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All Of Your Favorite Movies Were Written By Women

by Shanee Edwards on March 11, 2022

From E.T. to Halloween, so many of the world's most beloved and important films were written by women.

Did you know that suspense master Alfred Hitchcock often collaborated with both female novelists and screenwriters? Without women writers, we wouldn’t have such classics as Rebecca (1940) or The Birds (1963).

In fact, there are many films that you might be surprised to learn were written by women, whether they are classic, historically significant titles, Oscar nominees and winners, or films touting a perfect 100% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we want to honor the female screenwriters who have not only given a voice to strong female characters but who have also written some of the best movies of all time.

Below is a list of our favorite films that benefited from a woman’s point of view. We’ve separated the list into three categories: historically significant, Oscar-winning/nominated, and the highest rated on Rotten Tomatoes. We recommend you grab a bag of popcorn, invite a friend over and have one heck of a viewing party!

Classics and Historically Significant Films

Here is a list of films considered historically significant due to how much each one influenced Hollywood as a whole and inspired other filmmakers. These movies defined cinema and showed everyone what is possible.

Can you imagine Hollywood without the glorious Technicolor or iconic performance of Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz? Or without the classic film The Big Sleep – a movie that built on film noir’s European roots and established the genre as uniquely American? Enjoy this list of influential films with female writers listed by year of release. 

Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Directed by Sergei Eisenstein | Screenplay by Nina Agadzhanova, Sergei Eisenstein and Grigoriy Aleksandrov

Metropolis (1927)

Directed by Fritz Lang | Screenplay by Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou

King Kong (1933)

Directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack | Screenplay by James Creelman and Ruth Rose

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Directed by David Hand | Screenplay by Ted Sears, Richard Creedon, Otto Englander, Dick Rickard, Earl Hurd, Merrill De Maris, Dorothy Ann Blank, and Webb Smith

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Directed by Victor Fleming | Screenplay by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf

Foreign Correspondent (1940)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | Screenplay by Joan Harrison and James Hilton

The Big Sleep (1945)

Directed by Howard Hawks | Screenplay by William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, and Jules Furthman.

Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Directed by Vittorio De Sica | Screenplay by Oreste Biancoli, Suso D’Amico, Vittorio De Sica, Adolfo Franci, Gherardo Gherardi and Cesare Zavattini

Bicycle Thieves

'Bicycle Thieves'

Rio Bravo (1959)

Directed by Howard Hawks | Screenplay by Leigh Brackett, based on a short story by B.H. McCampbell

American Graffiti (1973)

Directed by George Lucas | Screenplay by George Lucas, Gloria Katz, and Willard Huyck

Halloween (1978)

Directed by John Carpenter | Screenplay by Debra Hill

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Directed by Steven Spielberg | Screenplay by Melissa Mathison

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial'

Oscar-Winning/Nominated Films

These films by female scribes were either nominated for or won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay or Best Adapted Screenplay. We've also included Best Picture winners and nominations for films written and directed by the same person. Every film on this list is emotionally powerful with characters that will no doubt inspire filmmakers long into the next century. Selected films are listed by year of release.

Witness (1985)

Winner of Best Original Screenplay

Directed by Peter Weir | Screenplay by Pamela Wallace, Earl W. Wallace, and William Kelley

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Nominated for Best Original Screenplay

Directed by Rob Reiner | Screenplay by Nora Ephron

Thelma and Louise (1991)

Winner of Best Original Screenplay

Directed by Ridley Scott | Screenplay by Callie Khouri

Howards End (1992)

Winner of Best Adapted Screenplay

Directed by James Ivory | Screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala based on the book of the same name by E. M. Forster

The Piano (1993)

Winner of Best Original Screenplay

Written and directed by Jane Campion

The Piano

'The Piano'

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Winner of Best Adapted Screenplay

Directed by Ang Lee | Screenplay by Emma Thompson, based on the book of the same name by Jane Austen

Lost in Translation (2003)

Winner of Best Original Screenplay

Written and directed by Sofia Coppola

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Winner of Best Adapted Screenplay

Directed by Ang Lee | Screenplay by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana based on the short story “Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx

Juno (2007)

Winner of Best Original Screenplay

Directed by Jason Reitman | Screenplay by Diablo Cody

Persepolis (2007)

Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film

Written and directed by Vincent Paronaud and Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis

'Persepolis'

Frozen River (2008)

Nominated for Best Original Screenplay

Written and directed by Courtney Hunt

The Kids are All Right (2010)

Nominated for Best Original Screenplay

Directed by Lisa Cholodenko | Screenplay by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg

Bridesmaids (2011)

Winner of Best Original Screenplay

Directed by Paul Feig | Screenplay by Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig

Before Midnight (2013)

Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay

Director: Richard Linklater | Screenplay by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke

Inside Out (2015)

Nominated for Best Original Screenplay | Winner of Best Animated Feature Film

Directed by Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen | Screenplay by Meg LeFauve, Pete Docter, Josh Cooley, and Ronnie Del Carmen

Inside Out

'Inside Out'

Lady Bird (2017)

Nominated for Best Original Screenplay | Nominated for Best Picture

Director: Greta Gerwig | Screenplay by Greta Gerwig

The Big Sick (2017)

Nominated for Best Original Screenplay

Directed by Michael Showalter | Screenplay by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani

The Shape of Water (2017)

Nominated for Best Original Screenplay

Directed by Guillermo del Toro | Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor

Mudbound (2017)

Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay

Directed by Dee Rees | Screenplay by Dee Rees and Virgil Williams

The Favourite (2018)

Nominated for Best Original Screenplay

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos | Screenplay by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara

The Favourite

'The Favourite'

1917 (2019)

Nominated for Best Original Screenplay

Directed by Sam Mendes | Screenplay by Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns

Promising Young Woman (2020)

Winner of Best Original Screenplay

Written and Directed by Emerald Fennell

Nomadland (2020)

Winner of Best Picture | Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay

Written and Directed by Chloé Zhao

CODA (2021)

Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay

Written and directed by Sian Heder, based on the French film La Famille Belier by Victoria Bedos, Eric Lartigau, and Stanislas Carre de Malberg

CODA

'CODA'

Highest Rated on Rotten Tomatoes

While awards are really exciting and help bring attention and prestige to a film, the reception from critics and the audience is what really makes or breaks a film and gives it longevity.

Here are the 20 highest-rated screenplays written by women from the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. Some of the entries may surprise you! 

Summer 1993 (2017)

100% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Written and directed by Carla Simón

Rebecca (1940)

100% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | Screenplay by Joan Harrison and Robert E. Sherwood | Adapted from the novel by Daphne Du Maurier

Quo Vadis, Aida? (2021) 

100% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Written and directed by Jasmila Žbanić

Laura (1944)

100% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Otto Preminger | Screenplay by Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein and Elizabeth Reinhardt

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

100% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly | Screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green

Singin' in the Rain

'Singin' in the Rain'

Slalom (2021)

100% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Charlène Favier | Screenplay by Charlène Favier and Marie Talon

Three Colors: Red (1994)

100% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski | Screenplay by Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krysztof Piesiewicz and Agnieszka Holland

Shadow of a Doubt (1943) 

100% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | Screenplay by Gordon McDonell, Thornton Wilder, Sally Benson, and Alma Reville

Battleship Potemkin (1926)

100% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein | Screenplay by Nina Agadzhanova, Nikokay Aseev, Sergei M. Eisensten and Sergei Tretyakov

Before Sunrise (1995)

100% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Richard Linklater | Screenplay by Richard Linklater and Kim Krizan

Before Sunrise

'Before Sunrise'

Hive (2021)

100% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Written and directed by Blerta Basholli

Mickey and the Bear (2019) 

100% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Written and directed by Annabella Attanasio

Paper Spiders (2021)

100% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Inon Shampanier | Screenplay by Natalie Shampanier

Lady Bird (2017)

99% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Written and directed by Greta Gerwig

Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020)

99% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Written and directed by Eliza Hittman

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

'Never Rarely Sometimes Always'

Things to Come (2017)

99% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Written and directed by Mia Hansen-Løve

My Life as a Zucchini (2016)

99% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Claude Barras | Screenplay by Céline Sciamma

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

99% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Director: Steven Spielberg | Screenplay by Melissa Mathison

Wadjda (2013)

99% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Written and directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour

Miss Juneteenth (2020) 

99% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Written and directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples

Miss Juneteenth

'Miss Juneteenth'

Strangers on a Train (1951)

98% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | Screenplay by Czenzi Ormonde and Raymond Chandler | Adapted from the novel by Patricia Highsmith

The Forty-Year-Old Version (2020)

98% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Written and directed by Radha Blank

The Babadook (2014)

98% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Written and directed by Jennifer Kent

Toy Story 4 (2019)

97% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Josh Cooley | Screenplay by Stephany Folsom and Andrew Stanton

The Farewell (2019)

97% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Written and directed by Lulu Wang

The Farewell

'The Farewell'

The Rider (2017)

97% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Written and Directed by Chloé Zhao

What’s Love Got to Do with It (2003)

96% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Brian Gibson | Screenplay by Tina Turner, Kurt Loder and Kate Lanier

Booksmart (2019)

96% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Olivia Wilde | Screenplay by Katie Silberman, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Susanna Fogel

First Cow (2019)

96% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Directed by Kelly Reichardt | Screenplay by Kelly reichardt | Adapted from the novel by Jonathan Raymond

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

96% Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer

Written and Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night'

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Female-identifying writers finding more success on the big screen (as well as on TV). Hollywood has a long way to go to reach gender parity in the film business, but a new report from Re-Frame and IMDb says that in 2021, a total of 31 films were written by women, which is a 47.6% increase over the 21 films written by women in 2020!

That's progress.


Shanee Edwards is a screenwriter, journalist and author. After receiving her MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA, she was hired to adapt various stories for the screen including Apes or Angels, the true story of naturalist Charles Darwin, and Three Wishes, based on the New York Times best selfing novel by Kristen Ashley. You can listen to her interview Oscar-winning screenwriters on The Script Lab Podcast, or read her book Ada Lovelace: the Countess who Dreamed in Numbers. Follow her on Twitter: @ShaneeEdwards

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