Throughout Hollywood history, famous female film directors have been rare. There have always been a few of them, such as Lillian Gish and Mabel Normand during the silent film era, but until recently, women seldom received opportunities to direct films. Despite the obvious bias against them, many female film directors have proven to be very capable. Listed below are some of the most famous women directors and their most significant accomplishments. 

  1. Kathryn Bigelow Bigelow originally intended to be a painter and has an art degree. Her studies eventually led her to films and directing. Bigelow's most notable movies include “The Weight of Water,” “Point Break” and “Near Dark.” She also directed the Academy Award winner for Best Picture in 2009, “The Hurt Locker,” which stars Jeremy Renner. Bigelow is one of the most famous female film directors because “The Hurt Locker” also won the Academy Award for Best Director, making her the first woman to ever win the Best Director award.

  2. Barbra Streisand Streisand is best-known as a singer, actress and songwriter, but she is also a movie producer, screenwriter and director. Her most significant directing efforts to date have been “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” “The Prince of Tides” and “Yentl.” Streisand also starred in and produced these films. She has announced plans to direct several other movies in the near future. She will not star in these future productions, but will only work behind the camera.

  3. Jane Campion Campion, a New Zealander, is one of Australia's most famous female film directors. Her movie credits include “The Portrait of a Lady” with Nicole Kidman, “Holy Smoke!” with Kate Winslet and “In the Cut” with Meg Ryan. Campion is an international celebrity because of her film work and she is one of only four women directors ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.

  4. Ida Lupino Lupino was a highly regarded Hollywood leading lady who directed her first film in 1949. She went on to direct eight other pictures and numerous television episodes. At the time, Lupino was the only female film director in Hollywood. She was known for her focus, competence and ability to deliver a quality film while remaining within the production budget. Most of her movies were film noir. Lupino's most notable films as a director were “The Hitch-Hiker,” “The Bigamist” and “The Trouble With Angels.” She is often cited as an inspiration by other female film directors.

  5. Penny Marshall Marshall is most famous for her role as Laverne in the popular sitcom “Laverne and Shirley,” but she is also a famous female film director. Her most notable directing efforts so far have been “Renaissance Man,” “Jumping Jack Flash,” “Awakenings,” “A League of Their Own” and “Big.” “Big” took in over $100 million in revenue and “Awakenings” received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.