The list has been generated by Cinema Femme contributors, and the titles are listed chronologically on our Letterboxd HQ account. All of these films are directed by women and non-binary people. For Part 3, we highlight films where the leading character fits elements of “the anti-hero” (a central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes). These characteristics can range from the criminal (“Monster”) to the self-destructive (“The Novice”). With all of these characters, we feel their vividly etched humanity brings new levels of complexity to the screen, and most importantly all of them have snippets of humanity within these layers.
Letterboxd summaries below
Wanda – Barbara Loden (1970)
After a string of abusive relationships, Wanda abandons her family and seeks solace in the company of a petty criminal.
Watch on Criterion.
Monster – Patty Jenkins (2003)
An emotionally scarred highway drifter shoots a sadistic trick who rapes her, and ultimately becomes America’s first female serial killer.
Watch on Netflix.
The Headless Woman – Lucrecia Martel (2008)
After running into something with her car, Vero experiences a particular psychological state. She realizes she might have killed someone.
Watch on Amazon Prime.
Jennifer’s Body – Karyn Kusama (2009)
A newly possessed cheerleader turns into a killer who specializes in offing her male classmates. Can her best friend put an end to the horror?
Watch on most major streaming platforms.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Marielle Heller (2018)
When a bestselling celebrity biographer is no longer able to get published because she has fallen out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception.
Rent on most major platforms.
Clemency – Chinonye Chukwu (2019)
Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill.
Watch on Hulu.
Promising Young Woman – Emerald Fennell (2020)
A young woman haunted by a tragedy in her past takes revenge on the predatory men unlucky enough to cross her path.
Watch on HBO Max.
The Novice – Lauren Hadaway (2021)
A college freshman joins her university’s rowing team and undertakes an obsessive physical and psychological journey to make it to the top varsity boat, no matter the cost.
Watch on Showtime and Parmount+.
Titane – Julia Ducournau (2021)
Following a series of unexplained crimes, a former firefighter is reunited with his son who has been missing for 10 years.
Watch on Hulu.
You Resemble Me – Dina Amer (2022)
Two sisters are abruptly separated, the eldest, Hasna, struggles to find her identity and place in the world.
Playing now in theaters.