A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014, Ana Lily Amirpour) Amirpour’s debut is a black-and-white Iranian vampire film with music and darkness in its heart. Also on Kanopy and Hoopla.
Revenge (2017, Coralie Fargeat) Lauded as a rare feminist rape-revenge film, the desert-set French bloodfest is brought to life by dynamic lead actress Matilda Lutz.
Thou Wast Mild and Lovely (2014, Josephine Decker) Before Madeline’s Madeline, Decker got even more experimental with this erotic thriller set in the lush Kentucky wilderness. Also on Fandor.
Premium cable streaming services
American Psycho (2000, Mary Harron) This infamous horror satire is at once disturbing and hilarious, and Christian Bale is at his most memorable as violent psychopath Patrick Bateman. Available on Starz.
Away From Her (2006, Sarah Polley) Centering around a couple whose marriage is tested by one partner’s infidelity and the other’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Away From Her is an emotional testament to complicated love. Available on Starz.
Clueless (1995, Amy Heckerling) With an eternally quotable script and a specific valley girl style, the classic teen comedy made Alicia Silverstone’s Cher Horowitz a worthy pop culture icon. Available on Starz.
Eve’s Bayou (1997, Kasi Lemmons) Louisiana Creole culture is built into the very fabric of this coming-of-age drama about a girl who begins to see her family and her world through less innocent eyes. Available on Starz.
Frida (2002, Julie Taymor) Salma Hayek plays the titular role in this biopic about progressive and sexually liberated surrealist painter Frida Kahlo. Available on Showtime and Hoopla.
Frozen (2013, Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck) Disney’s smash hit musical tells a tale of sisterhood–and talking snowmen. Frozen 2 hits theaters this November. Available on Starz.
The Kids Are All Right (2010, Lisa Cholodenko) A lesbian couple (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) see their family’s equilibrium thrown off when their teenage son seeks out his biological father. Available on Starz.
Half the Picture (2018, Amy Adrion and Louis Feuillade) This documentary features a number of the women from this list and explains the need for–and obstacles standing in the way of–gender parity behind the camera in Hollywood. Available on Starz.
The Namesake (2006, Mira Nair) Based on the book by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake is a drama about the cross-cultural lives of a family of first-generation Indian immigrants living in New York. Available on Starz.
Pariah (2011, Dee Rees) In this raw drama produced by Spike Lee, Alike is a teenager whose identity as a butch lesbian is denied by her mother. Available on Starz.
The Rider (2018, Chloé Zhao) A study in verisimilitude, Zhao’s latest retells the real story of a rodeo rider whose injury threatens his livelihood. In a high-risk move that paid off, the story’s real-life subjects mostly play themselves. Available on Starz.
Something’s Gotta Give (2003, Nancy Myers) A certified blockbuster upon release, Meyers’ romcom follows the trysts and heartbreaks of several couples across several age brackets. Available on Showtime.
Wonder Woman (2017, Patty Jenkins) Gal Gadot dons the golden armbands in the first big-screen adaptation of DC’s lead heroine in an outing which grossed nearly $822 million worldwide at the box office, leading to a greenlit sequel with Jenkins returning to direct. Available on HBO Now.
You’ve Got Mail (1998, Nora Ephron) While Ephron’s most popular Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan project, Sleepless in Seattle, isn’t available to stream, this online dating romcom works just as well in terms of cinematic comfort food. Available on MAX GO.
Free and library card-based streaming services
2 Days in Paris (2007, Julie Delpy) Delpy defies expectations in her first major directorial outing by putting her character in a familiar setting–a supposedly romantic European trip with a lover–and then upending the romance for the sake of fraught encounters and tough truths. Available on Kanopy and Hoopla as well as Vudu, TubiTV, and IMDB Freedive.
The Beaches of Agnès (2008, Agnès Varda) Varda’s supposed last hurrah was later overshadowed by Faces Places, but the retrospective video essay, directed around the time of her 80th birthday, is still a contemplative celebration. Available on Kanopy and Hoopla as well as Fandor.
Beyond the Lights (2014, Gina Prince-Bythewood) Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars in this bright-lights, big-city love story, which shares themes of music, romance, depression, and career aspirations with A Star Is Born. Available on Kanopy and Hoopla.
The Bling Ring (2013, Sofia Coppola) A decadent pop confection and a peek inside the hyper-specific subculture of star-obsessed LA-dwellers circa 2009, The Bling Ring is a glittery and entertaining skewering of the reality TV era. Available on Kanopy.
Born in Flames (1983, Lizzie Borden) An intersectionally feminist take on everything from socialism to activism, Born in Flames is an ultra-indie visionary take that was ahead of its time. Available on Kanopy as well as Fandor.
But I’m A Cheerleader (1999, Jamie Babbit) The best movie John Waters never made, this candy-colored gay conversion camp comedy is a cult favorite and stars a young Natasha Lyonne. Available on TubiTV.
Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962, Agnès Varda) Before her self-reflective documentaries, Varda made classic French narrative films like this one, which captured the emotive and vibrant life of a singer through a few short hours of the most nerve-wracking day of her life. Available on Kanopy.
The Decline of Western Civilization (1981, Penelope Spheeris) The self-destructive, self-defining, and constantly performative nature of the punk scene is laid bare in all its bloody glory this documentary, which gives a full picture of a subculture of alienation. Available on TubiTV.
The Hitch-hiker (1953, Ida Lupino) Often called the first woman-directed horror movie, The Hitch-hiker is a tense noir that unfolds over the course of a car ride with a hitchhiker who turns out to be a sociopath on the run from the law. Available on Kanopy and TubiTV.
Mikey and Nicky (1976, Elaine May) Two old friends and mobsters (Peter Falk and John Cassavetes) reunite over the course of a long night. By its end, they’ll have witnessed moments of brotherhood, division, and even bloodshed. Available on TubiTV.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018, Desiree Akhavan) Chloe Moretz stars in this ‘90s-set coming-of-age movies about the assorted disciples–and forced attendees–of a Christian conversion camp. Available on Kanopy.
Monster (2003, Patty Jenkins) Charlize Theron won an Oscar for her transformative performance as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in this biographical film. Available on Hoopla as well as IMDB Freedive.
Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015, Chloé Zhao) Zhao’s first feature follows the relationship among a sprawling family of Lakota Sioux siblings, including the fragile hope and continual disillusionment of young sister Jashuan (Jashaun St. John). Available on Kanopy.
Stories We Tell (2012, Sarah Polley) The story at the heart of this riveting documentary is close to home for Polley: it’s about her parents’ relationship and revelations that permanently changed her family. Available on TubiTV.
Sweetie (1989, Jane Campion) Campion’s first feature is a rarely seen Australian film about a young woman’s family and love life, particularly her relationship with an unstable sister. Available on Kanopy.
The Watermelon Woman (1996, Cheryl Dunye) This low-budget cult favorite follows an African-American lesbian video store clerk as she attempts to research and ultimately reimagine the roles Black women held in early cinematic history. Available on Kanopy and Hoopla as well as Fandor.