Here’s All Of Ava DuVernay’s Movies, Ranked

Nominated for Golden Globes, Oscars and Emmy Awards Ava DuVernay has several projects under his belt that span a wide range of genres. From TV shows to documentaries, historical dramas to Disney fantasy movies, she’s done a lot. Even though one of her most recent films struggled in theaters, she continues to push forward and create new and better pieces for us to enjoy.

Currently, DuVernay is bringing DC superhero Naomi to life for The CW, which premiered in January. Before coming here, however, she made a lot of history in the film industry. DuVernay was the first black woman to win the Directing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, be nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Director, direct a $100 million film, and have her film nominated for the Best Picture at the Oscars. Take a look at everything that helped her make history and more, with every Ava DuVernay movie ranked.

6 A shortcut in time


A poster for A Wrinkle in Time featuring the main characters.
Walt Disney Studios

A shortcut in time is a Disney film that follows young Meg in search of her missing father, who was a renowned astrophysicist. He had studied the tesseract, a four-dimensional cube which he believed was a method of space travel. A trio of astral travelers reveal to Meg and her brother Charles that it really exists, and that their father had passed through it and was trapped. If they want to see their father again and save him, they must accompany these travelers to the farthest reaches of space, where darkness dwells.

Sadly, A shortcut in time was a box office flop. It did not get its money back and received mixed reviews from critics. Many didn’t like the way the movie used CGI and said it was riddled with many plot holes. However, DuVernay’s work has always been praised, with people saying the film had good direction and was great at helping to tell the story they were trying to tell, even if it didn’t land well with the public.

5 It’s life


It's life
forward motion

Los Angeles’ alternative hip-hop movement flourished in the 1990s and is chronicled in the documentary It’s life. At the Good Life Café in 1989, a weekly open-mic night began where artists were each allowed to perform one song. Some performed songs written in advance, while others did freestyle. The community that grew around that night helped people improve their music and morphed into a form of the hip-hop movement as it is known today. DuVernay put a lot of effort into making the documentary perfect and telling the story right, and it paid off because it was a smash hit, a debut feature that would lead the young director to directing fiction films and international success. From its beginnings, It’s life traveled through many film festivals, some by invitation only, winning several audience awards. The year after it ended, it even made its theatrical debut, reaching even more viewers.

Related: Here are some of the best female directors working today

4 I will follow


Two characters from I Will Follow lying in bed.
DEPLOY

I will follow is to come to terms with the death of a loved one. Maye, a successful artist, had taken time off from work to care for her sick aunt; when she dies, Maye contemplates her relationships, her career, her past and her future. As the film progresses over the course of a day, she passes through a series of twelve visitors who, each in their own way, slowly help her get back on her feet in this calm and cautious film.

The film’s award-winning screenplay has been praised by many, including Roger Ebert, who wrote that movie “is an invitation to empathy.” Beyond being an emotional and intimate film, the film is special for being one of DuVernay’s first, and after the success of It’s life, she went on to not only direct this film, but also write and produce it. The story captured the hearts of many who watched it and helped propel it into the world of filmmaking.


3 In the middle of nowhere


Two Middle of Nowhere characters about to kiss.
AFFIRM

In the middle of nowhere is set in Compton, where Ruby, a registered nurse trying to become a doctor, spends most of her time visiting her husband Derek in prison. She tries to help him get parole early but, as we find out in flashbacks, she doesn’t really know everything that happened before his arrest. She has to spend the movie discovering herself as she begins to let go of everything that’s holding her back and move on to bigger and better things.

Using a similar theme of lost loved ones and grief as his first fiction film, DuVernay also incorporated his skills as a documentary filmmaker by doing a lot of research in this film to make it as accurate as possible. It paid off, as it garnered more awards and film festival nominations than his previous films combined. With a litany of awards from Sundance, Independent Spirit Awards and more for DuVernay, it was clear she was a talented director and would definitely go even further in the future.


2 13th


A poster for the 13th with a black and white American flag and a person wearing the same striped clothes.
netflix

13th is another DuVernay-directed, but incredibly polished documentary that premiered on Netflix. It is titled after the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished slavery in the United States and ended involuntary servitude, except as punishment for the conviction of a crime. The film takes a closer look at the prison system in the United States and how it exploits prisoners and forces them (especially people of color) to work for little or nothing.

Related: These Great Documentaries Explain Complex Subjects In Understandable Ways

This documentary is still widely viewed both in homes and in academic circles, as it draws attention to a lingering problem that may have been sadly underestimated before. DuVernay was praised for the way she described these events and focused on the facts, bringing them to light and explaining such a difficult subject perfectly with excellent interviews and footage. The film won numerous awards for DuVernay and was nominated for several others, including an Academy Award for Best Documentary.


1 Selma


The four figureheads of the Selma walk at the head of a group of walkers.
Paramount Pictures

historical drama film Selma focuses on the suffrage marches from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, led by Martin Luther King Jr. This was a great moment in the civil rights movement as they fought for the right to vote. The biographical film follows Martin Luther King Jr’s involvement in the marches, including his arrest, the strains he put on his relationship with his wife, and the difficulties the marches faced due to police opposition.

The film received critical acclaim, with many praising DuVernay’s direction. Although it received some criticism for some historical inaccuracies, there’s no doubt that this is DuVernay’s best film to date. It was nominated for two Oscars, including Best Picture, and will go down as an important piece of history to remember.


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