This is part of our 2020 Preview. Follow along as we explore all the things that have us mildly hopeful in the new year.
According to a survey of Fandango users, the four most-anticipated movies of 2020 are directed by women. Three of them are comic book movies, of course, and another comic book movie helmed by a woman made the top 10 list. Moviegoers don’t necessarily care if those movies are made by a man or a woman, so it’s about time Warner Bros. and Disney gave so many female filmmakers the chance at such big blockbusters.
The whole number of movies directed by women in 2020 isn’t that much when compared to the entirety of movies being released (or last year’s list). While it’s great that women are being hired for major tentpoles, they should be working as much as their male counterparts all around. The majority of films on this year’s list are still documentaries, film festival indies, and foreign works where women artists are represented in greater abundance.
Once again, there are a whole lot of feature debuts on this list, and that could be a good sign that there will be more women in the mix for studios to hire from. Most of the titles will not be seeing a wide release if even a theatrical run. Many of them don’t have official release dates at all yet. But we want to spotlight all the films directed or co-directed by women that you can find on some screen somewhere in 2020. We’ve counted at least 84 and will add to the list as we learn of others.
Advocate — co-directed by Rachel Leah Jones (Gypsy Davy). This documentary, also directed by cinematographer Philippe Bellaiche, profiles Jewish-Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel, who has been representing Palestinian political prisoners for the last 50 years. Release date: January 3rd.
Afterward — directed by Ofra Bloch. In addition to being a filmmaker, Bloch is a social worker and trauma expert, and this personal documentary takes her to Germany, Israel, and Palestine in an attempt to exorcise her demons. Release date: January 10th.
Chhapaak — directed by Meghna Gulzar (Talvar). This Indian drama follows the story of an acid attack survivor. Release date: January 10th.
Troop Zero — directed by Bert & Bertie (Dance Camp). A troop of girl scouts in 1977 Georgia helps one of their own achieve a dream involving NASA. Release date (on Amazon Prime): January 17th.
Panga — directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari (Bareilly Ki Barfi). Another Indian film, this one a romantic picture that follows a Kabbadi player. Release date: January 24th.
The Turning — directed by Floria Sigismondi (The Runaways). After a few years working in prestige television (The Handmaid’s Tale), Sigismondi returns to movies with this modern take on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. Release date: January 24th.
The Assistant — directed by Kitty Green (Casting JonBenet). Inspired by the stories of people who worked for Harvey Weinstein, this drama follows a young assistant to a film executive. Release date: January 31st.
The Rhythm Section — directed by Reed Morano (I Think We’re Alone Now). Formerly a cinematographer primarily, and the second filmmaker already to have been recently directing episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, among other prestige television series, Morano helmed (but didn’t shoot) this thriller starring Blake Lively as a woman seeking the truth about a plane crash that killed her family. Release date: January 31st.
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn — directed by Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs). Yan quickly went from an indie filmmaker with a little-seen Sundance debut to helming a comic book blockbuster with this female-focused entry in the DC Extended Universe that brings back Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn with a new team of women antiheroes. Release date: February 7th
The Lodge — co-directed by Veronika Franz (Goodnight Mommy). Franz again collaborates with Severin Fiala in helming this psychological thriller about a woman snowed in with her two new stepchildren in a haunted cabin. Release date (following its Sundance 2019 debut): February 7th.
Buffaloed — directed by Tanya Wexler (Hysteria). Zoey Deutch stars in this comedy/drama as a woman who desperately wants to leave Buffalo, New York. Judy Greer and Jai Courtney co-star. Release date: February 14th.
Ordinary Love — co-directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa (Good Vibrations). Lesley Manville stars as a woman with breast cancer in this film that follows her relationship with her husband. Release date: February 14th.
The Photograph — directed by Stella Meghie (Everything, Everything). Issa Rae stars in this romantic drama involving intertwining love stories from Meghie, who also helmed an episode of Rae’s series Insecure. Release date: February 14th.
Emma — directed by Autumn de Wilde. Photographer and music video director de Wilde makes her feature directorial debut with this adaptation of the classic Jane Austen novel. Anya Taylor-Joy stars in the titular role. Release date: February 21st.
First Cow — directed by Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff). Hot off its acclaimed fall festival tour, First Cow is another gem from the auteur behind such indie favorites as Meek’s Cutoff, Wendy and Lucy, Old Joy, Certain Women, and Night Moves. The adaptation of Jonathan Raymond’s The Half Life is set in the 19th century West and involves a baked goods business and a dairy cow. Release date: March 6th.
Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always — directed by Eliza Hittman (Beach Rats). The latest indie from the rising auteur, who also wrote this drama, follows two teens from rural Pennsylvania to the Big Apple. Release date (following a Sundance debut): March 13th.
The Roads Not Taken — directed by Sally Potter (Orlando). Potter and her Ginger & Rosa star Elle Fanning are reunited for this day in the life look at a father and daughter dealing with the former’s chaotic mental state. Release date: March 13th.
Stargirl — directed by Julia Hart (Miss Stevens). This comedy/drama is about a homeschooled girl who shakes things up at her uptight new high school. Release date (on Disney+): March 13th.
Mulan — directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider). Disney’s latest live-action reimagining is based on the 1998 animated feature about a young Chinese woman disguised as a man so she can go to war. Caro’s version is no musical and concentrates on the martial arts action of the story. The filmmaker is only the second woman to be hired by Disney for a movie with a budget higher than $100 million. Release date: March 27th.
Saint Maud — directed by Rose Glass. This feature directorial debut, about an obsessed and possibly possessed nurse, received great acclaim on the festival circuit last fall. Release date: March 27th.