Up-And-Coming Women Directors To Watch In 2018

2018 is poised to be an exciting year for movies directed by women. With A Wrinkle in Time, out March 9, Ava DuVernay is making history as the first woman of color director to helm a live-action movie with a budget exceeding $100 million. And in April, Lynne Ramsay's You Were Never Really Here follows a hired assassin on a brutal and intense mission. Ever since Patty Jenkins directed the top-grossing movie of 2017 (looking at you, Wonder Woman), the possibilities for women directors in Hollywood seemed boundless.

Still, the statistics about women in film can be disheartening. In 2016, women directed only 7% of the top 250 movies of the year — a 2% decline from 2015. That's why we we're giving these up-and-coming women directors a shout-out. These are the next Ava DuVernays and Lynne Ramsays; the first and second-time directors who are poised to shake up the movie industry — and fight those statistics.

And, frankly speaking, their 2018 projects look awesome. Get ready to learn these women's names — you'll be hearing them frequently.

Pictured: Kay Cannon

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Elizabeth Chomko
Upcoming project: What They Had, out March 16

What They Had, Elizabeth Chomko's directorial debut, has been years in the making. She first worked on the script in a Sundance Screenwriters Lab in 2014. The following year, the movie script won a Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting. At last, we're getting to see what all the hype was about. What They Had, which premiered at Sundance this month, is about a woman (Hilary Swank) who goes home to visit her parents – a mother (Blythe Danner) with Alzheimers, and a father (Robert Forester) who is struggling to adapt. Critics at Sundance praised Chomko's ability to deftly weave humor and lightness into a difficult story.
Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock
Kay Cannon
Upcoming project: Blockers, out April 6

Kay Cannon has built a career from being hilarious. She honed her screenwriting chops in the 30 Rock writers room. Her first produced screenplay was Pitch Perfect (she went on to write the entire trilogy). Given her track record, of course we're amped for her directorial debut, which will come this spring. Blockers is the story of a group of nosy parents who discover their teenage daughters are all planning to lose their virginity on prom night. It's as much a coming-of-age story as it is a learning-to-let-go story — and is prime to become an iconic high school movie. Blockers stars Leslie Mann, John Cena, Kathryn Newton, Graham Phillips, June Diane Raphael, Hannibal Buress, and Sarayu Blue.
Michael Buckner/Deadline/REX/Shutterstock
Chloé Zhao
Upcoming projects: The Rider, out April 13

Zhao's feature, Songs My Brother Taught Me, was a hit at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. While filming Songs My Brother Taught Me on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Zhao met rodeo cowboy Brady Jandreau — who would become the subject of her next movie, The Rider, which just premiered at Sundance. The movie, which blends documentary and fiction, follows Jandreau before and after he suffers a devastating accident at a competition.
Krista Kennell/Variety/REX/Shutterstock
Abby Kohn
Upcoming project: I Feel Pretty, out June 29

Abby Kohn co-wrote the movies How to Be Single and Valentine's Day with her creative partner, Marc Silverstein. I Feel Pretty is the duo's first foray into co-directing. I Feel Pretty revolves around a unique premise: Renee, played by Amy Schumer, is an ordinary women who deals with ordinary insecurities — until she has a terrible head injury. When she wakes up, Renee is suddenly extremely self-confident, and thinks she is the best and most beautiful person in the world. Her life blooms as a result of her newfound confidence.
Susanna Fogel
Upcoming project: The Spy Who Dumped Me, out August 3

Susanna Fogel's first feature film, Life Partners, charmed critics and audiences during 2014's film festival circuit – after all, what's there not to like about a movie about a co-dependent friendship starring Leighton Meester and Gillian Jacobs? The Spy Who Dumped Me also centers on two friends, played by Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon. The action begins when Kunis' character's ex-boyfriend shows up, reveals he's a spy, and drags them into a whirlwind undercover mission.
Rob Latour/Variety/REX/Shutterstock
Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Upcoming project: The Darkest Minds, out September 14

Calling all YA dystopia fanatics: Your next favorite series is coming. The Darkest Minds, based on Alexandra Bracken's novel of the same name, is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which teenagers have developed superpowers. Amandla Stenberg stars as the main character, a natural transition after playing Rue in The Hunger Games. Prior to The Darkest Minds, Jennifer Yuh Nelson directed the Kung Fu Panda series, and is the first woman to ever solely direct an animated feature (she also was nominated for an Oscar). The Darkest Minds will be her first live-action feature.
Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage
Jennifer Kent
Upcoming project: The Nightingale, out August 10

The director of The Babadook, Jennifer Kent was responsible for many sleepless nights in 2014. Kent's follow-up project is a tense, historical thriller set in 1825 Tasmania. In the movie, a young Irishwoman, grieving the murder of her husband and child, joins forces with an Aboriginal tracker to destroy the men who took everything from her. Kent went places in The Babadook, and given the gruesome premise of The Nightingale, we doubt she'll hold back for her second film. The movie stars Aisling Franciosi and Sam Claflin.
Rebecca Cabage/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock
Marielle Heller
Upcoming project: Can You Ever Forgive Me?, out October 19

Marielle Heller's directorial debut, Diary of a Teenage Girl, was a haunting look at a 15-year-old discovering her own sexuality, who catches the attention of her mother's boyfriend. Her second movie's subject matter is far different, but no less compelling. Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which is based off a memoir by Lee Israel, is about a biographer who begins to forge revealing letters from famous celebrities when her books stop selling. Melissa McCarthy plays the biographer.
Josie Rourke
Upcoming project: Mary, Queen of Scots, out November 2

Rourke is already a trailblazer in the theater world. She's been the Artistic Director of London's Donmar Warehouse since 2011, and is the first woman to ever be appointed the director of a major London theater. Mary, Queen of Scots is a period piece lover's dream. Margot Robbie plays the reigning Elizabeth I, determined to keep her cousin Mary (Saoirse Ronan) off the throne, no matter what it takes. Is that a bee, or is that Oscar buzz we're hearing?
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