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40 Movies Directed By Women To Look Forward to In 2016

By  · Published on December 30th, 2015

Even with 52 slots, our annual list of the most anticipated movies of the year is missing a lot of notable upcoming titles (The Girl on the Train, for one). It’s also missing a lot of a certain gender of filmmaker. Of the major releases we highlighted, only one of them has a woman at the helm.

There are a number of movies directed by women set to open in 2016, and plenty of them are titles we’re looking forward to. Most are not studio productions and so don’t have definite US release dates, unfortunately. And of the 10 that do, sadly nine of them aren’t among those we’re super excited about.

We’ve found 40 notable movies expected to be released in 2016, all of them listed below. First, here are the quarter of them with official openings. Unsurprisingly, none are coming out in the heavy blockbuster times of the summer or holiday seasons. Who’d want to trust a girl with a real tentpole?


Kung Fu Panda 3 – directed by Jennifer Yuh (Kung Fu Panda 2) and Alessandro Carloni. After earning an Oscar nomination for helming Kung Fu Panda 2 on her own, Yuh has a male co-director for the third installment of the popular animated franchise. Also of note: with a worldwide take of $666m, Kung Fu Panda 2 is the highest-grossing movie directed solely by a woman. Release date: January 29.


Miracles from Heaven

Me Before You – directed by Thea Sharrock (The Hollow Crown). Game of Thrones stars Emilia Clarke and Charles Dance are among the cast of this adaptation of Jojo Moyes’s romantic novel. Clarke plays a woman in a small town who takes care of a paralyzed man, played by Sam Claflin of the Hunger Games movies. Release date: March 4.

Miracles from Heaven – directed by Patricia Riggen (The 33). Fresh off her movie of the Chilean miner disaster, Riggen already has a follow-up in this adaptation of Christy Beam’s memoir. The author, whose sick daughter was “miraculously” cured, is being played by Jennifer Garner. Release date: March 18.

The Invitation – directed by Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body). The one release helmed by a woman featured in our main preview (we already saw it and can recommend it), this indie horror movie debuted at SXSW last year. Release date: March 25.


Ratchet & Clank— directed by Jerrica Cleland (cinematographer, Arthur Christmas) and Kevin Munroe (TMNT). The popular video game franchise about the galactic adventures of an alien mechanic and his little robot sidekick get the animated feature treatment. Another with a man and woman directorial team. Release date: April 29.


Maggie’s Plan

Money Monster – directed by Jodie Foster (The Beaver). Ocean’s Eleven’s George Clooney and Julia Roberts reunite for this thriller from actress-turned-filmmaker Foster. Jack O’Connell also stars as a man who takes Clooney’s character and his stock tips TV show hostage after losing all his money from some bad advice given by the program. Release date: May 13.

Maggie’s Plan – directed by Rebecca Miller (The Private Lives of Pippa Lee). Greta Gerwig stars in this comedy as a woman who falls in love with a married man (Ethan Hawke) but eventually realizes he’s better off with his now ex-wife (Julianne Moore). Release date: May 20.


Bridget Jones’s Baby – directed by Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones’s Diary). Maguire returns to the Bridget Jones series for the third installment, which was nearly helmed by Paul Feig. Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth are also back, this time to be joined by a new addition to their family. Release date: September 16.

Besties – directed by Kelly Fremon (writer of Post Grad). Hailee Steinfeld stars in the directorial debut of Fremon, who also wrote the script. The teen comedy is about best friends who become enemies when one dates the other’s older brother. Release date: September 30.


Underworld 5 – directed by Anna Foerster (cinematographer, White House Down). After working as a second unit director and DP for major blockbusters, mainly those by Roland Emmerich, Foerster is taking over the Underworld franchise for her feature directorial debut. This is the fifth installment (once titled Underworld: Next Generation) and again stars Kate Beckinsale. Release date: October 21.


Elvis & Nixon

American Honey – directed by Andrea Arnold (Wuthering Heights).

The Bad Batch – directed by Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night).

Black Dog, Red Dog – directed by Adriana Cepeda Espinosa and James Franco (As I Lay Dying).

Elvis & Nixon – directed by Liza Johnson (Return).

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers — directed by Angelina Jolie (By the Sea).

Leavey – directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite (Blackfish).

Loving Vincent – directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman (Oscar winner for the 2006 animated short Peter & the Wolf).

Our Kind of Traitor – directed by Susanna White (Nanny McPhee Returns).

Queen of Katwe – directed by Mira Nair (Amelia).

Replicas – directed by Tanya Wexler (Hysteria).

Stargirl — directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight).

Wakefield – directed by Robin Swicord (The Jane Austen Book Club).

The Whole Truth – directed by Courtney Hunt (Frozen River).

The Zookeeper’s Wife – directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider).

Sundance 2016 Narrative Premieres

Agnus Dei— directed by Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel).

Certain Women – directed by Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy).

Equity – directed by Meera Menon (Farah Goes Bang).

The Intervention – directed by Clea DuVall (actress, Argo).

Sophie and the Rising Sun – directed by Maggie Greenwald (Songcatcher).

Tallulah – directed by Sian Heder (writer/producer, Orange is the New Black).

Next: The Remake Sequels Will Continue in 2016

Sundance 2016 Documentary Premieres

Maya Angelou And Still I Rise – directed by Rita Coburn Whack and Bob Hercules (Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance).

Newtown – directed by Kim A. Snyder (I Remember Me).

Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You – directed by Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp) and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp).

Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper – directed by Liz Garbus (What Happened, Miss Simone?).

Nuts! – directed by Penny Lane (Our Nixon).

Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny – directed by Karen Bernstein and Louis Black.

Trapped – directed by Dawn Porter (Gideon’s Army).

Under the Gun – directed by Stephanie Soechtig (Fed Up).

Unlocking the Cage – directed by Chris Hegedus (The War Room) and DA Pennebaker (The War Room).

Weiner – directed by Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.