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50 of the best films according to women critics

  • 50 of the best films according to women critics

    For an industry that for so long was dominated by men, women are finally taking back the stage (and places behind the scenes) in Hollywood. Today the percentage of women working as directors, writers, producers, executive producers, and editors of independent films has reached a high. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film, women made up 20% of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 100 grossing films in 2019, which is up from 16% in 2018.

    Stacker ranked the top 50 films on CherryPicks, a site similar to Metacritic that focuses solely on aggregating reviews from women and non-binary critics. Their mission statement reads: "At CherryPicks, we believe the people who review films need to be as diverse as the people who watch them. We are the place to find out what women are thinking about movies. That’s why we highlight reviews and write original stories exclusively from female-identifying and non-binary writers during a time when most film critics are overwhelmingly male. [...] Our algorithm converts individual critics’ stars, letter grades, and scores into our four-prong scoring system. Unscored reviews are carefully assessed by our editorial staff. The final Cherry Score is the average of all of the individual scores." Ties are broken by Metascore, a representation of the critical consensus as a whole. When Metascores weren't available, ties were further broken by IMDb user rating.

    While in the early days of film women like Mary Pickford, who co-founded United Artists, held influential roles in Hollywood, the decades since saw a severe drop in their presence. Recent movements like the #MeToo and Times Up have shone a much-needed light on the injustices toward women in the film industry. Today, women continue to stake their claims as vital parts of the film industry, and are helping the rest of the world face issues such as race, gender, sex, politics, and beyond.

    It should be noted that the majority of the films in this list skew toward the modern era. One of the main reasons is there are more women and non-binary critics reviewing films today than ever before.

    Are you ready to discover the 50 best films according to female critics? Read on to find out more.

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  • #50. When Harry Met Sally... (1989)

    - Director: Rob Reiner
    - CherryPicks score: 95
    - Metascore: 76
    - IMDb user rating: 7.6
    - Runtime: 95 min

    One of the most beloved romantic comedies of all time, “When Harry Met Sally” is a film whose charm and poignancy still holds up more than four decades later. Fans adore it for the magnetic dialogue and the fact that all we really know about the main characters are their attitudes toward sex, love, friendship, and each other. The movie passes two of CherryPicks’ three categories for the Cherry Check: the Bechdel test, which means it features two named women characters, who talk to each other about something besides a man. It also passes the F-rated test, meaning it was written and/or directed by a woman (Nora Ephron wrote the screenplay).

  • #49. Eve's Bayou (1997)

    - Director: Kasi Lemmons
    - CherryPicks score: 95
    - Metascore: 78
    - IMDb user rating: 7.3
    - Runtime: 109 min

    A coming-of-age story, “Eve's Bayou” is an evocative and meaningful “portrait of Black identity,” according to Vulture’s Angelica Jade Bastien, which still rings true now two decades later. Written and directed by Kasi Lemmons (which means it is F-rated), the film is set in rural Louisiana and tells the story about a young Black girl's youth. Eve is 10 years old, growing up in a well-off family in a Creole community in the 1960s. After witnessing an emotionally traumatic event involving her father, Eve's world starts to crumble as she begins to reevaluate her understanding of family. Other central characters are her older sister, Cicely, and her mother Roz, as well as Aunt Mozelle. These strong, female characters also help the movie pass the Bechdel test.

  • #48. Shadow (2018)

    - Director: Zhang Yimou
    - CherryPicks score: 95
    - Metascore: 81
    - IMDb user rating: 7.0
    - Runtime: 116 min

    From director Zhang Yimou, of “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers fame,” is this period piece about a decoy military commander working his way through personal and political strife. A visually stunning piece, as well as packed with dialogue, the story follows commander Yu as he falls back into the shadows following a serious battle wound. So as to not lose his job, he hires a lookalike so as to not show his weakness to the ruler. Though rated by female critics on CherryPick, the film does not meet any of the CherryPick standards.

  • #47. Paprika (2006)

    - Director: Satoshi Kon
    - CherryPicks score: 95
    - Metascore: 81
    - IMDb user rating: 7.7
    - Runtime: 90 min

    A trippy, provocative anime film, “Paprika” follows the futuristic journey of a psychiatrist, Dr. Atsuko Chiba in a search for a thief who has stolen new technology designed to enter patients' dreams and record them. Dr. Chiba teams up with her mental alter ego, Paprika, to enter the dream world to track down the thief. It's in this dream realm, however, that Paprika starts to develop a mind of her own. This film passes the Bechdel test in the Cherry Check.

  • #46. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

    - Director: Irvin Kershner
    - CherryPicks score: 95
    - Metascore: 82
    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Runtime: 124 min

    “Star Wars Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back” is the second installment of the original trilogy, and one of the most beloved among Star Wars fanatics. George Lucas introduces complex themes and deepens the storytelling with concepts of love, father-son competition, and the deepening of Luke Skywalker's journey. “The Empire Strikes Back” does not meet any of the three Cherry Check standards.

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  • #45. Carrie (1976)

    - Director: Brian De Palma
    - CherryPicks score: 95
    - Metascore: 85
    - IMDb user rating: 7.4
    - Runtime: 98 min

    This film adaptation of Stephen King's horror novel follows the story of Carrie, a reclusive teenager making her way through her senior year of high school. Her fellow classmates seem to be infinitely more popular than she, and far more sexually experienced, as she lives in a repressed household dominated by her mother. Carrie is played by Sissy Spacek, who gives a dynamite performance. Piper Laurie plays her mother. These two strong female performances give "Carrie" the pass on the Bechdel test in CherryPicks’ Cherry Check.

  • #44. Birds of Passage (2018)

    - Directors: Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra
    - CherryPicks score: 95
    - Metascore: 85
    - IMDb user rating: 7.6
    - Runtime: 125 min

    The 2018 film “Birds of Passage” (Pájaros de Verano) is a crime drama that follows an indigenous Wayuu family during the rise of the drug trade in Colombia. Inspired by a true story, the film was described by Metro News as a combination of “Scarface” meets “The Sopranos” meets “Narcos.” It's a challenging, deeply provocative movie that shows how the chasing of easy money so easily crumbles community. “Birds of Passages” passes all three Cherry Check standards, including the Bechdel test, the F-rated test, and the ReFrame, which is given to films that demonstrate success in gender balance by hiring female-identifying people in key areas of production.

  • #43. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

    - Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
    - CherryPicks score: 95
    - Metascore: 87
    - IMDb user rating: 8.4
    - Runtime: 117 min

    “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a shock to the system for comic devotees. It begins with Peter Parker's death, and New York City mourning the loss of Spider-Man. The story transitions to follow Miles Morales, a teenager with serious artistic talent. After entering the subway system to spray-paint a mural, he is bitten by a spider and a whole new chapter for Spider-Man fans begins. The visually epic film relies heavily on fans’ deep knowledge from previous Spider-Man films; but those who have the background will find the film moving and emotional, with just the right amount of comic relief. The film does not pass any of the Cherry Check standards.

  • #42. Shirkers (2018)

    - Director: Sandi Tan
    - CherryPicks score: 95
    - Metascore: 88
    - IMDb user rating: 7.4
    - Runtime: 97 min

    “Shirkers” is a Netflix grand slam that follows the true story of Sandi Tan who, back as a teenager in 1992, set out to make Singapore's first indie film. During its production, their American mentor stole the footage. Now, nearly 20 years later, Sandi Tan sets out to find out what happens in this documentary. The impetus for the movie was a call from New Orleans to Sandi, when the 16mm film canisters containing the film were found. Described by Alissa Wilkinson of Vox as a “punk feminist project,” this moving and personal tale is nonfiction at its best. The film passes the F-rated test in CherryPicks’ Cherry Checks.

  • #41. Mary Poppins (1964)

    - Director: Robert Stevenson
    - CherryPicks score: 95
    - Metascore: 88
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Runtime: 139 min

    Disney broke the mold back in 1964 when they released this now-lifetime classic. “Mary Poppins,” a five-time Oscar winner, follows the tale of the mysterious (and magical) nanny who descends on the Banks family in London to care for their children, all the while helping them to realize just what it means to be a family. Mary Poppins passes the Bechdel test, which means the plot involves two named women characters talking to each other about something besides a man.

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