As If!: The A.V. Club's Top 50 Films of the 90's has No Women Directors

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by Kerensa Cadenas
October 12, 2012 11:15 AM
6 Comments
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The A.V. Club recently published a three-part series listing their top 50 films from the '90s. As expected the likes of Tarantino, Scorsese, Fincher and the Coen Brothers appear, several, multiple times. What was unexpected was the complete lack of women directors, no black directors and very few foreign films.

Critics such as Aisha Harris of Slate, Carrie Rickey and NPR’s Linda Holmes have engaged with A.V. Club writers on Twitter and published alternate lists. I find the lack of women directors on the list surprising considering that during the '90s, many critically acclaimed films and cult following films were directed by women.

The most obvious omission is Amy Heckerling’s Clueless.  As a woman of a certain age the film left an indelible imprint on my life. Other glaring omissions include Jane Campion’s The Piano, Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry, Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own and personal cult favorites Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning and Jamie Babbit’s But I’m a Cheerleader.

The A.V. Club published a list of outliers, orphans and personal favorites where Kathryn Bigelow and Jane Campion made the cut.

What women directed films from the '90s would you have put on the list?

The 50 best films of the '90s (The A.V. Club)

Some Glaring Invisibility on A/V Club's Best Films of the '90s? (Carrie Rickey)

50 Other Best Movies of the 1990s (Browbeat: Slate's Culture Blog)

The best films of the '90s: outliers, orphans and personal favorites (The A.V. Club)

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More: Women Directors, Sexism

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6 Comments

  • budmin | October 14, 2012 8:16 AMReply

    As a long time reader of this blog (feminist frequency brought me here) , I have to take umbrage at the lack of coverage given to the Atlas Shrugged franchise. Strong women hero, female lead and a topical plot but there seems to be a media blackout?

  • Melissa Silverstein | October 14, 2012 11:52 AM

    I haven't seen hardly any press or info on those films. There have been no screenings and I haven't even gotten any emails of information to add to our weekly email. If I don't have info, I can't share it. If you have stuff, please send it our way. Thanks

  • Hope | October 14, 2012 2:29 AMReply

    C'mon! How about Sleepless in Seattle or You've Got Mail. You have to admit they are mainstream and are likely not to be considered artistic....However both are a commentary on modern times and is a great way to incorporate all the classic films, keep the traditional feel, and if you watch Nora Ephron films, there is a reason why her films are so popular. She is a great cinematographer who used subtle cues and inserted appropriate additions which she used creative license for the overall quality of film/story.

  • John | October 12, 2012 3:24 PMReply

    The Piano and Boys Don't Cry are definitely two of the top fifty films of the 90's.

  • Citric | October 12, 2012 2:49 PMReply

    If Clueless is your best example, you've effectively argued that the list was right. Yeah, as a woman of a certain age it was a big part of your youth. Probably the same thing that Wayne's World did for me as a man of a certain age (incidentally, also directed by a woman.) That doesn't make either among the best 50 films of the decade.

    When compiling a list such as this, it should be based on quality, and nothing else. The gender of the director is not relevant in any way. Yes, there should be more female directors given a chance, but that doesn't change history, and the 1990s had very few films directed by women which stand up as the best of the decade. Of the films you cited, only The Piano should be a contender for any best of decade list. Even among the goods - A League of their Own is certainly good, Boys Don't Cry as well - there aren't that many greats. Small sample size due to other factors play into that, sure, but to suggest that we need to give women directors a pity entry and try to revise history in order to pretend The Virgin Suicides was one of the best films of the decade is incredibly condescending, sexist, and childish.

  • Walter | October 12, 2012 1:03 PMReply

    I would definitely like to have "Orlando"(Sally Potter) and "Europa Europa"(Agnieszka Holland) on such a list.

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