Thursday Movie Picks: Films Directed by a Female Director

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy almost Friday everyone! I’m a bit late to the TMP party but I love this week’s topic that I still want to participate. The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… Films Directed by a Female Director.

I have to admit I hadn’t seen as many films by female directors as much as I should. There are still a few movies I’m hoping to see later this month that are directed by women: Promising Young Woman, Wonder Woman 1984, One Night in Miami, to name a few.

Well, for this week’s TMP, I thought I’d pick two movies I saw in 2020 and one underrated movie by a female director that I haven’t talked about on this blog but I really think people should check out.

In any case, here are my three picks:

On The Rocks (2020)

Directed by Sofia Coppola

A young mother reconnects with her larger-than-life playboy father on an adventure through New York.

I mentioned this on my November recap that I decided to watch this after listening to a review of it on NPR. The idea of seeing a movie set in NYC where the characters roamed around Manhattan and having drinks at a swanky speakeasy bar like the 21 Club just sounds so enchanting during lockdown. I was living vicariously through Bill Murray and Rashida Jones, who play father and daughter in this Sofia Coppola dramedy.

I mentioned that there’s a bit of a Woody Allen-ish vibe to this movie. Now what I mean by that is Coppola seems to only make movies about affluent people and their problems just seem so trivial, perhaps even more so during a pandemic where people are dealing with live and death situations. In any case, I think the movie has its charm, but not exactly the director’s best work.

Nomadland (2020)

Directed by Chloé Zhao

After losing everything in the Great Recession, a widow embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.

This was my pick of Movie of the Month in October. I was going to do a review of it this month but since its wide release is delayed until February 2021, I’ll delay my review until next year. I first saw Chloé Zhao‘s work in The Rider which was such a pleasant surprise. I love that she immerses herself in the subject matter and tackle her films with a curious mind that makes her films so thought-provoking. Mixing veteran actors (David Strathairn has a supporting role here) with non-actors, it’s an intriguing character study with a serene, quiet grace.

Confession: I still haven’t seen Frances McDormand‘s Oscar-winning turn in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, but judging from its trailer, this is quite a different role for her. Her character Fern is taciturn and reflective, requiring McDormand to act with her eyes and mannerism alone. If you don’t mind a slow-paced film, and there is not much going on here, your patience will be rewarded. Plus, the visuals of Zhao’s films are always astounding.


Their Finest (2016)

Directed by Lone Scherfig

A former secretary, newly appointed as a scriptwriter for propaganda films, joins the cast and crew of a major production while the Blitz rages around them.

This movie has a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, yet it flew so much under the radar. It’s too bad as it’s such a terrific film set during the London Blitz of WWII, starring the lovely Gemma Arterton who I also think is an underrated actress.

I like films about filmmaking and this one centers on the making of propaganda films. Arterton’s character Catrin Cole ends up investigating the story of two young women who supposedly piloted a boat in the Dunkirk Evacuation. The always-watchable Bill Nighy is fun to watch here as an actor named Ambrose Hilliard who’s hired as the leading man. There’s a tentative romance between Catrin and screenwriter Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) but I wouldn’t categorize this as a rom-com, more of a dramedy.

I highly recommend this one which is available on streaming and free on HBO Max. In fact, I just might have to watch this again soon!

What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of them?

19 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Picks: Films Directed by a Female Director

  1. I loved Their Finest! At university I studied world war 2 propaganda films and found it really fascinating, so Their Finest combined all my interests in one place. There were several funny moments and I was quite surprised by the end how emotional it made me feel- a sign of a good film! Definitely deserves more praise in my opinion.

    1. Hello Rhiannon, welcome to FlixChatter! How awesome that you studied WWII propaganda films in college, no wonder you found this one fascinating. I like that it’s told from a woman’s perspective in an industry that remains male-dominated. Yes there are plenty of emotional moments here as well as hilarious moments (esp involving Bill Nighy). It should’ve been seen by more people!

  2. Their Finest is on HBO right now, I’ll have to remind myself to DVR that film. On the Rocks is a film I need to see as I have it on my laptop though I only saw 7 minutes of it so far as it kills me that I can’t see it in the theaters because it’s Sofia. Nomadland I do want to see as well.

    1. Hey Steven! You should absolutely DVR Their Finest, I think you’ll like it. Yeah, bummer we can’t see films in the theater, though I’m glad I did see Nomadland on the big screen as I saw it during Twin Cities Film Fest. The visuals are so stunning it deserves to be seen in as big a screen as possible.

  3. Unfortunately I’m 0 for 3 on your picks though Their Finest sounds right up my alley. So I’ll definitely be seeking it out.

    I’ve tried with Sofia Coppola but I’ve never seen a single one of her films that I can honestly say I really enjoyed. Several had parts I admired but they’ve never cohered totally in the end.

    I didn’t really enjoy or think that much of Three Billboards but I’m a Frances McDormand fan so if the opportunity presents itself I’m sure I’ll see her latest film.

    When I had seen this theme earlier in the year I thought I’d have a tough time with it but then TCM ran a several months long series named Women Make Film that spotlighted female directors and their films from around the world and suddenly I had a plethora to chose from. I had to leave off many films I enjoyed but I thought these four were a good representation of what was offered.

    The Hitch-Hiker (1953)-Two buddies Ray (Edmond O’Brien) and Gilbert (Frank Lovejoy) head off for what is supposed to be a relaxing fishing trip but make the mistake of picking up an innocuous hitchhiker Emmett Myers (William Talman) who turns out to be a sociopath on the run from the law. Knowing that he’s a killer and sure that as soon as he’s done with them they are dead they plot an escape. But their plan is hampered by the fact that even when he sleeps Myers keeps one eye open. Director Ida Lupino, the only woman in the 50’s listed as a member of the DGA, keeps the action economical and the atmosphere tense.

    The Ascent (1977)-In the deep winter of the German countryside during WWII a pair of starving Soviet soldiers leave their unit in search of food but are captured by a Nazi patrol. Tortured for information they don’t possess one of them stands by his principles while the other seeks a way out but both pay a heavy cost. A big success upon release this proved to be the final film of director Larisa Shepitko who was killed along with her crew in a car accident shortly afterwards scouting locations for her next film.

    Daughters of the Dust (1991)-Julie Dash directed this look at the Gullah community off the coast of South Carolina at the turn of the last century where the descendants of former slaves kept a mix of African and colonial ways alive. As the changing times intermingle with the old ways conflicts ensue.

    Zero Motivation (2014)-Stationed in a remote desert location a disparate group of female Israeli soldiers wait until their period of service is up while they bicker, bond and fight against the ennui that comes with living in such an isolated spot. Tayla Lavie directs this with a fine mix of humor and gravitas.

    1. Hi Joel, I think you’ll love Their Finest, hope you see it soon. I hear ya about Sofia Coppola, I don’t always love her movies either, in fact I couldn’t get into Somewhere at all.

      Thanks for recommending these four films, all of them sounds like they’re worth seeing. Oh man, so tragic about Larisa Shepitko… esp the fact that they died while scouting locations for their next film 😦

  4. I’m really looking forward to Nomadland after all the positive reviews. On The Rocks I still need to watch, I keep forgetting I have a year of Apple TV because nothing ever comes on it. lol

    1. Hi Brittani! I hope you get to see Nomadland soon, you get screeners right? I think the release is pushed to February. Yeah, not too many new films come to Apple TV yet, hopefully more will be coming next year.

    1. Hey Claire, is Apple TV in the UK as well? Glad you’ve seen Their Finest. I love Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy, and I’ve come to appreciate Sam Claflin more and more, I think he’s more than a pretty face.

  5. I’m so excited to see Nomadland, I’m gutted it’s been delayed! Their Finest was on my radar but I have to admit I kind of forgot about it, so that’s being added to my watch list for sure.
    I’ve seen Wonder Woman 1984 and Promising Young Woman, they’re both great but the latter might just be my favourite of the whole year ❤

    1. Hi Allie, yeah sooo many movies being delayed 😦 I think you’ll love Their Finest, so many top British actors in that one.

      I can’t wait to see Wonder Woman, wow you’ve seen that one already? I do have Promising Young Woman, but haven’t had a chance to watch it. I do love Carey Mulligan and it sounds like inspired casting to have her in a revenge thriller.

        1. Oh nice!! I wish I could see Wonder Woman on the big screen, alas movie theaters will be closed in Minnesota, in accordance with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions 😦 There are tons of big cinemas within a half hour of where I live, who knows if most of them will still be operating next year. I look forward to your review of WW, I’ll be seeing it on HBO Max on Christmas Day!

          1. It’s such a shame isn’t it? The UK is split into Tier levels right now so I’d estimate at least 80% of our cinemas are closed right now.
            I posted my WW review already but I’ve kept it spoiler free!
            I hope you have an amazing Christmas Day despite everything!

  6. Due to Christmas stuff, I am so late but I’m here and I have not seen any of these films but I want to see all 3 especially the last 2. I really love France’s McDormand and this film seems different from 3 Billboards which I really like where she plays a much more, “in your face”, type of character. I do like quiet films if they are done right. I love anything with Bill Nighy who should have been up for an Oscar for many other roles he has done.

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