Last night's Oscars featured the usual parade of dolled up A-list celebrities, but the not-so-secret star of the show was the #MeToo movement and the strides women have started to make in the industry (and others) since the floodgates of accusations opened last year.

If the rousing speeches from winners and the founders of the Times Up initiative got your girl power feelings fired up, there's no need to stop celebrating and empowering women in film just because Hollywood's yearly fest of self-congratulation and glamour is over. Instead, as writer, actor, producer and activist Naomi McDougall Jones suggests in a timely post on the TED Ideas blog, you go home tonight and stream one of the many great, under-celebrated films by female directors out there.

After all, women in Hollywood have been creating powerful art despite the hurdles put in their way for decades, and many of their films deserve more viewership than they've gotten. Here are the titles recommended by McDougall Jones in brief. Just make sure you have plenty of popcorn on hand.

1. Jesus' Son, directed by Alison Maclean

"Set in the early 1970s, this film is a series of linked yet discrete stories that chart the to-hell-and-back journey of a young man," writes McDougall Jones. "Watch this for Billy Crudup's performance or for nostalgia's sake -- or at the very least, watch it because it's just a hell of a good film." It's also based on a hell of a good book by Denis Johnson.

2. Brick Lane, directed by Sarah Gavron

This film follows "a young Bangladeshi woman arrives in 1980s London. Trapped within the four walls of her flat and in a loveless marriage, she fears her soul is quietly dying," according to McDougall Jones. "Gavron deftly unwraps the intimate story of a woman trying to find happiness within the limited structures available to her," she adds.

3. Take This Waltz, directed by Sarah Polley

Looking for something set closer to home? This one tells the story of what happens "when a happily married young woman meets the handsome artist across the street." McDougall Jones enthuses: "I think Sarah Polley is one of the great directors of our time, and this film is her at her best -- sweet, funny, raw and devastating." 

4. Electrick Children, directed by Rebecca Thomas

"Rachel, a teen born and raised in a Mormon community, believes that she has been impregnated by listening to music and must get to Vegas to find the 'father' of her miracle baby," in this offbeat pick from McDougall Jones. She calls it "a delightfully weird and wonderful examination of the ramifications of blind religious belief and 'abstinence-only education.'" (She also says it isn't preachy.) 

5. It Felt Like Love, directed by Eliza Hittman

"On the outskirts of Brooklyn, a 14-year-old's sexual explorations take a dangerous turn when she pursues an older man and tests the boundaries between obsession and love... It's well-worn coming-of-age territory but like you've never seen it before," insists McDougall Jones.

6. The Farewell Party, directed by Sharon Maymon and Tal Granit

The premise for this one doesn't sound like a laugh riot -- "A resident in a Jerusalem retirement home constructs a machine that will allow a friend to self-administer a fatal dose of tranquilizers" -- but McDougall Jones reports that it "made me laugh until my ribs ached -- and then made me weep while my heart ached." 

7. Imagine I'm Beautiful, directed by Meredith Edwards

McDougall Jones's recommendation should probably be taken with a grain of salt on this one as she wrote and starred in the film, but she insists "Meredith Edwards is a true visionary and talent who belongs on this list."

8. The Babadook, directed by Jennifer Kent

Looking for something scary? "In this terrifying thriller, a mother must protect her son from an evil, supernatural entity that has escaped the pages of a children's book and is lurking in their home," McDougall Jones says.

9. Songs My Brothers Taught Me, directed by Chloe Zhao

"This movie is a compelling and complex portrait of modern-day life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that explores the bond between a brother and his younger sister, who find themselves on separate paths to rediscovering the meaning of home," explains McDougall Jones, who notes that Zhao only uses non-actors to achieve startlingly honest performances.

10. Mudbound, directed by Dee Rees

OK, if you watched the Oscars you have heard of this one as it was nominated in four less high-profile categories (it won none of them), but many critics argue it is nonetheless woefully under-celebrated.

McDougall Jones is among them: "I cannot express how urgent it is that you go watch this movie... Never have I seen such a wrenching, uncomfortable, honest -- and at times, laugh-out-loud funny -- look at historical (and not-so-historical) tensions between whites and blacks in the US." 

Want to know more about each film and where exactly you can stream them? Check out the complete TED Ideas post.

Published on: Mar 5, 2018
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