Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Cinema by the Numbers: What About The Female Directors?

If you've read the four posts on the Greatest Directors in the World, you may notice that not one female director has been included in the top 50. If you haven't, read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 before continuing. Is it because I'm a chauvinist? No. I had no say in picking the list, and all the sites I consulted listed males only for some reason. Okay, to be fair, many of the best female directors haven't directed five films yet, which you may recall was a requirement to partake in this exercise. Anyway, I've taken six of the best female directors in the world, recorded all the data, and compared them to the men. How did they fare? Hit the jump.

Six of the Best

So who did I pick then? I followed a similar approach that I followed with the men and came up with a list. I've also relaxed the five films requirement, because two of my favourite female directors (Lynne Ramsay and Sofia Coppola) have not directed five films each yet. Those who made the list (pictured above) are:

  • Lynne Ramsay - Scottish director of Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar and We Need To Talk About Kevin
  • Jane Campion - New Zealander and director of The Piano;
  • Susanne Bier - Danish director of last year's Oscar Winner In a Better World;
  • Kathryn Bigelow - American director of The Hurt Locker, and also the only female to win the Best Director Oscar;
  • Sofia Coppola - American director of Lost in Translation and Somewhere; and
  • Lone Scherfig - Danish director of An Education.

So, only two Americans there. And 2 Danes! Am I missing any?


I'm keeping this very brief, so here we go...

What's most interesting is the fact that women gain more critical acclaim than men, who still attract audience support (probably because their movies are generally a little more "stupid", you know what I mean). On average, the critical score achieved by the female directors is over 4% higher than the IMDB score, whereas their male counterparts score below IMDB most often.

Who's the best female director then? Well, here is the above table, only with rankings. Overall, the best director is Susanne Bier. It's a damn shame, because she is not very well known, and her average score is very high. Plus, she has directed the requisite five films. It's crazy really. My two favourites come in at second and third.

Most importantly, how do the ladies fit into the men's list? Should they have been included? I would say, YES. Overall, Susanne Bier achieves an astounding 7th place overall! And not one of the female directors is at the bottom of the list. Tony Scott is still there. So, what does that tell us? Chauvinist pigs still abound, not just in the Academy, but throughout the industry. Unfortunately, this is all I have time for. But I think the point has been made.

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