AWFJ’s Top 100 Films List

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“Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” “Lost in Translation.” “Dance, Girl, Dance.” Not one of these greats nor any other films directed by women made it onto AFI?s 100 Years, 100 Films list– but they?re on ours.

The Tenth Anniversary of AFI?s 100 Greatest Movies List got us to thinking, especially when we noticed that of 400 films nominated for AFI?s list, only 4.5 were directed by women. Without knowing who?d been on AFI?s nominating committee nor what instructions they were given, we thought it would be interesting and fun to see whether AWFJ members– a diverse group of strongly opinionated and outspoken professional women film journalists who care passionately about the movies and industry they cover– would develop a list substantially different AFI?s. Without issuing directives nor suggesting that only films made by and/or about women be eligible, we asked members to suggest titles they?d like to see on AWFJ?s Top 100 Films List. All titles submitted were placed on the ballot, members voted, votes were tallied. The result, presented in alphabetical order, is an eclectic, perhaps somewhat surprising collection of titles. It?s neither politically nor academically correct, and it?s far from definitive. But it can be said to reflect our women?s perspective, and we?ve annotated each title, indicating why it?s favored. We had so much fun compiling our list, we?ll probably do it again. Meanwhile, we hope you?ll enjoy reading our list as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

      AWFJ?s TOP 100 FILMS – 2007
        (in alphabetical order)

THE ACCUSED (1988): Somewhat based on the true story of a 1983 gang rape of a woman at a New Bedford, Mass., bar, the movie stars Jodie Foster (her first Oscar) as the sexually provocative and damn near indomitable working-class victim who refuses to go whimpering into her trailer and pretend it never happened. Her performance is both vibrant and vitriolic, while still conveying, in the film?s bleakest moments, the embers of fear and resignation that remain after white-hot anger fades. (Eleanor Ringel Gillespie)

ADAM?S RIB (1949): Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy triumphantly play out the battle of the sexes, as lawyers with gender inflected ideas about the law. (Martha P. Nochimson)

THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951): Quintessential Hepburn/Bogart matchup in a leaky steam vessel on the Lumbasi River. Not only can Kate?s classic Presbyterian spinster, Rose Sayer, hang with the toughest of men, her wit and intelligent determination lift the level of discourse. Despite the leeches and broken props, Sayer never compromises her personal beliefs. (Sheigh Crabtree)

ALL ABOUT EVE (1950): Fasten your seatbelts for Bette Davis as the aging Broadway diva who has everything but wants more, balancing love and work as her conniving prot駩e Anne Baxter makes life turbulent. (Carrie Rickey)

ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (1999): All the world’s a stage in Pedro Almodovar’s Oscar-winner, which represents the full flowering of his trademark “screwball melodrama” style as he weaves wildly disparate elements into a hilarious, compassionate and utterly unforgettable whole. (Carol Cling)

ALICE DOESN?T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (1974): Scorsese?s rare moment of being in touch with his feminine side. (Susan Wlosczyzna)

ALIEN (1979): Still the reigning action film that neither exploits nor over-feminize its no-nonsense, take-charge heroine (SW)

AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE (1990): Stunning biopic of New Zealand’s Janet Frame, misdiagnosed as a schizophrenic, who emerges as her island nation’s literary eminence in Jane Campion’s portrait, prickly as it is plush — just like its subject. (CR)

AN UNMARRIED WOMAN (1978): Almost laughable in some ways now (really, she LEAVES the wonderful Alan Bates?) but a groundbreaker in taking women?s issues seriously at the time. (SW)

AMELIE (2001): Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s aggressively sunny romance pits a quirky wallflower (Audrey Tatou, Olive Oyl’s flesh-and-blood cousine) against the troubles of the world and the wallflower wins, brightening the lives of her Montmartre neighbors and even finding a love as eccentric as she. Gloriously nutty valentine to oddballs everywhere or sickeningly sweet French pastry? Count me among the besotted: Jeunet’s digitally tweaked and sweetened Paris is whimsical perfection and Tatou’s crooked smile could turn vinegar to honey. (Maitland McDonagh)

ANNIE HALL (1977): With her endearing rambles, stylish ties and vulnerable nightclub singing, Diane Keaton turned Annie Hall into a household name. One of Woody Allen?s most beloved movies and plenty to ?La-Di-Dah? about. (Lexi Feinberg)

THE APARTMENT(1960): Billy Wilder?s revealing corporate sex comedy evolves into something surprisingly pungent. Shirley MacLaine?s is the archtypical ?hooker with a heart of gold.? (Joanna Langfield)

ARMY OF SHADOWS (1969): Simone Signoret gives a brilliant and understated, but searing performance as a true war hero. (MN)

BABETTE?S FEAST (1987): When a lonely French woman in need of help is accepted into an extremely religious and provincial 19th century Danish community, she expresses her gratitude by preparing an extraordinarily lavish repast for the kind but dour citizens, and opens their sadly repressed souls to sensual pleasures. Based on a Karen Blixen novel and brilliantly directed by Gabriel Axel, the film?s a gentle and entirely convincing reminder that life comes with many gifts– including spirits and fine food– intended to be fully enjoyed. (Jennifer Merin)

BEING JULIA (2004): Annette Bening’s uneasily aging diva commands the limelight and an illicit lover half her age with complete exuberance. It is a spirited portrait of a woman with a deflating ego who delights in revenge against an opportunist who has done her wrong. (SC)

BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM (2002): It?s delightful to see a young woman excelling at what has traditionally been man?s sport, especially when she?s able to realize her dreams within the culturally complex community of middle class Indian immigrants in London, eventually managing to balance family loyalty with personal ambition and growth. (JM)

BORN YESTERDAY (1950): Could anyone ever forget Judy Holliday?s Oscar winning ex-showgirl Pygmalion? (She even beat out All About Eve?s Bette Davis and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard for the gold). And, oh that card game! (JL)

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY?S (1961): A flash of Audrey Hepburn?s smile and Henry Mancini?s haunting ?Moon River? are enough to make anyone fall hopelessly in love with this movie. Cynics need not apply. (LF)

BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945): The ultimate star-crossed romance

between two married strangers (Trevor Howard, Celia Johnson) inspires a poignant drama that represents a more successful union: the one between writer Noel Coward and director David Lean, whose lyrical imagery suggests the emotions Coward’s stiff-upper-lip characters can hardly bring themselves to express. (CC)

BRINGING UP BABY (1938): An engaging comic portrait of female power, as Katharine Hepburn takes on science, the law, and the forces of nature. (MPN)

CARRIE (1976): Captures every single horror about getting your period for the first time and then some. (SW)

CASABLANCA (1942): Could Michael Curtiz, Howard Koch, Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein’s doomed wartime romance, the most quoted, imitated, rapturously praised, parodied, pastiched, closely analyzed, effusively adored movie ever made, possibly be as good as you remember? Nothing could be, you think, until you catch a glimpse of a familiar scene in a video store or on late-night TV and you’re hooked all over again. Casablanca’s secret isn’t one iconic scene, a single immortal line of dialogue or one knock out performance: It’s that every line, every performance, every scene is exactly right: The result sings like celestial clockwork. (MM)

CENTRAL STATION (1998): Fernanda Montenegro was Oscar-nominated for her Performance in this small Brazilian gem about a lonely retired schoolteacher who, in an uncharacteristic act of compassion, helps a little boy find his father. Packing her actor?s ego away, Montenegro looks every bit the sallow, care-worn alcoholic with droopy basset-hound eyes and a dour set to her mouth. Hers is a world-class study of bitterness dissuaded, of scorn swept away, of possibility and optimism stumbled upon after too long an absence from her life. (ERG)

CHINATOWN (1974): Robert Towne and Roman Polanski’s neo-noir thriller unfolds in the poisoned paradise of sun-washed California, where at the right time and the right place, anyone is capable of anything. The bad guys win, the good guy — such as he is — couldn’t find a peacock in a chicken coop and the real rain never comes, just a carefully controlled gush of stolen water to be squandered on rich people’s desert lawns and fish ponds. Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes blunders in where Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade would have feared to tread, and the ’70s and the ’30s collapse into a black hole of casual corruption and amoral cruelty. (MM)

CITIZEN KANE (1941): Everyone knows Orson Welles’ ultimate toy train set is one of the greats– technically innovative, stylistically audacious, thematically profound, overflowing with brilliant bits of cinematic business. What they forget to say is that it’s a blast, a miracle of youthful cheekiness tempered by razor-sharp insight. And, Mr. Bernstein’s recollection of the girl in the white dress might be the most bracingly rueful words of song or pen since John Greenleaf Whittier– the pure, distilled essence of nostalgic longing, bittersweet regret and sad self-delusion. (MM)

CLUELESS (1995): Jane Austen’s Emma gets an absolutely fabulous make-over and the result is fresh, funny and too totally adorable for words. That the trendy frivolity of wealthy, pampered California teens can still look so adorable in the toxic age of Paris, Nicole and Lindsey is astonishing, but Amy Heckerling’s nimble comedy of manners has brains and heart to match its bubbly good looks. (MM)

COAL MINER?S DAUGHTER (1980) The greatest inspirational showbiz saga to showcase a female performer?s rise, stumble and survival. (SW)

DANCE, GIRL, DANCE (1940): A story of a dancer, played by Maureen O?Hara, filmed by Dorothy Arzner, a rare woman director during the studio system period, that comically emphasizes the difference between the ways men and women look at women?s bodies. (MPN)

EARRINGS OF MADAME DE? (1953): A married baroness, a dashing diplomat and a pair of earrings that keeps returning to the baron and poisoning the well of marital propriety– Max Ophuls’ shimmering tragedy in 3/4 time glitters like a perfectly cut stone. His restless camera glides with consummate grace as his doomed lovers are hemmed in by expensive knick-knacks and hypocritical mores. The troubles of the fabulously rich and carefree have never seemed so shattering. (MM)

ENTRE NOUS (1983): Miou-Miou and Isabelle Huppert glow in Diane Kurys’ sympathetic story of provincial women who marry men in postwar France and find in friendship the emotional sustenance and professional encouragement that their marriages lack. (CR)

ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000): A down and out single mom reaps the rewards of becoming a world-class do-gooder. Based on a true story, and it still rankles that Julia Roberts, when accepting her Oscar for playing the part, forgot to mention the woman who really lived it. (JM)

ET THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL (1982): This cinematic ode to a young boy’s loving relationship with a lost, fragile alien is filled with unparalleled wonder and kindness, thanks to the perfect director-screenwriter pairing of Seven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison (“Black Stallion”). (SC)

FANNY AND ALEXANDER (1982): Ingmar Bergman’s return to childhood and farewell to cinema masterfully balances lightness and dark amid a poignant tapestry of character studies that highlight the transformative power of art and the realization that to live life fully one also must accept death. (SC)

FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE (1993): A friendship forged in the fires of the famed Peking Opera School is tested by betrayal, lust, heartbreak and 50 tumultuous years of Chinese history in Chen Kaige’s lavish melodrama. It’s the perfect balance of epic sweep and emotional intimacy, dedicated to the proposition that the heart knows what it wants but doesn’t always get it. (MM)

FARGO (1996): In between sit downs to satisfy her pregnancy-related food cravings, a rural police chief (Frances McDormand?s exquisite, unforgettably quirky performance won her an Oscar) matter-of-factly resolves a gruesomely grizzly crime spree– wondering all the while why and how such horrendous things could occur on such a beautiful day. (JM)

FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982): Jennifer Jason Leigh?s lessons in the realities of romance are heart crushing. (SW)

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES (1991): A big soggy but hard to resist. (SW)

FRIDA (2002): A work of art. Julie Taymor?s colorful portrait of a tortured painter bursts with energy and style, and stays emotionally grounded through a heartbreaking performance by Salma Hayek. (LF)

FUNNY GIRL (1968): Barbra Streisand’s triumphant movie debut as Fanny Brice, the Broadway sunbeam attracted to shady men. Reprising the role she originated in the stage musical, Streisand exhibits moxie as the comedienne secure in her talent and insecure in her romantic attachments. (CR)

GAS FOOD LODGING (1992): One of the early and most memorable movies in the American indie film movement. Alison Ander’s debut feature tells the story of a working single mother and her two very different daughters. Featuring Brooke Adams, Ione Skye, and the under-appreciated Fairuza Balk. (Marcy Dermansky)

GHOST WORLD (2001): Thora Birch ruins Steve Buscemi’s life in Terry Zwigoff’s comic book adaptation, “Ghost World,” but the pain at the heart of this achingly true, often hilarious film lies in her dissolving friendship with Scarlett Johansson. (MD)

GONE WITH THE WIND (1939): No one else survives with such panache and power as Scarlett does. (SW)

GORILLAS IN THE MIST (1988): Environmentally aware before it was chic, this stunning biography of endangered ape activist Dian Fossey takes us into a world worth protecting. (JL)

THE GRADUATE (1967): They may say this is about a recent college graduate but this is a story about Mrs. Robinson’s insatiable libido that dictates the film’s action and suspense and culminates in a surprise elopement. (SC)

HAROLD AND MAUDE (1972): They’re hardly anyone’s ideal romantic couple, but the disaffected rich kid (Bud Cort) and the freewheeling, lust-for-life septuagenarian (Ruth Gordon) bring out the best in each other– and symbolize the winds of change sweeping not only the midnight-movie circuit but Hollywood itself. (CC)

HEAVENLY CREATURES (1994): Kate Winslet’s luminescent debut performance in this pre-”Lord of the Rings” Peter Jackson film is not to be missed. When female friendships go wrong, mothers beware! (MD)

HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940): If Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell talked any faster, Howard Hawks’ sublime account of love among the ink-stained wretches would sound like high noon on an artillery range. And, we’d still love it for being fast, funny and fractious. Oh, and really, really fast — if those two were teleported to the wired, multi-tasking, want-it-now future they’d hit the ground running, leave the technorati in the dust and look effortlessly fabulous while doing it. (MM)

THE HOURS (2002): Nothing happens, and yet everything happens. That quiet paradox, powering an exquisitely insightful exploration, proves that life’s little revelations can be more explosive than all the cinematic pyrotechnics in the world. (CC)

IMITATION OF LIFE (1934/1959): A penetrating 1930s portrait of the bittersweet waltz of the mother and daughter, as complicated by racial issues in a prejudiced society. And, a penetrating 1950s portrait of the bittersweet waltz of the mother and daughter, as complicated by racial issues in a prejudiced society. (MPN)

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934): Claudette Colbert, as the original Hollywood madcap heiress. The movie cops out at the end, but for most of the time we are treated to a jubilant female point of view on marriage and how to hitchhike. (MPN)

IT?S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946): A timeless classic that reminds us that our lives are far from meaningless. Stewart shines as George Bailey and Capra is the master of playing our emotions like a harp. (LF)

JULES ET JIM (1962): The ultimate ?three?s a crowd? caveat. Fran篩s Truffaut?s peek at an unconventional, doomed love affair makes a pretty strong case for monogamy. (LF)

JULIA (1977): Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave make sparks fly in Lillian Hellman?s memoir of two women?s fierce friendship: an evocative story of professionalism, perspective and true heroism. (JL)

KLUTE (1971): Jane Fonda with her best haircut gets down and dirty. (SW)

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (1992): ?There?s no crying in baseball,? scoffs coach Jimmy Dugan, played by Tom Hanks, at the women?s sports team. But crying while watching this movie? That?s another story. (LF)

LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE (1992): Laura Esquivel?s lush romantic drama recreates historical Mexican social mores. (JL)

LITTLE WOMEN (1933): Not the 1949 version with June Allyson and Elizabeth Taylor. Or the 1994 attempt with Winona Ryder and Claire Danes. It?s the earlier and still best version, made in 1933, and starring Katharine Hepburn as Jo March, ringleader of the March sisters. Her high spirited performance, with her hands on her hips in a tomboy-ish stance and her gruff line readings, is the closest she ever got to playing Peter Pan. (ERG)

LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003): Sofia Coppola?s minimalist film says more with a single shot of Bill Murray?s eyes than most say with 120 pages of dialogue. Its unique vibe perfectly captures the dichotomy of loneliness in a densely populated city. (LF)

THE MAGDELENE SISTERS (2002): Based on true stories, the film follows three Irish teenage girls sent by their families to a nunnery where they?re expected to live out their lives doing hard labor as laundresses as penance for their respective sins: being beautiful, being raped, wanting to keep and love a child born out of wedlock. The Magdelene Sisters, we learn, ran such establishments, confining thousands of girls, until 1996. (JM)

MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON (1943): Arguably the most influential

American avant garde film in history, the reverberations of Maya Deren’s first film echo through the work of experimental filmmakers like Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage and David Lynch and through surreal dream sequence awash in ominous doppelgangers, cloaked specters and spooky reflections ever staged by a low-rent fright-meister. Deren’s elegant, enigmatic vision, rooted in dream logic and associative connections, defined the trance film, integrated film with dance, poetry and mythic symbols, and defied Hollywood wisdom at every turn. Deren did it her way: Indie rebels, bow down before the woman who went there first. (MM)

MILDRED PIERCE (1945): Working woman soap opera of the highest order, with a big-shouldered Joan Crawford sorely tested by Ann Blyth as one of the worst daughters ever birthed by Hollywood. (SW)

MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004) The Anti-Rocky. Clint Eastwood?s no-holds-barred portrait of an aspiring female boxer, played by Hilary Swank, brings new levels to the word ?knockout.? (LF)

MONSOON WEDDING (2001): An irresistible romantic comedy from Mira Nair, marrying traditional Indian values and impatient Western technology. (JL)

MURIEL?S WEDDING (1994): All that Muriel, the pudgy, socially inept Aussie twenty-something (Toni Colette), wants is to be accepted by a gaggle of mean-spirited girlfriends and to get married– until, having done both, and gotten into a lot of trouble in the process- she realizes the true nature of friendship, and learns to love herself. (JM)

MY BRILLIANT CAREER (1979)- Director Gillian Armstrong and actress Judy Davis collaborate brilliantly in this high-spirited coming-of-age story based on the memoirs of early 20th-century Australian feminist Miles Franklin, who shunned marriage for career. (CR)

NASHVILLE (1975): Robert Altman simultaneously created and defined the ensemble film with this freewheeling look at love, life, politics and the music business. Nearly two dozen characters populate the busy screen with a cast that includes Lily Tomlin, Ronee Blakely, Elliot Gould, Ned Beatty, Karen Allen, and Julie Christie. (MD)

NATIONAL VELVET (1944): A boy, a girl and a horse. One of Elizabeth Taylor?s earliest and most engaging star turns. (JL)

NORMA RAE (1979): Nothing beats watching this round-heeled Southern gal have her consciousness raised and become one of cinema?s best crusading working-class heroines. (SW)

NOTORIOUS (1946): The Alfred Hitchcock classic about the Nazi’s daughter (Ingrid Bergman) recruited as an Allied spy. In her most sensual performance, Bergman is torn between the American she loves (Cary Grant) and the Nazi on whom she spies (Claude Rains), complicated by the fact that the American is a romantically remote and the Nazi demonstrative. (CR)

NOWHERE IN AFRICA (2001): A Jewish family flees Nazi Germany and, arriving in Kenya, faces the challenges of establishing new roots in entirely unfamiliar terrain. Presented from the perspective of the young daughter, who comes of age in this new environment and becomes inexorably attached to it, this provocative tale about personal transformation is profoundly inspiring. (JM)

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940): Oh, does Kate Hepburn give a marvelous performance as regal redhead Tracy Lord, an upper crust beauty with a sharp wit and a supposedly cold, cold heart. Co-stars Cary Grant and James Stewart are not bad either. (MD)

THE PIANO (1993): The sounds of silence reverberate with almost mystic power in writer-director Jane Campion’s Oscar (and Cannes) winner, a tale of anguish and passion in which a literally voiceless woman (Holly Hunter, who won multiple accolades for her tour-de-force performance) finds a way to express her inner strengths and outward desires. (CC)

RABBIT PROOF FENCE (2002): Two young Aboriginal girls, having been kidnapped by the Australian government and placed in a school to be trained as domestic workers, escape and outwit experienced trackers to walk 1500 miles through the desert to get home to their mother. The flm?s based on true events that occurred during the 1930s. Philip Noyce?s smart, sensitive direction spins this inspiring story into enlightening social protest against the kind of cultural rape that still takes place around the globe today. It?s a cinematic gem. (JM)

RAISE THE RED LANTERN (1991): Zhang Yimou’s haunting, rapturously beautiful dissection of four¿ destinies defined and deformed by a subtle, devastating struggle for power, prestige and control resonates far beyond its specific time and place: The suffocating polygamous household of a wealthy, aged landowner in 1920s China. The exquisite, steely Gong Li– the educated, reluctant, youngest bride whose hopes are dashed on the reef of tradition– was never lovelier or more heartbreaking. (MM)?

REAR WINDOW (1954): Alfred Hitchcock knows how to tell an engrossing story. Put James Stewart in a wheelchair with a broken leg, sit him in front of an open window, and send his two women across the courtyard to solve an imaginary murder. The suspense can practically kill you–as can watching the impossibly beautiful Grace Kelly. (MD)

REBECCA (1940): An unusual analysis of the power structure of marriage in which the woman achieves maturity despite her husband?s attraction to her initial childish vulnerablity. (MN)

REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955): While a bit dated by today?s standards, it?s one of the first movies to capture the emotional discourse of teenagers in the ?50s. And it turned James Dean into an ageless icon who people are still talking about, and missing. (LF)

ROSEMARY?S BABY (1968): Think your child is a handful? Just remember it could always be worse. Roman Polanksi?s creepy tale of a mom carrying the devil?s spawn still elicits chills and thrills. (LF)

RUN LOLA RUN (1998): There is sheer exhilaration to be had watching flame-haired Franka Potente run. And she runs and she runs through the streets of Berlin in a breathless attempt to save her man in Tom Tykwer’s 1999 riveting film. (MD)

SECRETS & LIES (1995): Mike Leigh’s subtle, complex drama of regret and transformation revolves around three women: Blowsy, middle-aged, working-class Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn), her embittered daughter (Claire Rushbrook) ¿ and the other daughter, Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) , whom Cynthia? gave up at birth without so much as a backward glance. It’s hard to say which is the greater shock when Hortense re-enters Cynthia’s life: That she’s successful, that she’s well-spoken and educated, or that she’s black. And, once the secrets and the lies are hauled into the light, none of their lives is ever the same. (MM)

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (1995): Emma Thompson is sensible, smart Elinor, who?s on the verge of spinsterhood, and Kate Winslet is passionate, impulsive Marianne, who believes in love that burns. When their father dies, leaving them destitute, the sisters are plunged into a riveting tale of class, character and True Love. Director Ang Lee and screenwriter Thompson have distilled every bit of humor, intelligence, romance and even peril from Jane Austen?s novel. They?ve created an adventure movie of sorts, in which an abrupt departure or revelation of a secret has as much jaw-dropping impact as a T- Rex lumbering out of the dark. (ERG)

SILKWOOD (1983): Of the Streepian oeuvre, this one just feels right and the whistleblower’s grit yanks her overly dramatic tendencies down to earth. (SW)

STELLA DALLAS (1937): The woman?s weeper to top them all. (SW)

SUNSET BLVD. (1950): Billy Wilder?s melodrama still stands as ?the? movie about movies. Gloria Swanson?s desperate legend continues to polarize: great work or over the top? (JL)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (1983): Probably the best examination of mother-daughter dynamics. (SW)

THELMA & LOUISE (1991): A really cool portrait of women negotiating American symbols of masculinity and the male power structure Too bad they didn?t survive their adventures! (MPN)

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962): A very real for its time account of a tomboy coming of age and learning about the ugly side of society. (SW)

TOOTSIE (1982): Put a sexist, self-absorbed jerk in a dress and he becomes one of the most delightful woman ever onscreen — with Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot as close second. (SW)

TOUCH OF EVIL (1958): Orson Welles opens this dark, perverse thriller about moral compromise and the price of corruption with a virtuoso tracking shot — a three-minute, 12 second, slow motion crawl through the streets of TJ as a flashy white car with a tick-tick-ticking in its trunk wends its way to US/Mexican border– that sums up its themes and starts things off with a literal bang: It’s the stuff celluloid dreams are made of, with a heaping dose of sheer lunacy served up on the side. (MM)

VAGABOND (1985): Agnes Varda’s shattering character study, filmed in raw documentary style, of a human tumbleweed (Sandrine Bonnaire) drifting through provincial France without making social connections, a blank upon whom those who encounter her project their feelings. (CR)

VERA DRAKE (2004): The incomparable Mike Leigh directs Imelda Staunton in her brilliant performance as a pure-of-heart who clandestinely and somewhat naively terminates unwanted pregnancies, never quite acknowledging to herself that what she?s doing is against the law. When she?s confronted by police, arrested and tried for her doings, we?re all forced to realize that hapless is the women who tries to help, and to reconsider just what a woman?s right to choose means. (JM)

VERTIGO (1958): A brilliant, innovative study of the fatal effects of male fetishization of women. (MPN)

VOLVER (2006): In his stirring masterpiece about mother and daughter relationships, Pedro Almodovar sheds light on the dark and hidden secrets, and airs all the quirky complaints that exist between three generations of intriguing, determined, resourceful and resilient women in a small town in rural Spain. A brilliant and defining moment in the career of Penelope Cruz. (JM)

WATER (2005): A very young widow struggles with her fate, amidst the transitional India of 1938. Deepa Mehta?s most haunting chapter in her ?elements? series. (JL)

WHALE RIDER (2002): A marvelous girl?s coming of age tale flavored by Maori culture. (SW)

WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (1989): One of the best rom-coms ever made. What woman wouldn?t want a man to crash a New Year?s Eve party and rattle off a list of things he loves about her? (LF)

THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939): We have all been Dorothy at some part in our lives, only probably without Munchkins (SW)

WOMAN OF THE YEAR (1942): Hepburn and Tracy joust at the newspaper where they both work. A feminist and a sports writer? Sexy, smart and hilarious. (JL)

THE WOMEN (1939): Set the standard for all bitchfests to come. (SW)

WORKING GIRL (1988): Makes The Devil Wears Prada look like a knockoff. (SW)

COPYRIGHT 2007 AWFJ, Inc. Please feel free to link to this material, but for permission to reproduce any portion of it, please contact the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, Inc. at Thank you.

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  • Peter Nellhaus

    Nothing from Kathryn Bigelow?

  • Vincent

    No Kieslowski? Amelie rips off a lot from The Double Life of Veronique. Sure Amelie is better known but it isn’t nowhere near as good. Or The Three Colors Trilogy, Blue or Red would have been perfect. Good list though.

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  • Dave Kehr

    Intriguing list, but I have to ask: Have you ever seen “Woman of the Year”? It’s about as far from a feminist film as anything I can imagine, with its calculated humiliation of the Hepburn character.

  • Chuck Wilson

    “Funny Girl”? Not “Yentl”? That makes zero sense.

  • Allison J. Solow

    How can you overlook “Yentl”? Streisand’s directorial debut is a landmark film musical, directed, co-written, co-produced and starring a woman — and it’s a great film!

  • Eklen

    While the AWFJ seemed angry that the AFI left out films with women leads/directors and such, this list seems just a little too….over feminine.

  • Zozimus

    Here are my 60. Room for others to add their 40:

    The Cool World

    Hester Street

    Daughters of the Dust

    Mississippi Masala

    The Namesake

    Personal Velocity

    Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser

    Crazy (1999)

    The Love Light

    Blue Vinyl

    The Day I Will Never Forget

    Wayne’s World

    The Decline of Western Civilization

    I Could Read the Sky

    The Seashell and the Clergyman (1927)

    Bastard out of Carolina

    Die Bleierne Zeit


    Lost in Translation

    The Virgin Suicides

    The Piano

    An Angel at My Table

    My Brilliant Career



    The Gleaners and I

    The Kid Stays in the Picture

    A Lion in the House

    Johanna D’Arc of Mongolia

    Europa, Europa

    Boys Don’t Cry

    Regret to Inform

    Southern Comfort

    Roy Cohn/Jack Smith

    20 Fingers

    Valley Girl

    Antonia’s Line

    Go Fish

    True Love (1989)

    Too Wise Wives

    Harlan County

    They Drive by Night

    High Sierra

    Disco Pigs

    Triumph of the Will*

    Working Girls (1931)

    The Heartbreak Kid



    Rocks at Whiskey Trench

    The Apple

    Near Dark

    Paris is Burning

    Nowhere in Africa



    Floating Life

    The Day I Became a Woman

    Look at Me

    My Life Without Me

  • TinSabre

    Finally two of the Best of the 2000s get their recognition, in “Whale Rider” and “Rabbit-Proof Fence”; my two favourite movies of the first 6.5 years of this decade.

  • tony

    How about great women screenwriters and producer, like Diana Osana (Brokeback Mountain)

  • allison

    This is so second wave feminist, it hurts.

  • SeattleMoviegoer

    Some omissions are glaring…


    Streep’s best performances by far.


    Roz dominates the screen with the

    force of a volcano. Who could do

    the same nowadays?


    Audrey Hepburn’s best performance.

    Powerful, amazing piece that explores

    faith better than anything I’ve seen.

    Mimi Rogers’ THE RAPTURE is a close second.

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  • http://n/a bosley weed

    Alphabectical? So we still don’t know which are the top films.

  • Filmsnob

    I’m surprised that there’s not a single film here by Claire Denis..”Chocolat” deserves mention at least, and possibly “Vendredi Soir”..Not a big fan of Working Girl, as I don’t think it deserves a spot here, it’s what I consider a “backlash” film. And as much as I enjoyed “Monsoon Wedding”, I think Nair’s “Salaam Bombay!” and “Mississippi Masala” are more deserving. I like a lot of Zozimus choices..”The Day I Became A Woman” is brilliant.

  • christopher

    aren’t you folks missing the point?

    “Without issuing directives nor suggesting that only films made by and/or about women be eligible, we asked members to suggest titles they’d like to see on AWFJ’s Top 100 Films List.”

    it’s not supposed to be a list of female-anything films. it’s what this organization’s members (most whom i assume are female), think are the top 100 films.

  • Glenn@StalePopcorn

    A top 100 list very well could have been made out of films directed by women if you didn’t have such a blind international view. You put Deepa Mehta’s “Water” on there but neither of her others like “Earth”? Where’s Mira Nair’s Oscar-nommed “Salaam Bombay”? Ana Kokkinos’ “Head On”? Anything by Kathryn Bigelow, least of all her genre-defining horror work “Near Dark”. “Yentl” and “Prince of Tides” by Barbra Streisand? Catherine Hardwicke’s “Thirteen”? Anything by notable female documentarians such as last year’s “Deliver Us From Evil” or the Oscar winning Barbara Koppel! Jill Sprecher’s “Thirteen Conversations About One Thing” or “Clockwatchers? Kimberley Pierce’s “Boys Don’t Cry”? Elaine May’s “The Heartbreak Kid”?

    Hell, you’ve got romantic comedies directed by men but not even “Sleepless in Seattle” or “Something’s Gotta Give” – two of the very best from the last two decades, both directed by women (Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers).

    GLBT cinema also has a few prominent titles directed by women such as Hettie MacDonald’s “Beautiful Thing”

    Europe and Australia (and I’m sure other places) have many many female directors doing good work. People like Gillian Armstrong (Last Days of Chez Nous), Susanne Bier (Brothers), Clair Denis (Beau Trevail), Nicole Holofcener (Lovely and Amazing), Sarah Watt (Look Both Ways).

    The original AFI list that you condemn (and then list many films from it) was for AMERICAN films. They didn’t have the option of putting things like The Piano on there. You people did, yet you didn’t even do some research into the very media that you seem so desperate to uphold. If your writers had researched cinema you would know that there are many great amazing films directed by women, yet barely any of them are on your list. Instead you’ve merely listed a whole lot of movies directed by men, further strengthening the belief that men can direct women better than than women can.

    Sorry if this sounds harsh, but if you’re going to whinge and complain the best you can do is to actually do some research yourself into the topic and actually have a go at making a list of the top 100 films directed by women. Alas, you seem fine in whitewashing almost every single female director in preference for movies like Scorsese, Almodovar, Ridley Scott and Hitchcock (as great as all those films are). So, yeah, this list is merely 100 movies that may be of interest to women, not actually a list of 100 movies made by women. What’s the point in that?

  • Glenn@StalePopcorn

    Oh, and the work of Anges Jaoui! “Look At Me” and “The Taste of Others”. Such a wasted opportunity!

  • Nik@nite

    I seen a lot of film and I agree with some as all do.

    The Color Purple was one of the best I’ve ever witnessed. Am I the only person with this vote?

  • iowacityan

    Where are NINE LIVES and THINGS YOU CAN TELL JUST BE LOOKING AT HER from director Rodrigo Garcia? These films offer intimate glimpses into multiple aspects of the female experience and provide an outstanding showcase for more actresses than I can mention in this post.

  • Lenard

    My only problem with a list compiled in response to AFI’s is it should have the same limitation. Since AFI limits its films to American productions (thus, no Bergman, Kurosawa, Fellini, Truffaut, Almodovar, Campion, etc.) , what is the AWFJ’s list of the 100 greatest American or American financed films of all time?

  • Kali

    what about Steal Magnolia? Yes its a sap fest, but it takes an honest, funny and querky look into women, as family and friends.

  • Zygarch

    Wow. Some of you, like Stale Glenn Popcorn, completely missed the boat on this one. I believe the objective was: “Without issuing directives nor suggesting that only films made by and/or about women be eligible, we asked members to suggest titles they’d like to see on AWFJ’s Top 100 Films List.”

    So please chill, you clever debunkers of nefarious feminist rhetoric. It’s just a list of what films AWFJ members like.

    More to the point, female spectators really DO view films from a different perspective than males. Sadly, with most commercial films being written by, directed by, and produced and green-lit by men, the content is genuinely skewed. Ever notice the endless stream of male coming-of-age, male on-a-mission, male midlife crisis stories that are intended for the “mainstream” audience? Put a female as protag in any of those stories, and it’s likely to be labeled a “women’s picture,” or worse yet, a “chick-flick.”

    Women are more than half the global population and deserve not to be marginalized as the “other.”

    And what, Stale Glenn, the heck was that pious rant about “research???” It’s only a list of movies that AWFJ members like!

  • Josh

    There are an awful lot of films on here that reinforce ugly stereotypes, and not just against women (eg. Gone with the Wind and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (both grossly overrated already, thanks)) I agree with Glenn@SP in that this list seems very lazy, tossed together, and as such it is a disappointing missed opportunity. I also think that filmmakers like Sprecher, Holofcener, Bigelow, Denis, Breillat, Akerman, and films like I Like it Like That, Take Care of My Cat, Kamikaze Girls, The World, The Time We Killed, Peking Opera Blues, Just Another Girl on the IRT, Show Me Love would have made this a more interesting and provocative list than, well, popular mainstream movies like A League of Their Own, Working Girl, and Fried Green Tomatoes. Anyone who ever wanted to see those films has already seen them, and I don’t think we missed anything about how wonderfully and sympathetically they do or do not portray women.

    Also, while The Earrings of Madame De… is amazing, Letter From an Unknown Woman fits in even better with what I think should be your purpose here, dealing as it does with female subjectivity itself.

    I realize my personal bias against soulless garbage enters into this. I appreciate the opportunity for discussion a list like this affords.

  • Elsa

    About “The Apartment”: Shirley McLaine isn´t a hooker with a heart of gold in that film. She plays one in Irma La Douce though.

  • Josh

    Oh, I forgot to mention Kelly Reichardt’s River of Grass. And her Old Joy is one of the best films I’ve ever seen about male friendship.

  • Lisa D.

    It’s too bad that the film reviewer world–dominanted by male geeks unable to communicate in the real world–feels compelled to criticize the AWFJ. (What was the OFCS movie of the year last year, Lord of the Rings?) The obscure films/directors mentioned by some of these male geekers shows their inability to consider that most working class female movie goers will never get the opportunity to see Claire Denis or Anges Joui ((sic)whoever that is) at their local multiplex. Go back to your online gaming/fantasy baseball and stop thinking you will ever know anything about women/what women like/what women want to see in a film. ugh.

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  • Alex

    No “Celine and Julie Go Boating”?

    No film of films directed by Agnes Varda or by the duo of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub?

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  • Glenn@StalePopcorn

    But they complain about the AFI Top 100 list as being dominated by movies directed by men, yet the list they created is also dominated by men!

    Lisa D, if a list such as this is worth the screen it’s typed on then it’s the organisations responsibility to try and direct “working class female movie goers” to movies by female directors. Who needs to be recommended to see “Citizen Kane” for the hundredth time? No one. That’s why they could have really tried to break the stereotype that women don’t make good movies and actually make a list of 100 great amazing movies made my women. I know a list that included stuff like “Beau Trevail” and “Sweetie” and “Just Another Girl on the IRT” would inspire me to sit up and pay attention and try to see them rather than a list including “Citizen Kane”, “ET” and “Breakfast at Tiffanys”.

    I know the directive of this list was to just see what female critics like, but that’s just as pointless as finding out what male critics like. And they didn’t even rank them! Essentially it’s a list of 100 movies that are pretty good yet have no linked theme and with no idea as to which films are more like than others.

  • Glenn@StalePopcorn

    here you go. Somebody actually managed to compile 100 movies directed by women!

  • anthony

    Stop complaining!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Justine

    Unlike most people, I actually quite like this list minus a few indescritions (When Harry Met Sally and Fast Times, but I put that down to preference rather than arguing their merit). While I agree that it would have been better if more female directors included, especially perhaps Ida Lupino who really is a pioneer for women’s rights and her experiences on the Hollywood screen. I don’t think the whole list had to be comprised of woman directors though to actually be an accurate representation of women on film. Just as a female artist or author can capture the existence of a man, and his psyche a male director can do the same for a woman.

    There is something to be said though about you popularizing the much ignored “woman’s picture”, by including classics like Mildred Pierce or Imitation of Life (I would have personally liked to see more Douglas Sirk, very few directors capture so well the life of women at a specific time period). I’m a bit dissapointed some of the great women’s films of the 40s were ommited, perhaps on the same prejudice that they are ommited from the AFI list. Films like Dark Victory and Now Voyager always seem to be left on the sidelines, despite being great films (certainly better than Adam’s Rib), and featuring stong, interesting women in interesting roles.

    As for someone who mentioned Letters from an Unknown Woman, personally while I think it’s a good film, I wouldn’t call it necessarily a strong testament to the lives and strengths of women on or off screen. The main character is achingly weak and sheepishly unlikeable… then again, I never was a fan of Fontaine. I’m happy you chose Madame de… instead.

    I’m actually very pleased to see a nice selection of comedies here, as they are often ignored, especially when discussing women. I still get a shiver down my spine when I remember that terrible article a few months ago about how women aren’t funny.

    Here are a few films I would like to have seen, or think are worth exploring on some level as works as feminist/woman’s films:Cléo de 5 ? 7 (1961), Swept Away (1974), Pandora’s Box (1929), Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), Queen Christina (1933), I Know Where I’m Going! (1945), Black Narcissus (1947),The Red Shoes (1948), The Snake Pit (1948), The Heiress (1949),Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1954),All that Heaven Allows (1955), Tarnished Angels (1958), Repulsion (1965),Belle de Jour (1967),Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970),Ali:Fear Eats the Soul (1974),The Night Porter (1974, interesting perhaps for preconceptions about the type of films women direct… it’s an interesting film to say the least),The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985),Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Whisper of the Heart (1995),The Virgin Suicides (1999), Domino (2005),Marie Antoinette (2006), Black Book (2006) & Away from Her (2007).

  • John

    Two filmmakers noticeably absent: Patricia Rozema and Lynne Ramsay. In particular, Rozema’s I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing should be on somebody’s list.

  • peter

    It would have have been nice to see something by that great director, Elaine May. My own favourites are “A New Leaf” and “Ishtar”.

    Also, perhaps something from Rossellini. “Amore” or “Giovanna d’Arco al rogo”, for example.


  • SlomiDolo

    I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well.

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  • John

    Do you think blogging just has to be about writing? Reason I ask is I want to start a photography blog, but I feel I am better at expressing myself with photos rather than write. Should I even start it? With your experience could it work, more pictures, less words?

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  • Ellen

    Love the list.

    What about Victor Nunez’ Ruby in Paradise. Something about this simple character study with Ashley Judd stays with me. Nunez seems to understand women in a way few male directors do.

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  • Eric Wright

    This is a comprehensive list. I haven’t seen most of them. I’ll check out some of movies because they’re really interesting.

  • David McLachlan

    Nice list … but I think “Le Amiche” deserves a place there somewhere