#52FilmsByWomen 2022 Ranked & Reviewed

When I first learned of the #52FilmsByWomen pledge in late 2016, I was horrified to discover that I hadn’t reached the “challenge’s” quota naturally that year, despite my voracious movie-watching habits. Originally promoted by the organization Women in Film, #52FilmsByWomen is merely a pledge to watch one movie a week directed by a woman for an entire calendar year. It’s not a difficult criterion to fulfill if you watch movies on a regular routine, but so much of the pop culture landscape is dominated by (white) men’s voices that you’d be surprised by how little media you typically consume is helmed by women creators until you actually start paying attention to the numbers. Having now taken & fulfilled the #52FilmsByWomen six years in a row, I’ve found that to be the exercise’s greatest benefit: paying attention. I’ve found many new women’s voices to shape my relationship with cinema through the pledge, but what I most appreciate about the experience is the way it consistently reminds me to pay attention to the artists I’m supporting & affording my time. If we want more diversity in creative voices on the pop media landscape, we need to go out of our way to support the people already out there who work outside the white male hegemony. #52FilmsByWomen is a simple, surprisingly easy to fulfill gesture in that direction.

With this pledge in mind, I watched, reviewed, and podcasted about 57 new-to-me feature films directed by women in 2022. The full inventory of those titles can be found on this convenient Letterboxd list. Each film is also ranked below with a link to a corresponding review, since I was using the pledge to influence not only the media I was consuming myself, but also the media we cover on the site. My hope is that this list will not only function as a helpful recap for a year of purposeful movie-watching, but also provide some heartfelt recommendations for anyone else who might be interested in taking the pledge in 2023.

5 Star Reviews

The Heartbreak Kid (1972) dir. Elaine May – “A horror film about a nightmare world where everyone has to marry the first person who makes them horny before they get to have sex, regardless of compatibility or moral ineptitude.  Incredible that May was able to make the humor in this even darker than A New Leaf, a film about marital murder.”

A New Leaf (1971) dir. Elaine May
Neptune Frost (2022) dir. Anisia Uzeyman

4.5 Star Review(s)

Golden Eighties (1986) dir. Chantal Akerman – “Akerman’s shopping mall romcom musical, a Young Girls of Rochefort for the Madonna era.  The first movie I can think of in a while that I watched simply because the stills looked beautiful, specifically the colors in this case. I wish I could drink them through a funnel.”

4 Star Reviews

Kung-Fu Master! (1988) dir. Agnes Varda – “Varda’s sentimental romance drama about a middle-age woman who inexplicably falls in love with a teenage boy, a premise that would not survive modern Age Gap Discourse™ (especially since she cast her own kid as the object of desire).  I think it gets away with it in its own contemporary context, though, since it’s not so much about the romance itself as it is about escaping from the grim circumstances of the AIDS epidemic by retreating into the innocence of schoolyard crushes. A tough but moving watch in more ways than I expected.”

A League of Their Own (1992) dir. Penny Marashall
Deadstream (2022) dir. Vanessa Winter
Please Baby Please (2022) dir. Amanda Kramer
Hatching (2022) dir. Hanna Bergholm
Fire of Love (2022) dir. Sara Dosa
The Eternal Daughter (2022) dir. Joanna Hogg
The Silent Twins (2022) dir. Agnieszka Smoczynksa
Gagarine (2022) dir. Fanny Liatard
Petite Maman (2022) dir. Celine Sciamma
Women Talking (2022) dir. Sarah Polley
Good Madam (2022) dir. Jenna Cato Bass
The House (2022) dir. Paloma Baeza, Emma De Swaef, Niki Lindroth von Bahr
Deadly Cuts (2022) dir. Rachel Carey

3.5 Star Reviews

In the Cut (2003) dir. Jane Campion – “Feels eerily out of place, both as a mid-90s studio thriller shot in fluorescent-lit 2000s grime and as a Nicole Kidman production starring Meg Ryan doing an alarmingly accurate Nicole Kidman impersonation.  A stylish, gnarly outlier in the erotic thriller canon, working hard to keep the genre relevant in an era when it was content to rot on video store shelves & cable TV broadcasts.”

I’m Your Man (2021) dir. Maria Schrader
Girl Picture (2022) dir. Alli Haapasalo
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (2022) dir. Laura Poitras
The Power of the Dog (2021) dir. Jane Campion
Piggy (2022) dir. Carlota Pereda
Fresh (2022) dir. Mimi Cave
Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022) dir. Halina Reijn
Pleasure (2022) dir. Ninja Thyberg
Corsage (2022) dir. Marie Kreutzer
Love and Leashes (2022) dir. Park Hyun-jin
The Pink Cloud (2022) dir. Iuli Gerbase
Vesper
(2022) dir. Kristina Buozyte
Sissy (2022) dir. Hannah Barlow
Slumber Party Massacre (2021) dir. Danishka Esterhazy
Here Before (2022) dir. Stacey Gregg
Last Dance (2022) dir. Coline Abert

3 Star Reviews

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched (2021) dir. Kier-La Janisse – “A lot of the interpretations of the hows & whys folk horror became a solidified genre seem very intuitive & obvious to me; if you just watch a few of the main texts you kinda instantly get it without all this academic handholding.  The only thing that really blew my mind was how recently the term was coined. Still, a wonderfully exhaustive definition of what those main canon texts are.  It’s most useful as an illustrated Letterboxd watchlist, but it is very useful.”

Watcher (2022) dir. Chloe Okuno
Aftersun (2022) dir. Charlotte Wells
The Lost Daughter (2021) dir. Maggie Gyllenhaal
Plan B (2021) dir. Natalie Morales
Tahara (2022) dir. Olivia Peace
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (2022) dir. Sophie Hyde
Aline (2022) dir. Valerie Lemercier
You Are Not My Mother (2022) dir. Kate Dolan
Don’t Worry Darling (2022) dir. Olivia Wilde
Mothering Sunday (2022) dir. Eva Husson
Causeway (2022) dir. Lila Neugebauer
Street Punx (2022) dir. Maja Holzinger
Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon (2022) dir. Ana Lily Amirpour
Hellbender (2022) dir. Zelda Adams
Language Lessons (2021) dir. Natalie Morales
Turning Red (2022) dir. Domee Shi
Nanny (2022) dir. Nikyatu Jusu

Would Not Recommend

Do Revenge (2022) dir. Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
She Will (2022) dir. Charlotte Colbert
Umma (2022) dir. Iris K. Shim
Autumn in New York (2000) dir. Joan Chen

-Brandon Ledet

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