Best movies by women creators on Netflix

Best movies by women creators on Netflix

It shouldn’t have to be said but: Women are great! Movies couldn’t and shouldn’t be made without women in the rooms where the decisions are made. Luckily for us, that problem is increasingly becoming one of the past. (Though, of course, there’s always more that can be done.)

On the bright side, there are tons of amazingly talented women in Hollywood right now, creating everything from award-winning dramas to delightful romantic comedies, and the caliber of these movies speaks for itself. Don’t take our word for it: Check them out yourself with this list of some of the best movies on Netflix from female-identifying writers, directors, and producers.

Been So Long

Michaela Coel in


Credit: Netflix

Do you love musicals, romance, and Michaela Coel? Then Been So Long is the movie for you. This stylish musical epic follows Simone (Coel), a young, single mother in London completely wrapped up in caring for her differently-abled daughter. After her friends and family tell her she’s too uptight, she finally agrees to a night out and meets the handsome, complicated Raymond (Arinzé Kene). The two tentatively begin a flirtation, though they’ll each have to contend with their own baggage before the relationship can thrive.

Directed by Tinge Krishnan and adapted from the successful stage show of the same name, Been So Long is a bright and buoyant musical for the modern era. The stories are grounded and complex, the characters are relatable, and — perhaps most importantly —the songs are absolute bops! 

How to watch: Been So Long is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

The Power of the Dog 

Benedict Cumberbatch in


Credit: Netflix

Among our favorites of 2021 is Jane Campion’s latest, a slow-burn thriller with the gritty grandeur of a Western. Academy Award-nominee Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Phil Burbank, a rugged rancher who can rope, ride, and run down anyone with his cruel wit. Once his bullied brother (Academy Award-nominee Jesse Plemons) marries, Phil’s favorite target becomes his gentle (and genteel) sister-in-law (Academy Award-nominee Kirsten Dunst), who could well crumble under his cold stare. Toxic tensions burn slow and mean as Campion smoothly unfurls a story unpredictable, unnerving, and outstanding. This one grows more compelling with each rewatch. Give yourself over to the sickening swoon and you’ll understand what had critics raving, and why Campion (once again) took home the Academy Award for Best Director. —* Kristy Puchko, Entertainment Editor

How to watch: The Power of the Dog is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

Set It Up

Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell in


Credit: Netflix

Rom-coms are back, baby — and Set It Up, written by Katie Silberman (who also penned Booksmart) and directed by Claire Scanlon (The Office, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), is one of the best entries of this new golden age! Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell are young assistants who hatch a plan to set up their high-strung, demanding bosses (Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs) so they can finally get a weekend off. What these two schemers never anticipated, of course, was that they might find themselves in their own romance in the process. Whoops!

Set It Up is a fun, hilarious romp that feels exponentially more real than your standard, candy-coated romantic comedy. The characters are charming because they’re flawed, and they talk like people you know (Zoey uses insider nicknames like “Golf Guy” when chatting with her friends about her dating life). If you’re looking for a romantic comedy that leaves you feeling like you just had the night out with your crew, this is the movie for you.

How to watch: Set It Up is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

The Forty-Year-Old Version

Radha Blank in


Credit: Netflix

Written, directed, and produced by Radha Blank, The Forty-Year-Old Version is a total triumph. Loosely inspired by Blank’s own experiences, this engaging, energetic film follows a playwright who is nearing her 40th birthday and feels like she has nothing to show for it. Frustrated with the theatrical establishment that continually stymies her success, she finds herself increasingly drawn to rap, a solitary art form that needs no collaborators or gatekeepers.

Shot in beautiful black and white, The Forty-Year-Old Version feels wholly fresh. It’s a story we’ve never seen before, told in a style that is completely its own. 

How to watch: The Forty-Year-Old Version is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

The Old Guard

Charlize Theron and Kiki Layne in


Credit: Netflix

Charlize Theron is the hardened leader of a mysterious group of warriors who cannot die in the smart blockbuster The Old Guard. Throughout their long, lonely lives, they’ve done what they can to influence history and nudge humanity in the right direction. And now, just as a dogged investigator is close to uncovering their secret, they’ve found a new member (​​KiKi Layne) who desperately needs their guidance. 

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball and The Secret Life of Bees) skillfully juggles the many moving parts of this high-concept, action-packed superhero flick. Both emotionally intelligent and brutally violent, The Old Guard is a gripping, nonstop adventure that will leave you begging for more.*

How to watch: The Old Guard is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

Bathtubs Over Broadway 

This feel-good documentary (guaranteed to charm even the most anti-doc fantasy-lover in your life!) introduces us to the little-known world of ’50s and ’60s industrial musicals. In this heyday of American sales, major companies would hire Broadway lyricists and composers to create original musicals about their products to be performed at company retreats. And so, a chorus line of insane and delightful musicals such as Diesel Dazzle (from General Motors) or The Bathrooms Are Coming (from American Standard) came dancing into this world. 

Director Dava Whisenant grounds her quirky documentary through Steve Young, a former comedy writer for The Late Show with David Letterman and industrial musical vinyl collector, who visits former composers and performers from some of his favorite shows throughout the course of the film. It’s a cheery, fascinating, and unexpectedly life-affirming gem that won Whisenant Tribeca’s Albert Maysles Award for Best New Documentary Director at its debut.

How to watch: Bathtubs Over Broadway is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

Always Be My Maybe 

Ali Wong and Keanu Reeves in


Credit: Netflix

Ali Wong and Randall Park are Sasha and Marcus, childhood best friends in San Francisco who fall out of touch as they grow older. Years later, when Sasha, now a famous chef, returns to the Bay area, Marcus gathers his courage to tell Sasha how he’s always felt about her. Unfortunately, the news that she’s got herself a new beau interrupts his plans.

Directed by Nahnatchka Khan (Don’t Trust the B**** in Apt. 23 and Fresh Off the Boat) and written by Wong alongside Park and Michael Golamco, Always Be My Maybe is a refreshing and funny romantic comedy that dares to ask the question: How horrible would it be if your crush started dating Keanu Reeves?!?! It’s a nightmare too terrible to behold!!! Obviously, no mere human could possibly compete with literal Keanu (who is perfect as an absurd, heightened version of his cool, real-life persona), but Marcus is determined to try. A perfect rom-com premise. No notes!

How to watch: Always Be My Maybe is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

Fear Street Trilogy

Maya Hawke in


Credit: Netflix

Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy, based on the works of R.L. Stine, didn’t have to go so hard… but it did, and for that we are grateful. Co-written and directed by Leigh Janiak, the saga immersed us in the world of Shadyside, a town haunted by grisly murders ever since its founding in the 17th century.

Deena (Kiana Madeira) and Sam (Olivia Scott Welch) find themselves at the center of 1994’s bloody episode, determined to not only survive but also to find and reverse the Shadyside curse. The cast returns and reorders itself in Part Two: 1978 and Part Three: 1666, which pull irresistible performances from the young actors and weave together a thrilling mystery. The first two chapters pull from the best slasher movies, while the third leans into the supernatural. Best of all, it sticks the landing, which just makes us want to keep coming back. —* Proma Khosla, Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: Fear Street: Part One:1994 is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

How to watch: Fear Street: Part Two:1978 is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

How to watch: Fear Street: Part Three:1666 is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

Sir

First-time feature director Rohena Gera knocks it out of the park with 2018’s Sir, which only released in cinemas in November 2020 and hit Netflix early in 2021. It’s essential Indian cinema. Tillotama Shome stars as Ratna, a live-in housemaid to upper-middle class Ashwin. Housemaids are common in India, where the film is set, but Ratna and Ashwin develop a slow-simmering and socially unthinkable love. 

With Gera’s writing and direction, this unlikely story never feels forced. The love blooms organically, in furtive looks and hefty silence and the trust they develop as Ashwin recovers from a broken engagement and Ratna tells him about her late husband. The result is a film so soft and stirring that it will stay with you long after it ends. —* P.K.

How to watch: Sir is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

Mudbound 

Mary J. Blige in


Credit: Netflix

Based on the novel of the same name, Mudbound follows two American soldiers (Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell) who return from WWII changed men. Their rural Mississippi town, however, has not evolved with them. 

Director Dee Rees became the first Black woman ever nominated for a best adapted screenplay Academy Award for the exceptional script, which she wrote alongside Virgil Williams. Mary J. Blige also garnered both a best supporting actress and a best original song nomination — the first time in history someone has been nominated for an acting and song award in the same year. Mudbound is a riveting and deeply affecting historical drama about two intertwined families navigating an era of intense social change.*

How to watch: Mudbound is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

Moxie

Amy Poehler in


Credit: Netflix

With a script from Tamara Chestna and Dylan Meyer, Amy Poehler directs this charming film about budding feminist Vivian (Hadley Robinson). Inspired by her mother’s Riot Grrrl past, Vivian decides to expose systemic sexism at her high school through the anonymous zine MOXiE!, and ends up spearheading a cause that other students support.

Robinson hits the perfect balance of fired up and unsure that feels so familiar to young women. Plus, she’s surrounded by a strong and thoughtfully diverse ensemble (including viral hit band The Linda Lindas). Moxie will make you want to get up and start something, even if the plan is a little half-baked but your heart is in the right place. —* P.K.

How to watch: Moxie is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

Love & Basketball 

This sports-drama-romance was the directorial debut of Gina Prince-Bythewood — who’s more recently brought you The Old Guard and The Woman King — from her own script. Inspired by Prince-Bythewood’s own life and her desire to see Black love stories in the vein of When Harry Met Sally, Love & Basketball stars Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps as Monica and Quincy, two aspiring basketball stars who find themselves torn between focusing on the game they love and their love for each other. Spanning nearly 20 years from their boy/girl-next-door meet-cute to wrenching adult decisions about their futures, the central pair (who were dating IRL during production) have off-the-charts chemistry right up to their climactic face-off on their home court, proving that trash talk can be even sexier than pillow talk. But it’s also notable for showcasing Monica’s talent as much as Quincy’s, and proving that a man’s ambitions don’t have to be the sole driving force of a great sports story. —* Caitlin Welsh, Australia Editor

How to watch: Love & Basketball is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

Lingua Franca

Written, directed, produced by, and starring Isabel Sandoval, a quadruple-threat Filipina filmmaker, Lingua Franca is a moving film about an undocumented trans caregiver (Olivia) in Brooklyn. Having exhausted every possible option to achieve legal status, she begins a romantic relationship with her elderly patient’s adult son in the hopes of a marriage-based green card. Lingua Franca is a heartfelt and touching tribute to the marginalized and an absolute triumph for representation: Sandoval’s Lingua Franca premiere at the Venice Film Festival marks the first time a trans woman of color participated in the competition.*

How to watch: Lingua Franca is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

13th 

Ava DuVernay’s 13th should be compulsory viewing, a powerful documentary that examines mass incarceration and wrongful imprisonment of Black people in America and the long, sinister, racist history that has enabled this discriminatory system to continue. As Mashable’s Tricia Crimmins writes, “The documentary, titled to reference the 13th Amendment — the amendment that abolished slavery — not only elevates the voices of those who have fallen victim to the broken justice system, it exposes those who made such a system possible, such as proponents of Jim Crow-era statutes and the multiple former presidents and political leaders that contributed to the Republican Party’s war on drugs (which enlisted Bill Clinton as well). 13th extensively enlightens viewers on how a majority of Black Americans unfairly serve time in the prison industrial complex.” —* Shannon Connellan, UK Editor

How to watch: 13th is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

The Zookeeper’s Wife

If a historical war drama is your go-to avenue for emotional catharsis but you’re tired of seeing the same stories told again and again, Niki Caro’s The Zookeeper’s Wife will be a welcome discovery. The 2017 film tells the true story of Jan Żabiński and Antonina Żabińska, a Polish couple who used their Warsaw zoo to rescue and hide 300 Jews during World War II. Soon after war breaks out in 1939, Jessica Chastain’s Antonina and her husband Jan (Johan Heldenbergh) are forced to cooperate with a Nazi zoologist (Daniel Brühl). Little does he know, the couple has begun sneaking in local Polish Jews to live in the tunnels under the zoo. It’s an emotional story about a lesser-known piece of Holocaust history, and while it drifts into sentimentality at times, both Chastain and Brühl’s performances ground the film in sincerity. —* Oliver Whitney, Freelancer

How to watch: The Zookeeper’s Wife is streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)

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