When people refer to "Zero Dark Thirty" director Kathryn Bigelow as a "female director," it seems a little weird for 2013, doesn't it? Do you know any dudes named Kathryn? Does anyone refer to Bruce Willis as a "male actor?" Our good pal and male writer Max Evry touched on this topic more in-depth and without mediocre jokes in a must-read over at our female sister site.
Presumably when said people say this, of course, it's with the implication that the female director is a rare breed, the behind-the-camera equivalent of a culturally-significant "Madea" film. What these well-meaning folks don't realize is that some of their favorite movies were directed by the ladies. Really! In fact, here are ten.
1. 'Point Break' (1991)
We start things off with aforementioned female director Bigelow's classic, which wins the "Most Re-Watchable Cable Movie" award in a runaway over male director Rob Reiner's "A Few Good Men." Though Bigelow was memorably awarded her first Oscar for "The Hurt Locker" a few years ago, most film historians now agree that she should have won hundreds just for making the remarkable decision to put Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves and Gary Busey in the same movie. If she wins her second Oscar for "Zero Dark Thirty" this year and doesn't say, "Academy! Gimme two!," it's going to be an incredible disappointment for all of us.
2. 'Deep Impact' (1998)
Director-with-a-vagina Mimi Leder was at the helm for "Deep Impact," the movie which features Morgan Freeman as President of the United States instead of merely President of All of Our Hearts. That fact alone puts it above the similarly-timed apocalypse movie "Armageddon," which cast someone named "Stanley Anderson" as the President. It's safe to assume that no one's voluntarily listened to Stanley talk about penguins for hours. Score one for Mimi.
3. 'American Psycho' (2000)
Mary Harron's take Bret Easton Ellis' controversial novel has become a major cult hit after an initial mediocre box-office showing and is easily the most successful film adaptation of any Ellis books. Which, of course, makes it curious that Ellis tweeted this a month or so ago:
Kathryn Bigelow would be considered a mildly interesting filmmaker if she was a man but since she's a very hot woman she's really overrated.
— Bret Easton Ellis (@BretEastonEllis) December 6, 2012
Thanks, Bret! Can't wait for your next book about over-privileged young people in (New York; Los Angeles; a university) excessively indulging in (sex; drugs; sex and drugs) and not learning anything in the end!
4. 'Wayne's World' (1992)
Anatomically-able-to-give-birth human Penelope Spheeris directed the vintage SNL sketch adaptation that shaped many-a-childhood among those born in the mid-'80s. There are so many memorable scenes in "Wayne's World" that it's kind of mystifying that more people don't talk about it among the funnier comedies of the last twenty-ish years ... not to mention the fact that it's the most successful SNL movie ever, and the choice of a new generation.
5. 'Billy Madison' (1995)
You can thank the boobs-equipped Tamra Davis for unleashing the concept of "Adam Sandler in a starring role" on the world, as the Davis-directed "Billy Madison" was the ubiquitous former SNL player's first of many. And though Davis later went on to direct the Britney Spears dumpster fire "Crossroads," any negativity from her choice to direct that horror show was canceled out by her decision to cast a young Zoe Saldana as one of Spears' two best friends. Score.
Plus, Davis also directed ...
6. 'Half Baked' (1998)
Yet another movie that literally everyone currently in their 20s has seen at least five times, "Half Baked" is one more Davis-directed gem in addition to a delicious Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor. Though the movie is dominated by a 24-year-old Dave Chappelle in the midst of his comedic coming-out party, most people rightfully first think of the NSFW clip below when discussing the film's merits, featuring an under-the-radar cameo by Helen Mirren as the lady Scarface calls "cool." ***
*** Regretfully, Helen Mirren wasn't actually in "Half Baked."
7. 'Big' (1988)
Okay Mr. Film Nerd, so you knew that "Big" was directed by Penny Marshall, who is a woman. ("Of course I did. Who doesn't?") Lots of people, actually, so back off. ("Sorry.") That's all right. "Big" came out a full five years before Tom Hanks won back-to-back Oscars, so credit to Marshall for seeing the leading man talent before most others. Also, it's safe to say that all of our "Make-a-Wish" wishes would be to dance on a large piano with Robert Loggia. Actually, just to hang out with Robert Loggia at all. "Robert Loggia? Um, sure, we could probably make that happen." - Make-a-Wish Foundation reaction.
8. 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' (1982)
The first time that Cameron Crowe wrote a movie. The first time that Sean Penn starred in a movie. The ninth time that Judge Reinhold masturbated on camera for money. These are all landmarks in ladyparts-possesser Amy Heckerling's "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," the defining teen-angst film of the '80s. And much like Jennifer Jason Leigh, it ages well: the film is still thoroughly watchable 30+ years later, and the pizza in this clip below still looks really good.
9. 'Green Street Hooligans' (2005)
The womanly Lexi Alexander's "Green Street Hooligans" was a box office "meh" that later gained a cult following for its real-life depictions of savage brawls between fans of specific English soccer - er, "football" teams. And though actor Charlie Hunnam's cockney accent was later mercilessly mocked by members of the film media, the film itself is remembered more positively among critics, even if it features Elijah Wood effortlessly beating people up, which ... sure.
10. 'Europa Europa' (1990)
Agnieszka Holland (64/F/Poland) took home a Golden Globe for best foreign language film for "Europa Europa," a moving story of a boy trying to hide the fact that he is Jewish by joining the Hitler Youth during the Holocaust. While the film was widely thought of as a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination, Germany didn't submit it for Academy Award consideration, leading people to initially wonder "Why?" before saying "Oh, right," pretty quickly afterwards. The film should not be confused with Lars Von Trier's "Europa," as Holland's "Europa Europa" features no genital mutilation of any kind. (Well, neither does "Europa," but you know what we mean.)