Press "Enter" to skip to content

10 Female Directors Who Could Have Won At Cannes

Sofia Coppola’s Best Director win at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival not only put a huge pin in the map of film history, it also marked an extremely popular win for one of the world’s most beloved filmmakers. I skipped through the pages of the history of Cannes to illuminate 10 other talented female directors who could so easily have been awarded the Best Director prize in competition at Cannes. The following 10 examples of excellence includes 2 winners from this year festival, 2 other participants, as well as 2 members of that very jury. Small world.


Lynne RamsayWe Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
(Nicolas Winding Refn won for Drive)


Jane CampionThe Piano (1993)
(Mike Leigh won for Naked)
The Piano was awarded Best Actress for Holly Hunter and shared the Palme d’Or with Farewell My Concubine


Agnès JaouiComme une image / Look at Me (2004)
(Tony Gatlif won for Exiles)
Look at Me was awarded Best Screenplay for Agnès Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri


Gillian ArmstrongMy Brilliant Career (1979)
(Terrence Malick won for Days of Heaven)


Maren AdeToni Erdmann (2016)
(Cristian Mungiu for Graduation and Olivier Assayas for Personal Shopper tied)
Toni Erdmann won the FIPRESCI Prize for Maren Ade


Alice RohrwacherLe meraviglie / The Wonders (2014)
(Bennett Miller won for Foxcatcher)
The Wonders was awarded the Grand Prize of the Jury for Alice Rohrwacher


Agnès VardaCléo de 5 à 7 / Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962)
(No Directing prize awarded this year)


Naomi KawaseMogari no mori / The Mourning Forest (2007)
(Julian Schnabel won for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
The Mourning Forest was awarded the Grand Prize of the Jury for Naomi Kawase


Margarethe von TrottaRosa Luxemburg (1986)
(Martin Scorsese won for After Hours)
Rosa Luxemburg was awarded Best Actress for Barbara Sukowa


Sofia CoppolaMarie Antoinette (2006)
(Alejandro González Iñárritu won for Babel)
Marie Antoinette won a Cinema Prize of the French National Education System for Sofia Coppola and the Palm Dog for Mops



  1. […] Sofia Coppola is one of the few celebrated female directors working in today’s masculinized Hollywood. One might argue, of course, that she is playing with a stacked deck given her family connections, but the style of her movies, unforgettable in the arthouse, and counterintuitively uncommercial to the execs, probably null her unfair advantage. One of her movies, which at the time sparked criticism was Marie Antoinette. Coppola consciously chose to exclude politics from the film and acknowledged that the film was not a typical biopic. “It is not a lesson of history, it’s an interpretation carried by my desire for covering the subject differently.” In Coppola’s philosophy, it is not on cinema to tell the world what to think – the world should make its own interpretation of the story – she provides the rhythms and you provide the rhymes. The movie Marie Antoinette shows a historical figure, set to modern imagery, language, gestures, and somehow even the candy colors of the pompous gowns seem post-modern, as if Louis the XVI wanted his girl to dress like Barbie on crack. Coppola tells the story of Marie Antoinette from girlhood to the French Revolution, adding pop under-associations with teen stars and Hollywood celebrities. Wild parties with drugs consumed like candy and endless shopping excesses. Kirsten Dunst, who has previous with Coppola from her directorial debut The Virgin Suicides moves Marie Antoinette from the lost girl to the silly teenager. Dunst juxtaposes naïveté, loneliness and charisma, capturing the essence of a young woman who desperately desires freedom while being burdened with the knowledge that her only value is in her ability to give birth to an heir. She tries to explore her identity as much as she can, though imprisoned by social expectations. Writer and director Sofia Coppola loosely based the film on Antonia Fraser’s biography of the French queen, and mixed the dialogue with actual quotes from her life. Marie Antoinette is unexpectedly deeper and more feminist than one realizes. Sofia Coppola created a luxuriant and beautiful feast for the eyes, but more importantly humanized the “cut down” queen and helps us connect with heavy use of the post-modern. Coppola reminds us of the gender suppression of women throughout history and that this continues even today, perhaps speaking to her own trials. This reviewer for one hopes that she continues to tell the story from a female point of view. […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: