Besides the short I have only seen two features by Denis. One is listed, the other one, Chocolat (198 , though very good, didn't make my list. But I need to see more by every female director. I'm ashamed to admit that I am not able to come up with a worthy Top 100 list with films directed by women.
Don't know what should be wrong with The Piano. I watched it several times as a teen, and found it very fascinating. But as with Stephen Daldry's The Hours (2002), I think half of its quality has to do with the phenomenal score by Michael Nyman - whixh isn't used to its full advantage i have to say.
I didn't see it as pretentious or aestheticised, but found it rather honest and touching. And I don't think Campion wanted to shock (though there is this one scene - which i love by the way. When Anna Paquin is running to her stepfather to tell of the affair... I could watch this sequence over and over). And I'm a sucker for Anna Paquin and Harvey Keitel, with a weak spot for Sam Neill (ever since I saw him in Zulawski's Possession (1981)).