapped in Tijuana and forced into the drug trade. Release date: February 1st.
The LEGO Movie: The Second Part — co-directed by Trisha Gum (head of story on The LEGO Batman Movie). After working in various writing and production jobs for Robot Chicken and other series and films, including The LEGO Batman Movie, Gum makes the leap to feature animation co-directing duties on this LEGO Movie sequel, partnering with Trolls helmer Mike Mitchell. Release date: February 8th.
Birds of Passage — co-directed by Cristina Gallego (producer of Embrace the Spirit). Gallego makes her feature directorial debut alongside her longtime collaborator, Embrace the Spirit director Ciro Guerra. The film follows an indigenous family that becomes involved in the Colombian marijuana trade, for better and worse. Release date: February 13th.
The Rhythm Section — directed by Reed Morano (I Think We’re Alone Now). Based on Mark Burnell’s novel of the same name, cinematographer-turned-director Morano’s latest feature is a revenge thriller about a woman (Blake Lively) trying to uncover the truth about a plane crash that killed her family. Release date: February 22nd.
Captain Marvel — co-directed by Anna Boden (It’s Kind of a Funny Story). Boden again reteams with her directing partner Ryan Fleck for Marvel’s next superhero blockbuster, which stars Brie Larson as the title character. Release date: March 8th.
The Turning — directed by Floria Sigismondi (The Runaways). After directing stellar episodes of TV for American Gods and The Handmaid’s Tale, Sigismondi new feature is the latest adaptation of Henry Miller’s The Turn of the Screw stars Mackenzie Davis as the governess hired to watch after two newly orphaned children (Finn Wolfhard and Brooklyn Prince) in a house that may be haunted. Release date: TBD
The Mustang — directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. Connie Britton and Bruce Dern play opposite Matthias Schoenaerts in this drama, the director’s feature debut, which will first debut at Sundance and which tells the story of a convict who’s given a chance at rehabilitation through a program that lets him train wild horses. Release date: March 15th.
After — directed by Jenny Gage (All This Panic). Gage moves from documentary to romantic drama with this adaptation of Anna Todd’s bestselling series of books that began as One Direction fan fiction. Release date: April 12th.
Girls of the Sun — directed by Eva Husson (Bang Gang). This drama, which premiered at Cannes in 2018, follows a battalion of Kurdish women who take back their town from extremists. Release date: April 12th.
High Life — directed by Claire Denis (Let the Sunshine In). Denis reunites with Juliette Binoche for this sci-fi drama, which debuted at TIFF, about criminals (Robert Pattinson included) sent on a space mission towards a black hole. Release date: April 12th.
Little — directed by Tina Gordon Chism (Peeples). Chism, who also co-wrote the upcoming movie What Men Want, delivers her sophomore directorial effort with the story of a woman given the chance to relive part of her youth. Release date: April 12th.
Breakthrough — directed by Roxann Dawson (The Americans). Longtime TV director Dawson makes her feature debut with this Christian film based on a true story of a drowned boy who was revived through his mother’s (Chrissy Metz) prayer. Release date: April 17th.
Rafiki — directed by Wanuri Kahiu (Pumzi). This Cannes 2018 premiere follows two young Kenyan who fall in love and try to run away together despite their relationship being taboo in their country. Release date: April 19th.
The Third Wife — directed by Ash Mayfair. Mayfair makes her feature directorial debut with this coming-of-age drama, which won an award at TIFF, about a Vietnamese teenager who becomes the third wife of a wealthy landowner in the 1800s. Release date: May 15th.
A Dog’s Journey — directed by Gail Mancuso (Modern Family). Another longtime TV veteran makes the jump to the big screen with this sequel to A Dog’s Purpose. Dennis Quaid reprises his on-screen role, and Josh Gad again voices the dog. Release date: May 17th.
The Sun is Also a Star — directed by Ry Russo-Young (Before I Fall). Based on Nicola Yoon’s YA romance novel, the movie stars Yara Shahidi as a teenage girl who falls in love with a boy (Charles Melton) while her family is in the process of being deported. Release date: May 17th.
Booksmart — directed by Olivia Wilde. Actress Olivia Wilde makes her feature directorial debut with this teen comedy about a group of academically minded girls who aim to finally let loose for one night before graduation. Release date: May 24th.
The Kitchen — directed by Andrea Berloff. The Oscar-nominated Straight Outta Compton screenwriter makes her directorial debut with this crime film starring Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss as gangsters’ wives who take over their husbands’ work when the guys go away to prison. Release date: September 20th.
Abominable — directed by Jill Culton (Open Season). Culton, a co-writer on Monsters, Inc. who also worked on Toy Story and its first sequel, re-teams with co-directing animator Todd Wilderman (Open Season 2) for the latest feature about a Yeti/Sasquatch. Release date: September 27th.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood — directed by Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?). Tom Hanks stars as Fred Rogers (aka Mister Rogers) in this biopic about the children’s television icon’s friendship with a cynical journalist (Matthew Rhys). Release date: October 18th.
Charlie’s Angels — directed by Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect 2). Banks also co-stars in this latest big-screen take on the classic TV series. She’s one of a number of Bosley characters (Patrick Stewart is another), while Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska play the new crimefighting trio of Angels. Release date: November 1st.
Frozen 2 — co-directed by Jennifer Lee (Frozen). Original directors Lee and Chris Buck return for this long-awaited sequel to Disney’s 2013 animation sensation about the magical Queen Elsa of Arendelle and her sister, Princess Anna. Release date: November 22nd.
Queen & Slim — directed by Melina Matsoukas (Insecure). Matsoukas moves up from directing music videos, including part of Beyonce’s Lemonade, teams with writer Lena Waite (Master of None) for a drama about an African-American couple (Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith) who are pulled over during their first date. Release date: November 27th.
Little Women — directed by Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird). Gerwig follows up her Oscar nomination for her first solo feature directorial effort with the latest adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. The cast includes Lady Bird star Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, and Timothee Chalamet. Release date: December 25th.
Angel of Mine — directed by Kim Farrant (Strangerland). This drama is about a woman grieving after the death of her daughter and then believing the child is still alive.
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch — co-directed by Jennifer Baichwal (Manufactured Landscapes). This documentary, also directed by Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky, is the result of the filmmakers’ aim to record evidence of man’s impact on the planet.
The Bay of Silence — directed by Paula van der Oest (Black Butterflies). This thriller about a woman accused of murdering her own son stars Olga Kurylenko and Brian Cox.
Bergman Island — directed by Mia Hansen-Love (Things to Come). Mia Wasikowska and Vicky Krieps star in this drama about filmmakers who travel to the place that inspired Ingmar Bergman to work on their screenplays.
Blood Heist — directed by Jenna Cavelle. James Franco co-stars in this crime film about sisters who attempt a robbery to finance their first movie.
Buffaloed — directed by Tanya Wexler (Hysteria). Zoey Deutch stars in this comedy/drama as a woman who desperately wants to leave Buffalo, New York. Judy Greer and Jai Courtney co-star.
A Christmas Carol — co-directed by Jacqui Morris (McCullin). This animated Christmas movie will center around a character named Carol. The voice cast includes Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, Carey Mulligan, and Daniel Kaluuya.
The Elephant Queen — co-directed by Victoria Stone (The Queen of Trees). This nature documentary about a mother elephant is also directed by Mark Deeble and narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Friendsgiving — directed by Nicol Paone. Paone also wrote this comedy/drama about a group of friends who have a dysfunctional Thanksgiving together. Malin Akerman, Aisha Tyler, Kat Dennings, and Christine Taylor star.
Harriet — directed by Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou). Cynthia Erivo portrays Harriet Tubman in this biopic, which also stars Janelle Monae.
How to Build a Girl — directed by Coky Giedroyc (Penny Dreadful). Beanie Feldstein stars in this adaption about a teen who reinvents herself and becomes a music critic in London. Emma Thompson and Chris O’Dowd co-star.
The Kindness of Strangers — directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education). This drama, also written by Scherfig, stars Zoe Kazan, Bill Nighy, Andrea Riseborough, and Jay Baruchel, and it’s set to debut at the Berlin Film Festival.
The Last Thing He Wanted — directed by Dee Rees (Mudbound). Anne Hathaway stars in this Joan Didion adaptation about a journalist who quits her job to become an arms dealer. Ben Affleck co-stars.
Lost Girls — directed by Liz Garbus (What Happened, Miss Simone?). Two-time Oscar nominee Garbus makes a jump from documentary to drama with this film about a woman searching for her missing daughter. Amy Ryan stars.
Lost Transmissions — directed by Katharine O’Brien. O’Brien makes her feature directorial debut with this drama about a schizophrenic music producer navigating the LA music scene. Alexandra Daddario, Juno Temple, Rosanna Arquette, and Simon Pegg star.
Music, War, and Love — directed by Martha Coolidge (Valley Girl). Adelaide Clemens and Leo Suter star in this romantic drama about an opera singer and a violinist who are separated when Germany invades Poland.
My Zoe — directed by Julie Delpy (2 Days in Paris). Delpy also wrote and co-stars in this drama about a woman who tries to protect her daughter after an unexpected tragedy.
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase — directed by Katt Shea (The Rage: Carrie 2). IT breakout Sophia Lillis is the new Nancy Drew in this movie based on a couple of books in the classic young detective series.
The Nightingale — directed by Jennifer Kent. This period drama, also written by Kent, is about an Irish woman (Aisling Franciosi) who chases a British officer across Tasmania for revenge for what he did to her.
Normal People — co-directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa (Good Vibrations). Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville star in this romantic drama also directed by Barros D’Sa’s husband and regular collaborator Glenn Leyburn.
Otherhood — directed by Cindy Chupack. The longtime TV writer and producer of such shows as Sex and the City and Modern Family makes her feature directorial debut with a movie about suburban moms visiting their sons in New York City. Patricia Arquette, Angela Bassett, and Felicity Huffman star.
Passing — directed by Rebecca Hall. Actress Hall makes her directorial debut with this thriller starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga as old high school friends who are reunited and then develop a mutual obsession.
Rabid — directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary). The latest from the Twisted Twins is about a woman who suffers a terrible tragedy on the way to fulfilling her dream of becoming a famous fashion designer.
Relic — directed by Natalie Erika James. Emily Mortimer stars in this horror movie about three generations of women haunted by manifestations of dementia.
She’s Missing — directed by Alexandra McGuinness (Lotus Eaters). Lucy Fry stars as a young woman who searches for her missing friend in the desert. Eiza Gonzalez and Josh Hartnett co-star.
Someone Great — directed by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson. Brittany Snow, Rosario Dawson, and Gina Rodriguez star as a trio of friends who take a trip to New York City after one of them experiences a nasty break-up.
Stargirl — directed by Julia Hart (Miss Stevens). This comedy/drama is about a homeschooled girl who shakes things up at her uptight new high school.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 2 (aka P.S. I Still Love You) — directed by Susan Johnson (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before). Netflix has confirmed a follow-up to its hit high school rom-com To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, though its release date has not been determined.
Untitled Miranda July Project — directed by Miranda July (Me and You and Everyone We Know). July’s latest, which she also wrote, is a unique crime drama starring Evan Rachel Wood, Debra Winger, and Gina Rodriguez.
Warning — directed by Agata Alexander. Alexander makes her feature directorial debut with this sci-fi thriller anthology featuring rising stars Mena Massoud and Lana Condor along with Alice Eve, James D’Arcy, and Alex Pettyfer.
When We Last Spoke — directed y Joanne Hock (Ultimate Legacy). Cloris Leachman, Corbin Bernsen, and Melissa Gilbert star in this ’60s-set indie drama about two sisters being raised by their grandparents.
Sundance Premieres (Theatrical Release TBD)
Advocate — co-directed by Rachel Leah Jones (Gypsy Davy). This documentary, also directed by cinematographer Philippe Bellaiche, profiles Jewish-Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel, who has been representing Palestinian political prisoners for the last 50 years.
Always in Season — directed by Jacqueline Olive. This documentary — the feature directorial debut of longtime Independent Lens production coordinator Jacqueline Olive — follows an African-American woman seeking justice for the lynching murder of her 17-year-old son.
American Factory — co-directed by Julia Reichert (Seeing Red). Three-time Oscar nominee Reichert re-teams with her collaborator on the short documentary The Last Truck for a follow-up feature about a new factory in Ohio where a former GM plant once stood.
Animals — directed by Sophie Hyde (52 Tuesdays). Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat star in this comedy/drama as young women whose friendship is strained by their diverging life choices.
Before You Know It — directed by Hannah Pearl Utt (Disengaged). Utt also co-wrote and stars in this comedy about two sisters who join their long-thought-dead mother inside a soap opera.
Blinded by the Light — directed Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham). This British film set in the late ’80s follows the coming of age of a teenager with a special fondness for the music of Bruce Springsteen.
Clemency — directed by Chinonye Chukwu (alaskaLand). Alfre Woodard stars in this drama, also written by Chukwu, about a prison warden who begins feeling the moral weight of carrying out execution sentences.
Dirty God — Directed by Sacha Polak (Zurich). This English-language feature from the Dutch filmmaker is about a young woman as she puts her life back together after being severely burned by an acid attack.
The Edge of Democracy — directed by Petra Costa (Elena). In this documentary, Costa looks at her own polarized nation of Brazil and specifically the impeachments of presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva.
The Farewell — directed by Lulu Wang (Posthumous). Wang also wrote this comedy about a Chinese family that gets together to spend one last wedding with grandma, who doesn’t know she has a terminal illness. Awkwafina and Tzi Ma star.
The Great Hack — co-directed by Jehane Noujaim (The Square). Noujaim works again with The Square co-director Karim Amer for this look at the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook story and data exploitation in general from the perspective of a number of individuals.
Greener Grass — directed by Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe. Based on the 2015 short of the same name they wrote but didn’t direct, DeBoer and Luebbe now helm this suburban satire, their feature debut, and also star as soccer moms striving for an unreasonable level of acceptance.
Hail Satan? — directed by Penny Lane (Nuts!). In her latest documentary feature, Lane traces the rise and the increasing controversy of The Satanic Temple religious movement.
Hala — directed by Minhal Baig (1 Night). Based on her 2016 short film of the same name, Baig’s drama, which she also wrote, follows the coming of age of a teenage Muslim girl (Blockers breakout Geraldine Viswanathan).
Honey Boy — directed by Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach). Har’el moves further into narrative drama with this pseudo-biopic written by Shia LaBeouf about his own childhood. LaBeouf also stars as the character based on his own father, while Lucas Hedges basically plays young LaBeouf.
Imaginary Order — directed by Debra Eisenstadt (Before the Sun Explodes). Wendi McLendon-Covey stars in this drama, also written by Eisenstadt, as an OCD mom in the suburbs going through a sexual, psychological, and moral unraveling.
The Infiltrators — co-directed by Cristina Ibarra. Ibarra collaborates with Alex Rivera for this drama about a group of undocumented youth who intentionally get detained to take down the for-profit detainees from within.
Jawline — directed by Liza Mandelup (Fangirl). This documentary is about a teenager in rural Tennessee whose internet fame is on the rise.
Judy & Punch — directed by Mirrah Foulkes. Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman star in the Australian filmmaker’s feature directorial debut, which is about puppeteers who revive their marionette show and then experience a terrible tragedy.
Knock Down the House — directed by Rachel Lears (The Hand That Feeds). New political icon Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the subjects of this documentary following a handful of Congressional hopefuls during the 2018 election.
Late Night — directed by Nisha Ganatra (Chutney Popcorn). Following many years directing for television, Ganatra is back to feature filmmaking for this comedy written by and starring Mindy Kaling about a late night talk show host whose program may soon be canceled. Emma Thompson and John Lithgow, and Amy Ryan co-star.
The Lodge — co-directed by Veronika Franz (Goodnight Mommy). Franz again collaborates with Severin Fiala in helming this psychological thriller about a woman snowed in with her two new stepchildren in a haunted cabin.
Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements — directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky (Beware the Slenderman). Oscar nominee Brodsky, who is the child of deaf parents (the subjects of her film Hear and Now), spotlights a deaf boy and his deaf grandmother as well as the story of when Beethoven went deaf before writing the title sonata.
One Child Nation — directed by Nanfu Wang (Hooligan Sparrow) and Jialing Zhang (Complicit). After becoming a mother herself, Nanfu Wang teams with Jialing Zhang on this documentary about China’s one-child policy and what it’s done to the country.
Pahokee — co-directed by Ivete Lucas. Lucas and regular collaborator Patrick Bresnan, who together made the award-winning short documentary The Send-Off, make their feature directorial debut with this film about four teens during their senior year in a small town in the Florida Everglades.
Paradise Hills — directed by Alice Waddington. Following up her hit 2015 short, Disco Inferno, Waddington makes her feature debut with this fantasy film about a mysterious boarding school for wayward girls. Emma Roberts, Milla Jovovich, Awkwafina, and Eiza Gonzalez star.
Queen of Hearts — directed by May el-Toukhy (Long Story Short). A Danish film about a woman who messes up her life by seducing her teenage stepson.
Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins — directed by Janice Engel (Jackson Browne: Going Home). This documentary profiles Texan political journalist and Bill of Rights activist Molly Ivins.
Selah and the Spades — directed by Tayarisha Poe. This drama, also written by Poe, is about a prestigious boarding school and the young woman who rules over its underground social circles.
Share — directed by Pippa Bianco. Based on her 2015 short of the same name, this feature directorial debut, which Bianco also wrote, stars Rhianne Barreto as a teen girl who wakes up to find she appeared in an explicit video that has gone viral.
The Sharks — directed by Lucía Garibaldi. A teenage girl comes of age and finds love in this drama set in a beach town under threat of shark attacks.
Shooting the Mafia — directed by Kim Longinotto (Pink Saris). This documentary profiles Sicilian photographer Letizia Battaglia and her artistic record of the Cosa Nostra, which helped to end their reign of organized crime.
Sister Aimee — directed by Samantha Buck (Best Kept Secret) and Marie Schlingmann. This drama based on a true story follows America’s most famous evangelist in 1926 as she winds up on a wild road trip to Mexico.
The Souvenir — directed by Joanna Hogg (Archipelago). Tilda Swinton co-stars alongside daughter Honor Swinton Byrne in this drama, also written by Hogg, about a film student who enters a relationship with an untrustworthy man.
Them That Follow — co-directed by Britt Poulton. Co-written and directed with Dan Madison Savage, Poulton’s feature debut is about a gay pastor’s daughter in a forbidden relationship a deeply religious Appalachian community. The supporting cast includes Olivia Colman and Walton Goggins.
To the Stars — directed by Martha Stephens (Land Ho!). This ’60s-set drama follows a shy farmer’s daughter as she becomes friends with a reckless new girl. The supporting cast includes Shea Whigham and Malin Akerman.
Troop Zero — directed by Bert & Bertie (Dance Camp). From the rare female directing duo of Bert & Bertie, this movie stars Mckenna Grace as a young girl in 1977 Georgia who forms a makeshift scout troop for a recording for NASA’s Golden Record that was shot into space. Viola Davis co-stars in and is a producer on the film.
Untouchable — directed by Ursula Macfarlane (One Deadly Weekend in America). This documentary tracks the rise and fall of Harvey Weinstein.
These movies, some of them 2018 festival and foreign titles, might also release in the US in 2019: Katja Gauriloff‘s Baby Jane, Clea Duvall‘s Happiest Season, Ondi Timoner‘s Mapplethorpe, Céline Sciamma‘s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Annabel Jankel‘s Tell It to the Bees, Chanya Button‘s Vita and Virginia, and Madeleine Olnek‘s Wild Nights With Emily.
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