In the lead-up to Monday’s Oscar nominations, it seemed like Greta Gerwig was a lock for a Best Director nom. Her Little Women, one of the year’s most lauded films, had been widely and repeatedly praised specifically for her directorial vision. Some were speculating that Lulu Wang could pick up a nomination for her masterful film The Farewell, or maybe Alma Har’el for Honey Boy, or even Marielle Heller for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood–all major critical darlings of 2019.
Instead, when it came time to name nominees, the Oscars decided to go with…none of them. Not one of last year’s movies directed by women was nominated for a Best Director Oscar, keeping with the Academy’s tome-honored tradition of nominating almost exclusively men for the prize.
But, just as nobody has every actually picked what records to listen to based on Grammy nominations, there is no reason you should allow the Academy’s glaring oversight to discourage you from supporting the stories and visions of non-male filmmakers. Here are some of the best movies directed by women in 2019 to add to your must-watch (or must-watch again) list.
Director: Greta Gerwing
In the entire history of the Oscars, only five films have won Best Picture without being nominated for Best Director. There exists a chance that Little Women could, maybe, pull that off this year. (Unlikely, but possible.) The film has scooped up nominations and awards at events all season, other than Gerwig’s Oscar snub.
Director: Alma Har’el
The narrative debut of director Alma Har’el (previously, the Independent Spirit Award nominee focused on documentaries and music videos), Honey Boy wasn’t universally loved–but it may have been among the year’s most interesting, challenging films. Penned by Shia LaBeouf, the semi-autobiographical film finds him playing his own, deeply troubled father.
Director: Lulu Wang
“We can’t ignore movies that women helmed, including mine,” The Farewell star Awkwafina said at a press event this week when asked about why the Academy overlooked the film. In Oscar World, the intergenerational family drama had two strikes against it: both being directed by a woman and, despite starring Americans and being made by a Chinese-American filmmaker, much of the film is spoken in Mandarin.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Director: Marielle Heller
There were people who thought Marielle Heller was snubbed last year when she failed to get a Best Director nod for Can You Ever Forgive Me? This year, she made another great film only to be snubbed again. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood has been treated largely as a vehicle for Tom Hanks’s performance, with less recognition given to the directorial hand that drew it out of him.
Director: Olivia Wilde
This teen comedy romp definitely isn’t heavy “Oscar Movie” stuff like 1917, but its warm, thoughtful look at female friendship makes it worth a watch. Behind the camera is actor-tuned-filmmaker Olivia Wilde, who announced that she’ll be teaming back up with Booksmart collaborator Katie Silberman for a new film for Universal.
Director: Chinonye Chukwu
Writer-director Chinonye Chukwu’s somber film Clemency got minimal buzz when it dropped on December 27. Nonetheless, the film—in which star Alfre Woodard gives a stellar performance as a prison warden required to witness executions—was recognized with Independent Spirit and NAACP Image Awards nominations.
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Snubbed by the Academy in directing and performance categories, Hustlers is a big, mass-appeal, popcorn movie–that still manages to convey something complex about economic inequality, human relationships, and what a person will do to take care of themselves and their family, be it biological or chosen.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Director: Céline Sciamma
This elegant period piece set on a Breton island in the 18th century, depicts the budding passion between two women. French writer-director Céline Sciamma, who previously made Tomboy and Water Lilies, actually received a Best Director prize for Portrait of a Lady on Fire–from the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.