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by Bryce J. Renninger
August 26, 2013 9:22 AM
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Stream Them Now: The 14 Highest Rated Films Directed by Women Available to Stream for Free or By Subscription

"Sita Sings the Blues"

Perhaps the recent attention to Spike Lee's list of films all aspiring filmmakers left you feeling a bit ignorant yourself?  The films pushed to us by studios, journalistic outlets, and film classes are overwhelmingly directed by men.  Very few women are granted the label of auteur compared to the many men who are. 

READ MORE: Spike Lee Admits He's Wrong, Adds Eight Films By Women to His List of Essential Movies

As a Metacritic post from 2010 listing the highest rated women directors and films directed by women noted, "Admittedly, we shouldn't have to publish this article. But even in a year where a woman [Katherine Bigelow] took home the Academy Award for best director (for the first time), female filmmakers still aren't getting the same recognition or opportunities that male directors do."

Using that list as a jumping-off point -- and also looking at the releases since it was published -- here are the 14 films directed by women that scored at least 80 on Metacritic that are available to stream for free or by subscription. (Of course, Metacritic is a website that charts critics' online reviews of films, so this list skews more recent than other lists of the best films directed by women.):

Score: 94
"Sita Sings the Blues," Nina Paley [YouTube] []

Score: 90
"Persepolis," Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi [Amazon]

Score: 89
"Lost in Translation," Sophia Coppola [Netflix] [Xfinity
"The Piano," Jane Campion [Netflix] [Amazon] [Hulu]

Score: 86
"Boys Don't Cry," Kim Peirce [Xfinity] [HBO GO]

Score: 85
"An Education," Lone Scherfig [Xfinity]

Score: 84
"Old Joy," Kelly Reichardt [Netflix]

Score: 82
"To Be Heard," Edwin Martinez & Deborah Shaffer [Hulu]

Score: 81
"Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," Alison Klayman [Netflix]
"Bright Star," Jane Campion [Xfinity]
"Fish Tank," Andrea Arnold [Netflix]
"The Secret of Kells," Tomm Moore & Nora Twomey [Netflix] [Amazon] [Hulu] [Snagfilms]

Score: 80
"Set Me Free," Léa Pool [Hulu Plus]
"The Queen of Versailles," Lauren Greenfield [Netflix] [Amazon]

An earlier version of this articles mentioned that Tamara Jenkins' "The Savages" is streaming online.  That film is not available to stream for free or by subscription as earlier reported.


  • Nate | August 26, 2013 6:38 PMReply

    Here's a list of the best movies directed by women, as decided by mostly male movie reviewers. We didn't want to do the research ourselves but we wanted the clickbait so here's some lazily filtered content we got from other websites.

    Go girls!

  • Laura | August 26, 2013 12:33 PMReply

    Wow, I didn't know Campion directed a film called Big Star. Come on, Indiewire.

  • Nina Paley | August 26, 2013 10:52 AMReply

    Thanks! Let me add Sita Sings the Blues can be downloaded for free at any resolution from It's also available for streaming from Fandor, which is a great service. Don't bother with the ad-laden Hulu when you can get it through superior channels.

  • shine | August 26, 2013 9:39 AMReply

    The list is so wrong ! Bigelow got 94 from "The Hurt Locker" and 95 from "Zero Dark Thirty". While Claire Denis got 92 with her "35 Shots of Rum", Yet these are not in this list ....

  • Chip Hourihan | August 28, 2013 11:24 AM

    The list, as the writer stated, was limited to those films "that are available to stream for free or by subscription." None of the three films that you mention-- The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, or 35 Shots of Rum-- are available to stream at present. I would have liked to have seen our film Frozen River included in the list, as well, but while it was previously available to stream, it is not currently streaming through any of the standard services.

  • ? | August 26, 2013 10:01 AM

    Those are BIG omissions. I like the ones they didn't forget, but IMO, those three films are truly great pictures that I'd place over the entire list.