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The 165 Best Movies Directed By Women of the 21st Century

For Women’s History Month, Rotten Tomatoes is commemorating the work of women directors throughout the 21st Century. Our guide to the 165 best-reviewed movies by women filmmakers since 2000 includes documentary marvels like Nanfu Wang’s One Child Nation and Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson as well as unforgettable narrative features like Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Ava DuVernay’s Selma. The movies on the list cover an expansive breadth of topics, characters, and stories. They dispel the fallacy that women directors can only tell one type of story, one gorgeous image after moving story after another.

Women have been shaping cinema since its earliest days. Silent era pioneers like Alice Guy-Blaché and Lois Weber blazed a trail as influential as their male counterparts; screenwriters like Francis Marion and editors like Margaret Booth were celebrated for their work, and Booth would go on to be one of the most influential voices on the MGM Studio lot. But as the film business became more lucrative, women were largely and unceremoniously pushed out of the creative and decision-making side of filmmaking. While many broke through with incredible work — among them Dorothy Arzner, Elaine May, Agnès Varda, and Kathryn Bigelow, who became the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director for her film The Hurt Locker — the decades after the silent era and through the end of the 20th century saw filmmaking, especially in the mainstream, increasingly dominated by men. 

The past two decades have seen some great movement, though, and some major milestones hit (that Oscar win for Bigelow; Patty Jenkins’ historic work on Wonder Woman). The directors on this list include Lulu Wang, whose touching movie The Farewell won critical and industry acclaim, as well as Céline Sciamma for her latest film, Portrait of a Lady on Fire. (Now, if only the Academy would acknowledge their efforts…). There’s also Waad Al-Kateab, who with fellow director Edward Watts, brought her searing personal experience of the Syrian conflict to viewers around the world in For Sama, and Dominga Sotomayor Castillo, who took audiences with her back to 1990s Chile in her coming-of-age drama Too Late to Die Young. Sabaah Folayan’s feature debut Whose Streets? sits near Agnès Varda’s final documentaries Varda by Agnès and Faces Places.

To make the list, we looked at the top 165 Certified Fresh films directed by women, including those in directing teams, that had opened in theaters since 2000. We left off movies that went straight to streaming or TV unless they had a theatrical release, Oscar-qualifying runs included. We ordered them chronologically: At the end you’ll see 2020’s additions, including Promising Young Woman, Nomadland, One Night in Miami, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Miss Juneteenth, First Cow, and much more.

Enjoy the following list as a guide to some of the best movies by women directors so far this century. No two movies are alike in their ability to entertain, inform or reach us. If there are more movies you wish you could add to our list, let us know in the comments below. – Monica Castillo 

#165
Adjusted Score: 98338%
Critics Consensus: The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg is an affectionate, often very funny portrait of a baseball pioneer.
Synopsis: "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" is a humorous and nostalgic documentary about an extraordinary baseball player who transcended... [More]
Directed By: Aviva Kempner

#164
#164
Adjusted Score: 101612%
Critics Consensus: The Taste of Others is a fresh, witty comedy about the attraction of opposites. The characters are well-drawn and engaging and their social interactions believable.
Synopsis: Castella (Jean-Pierre Bacri) is a successful businessman caught behind the fast-changing times. More out of boredom than out of interest,... [More]
Directed By: Agnès Jaoui

#163
#163
Adjusted Score: 93904%
Critics Consensus: The Gleaners and I takes a compassionate look at a rarely considered subculture whose individualism resonates powerfully with director Agnès Varda's humanistic approach.
Synopsis: An 1867 painting by Jean-Francois Millet inspired septuagenarian documentarian Agnes Varda to cross the French countryside to videotape people who... [More]
Directed By: Agnès Varda

#162

Monsoon Wedding (2001)
95%

#162
Adjusted Score: 98773%
Critics Consensus: An insightful, energetic blend of Hollywood and Bollywood styles, Monsoon Wedding is a colorful, exuberant celebration of modern-day India, family, love, and life.
Synopsis: The exuberant ensemble comedy unites a Punjabi family for the wedding of a family member. Relatives from all over the... [More]
Directed By: Mira Nair

#161

Open Hearts (2002)
93%

#161
Adjusted Score: 94279%
Critics Consensus: Pulsing with honesty, this film lays bare the rawness of human emotion with a story made all the more believable thanks to its gritty, low-budget approach.
Synopsis: Cecilie (Sonja Richter) and Joachim (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) are engaged to be married, when tragedy strikes: Joachim is the victim... [More]
Directed By: Susanne Bier

#160

Promises (2001)
96%

#160
Adjusted Score: 95781%
Critics Consensus: A heartbreaking and illuminating look at the Israeli and Palestinian conflict through the eyes of children.
Synopsis: Rather than focusing on political events, the seven children featured in "Promises" offer a compelling human portrait of the Israeli... [More]
Starring:

#159
#159
Adjusted Score: 99347%
Critics Consensus: Exhilarating both stylistically and for its entertaining, moving portrayal of an everyman, American Splendor is a portrait of a true underground original.
Synopsis: Underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar, portrayed by Paul Giamatti but also appearing as himself, is the subject of this... [More]

#158
#158
Adjusted Score: 103114%
Critics Consensus: Effectively balancing humor and subtle pathos, Sofia Coppola crafts a moving, melancholy story that serves as a showcase for both Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.
Synopsis: A lonely, aging movie star named Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and a conflicted newlywed, Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), meet in Tokyo.... [More]
Directed By: Sofia Coppola

#157
Adjusted Score: 97846%
Critics Consensus: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is as persuasive and engrossing as it is unapologetically biased.
Synopsis: In April 2002, the democratically elected Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, faces a coup d'état by an American-backed opposition party. The... [More]
Starring: Hugo Chavez

#156
Adjusted Score: 97045%
Critics Consensus: Delightful and strangely moving.
Synopsis: In Mongolia's Gobi desert, a camel belonging to a group of nomadic shepherds gives birth to a white calf. It's... [More]

#155

Control Room (2004)
95%

#155
Adjusted Score: 98585%
Critics Consensus: A fascinating, enlightening behind-the-scenes look at the Al Jazeera network.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim provides a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of Al-Jazeera -- the most prominent television news network in... [More]
Directed By: Jehane Noujaim

#154
#154
Adjusted Score: 95817%
Critics Consensus: The Lost boys of Sudan works as both a riveting documentary and scathing indictment of colonialism.
Synopsis: Santino Majok Chuor and Peter Nyarol Dut are two orphaned Sudanese boys whose lives have been ravaged by civil war... [More]
Directed By: Megan Mylan, Jon Shenk

#153
#153
Adjusted Score: 98460%
Critics Consensus: A powerful and uplifting documentary.
Synopsis: Documentary photographer Zana Briski journeyed into Calcutta's underworld to photograph the city's prostitutes. In return, she offered to teach the... [More]
Directed By: Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman

#152

Since Otar Left (2003)
96%

#152
Adjusted Score: 97239%
Critics Consensus: A drama that's both funny and moving.
Synopsis: Elderly Eka (Esther Gorintin) lives with her daughter, Marina (Nino Khomasuridze), and granddaughter Ada (Dinara Drukarova) in a depressed Georgian... [More]
Directed By: Julie Bertuccelli

#151
Adjusted Score: 97968%
Critics Consensus: Interesting and appealing as both a study of man and nature.
Synopsis: A homeless musician's life is transformed after he discovers a flock of wild South American parrots living in San Francisco.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Judy Irving

#150
#150
Adjusted Score: 94139%
Critics Consensus: Blame it on Fidel is a charming comedy of manners, class, and politics, elevated by a remarkable performance from lead child actor Nina Kervel.
Synopsis: Anna must deal with losing her privileges when her well-off parents become leftist activists.... [More]
Directed By: Julie Gavras

#149

Deep Water (2006)
96%

#149
Adjusted Score: 97633%
Critics Consensus: Equal parts mystery and biography, Deep Water is both an engrossing documentary and an affecting treatise on human folly and obsession.
Synopsis: In 1968, Donald Crowhurst, an inexperienced British sailor, puts up his home as collateral, gains financial backing and enters the... [More]
Starring: Tilda Swinton

#148

Blindsight (2006)
98%

#148
Adjusted Score: 99152%
Critics Consensus: A powerful glimpse of the possibilities for transcendence in straightforward documentary filmmaking -- and extreme physical disability.
Synopsis: Six blind Tibetan teenagers, shunned by their culture as sinners or possessed by demons, band together to climb the north... [More]
Directed By: Lucy Walker

#147

The War Tapes (2006)
98%

#147
Adjusted Score: 100090%
Critics Consensus: Candid, eye-opening footage gives viewers a close-up -- and educational -- look at the experiences of American soldiers in Iraq, a viewpoint not normally seen.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Deborah Scranton provides three U.S. soldiers with cameras so they can document their experiences during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Deborah Scranton

#146

Away From Her (2006)
94%

#146
Adjusted Score: 99942%
Critics Consensus: An accomplished directorial debut by Sarah Polley, Away From Her is a touching exploration of the effects of Alzheimer's, in which the tender wisdom of Polley's script is beautifully complemented by a wonderful performance from Julie Christie.
Synopsis: Long married, Fiona (Julie Christie) and Grant (Gordon Pinsent) find their mutual devotion tested by her struggle with Alzheimer's disease.... [More]
Directed By: Sarah Polley

#145

Persepolis (2007)
96%

#145
Adjusted Score: 101249%
Critics Consensus: Persepolis is an emotionally powerful, dramatically enthralling autobiographical gem, and the film's simple black-and-white images are effective and bold.
Synopsis: Based on Satrapi's graphic novel about her life in pre and post-revolutionary Iran and then in Europe. The film traces... [More]

#144
Adjusted Score: 98107%
Critics Consensus: An emotionally blunt and gripping drama, Grbavica deftly explores the emotional toll that all wars take upon those who survive them.
Synopsis: A full decade after the ethnic conflict that left the city of Sarajevo in ruins, the widowed Esma (Mirjana Karanovic)... [More]
Directed By: Jasmila Zbanic

#143
#143
Adjusted Score: 97585%
Critics Consensus: The Devil Came on Horseback is both a strong primer on the complexities of the situation in Darfur and a harrowing first-person doc.
Synopsis: While serving with the African Union, former Marine Capt. Brian Steidle documents the brutal ethnic cleansing occuring in Darfur. Determined... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg

#142
#142
Adjusted Score: 98452%
Critics Consensus: This incredible documentary displays the tragedy and mismanagement of Katrina along with the heroism of strangers and survivors.
Synopsis: As Hurricane Katrina raged around them, Scott and Kimberly Rivers Roberts took shelter with some neighbors in their attic in... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Carl Deal

#141
#141
Adjusted Score: 97051%
Critics Consensus: An enchanting self-portrait by a veteran director, Beach of Agnes is equal parts playful and profound.
Synopsis: In this autobiographical documentary, celebrated French filmmaker Agnes Varda provides a window into her eventful life as she revisits various... [More]
Directed By: Agnès Varda

#140

35 Shots of Rum (2008)
97%

#140
Adjusted Score: 99043%
Critics Consensus: This slow-moving French family drama is rich, complex, subtle and emotionally eloquent.
Synopsis: Lionel (Alex Descas), a widower, has raised his daughter, Josephine (Mati Diop), on his own since she was young. The... [More]
Directed By: Claire Denis

#139
#139
Adjusted Score: 93882%
Critics Consensus: Equal parts edification and entertainment, Kempner's tender tribute to a forgotten pioneer of American entertainment is both richly deserved and long overdue.
Synopsis: Gertrude Berg rose to prominence in the 1930s as the star of "The Goldbergs," a pioneering radio program and, later,... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Aviva Kempner

#138

An Education (2009)
93%

#138
Adjusted Score: 100349%
Critics Consensus: Though the latter part of the film may not appeal to all, An Education is a charming coming-of-age tale powered by the strength of relative newcomer Carey Mulligan's standout performance.
Synopsis: Despite her sheltered upbringing, Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is a teen with a bright future; she's smart, pretty, and has aspirations... [More]
Directed By: Lone Scherfig

#137
Adjusted Score: 97373%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This acclaimed documentary provides insight into the actions of Daniel Ellsberg, a leading American military strategist who leaked the Pentagon... [More]

#136

Sweetgrass (2009)
97%

#136
Adjusted Score: 97712%
Critics Consensus: At once tender and unsentimental, Sweetgrass gracefully captures the beauty and hardships of a dying way of life.
Synopsis: This spare documentary follows a group of shepherds as they guide hundreds of sheep through endless miles of Montana wilderness.... [More]
Starring:

#135

The Hurt Locker (2008)
97%

#135
Adjusted Score: 108127%
Critics Consensus: A well-acted, intensely shot, action filled war epic, Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker is thus far the best of the recent dramatizations of the Iraq War.
Synopsis: Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner), Sgt. J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) are members of... [More]
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow

#134

Afghan Star (2009)
100%

#134
Adjusted Score: 101628%
Critics Consensus: An enlightening and sobering documentary on Afghanistan's very own X-Factor.
Synopsis: Director Havana Marking dives into the booming, but still young and growing, world of pop culture in Afghanistan. Newly liberated... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Havana Marking

#133
#133
Adjusted Score: 100578%
Critics Consensus: Worthwhile as both a well-acted ensemble piece and as a smart, warm statement on family values, The Kids Are All Right is remarkable.
Synopsis: Lesbian couple Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening) have been together for almost 20 years and have two teenage... [More]
Directed By: Lisa Cholodenko

#132

Winter's Bone (2010)
94%

#132
Adjusted Score: 100416%
Critics Consensus: Bleak, haunting, and yet still somehow hopeful, Winter's Bone is writer-director Debra Granik's best work yet -- and it boasts an incredible, starmaking performance from Jennifer Lawrence.
Synopsis: Faced with an unresponsive mother and a criminal father, Ozark teenager Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) does what she can to... [More]
Directed By: Debra Granik

#131
#131
Adjusted Score: 99753%
Critics Consensus: A heartbreaking, haunting historical document, A Film Unfinished excavates particularly horrible chapter of Holocaust history, and in doing so, the film provides a glimpse into the Nazi propaganda machine.
Synopsis: Israeli director Yael Hersonski examines a recently found film reel from an unfinished Nazi movie entitled "Das Ghetto" in this... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Yael Hersonski

#130

Waste Land (2010)
100%

#130
Adjusted Score: 102055%
Critics Consensus: Waste Land begins with an eco-friendly premise, but quickly transforms into an uplifting portrait of the power of art and the dignity of the human spirit.
Synopsis: Located just outside Rio de Janeiro, Jardim Gramacho, Brazil, is the world's largest garbage landfill. Modern artist Vik Muniz works... [More]
Starring: Vik Muniz

#129

Pariah (2011)
95%

#129
Adjusted Score: 99737%
Critics Consensus: Pulsing with authenticity and led by a stirring lead performance from Adepero Oduye, Pariah is a powerful coming out/coming-of-age film that signals the arrival of a fresh new talent in writer/director Dee Rees.
Synopsis: Teenage Alike (Adepero Oduye) lives in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood with her parents (Charles Parnell, Kim Wayans) and younger sister... [More]
Directed By: Dee Rees

#128
Adjusted Score: 96668%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Interviews with Frank Oz, Rosie O'Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg and others highlight a portrait of Kevin Clash, the man who brings... [More]
Directed By: Constance Marks

#127

The Arbor (2010)
96%

#127
Adjusted Score: 95979%
Critics Consensus: Smart and inventive, The Arbor offers some intensely memorable twists on tired documentary tropes.
Synopsis: A mix of documentary and fictional elements tells the story of doomed playwright Andrea Dunbar, who wrote about the difficult... [More]
Directed By: Clio Barnard

#126

Tomboy (2011)
96%

#126
Adjusted Score: 97292%
Critics Consensus: In tune with the emotion and tribulations of childhood, Tomboy is a charming movie that treats its main subject with warmth and heart.
Synopsis: A 10-year-old girl (Zoé Héran) moves into a new neighborhood and decides to dress like a boy.... [More]
Directed By: Céline Sciamma

#125

First Position (2011)
93%

#125
Adjusted Score: 95574%
Critics Consensus: An upbeat and visually dramatic documentary of children's ballet, First Position displays the potential of the human spirit when fostered at a young age.
Synopsis: Six young ballet students, all from different backgrounds, prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix, a competition in which dance... [More]
Directed By: Bess Kargman

#124
#124
Adjusted Score: 94115%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A 15-year-old Norwegian teen (Helene Bergsholm) is eager to explore her budding sexuality, but her encounter with the school heartthrob... [More]

#123
Adjusted Score: 96175%
Critics Consensus: An affectionate portrait created with visual flair, Diana Vreeland is entertaining, informative, and stylish, due in large part to its charismatic subject.
Synopsis: The story of the legendary editor of "Harper's Bazaar" and "Vogue."... [More]

#122
#122
Adjusted Score: 99643%
Critics Consensus: The Queen of Versailles is a timely, engaging, and richly drawn portrait of the American Dream improbably composed of equal parts compassion and schadenfreude.
Synopsis: The 2008 global economic crisis threatens the fortune of Florida billionaires David and Jackie Siegel just as they are in... [More]
Directed By: Lauren Greenfield

#121

West of Memphis (2012)
95%

#121
Adjusted Score: 98230%
Critics Consensus: Both a sobering look at a true crime story and a scathing indictment of the American justice system, West of Memphis is a real-life horror story told with fury and compassion.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Amy Berg tells the story of the fight to stop the state of Arkansas from executing an innocent man.... [More]
Directed By: Amy Berg

#120

Sing Your Song (2011)
95%

#120
Adjusted Score: 95881%
Critics Consensus: Sing Your Song takes an absorbing -- if decidedly non-critical -- look at an incredible show business career and admirable public life.
Synopsis: Harry Belafonte rises to fame, becoming an acclaimed singer and actor, and working tenaciously throughout his career as a social... [More]
Directed By: Susanne Rostock

#119

Brooklyn Castle (2012)
96%

#119
Adjusted Score: 97369%
Critics Consensus: Brooklyn Castle is a warm, engaging, and even uplifting documentary about chess-playing whiz kids.
Synopsis: Chess helps transforms a New York school into one of the city's best, but recession-driven budget cuts threaten to undermine... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Katie Dellamaggiore

#118

Sister (2012)
96%

#118
Adjusted Score: 97129%
Critics Consensus: Léa Seydoux and Kacey Mottet Klein are exceptional as downtrodden siblings in this sad and wintry character study.
Synopsis: A poor boy (Kacey Mottet Klein) steals from wealthy patrons at a posh ski resort to support himself and his... [More]
Directed By: Ursula Meier

#117
#117
Adjusted Score: 99903%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Alison Klayman documents the life and work of Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. She showcases his artistic process as... [More]
Directed By: Alison Klayman

#116

Lore (2012)
94%

#116
Adjusted Score: 97398%
Critics Consensus: Newcomer Saskia Rosendahl gives an astonishingly assured performance in the title role, and director Cate Shortland establishes a delicate, disturbingly ominous tone in the powerful World War II drama Lore.
Synopsis: As Allied forces sweep across Germany, five children embark on a journey that challenges their notions of family, love and... [More]
Directed By: Cate Shortland

#115

Stories We Tell (2012)
94%

#115
Adjusted Score: 98571%
Critics Consensus: In Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley plays with the documentary format to explore the nature of memory and storytelling, crafting a thoughtful, compelling narrative that unfolds like a mystery.
Synopsis: Through a series of revealing interviews, filmmaker Sarah Polley investigates the truth about her family history.... [More]
Directed By: Sarah Polley

#114

Enough Said (2013)
95%

#114
Adjusted Score: 102966%
Critics Consensus: Wryly charming, impeccably acted, and ultimately quite bittersweet, Enough Said is a grown-up movie in the best possible way.
Synopsis: Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a divorced single parent, seems generally happy but dreads her daughter's departure for college. Unexpectedly, Eva begins... [More]
Directed By: Nicole Holofcener

#113

The Crash Reel (2013)
96%

#113
Adjusted Score: 96159%
Critics Consensus: Smart, compassionate, and moving, The Crash Reel uses the familiar sport-doc formula to subvert expectations and ask challenging questions about ambition and achievement.
Synopsis: Snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffers a traumatic brain injury while training for the 2010 Winter Olympics. His family stands by his... [More]
Directed By: Lucy Walker

#112

Call Me Kuchu (2012)
98%

#112
Adjusted Score: 99280%
Critics Consensus: Alternately horrific and uplifting, Call Me Kuchu exposes heinous systematic brutality with a clear eye and admirable precision.
Synopsis: In Uganda, openly gay David Kato and his fellow activists work to defeat new legislation in their country that would... [More]
Starring: David Bahati

#111
#111
Adjusted Score: 100037%
Critics Consensus: Starkly emotional and beautifully directed, The Selfish Giant uses a lovely script and some powerful performances to present some of the best that modern British cinema has to offer.
Synopsis: A hyperactive boy (Conner Chapman) and his best friend, a slow-witted youth with an affinity for horses, start collecting scrap... [More]
Directed By: Clio Barnard

#110

Blackfish (2013)
98%

#110
Adjusted Score: 102856%
Critics Consensus: Blackfish is an aggressive, impassioned documentary that will change the way you look at performance killer whales.
Synopsis: The story of Tilikum, a captive killer whale that has taken the lives of several people, underscores problems within the... [More]

#109

Wadjda (2012)
99%

#109
Adjusted Score: 103724%
Critics Consensus: Transgressive in the best possible way, Wadjda presents a startlingly assured new voice from a corner of the globe where cinema has been all but silenced.
Synopsis: A rebellious Saudi girl (Waad Mohammed) enters a Koran recitation competition at her school and hopes to win enough money... [More]
Directed By: Haifaa Al-Mansour

#108

The Square (2013)
100%

#108
Adjusted Score: 102086%
Critics Consensus: The Square offers an electrifying -- and edifying -- ground-level glimpse of life inside a real-life political revolution.
Synopsis: Egyptian revolutionaries battle their leaders and regime to build a new society.... [More]
Directed By: Jehane Noujaim

#107
Adjusted Score: 91789%
Critics Consensus: She's Beautiful When She's Angry takes an entertaining, informative look at the dawn of the American women's movement -- and the oft-overlooked activists who fought for it.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Mary Dore chronicles the events, the movers and the shakers of the feminist movement from 1966 to 1971.... [More]
Directed By: Mary Dore

#106
#106
Adjusted Score: 97937%
Critics Consensus: Revealing yet respectful, 20,000 Days on Earth is essential viewing for any Nick Cave fan.
Synopsis: A therapist's questions and a visit to a voluminous archive propel a dramatization of a day in the life of... [More]
Directed By: Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard

#105
Adjusted Score: 101037%
Critics Consensus: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night blends conventional elements into something brilliantly original -- and serves as a striking calling card for writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour.
Synopsis: Residents of a worn-down Iranian city encounter a skateboarding vampire (Sheila Vand) who preys on men who disrespect women.... [More]
Directed By: Ana Lily Amirpour

#104

Citizenfour (2014)
96%

#104
Adjusted Score: 100531%
Critics Consensus: Part real-life thriller, part sobering examination of 21st century civil liberties, Citizenfour transcends ideology to offer riveting, must-see cinema.
Synopsis: After Laura Poitras received encrypted emails from someone with information on the government's massive covert-surveillance programs, she and reporter Glenn... [More]
Directed By: Laura Poitras

#103

The Babadook (2014)
98%

#103
Adjusted Score: 106825%
Critics Consensus: The Babadook relies on real horror rather than cheap jump scares -- and boasts a heartfelt, genuinely moving story to boot.
Synopsis: A troubled widow (Essie Davis) discovers that her son is telling the truth about a monster that entered their home... [More]
Directed By: Jennifer Kent

#102
#102
Adjusted Score: 100146%
Critics Consensus: Brutally honest and utterly compelling, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me offers a riveting, vanity-free portrait of its legendary subject while offering a few essential truths about the human condition.
Synopsis: Plagued by medical issues and memory lapses, the Broadway icon contemplates retirement and mortality as she approaches her 87th birthday... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Chiemi Karasawa

#101

Selma (2014)
99%

#101
Adjusted Score: 110998%
Critics Consensus: Fueled by a gripping performance from David Oyelowo, Selma draws inspiration and dramatic power from the life and death of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- but doesn't ignore how far we remain from the ideals his work embodied.
Synopsis: Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it... [More]
Directed By: Ava DuVernay

#100
#100
Adjusted Score: 96848%
Critics Consensus: The Hunting Ground isn't director Kirby Dick's strongest work as a filmmaker, but the movie's powerful message more than trumps any technical weaknesses.
Synopsis: Many college students who have been raped on campus face retaliation and harassment as they fight for justice.... [More]
Directed By: Kirby Dick

#99
#99
Adjusted Score: 97379%
Critics Consensus: Respectful without veering into hagiography and inquisitive without being intrusive, Janis: Little Girl Blue offers an insightful glimpse into the life of a rock 'n' roll legend.
Synopsis: Archival footage and interviews highlight the life and career of singer-songwriter Janis Joplin, from her musical rise in the 1960s... [More]
Starring: Chan Marshall
Directed By: Amy J. Berg

#98
Adjusted Score: 104356%
Critics Consensus: Boldly unconventional and refreshingly honest, Diary of a Teenage Girl is a frank coming-of-age story that addresses its themes -- and its protagonist -- without judgment.
Synopsis: In 1970s San Francisco, a precocious 15-year-old (Bel Powley) embarks on an enthusiastic sexual odyssey, beginning with her mother's current... [More]
Directed By: Marielle Heller

#97

Girlhood (2014)
96%

#97
Adjusted Score: 98667%
Critics Consensus: Powerfully acted and smartly scripted, Girlhood offers a fresh perspective on familiar cinematic territory.
Synopsis: Marieme joins an all-girl gang in the projects of Paris and is slowly turned out of her shell by her... [More]
Directed By: Céline Sciamma

#96

Heart of a Dog (2015)
96%

#96
Adjusted Score: 99976%
Critics Consensus: Of a piece with much of director Laurie Anderson's idiosyncratic output, Heart of a Dog delves into weighty themes with lyrical, haunting grace.
Synopsis: Musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson reflects on the deaths of her husband Lou Reed, her mother and her beloved... [More]
Directed By: Laurie Anderson

#95

The Wonders (2014)
96%

#95
Adjusted Score: 98715%
Critics Consensus: The Wonders offers a charming coming-of-age tale that doubles as a quietly effective tribute to a vanishing way of life.
Synopsis: The preteen daughter (Maria Alexandra Lungu) of a Tuscan beekeeper (Sam Louwyck) enters a contest to appear on a television... [More]
Directed By: Alice Rohrwacher

#94

Mustang (2015)
97%

#94
Adjusted Score: 106162%
Critics Consensus: Mustang delivers a bracing -- and thoroughly timely -- message whose power is further bolstered by the efforts of a stellar ensemble cast.
Synopsis: In a Turkish village, five orphaned sisters (Günes Sensoy, Tugba Sunguroglu, Elit Iscan) live under strict rule while members of... [More]

#93
#93
Adjusted Score: 96773%
Critics Consensus: Warm, funny, and quietly profound, Appropriate Behavior serves as a thoroughly compelling calling card for writer, director, and star Desiree Akhavan.
Synopsis: A secretly bisexual Brooklynite (Desiree Akhavan) from a traditional Persian family struggles with her identity and the disintegration of her... [More]
Directed By: Desiree Akhavan

#92
#92
Adjusted Score: 101175%
Critics Consensus: The Second Mother's compelling characters serve an artfully drawn, thought-provoking story that's beautifully brought to life by a talented cast.
Synopsis: Unspoken class barriers that exist within a home come crashing down when the live-in housekeeper's daughter suddenly appears.... [More]
Directed By: Anna Muylaert

#91

Sherpa (2015)
98%

#91
Adjusted Score: 97833%
Critics Consensus: A heartbreaking story told with tremendous narrative and visual skill, Sherpa exposes the audience to a side of Mount Everest that many have never seen or considered.
Synopsis: After an ice slide kills 16 Sherpas on Everest, they unite in grief and anger to reclaim the mountain.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Jennifer Peedom

#90
Adjusted Score: 102577%
Critics Consensus: On paper, GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem might seem less than thrilling, but on the screen, it delivers two hours of nonstop, tightly wound, brilliantly acted drama.
Synopsis: An Israeli woman (Ronit Elkabetz) fights for three years to obtain a divorce from her devout husband (Simon Abkarian), who... [More]

#89

Sand Storm (2016)
93%

#89
Adjusted Score: 94856%
Critics Consensus: Sand Storm marks an impressive first feature for debuting writer-director Elite Zexer that offers a perceptive -- and crucial -- look at patriarchal traditions.
Synopsis: In Southern Israel, a teen's (Lamis Ammar) forbidden love affair challenges the traditions of her Bedouin mother and father.... [More]
Directed By: Elite Zexer

#88

Toni Erdmann (2016)
93%

#88
Adjusted Score: 110967%
Critics Consensus: Toni Erdmann pairs carefully constructed, three-dimensional characters in a tenderly funny character study that's both genuinely moving and impressively ambitious.
Synopsis: A film by Maren Ade.... [More]
Directed By: Maren Ade

#87

Queen of Katwe (2016)
94%

#87
Adjusted Score: 104618%
Critics Consensus: Queen of Katwe is a feel-good movie of uncommon smarts and passion, and outstanding performances by Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo help to elevate the film past its cliches.
Synopsis: Living in the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle for 10-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) and her... [More]
Directed By: Mira Nair

#86

Nuts! (2016)
94%

#86
Adjusted Score: 96387%
Critics Consensus: Nuts! lives up to its title in the best way, offering a delightfully unorthodox look at a bizarre -- and largely unexplored -- chapter in American history.
Synopsis: The mostly true story of Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, an eccentric genius who built an empire with his goat-testicle impotence... [More]
Directed By: Penny Lane

#85
#85
Adjusted Score: 106291%
Critics Consensus: The Edge of Seventeen's sharp script -- and Hailee Steinfeld's outstanding lead performance -- make this more than just another coming-of-age dramedy.
Synopsis: Everyone knows that growing up is hard, and life is no easier for high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), who... [More]
Directed By: Kelly Fremon Craig

#84

The Love Witch (2016)
95%

#84
Adjusted Score: 100504%
Critics Consensus: The Love Witch offers an absorbing visual homage to a bygone era, arranged subtly in service of a thought-provoking meditation on the battle of the sexes.
Synopsis: Elaine (Samantha Robinson), a beautiful young witch, is determined to find a man to love her. In her gothic Victorian... [More]
Directed By: Anna Biller

#83

The Innocents (2016)
95%

#83
Adjusted Score: 100504%
Critics Consensus: The Innocents isn't always easy to watch, but its nuanced exploration of complex themes -- and its refreshing perspective -- are well worth the effort.
Synopsis: In December 1945, a Red Cross doctor (Lou de Laâge) tries to help a group of pregnant Benedictine nuns at... [More]
Directed By: Anne Fontaine

#82

Dark Horse (2015)
96%

#82
Adjusted Score: 100445%
Critics Consensus: Dark Horse offers a thoroughly crowd-pleasing look at an incredible -- and inspirational -- real-life story that will thrill equine enthusiasts and novices alike.
Synopsis: A barmaid in a poor Welsh mining village convinces some of her fellow residents to pool their resources to compete... [More]
Directed By: Louise Osmond

#81

13TH (2016)
97%

#81
Adjusted Score: 104540%
Critics Consensus: 13th strikes at the heart of America's tangled racial history, offering observations as incendiary as they are calmly controlled.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation's... [More]
Directed By: Ava DuVernay

#80

The Fits (2015)
96%

#80
Adjusted Score: 102305%
Critics Consensus: As gripping as it is unique, the thrillingly kinetic The Fits marks debuting writer-director Anna Rose Holmer as a singular talent.
Synopsis: An 11-year-old tomboy (Royalty Hightower) tries to fit in with her peers after joining an all-girl dance team.... [More]
Directed By: Anna Rose Holmer

#79

Weiner (2016)
97%

#79
Adjusted Score: 106755%
Critics Consensus: Weiner uses sharp insight and untrammeled access to offer a portrait of a political and personal collapse that's as queasy as it is undeniably compelling.
Synopsis: Former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) runs for mayor of New York in 2013, but a new sex scandal ruins his... [More]

#78

Cameraperson (2016)
99%

#78
Adjusted Score: 106383%
Critics Consensus: Fresh and inventive yet immediately accessible, Cameraperson distills its subject's life and career into an experience that should prove immediately absorbing even for those unfamiliar with her work.
Synopsis: Cinematographer Kirsten Johnson exposes her many years behind the camera through a memoir made up of decades of footage shot... [More]
Directed By: Kirsten Johnson

#77

Things to Come (2016)
99%

#77
Adjusted Score: 109597%
Critics Consensus: A union to cherish between a writer-director and star working at peak power, Things to Come offers quietly profound observations on life, love, and the irrevocable passage of time.
Synopsis: A passionate middle-aged philosophy professor (Isabelle Huppert) rethinks her already much-examined life after an unforeseen divorce.... [More]
Directed By: Mia Hansen-Løve

#76

Wonder Woman (2017)
93%

#76
Adjusted Score: 127899%
Critics Consensus: Thrilling, earnest, and buoyed by Gal Gadot's charismatic performance, Wonder Woman succeeds in spectacular fashion.
Synopsis: Before she was Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior.... [More]
Directed By: Patty Jenkins

#75
#75
Adjusted Score: 95684%
Critics Consensus: Most Beautiful Island plunges audiences into a little-seen sector of society, with writer-director Ana Asensio's fearless performance leading the way.
Synopsis: An illegal immigrant struggling to begin a new life in New York City is offered a great opportunity, but as... [More]
Directed By: Ana Asensio

#74

School Life (2017)
94%

#74
Adjusted Score: 95683%
Critics Consensus: School Life offers a warm-hearted glimpse of an educational institution that may leave audiences as inspired as the students.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Starring: Unknown Actor
Directed By: David Rane

#73

All This Panic (2016)
94%

#73
Adjusted Score: 95683%
Critics Consensus: All This Panic offers an unvarnished look at the lives of young American women whose less compelling moments are more than balanced out by documentarian Jenny Gage's empathetic approach.
Synopsis: A group of teenage girls, coming of age in Brooklyn, navigates the ephemeral and fleeting transition between childhood and adulthood.... [More]
Directed By: Jenny Gage

#72

The Breadwinner (2017)
95%

#72
Adjusted Score: 102226%
Critics Consensus: The Breadwinner's stunning visuals are matched by a story that dares to confront sobering real-life issues with uncommon -- and richly rewarding -- honesty.
Synopsis: Parvana is an 11-year-old girl who lives under Taliban rule in Afghanistan in 2001. After the wrongful arrest of her... [More]
Directed By: Nora Twomey

#71
Adjusted Score: 99094%
Critics Consensus: Inspiring and tragic, Bombshell is a bittersweet celebration and reclamation of Hedy Lemarr's journey from Hollywood legend to technology genius.
Synopsis: Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr fled an oppressive marriage to create a name for herself as one of Hollywood's top leading... [More]
Directed By: Alexandra Dean

#70

Step (2017)
96%

#70
Adjusted Score: 103070%
Critics Consensus: Step tells an irresistibly crowd-pleasing story in a thoroughly absorbing way -- and while smartly incorporating a variety of timely themes.
Synopsis: The senior year of a girls' high school step team in inner-city Baltimore is documented, as they try to become... [More]
Starring: Blessin Giraldo
Directed By: Amanda Lipitz

#69

Mudbound (2017)
97%

#69
Adjusted Score: 111678%
Critics Consensus: Mudbound offers a well-acted, finely detailed snapshot of American history whose scenes of rural class struggle resonate far beyond their period setting.
Synopsis: Set in the rural American South during World War II, Dee Rees' Mudbound is an epic story of two families... [More]
Directed By: Dee Rees

#68

Whose Streets? (2017)
98%

#68
Adjusted Score: 102817%
Critics Consensus: Whose Streets? takes a close-up look at the civil unrest that erupted after a shocking act of violence in Ferguson, Missouri - and the decades of simmering tension leading up to it.
Synopsis: An account of the Ferguson uprising as told by the people who lived it. The filmmakers look at how the... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Sabaah Folayan

#67

Kedi (2016)
98%

#67
Adjusted Score: 106191%
Critics Consensus: Kedi is a cat fancier's dream, but this thoughtful, beautifully filmed look at Istanbul's street feline population offers absorbing viewing for filmgoers of any purr-suasion.
Synopsis: Hundreds of thousands of cats have roamed the metropolis of Istanbul freely for thousands of years, wandering in and out... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Ceyda Torun

#66

Trophy (2017)
96%

#66
Adjusted Score: 98919%
Critics Consensus: Trophy offers a thought-provoking look at big-game hunting that should challenge, trouble, and enrage viewers regardless of their personal perspective.
Synopsis: This in-depth look into the powerhouse industries of big-game hunting, breeding and wildlife conservation in the U.S. and Africa unravels... [More]

#65

Lady Bird (2017)
99%

#65
Adjusted Score: 128199%
Critics Consensus: Lady Bird delivers fresh insights about the turmoil of adolescence -- and reveals writer-director Greta Gerwig as a fully formed filmmaking talent.
Synopsis: A teenager (Saoirse Ronan) navigates a loving but turbulent relationship with her strong-willed mother (Laurie Metcalf) over the course of... [More]
Directed By: Greta Gerwig

#64

Faces Places (2017)
99%

#64
Adjusted Score: 108118%
Critics Consensus: Equal parts breezily charming and poignantly powerful, Faces Places is a unique cross-generational portrait of life in rural France from the great Agnès Varda.
Synopsis: Director Agnès Varda and photographer and muralist JR journey through rural France and form an unlikely friendship.... [More]
Starring: Agnès Varda, JR
Directed By: Agnès Varda, JR

#63

Kusama: Infinity (2018)
94%

#63
Adjusted Score: 95977%
Critics Consensus: Kusama: Infinity shines a richly deserved spotlight on its subject's brilliant work while opening a fascinating - albeit necessarily incomplete - window into her personal life.
Synopsis: Artist Yayoi Kusama's journey from a conservative upbringing in Japan to her brush with fame in America during the 1960s.... [More]
Starring: Yayoi Kusama
Directed By: Heather Lenz

#62

RBG (2018)
93%

#62
Adjusted Score: 102613%
Critics Consensus: RBG might be preaching to the choir of viewers who admire Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, but it does so effectively.
Synopsis: An intimate portrait of an unlikely rock star: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With unprecedented access, the filmmakers explore how her... [More]
Directed By: Betsy West, Julie Cohen

#61

Private Life (2018)
93%

#61
Adjusted Score: 98801%
Critics Consensus: Private Life uses one couple's bumpy journey to take an affecting look at an easily identifiable - and too rarely dramatized - rite of adult passage.
Synopsis: A couple coping with infertility struggle to keep their marriage going as they navigate through the world of adoption and... [More]
Directed By: Tamara Jenkins

#60

Dark Money (2018)
96%

#60
Adjusted Score: 97144%
Critics Consensus: Dark Money does an impressive job of tackling a complicated subject in easily understandable -- and, for many viewers, utterly enraging -- terms.
Synopsis: In the wake of the Citizens United ruling, dark money floods elections nationwide, but Montanans are standing up to stop... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Kimberly Reed

#59

Good Manners (2017)
96%

#59
Adjusted Score: 97015%
Critics Consensus: Good Manners adroitly juggles disparate tonal shifts while taking a uniquely smart and sensitive look at female relationships.
Synopsis: A mysterious and wealthy woman hires a lonely nurse named Clara to be the nanny of her soon-to-be born child.... [More]
Directed By: Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra

#58

Outside In (2017)
96%

#58
Adjusted Score: 97144%
Critics Consensus: Brilliantly brought to life by tenderly empathetic performances from Jay Duplass and Edie Falco, Outside In tells a sobering -- yet thoroughly absorbing -- story.
Synopsis: An ex-convict tries to readjust to life in his small town and forms an intense relationship with his former high... [More]
Directed By: Lynn Shelton

#57

On Her Shoulders (2018)
96%

#57
Adjusted Score: 98463%
Critics Consensus: On Her Shoulders traces one woman's incredible journey to offer an inside look at modern political advocacy - and a challenge to viewers yearning to effect their own change.
Synopsis: Nadia Murad, a 23-year-old Yazidi genocide and ISIS sexual slavery survivor, is determined to tell her story. As her journey... [More]
Directed By: Alexandria Bombach

#56

Western (2017)
96%

#56
Adjusted Score: 98682%
Critics Consensus: Western earns the viewer's attention with an unpredictable, patiently told tale that evokes the spirit of the titular genre while adding its own unique touches.
Synopsis: When some German construction workers begin a challenging new job in the Bulgarian countryside, their sense of adventure is awakened,... [More]
Directed By: Valeska Grisebach

#55

Oh Lucy! (2017)
98%

#55
Adjusted Score: 100594%
Critics Consensus: Oh Lucy! roots its narrative quirks in universal themes and deep empathy for its characters, all brought to life by strong performances from a talented cast led by the thoroughly charming Shinobu Terajima.
Synopsis: A lonely woman in Tokyo discovers her alter ego when she takes an English class.... [More]
Directed By: Atsuko Hirayanagi

#54

Zama (2017)
96%

#54
Adjusted Score: 102057%
Critics Consensus: Zama offers a series of scathingly insightful observations about colonialism and class dynamics -- and satisfyingly ends a long wait between projects from writer-director Lucrecia Martel.
Synopsis: Zama, an officer of the Spanish Crown born in South America, waits for a letter from the King granting him... [More]
Directed By: Lucrecia Martel

#53

I Am Not a Witch (2017)
96%

#53
Adjusted Score: 100197%
Critics Consensus: I Am Not a Witch approaches real-life injustices with a beguiling blend of sorrow, anger, and humor, marking debuting writer-director Rungano Nyoni as an exciting new talent.
Synopsis: Shula is the first child taken to a traveling witch camp, where she is told that should she cut the... [More]
Directed By: Rungano Nyoni

#52

Science Fair (2018)
97%

#52
Adjusted Score: 100874%
Critics Consensus: Science Fair offers further proof that real-life academic competition can make for effortlessly entertaining - and ultimately uplifting - cinema.
Synopsis: Filmmakers follow nine high school students from around the globe as they compete at an international science fair. Facing off... [More]

#51

Free Solo (2018)
97%

#51
Adjusted Score: 106075%
Critics Consensus: Free Solo depicts athletic feats that many viewers will find beyond reason - and grounds the attempts in passions that are all but universal.
Synopsis: Alex Honnold completes the first free solo climb of famed El Capitan's 3,000-foot vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park.... [More]

#50

The Rider (2017)
97%

#50
Adjusted Score: 107872%
Critics Consensus: The Rider's hard-hitting drama is only made more effective through writer-director Chloé Zhao's use of untrained actors to tell the movie's fact-based tale.
Synopsis: After a riding accident leaves him unable to compete on the rodeo circuit, a young cowboy searches for a new... [More]
Directed By: Chloé Zhao

#49
Adjusted Score: 98493%
Critics Consensus: To All the Boys I've Loved Before plays by the teen rom-com rules, but relatable characters and a thoroughly charming cast more than make up for a lack of surprises.
Synopsis: A teenage girl's love letters are exposed and wreak havoc on her life.... [More]
Directed By: Susan Johnson

#48
#48
Adjusted Score: 100297%
Critics Consensus: Pick of the Litter has all the fluffy adorableness audiences expect from a puppy documentary, along with a story that's as edifying as it is heartwarming.
Synopsis: Following five spirited puppies from the moment they're born through their quest to become guide dogs for the blind.... [More]
Starring:

#47
Adjusted Score: 98821%
Critics Consensus: Subversive, gorgeously shot, and suitably visceral, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts injects timely feminist themes into a neo-western grindhouse framework.
Synopsis: When a young widow is raped and her cattle are stolen, she fights back and kills several of her attackers.... [More]
Directed By: Mouly Surya

#46

Bar Bahar (2016)
98%

#46
Adjusted Score: 101169%
Critics Consensus: In Between takes a light yet nuanced approach to dramatizing complex, timely themes, further enriched by outstanding cinematography and powerful performances.
Synopsis: Three Arab-Israeli women share an apartment in Tel Aviv and try to balance their traditions with the modern world.... [More]
Directed By: Maysaloun Hamoud

#45
#45
Adjusted Score: 117535%
Critics Consensus: Deftly directed and laced with dark wit, Can You Ever Forgive Me? proves a compelling showcase for deeply affecting work from Richard E. Grant and Melissa McCarthy.
Synopsis: Lee Israel is a frustrated, hard-drinking author who can barely afford to pay her rent or bills in 1990s New... [More]
Directed By: Marielle Heller

#44

Summer 1993 (2017)
100%

#44
Adjusted Score: 105222%
Critics Consensus: Summer 1993 (Estiu 1993) finds writer-director Carla Simón drawing on personal memories to create a thoughtful drama elevated by outstanding work from its young leads.
Synopsis: Six-year-old Frida looks on in silence as the last objects from her recently deceased mother's apartment in Barcelona are placed... [More]
Directed By: Carla Simón

#43

Leave No Trace (2018)
100%

#43
Adjusted Score: 114847%
Critics Consensus: Leave No Trace takes an effectively low-key approach to a potentially sensationalistic story -- and further benefits from brilliant work by Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie.
Synopsis: A father and daughter live a perfect but mysterious existence in Forest Park, a beautiful nature reserve near Portland, Ore.,... [More]
Directed By: Debra Granik

#42

Night Comes On (2018)
98%

#42
Adjusted Score: 100529%
Critics Consensus: Steadily drawing viewers into its harrowing tale with equal parts grim intensity and startling compassion, Night Comes On heralds the arrivals of debuting director Jordan Spiro and her magnetic young stars.
Synopsis: Released from juvenile detention, a teen and her 10-year-old sister embark on a quest to avenge the death of their... [More]
Directed By: Jordana Spiro

#41

Sword of Trust (2019)
94%

#41
Adjusted Score: 98489%
Critics Consensus: Expertly drawn characters and a strong senes of humanity make Sword of Trust an enjoyable -- if at times meandering -- journey.
Synopsis: A cantankerous pawnshop owner and his man-child employee team up with an out-of-town couple who are trying to hawk a... [More]
Directed By: Lynn Shelton

#40

Honey Boy (2019)
95%

#40
Adjusted Score: 108529%
Critics Consensus: Honey Boy serves as an act of cinematic therapy for its screenwriter and subject -- one whose unique perspective should strike a chord in audiences from all backgrounds.
Synopsis: When 12-year-old Otis begins to find success as a television star, his abusive, alcoholic father returns and takes over as... [More]
Directed By: Alma Har'el

#39
Adjusted Score: 96802%
Critics Consensus: As sharp, funny, and scathingly irreverent as its subject, Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins pays entertaining tribute to a brilliant writer.
Synopsis: The life and work of Molly Ivins, a political journalist from Texas, best-selling author, and Bill of Rights warrior.... [More]
Directed By: Janice Engel

#38

The Mustang (2019)
95%

#38
Adjusted Score: 101780%
Critics Consensus: The Mustang finds fresh perspectives in a familiar redemption tale brought brilliantly to life by powerful performances from Bruce Dern and Matthias Schoenaerts.
Synopsis: A violent convict is given the chance to participate in a rehabilitation therapy program centered around the training of wild... [More]

#37

Rafiki (2018)
93%

#37
Adjusted Score: 96917%
Critics Consensus: Rafiki tells a familiar story with bracing originality, marking director/co-writer Wanuri Kahiu as a talent to watch.
Synopsis: Kena and Ziki live very different lives in Nairobi. Kena works in her father's shop and awaits the start of... [More]
Directed By: Wanuri Kahiu

#36
Adjusted Score: 118381%
Critics Consensus: Much like the beloved TV personality that inspired it, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood offers a powerfully affecting message about acceptance and understanding.
Synopsis: Lloyd Vogel is an investigative journalist who receives an assignment to profile Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers. He approaches the... [More]
Directed By: Marielle Heller

#35

Little Women (2019)
95%

#35
Adjusted Score: 120869%
Critics Consensus: With a stellar cast and a smart, sensitive retelling of its classic source material, Greta Gerwig's Little Women proves some stories truly are timeless.
Synopsis: In the years after the Civil War, Jo March lives in New York and makes her living as a writer,... [More]
Directed By: Greta Gerwig

#34

Birds of Passage (2018)
96%

#34
Adjusted Score: 106011%
Critics Consensus: Birds of Passage traces the familiar arc of the drug crime thriller from a different direction that's as visually absorbing as it is hard-hitting.
Synopsis: The origins of the Colombian drug trade, as seen through eyes of an indigenous Wayuu family that becomes involved in... [More]

#33

Hail Satan? (2019)
96%

#33
Adjusted Score: 103655%
Critics Consensus: Hail Satan? challenges preconceived notions of its subject with a smart, witty, and overall entertaining dispatch from the front lines of the fight for social justice.
Synopsis: Lucien Greaves co-founds the Satanic Temple, a religious movement that calls for a revolution to save the nation's soul.... [More]
Directed By: Penny Lane

#32

American Factory (2019)
96%

#32
Adjusted Score: 99963%
Critics Consensus: American Factory takes a thoughtful -- and troubling -- look at the dynamic between workers and employers in the 21st-century globalized economy.
Synopsis: In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant. Early... [More]
Starring: Sherrod Brown

#31
Adjusted Score: 100028%
Critics Consensus: Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché aims an overdue spotlight on a cinematic innovator's career, with the added benefit of absorbing historical context.
Synopsis: The life and work of the first female film director.... [More]
Starring: Jodie Foster
Directed By: Pamela B. Green

#30

Little Woods (2018)
95%

#30
Adjusted Score: 99357%
Critics Consensus: Led by standout work from Tessa Thompson, Little Woods tells a grimly absorbing tale that marks a commendable debut for writer-director Nia DaCosta.
Synopsis: In North Dakota, two estranged sisters are driven to extremes when their mother dies, leaving them with one week to... [More]
Directed By: Nia DaCosta

#29

Booksmart (2019)
96%

#29
Adjusted Score: 119705%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced, funny, and fresh, Booksmart does the seemingly impossible by adding a smart new spin to the coming-of-age comedy.
Synopsis: Academic overachievers Amy and Molly thought keeping their noses to the grindstone gave them a leg up on their high... [More]
Directed By: Olivia Wilde

#28
Adjusted Score: 99877%
Critics Consensus: Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound pays an all-too-rare tribute to an aspect of filmmaking that's utterly fascinating but often overlooked.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Midge Costin examines how visionary directors work with sound designers to create the most exciting moviegoing experiences.... [More]
Directed By: Midge Costin

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 103534%
Critics Consensus: Tigers Are Not Afraid draws on childhood trauma for a story that deftly blends magical fantasy and hard-hitting realism - and leaves a lingering impact.
Synopsis: When a girl's mother disappears leaving her on her own, she goings a gang of street children, leading to a... [More]
Directed By: Issa López

#26

The Kingmaker (2019)
97%

#26
Adjusted Score: 99587%
Critics Consensus: The Kingmaker aims a disquieting spotlight at the private life of a divisive public figure -- as well as the ways in which unchecked power seduces and corrupts.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Lauren Greenfield examines the controversial history of Filipino politician Imelda Marcos and her family.... [More]
Starring: Imelda Marcos
Directed By: Lauren Greenfield

#25

The Farewell (2019)
97%

#25
Adjusted Score: 118606%
Critics Consensus: The Farewell deftly captures complicated family dynamics with a poignant, well-acted drama that marries cultural specificity with universally relatable themes.
Synopsis: Billi's family returns to China under the guise of a fake wedding to stealthily say goodbye to their beloved matriarch... [More]
Directed By: Lulu Wang

#24

One Child Nation (2019)
98%

#24
Adjusted Score: 103620%
Critics Consensus: As illuminating as it is accessible, One Child Nation probes a painful chapter in Chinese history with piercing clarity.
Synopsis: After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China's one-child policy and the generations of parents and... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 100607%
Critics Consensus: Too Late to Die Young uses one family's experiences as the foundation for a dreamily absorbing drama with a poignant, lingering warmth.
Synopsis: During the summer of 1990 in Chile, three kids face their first loves and fears.... [More]

#22

The Chambermaid (2018)
99%

#22
Adjusted Score: 101587%
Critics Consensus: The Chambermaid uses one woman's experiences to take audiences inside a life -- and a culture -- that's as bracingly unique as it is hauntingly relatable.
Synopsis: A young chambermaid working in one of the most luxurious hotels in Mexico City enrolls in the hotel's adult education... [More]
Directed By: Lila Avilés

#21

For Sama (2019)
98%

#21
Adjusted Score: 104470%
Critics Consensus: As intimate as it is heartbreakingly resonant, For Sama powerfully distills the difficult choices faced by citizens of war-torn regions.
Synopsis: A young woman is followed through five years during the revolution in Aleppo, Syria - through love, marriage and motherhood.... [More]

#20

Atlantics (2019)
95%

#20
Adjusted Score: 104163%
Critics Consensus: An unpredictable supernatural drama rooted in real-world social commentary, Atlantique suggests a thrillingly bright future for debuting filmmaker Mati Diop.
Synopsis: After the bodies of his friends feeling Senegal for Europe wash up on a shore, a young woman assumes that... [More]
Directed By: Mati Diop

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 101770%
Critics Consensus: An encomium that should prove illuminating for casual viewers and satisfying for fans, Varda by Agnès finds a brilliant filmmaker looking back on her own terms.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Starring: Agnès Varda

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 101951%
Critics Consensus: Brought to life by a breakout performance by Camila Morrone, Mickey and the Bear finds affecting drama at the crossroads of a young woman's coming-of-age journey.
Synopsis: A Montana teenager navigates a loving but volatile relationship with her single, veteran father. In a desperate search for independence... [More]
Directed By: Annabelle Attanasio

#17

Honeyland (2019)
100%

#17
Adjusted Score: 107584%
Critics Consensus: Honeyland uses life in a remote village to offer an eye-opening perspective on experiences that should resonate even for audiences halfway around the world.
Synopsis: A woman utilizes ancient beekeeping traditions to cultivate honey in the mountains of North Macedonia. When a neighboring family tries... [More]
Starring:

#16
Adjusted Score: 119774%
Critics Consensus: A singularly rich period piece, Portrait of a Lady on Fire finds stirring, thought-provoking drama within a powerfully acted romance.
Synopsis: In 1770 the young daughter of a French countess develops a mutual attraction to the female artist commissioned to paint... [More]
Directed By: Céline Sciamma

#15

The Assistant (2019)
92%

#15
Adjusted Score: 108463%
Critics Consensus: Led by a powerhouse performance from Julia Garner, The Assistant offers a withering critique of workplace harassment and systemic oppression.
Synopsis: Jane, a recent college graduate and aspiring film producer, just landed her dream job as a junior assistant to a... [More]
Directed By: Kitty Green

#14

First Cow (2019)
96%

#14
Adjusted Score: 109458%
Critics Consensus: First Cow finds director Kelly Reichardt revisiting territory and themes that will be familiar to fans of her previous work -- with typically rewarding results.
Synopsis: Two travelers, on the run from a band of vengeful hunters in the 1820s Northwest, dream of striking it rich... [More]
Directed By: Kelly Reichardt

#13
Adjusted Score: 106689%
Critics Consensus: The Forty-Year-Old Version opens a compelling window into the ebbs and flows of the artist's life -- and announces writer-director-star Radha Blank as a major filmmaking talent with her feature debut.
Synopsis: A struggling New York City playwright finds inspiration by reinventing herself as a rapper.... [More]
Directed By: Radha Blank

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 106077%
Critics Consensus: Clever, funny, and original, Blow the Man Down is a cinematic journey that's not to be missed.
Synopsis: Welcome to Easter Cove, a salty fishing village on the far reaches of Maine's rocky coast. Grieving the loss of... [More]

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 105544%
Critics Consensus: Totally Under Control does a commendable job of distilling current events into a clear-eyed overview that's as engaging as it is enraging.
Synopsis: Public health officials discuss the U.S. government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.... [More]

#10

Miss Juneteenth (2020)
99%

#10
Adjusted Score: 108653%
Critics Consensus: Like a pageant winner walking across the stage, Miss Juneteenth follows a familiar path -- but does so with charm and grace.
Synopsis: A former beauty queen and single mom prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the "Miss Juneteenth" pageant.... [More]

#9
Adjusted Score: 114385%
Critics Consensus: Powerfully acted and directed, Never Rarely Sometimes Always reaffirms writer-director Eliza Hittman as a filmmaker of uncommon sensitivity and grace.
Synopsis: Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn and her cousin, Skylar, travel across state lines... [More]
Directed By: Eliza Hittman

#8

Athlete A (2020)
100%

#8
Adjusted Score: 103143%
Critics Consensus: Harrowing yet essential viewing, Athlete A shines an unforgiving light on horrific abuses -- as well as the culture that allowed them to continue unabated for years.
Synopsis: Reporters from The Indianapolis Star expose Dr. Larry Nassar's sexual abuse of young gymnasts.... [More]
Directed By: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk

#7
Adjusted Score: 103655%
Critics Consensus: An absorbing and affectionate tribute to a unique individual, Mucho Mucho Amor should prove fascinating for Walter Mercado fans as well as first-timers.
Synopsis: Puerto Rican astrologer and psychic Walter Mercado discusses his life, career and post-fame seclusion.... [More]
Starring: Walter Mercado

#6
Adjusted Score: 103884%
Critics Consensus: All In: The Fight for Democracy lives up to its title as a galvanizing rallying cry for voters to exercise -- and preserve -- their right to be heard.
Synopsis: Filmmakers Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortes examine the history of voter suppression and the activists who fight for the rights... [More]
Starring: Stacey Abrams
Directed By: Lisa Cortes, Liz Garbus

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 105730%
Critics Consensus: Dick Johnson Is Dead celebrates a life with bittersweet humor and grace, offering a deeply resonant perspective on mortality in the bargain.
Synopsis: A filmmaker and her elderly father stage his death in various ways to help them face his inevitable demise.... [More]
Directed By: Kirsten Johnson

#4

Relic (2020)
92%

#4
Adjusted Score: 108120%
Critics Consensus: Relic ratchets up its slowly building tension in an expertly crafted atmosphere of dread, adding up to an outstanding feature debut for director/co-writer Natalie Erika James.
Synopsis: A woman links her mother's increasingly volatile behavior to an evil presence at their family's decaying country home.... [More]
Directed By: Natalie Erika James

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 117391%
Critics Consensus: A hauntingly powerful reflection on larger-than-life figures, One Night in Miami finds Regina King in command of her craft in her feature directorial debut.
Synopsis: On one incredible night in 1964, four icons of sports, music, and activism gathered to celebrate one of the biggest... [More]
Directed By: Regina King

#2

Nomadland (2020)
93%

#2
Adjusted Score: 117588%
Critics Consensus: A poetic character study on the forgotten and downtrodden, Nomadland beautifully captures the restlessness left in the wake of the Great Recession.
Synopsis: A woman embarks on a journey through the American West after losing everything during the recession.... [More]
Directed By: Chloé Zhao

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 118956%
Critics Consensus: A boldly provocative, timely thriller, Promising Young Woman is an auspicious feature debut for writer-director Emerald Fennell -- and a career highlight for Carey Mulligan.
Synopsis: Nothing in Cassie's life is what it appears to be -- she's wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she's living a... [More]
Directed By: Emerald Fennell

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