It’s Day 3 of my Women’s Day posts y’all!! This one’s coming in a little late, oops. But a gal’s got to put school first, am I right?
Today’s post is all about my favourite women-led films. These films all showcase courageous women, either actively fighting for equality or just living their day-to-day lives. All of these films pass the Bechdel Test (i.e. two women speak to each other at some point and the convo is not about a guy) which is obviously a super important consideration when it comes to crafting a list of films for Women’s Day! All of these films have left their mark on me in some way, and I hope that they do the same for you.
Without further ado, here are my 5 favourite female-led films!
MONA LISA SMILE
This is one of my favourite female-led films of all time. A graduate student from UCLA comes to the conservative, all-female Wellesley College to teach art history. She quickly realizes that the majority of the students in her class are primarily interested in finding husbands, rather than getting an education and a career. Slowly, their professor starts to show them a different life, one where they aren’t relegated to housewife and motherhood roles which was, at the time this movie is set, considered very dangerous and threatening to the social order. It’s a fantastic film all about sisterhood and strong women.
Let’s throw it all the way back to the early 20th century, long before “feminists” was even a term for women’s activists and in fact, women’s activism wasn’t really a thing. Suffragette is a historical period drama that tells the story of a woman who finds herself involved with the women’s suffrage movement in Britain in the 1910s. I stumbled upon this film sort of by accident and just throw it on out of curiosity but boy was I glad I did. It shows the horrific conditions these suffragettes had to face (such as incarceration and force-feeding), being isolated by their loved ones, and facing danger and discrimination all because they were fighting for justice. It’s extremely interesting, and I highly recommend watching it to get an idea of the severity of the suffrage movement.
MAMMIA MIA! & MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN
Yes, I included both the first and the second Mamma Mia films. In their own ways, they are absolutely chock-full of girl power and sisterhood and all the things you’d love to see in a film about women. The first film, of course, focuses on Sophie trying to find her father. However, it’s really about the relationship between mother and daughter, and the power that comes from that sort of love. In the second film, you can see generations of strong women and how they interact with each other which is amazing. Donna Sheridan is one of the strongest female characters in the world. It also puts emphasis on single motherhood and positive female friendships, as well as slams down any kind of slut-shaming because it’s 2019 and we ain’t about that anymore.
PRINCESS AND THE FROG
While this one might put some people off because it’s Disney and an animated film, please don’t let that deter you from watching it! It’s one of the most underrated Disney films out there. This film has an awesome positive message!! First off, it’s got a POC female lead, the first African-American star of a Disney animated film which is huge. Not only that, but Tiana is extremely ambitious, confident, and self-dependent. As a young woman in the 1920s, she defies the strict gender norms of that time that insist she settles down with a guy and has kids, and instead decides to open her own restaurant! #GIRLBOSS. I absolutely love this film so much and wish everyone would give it a chance.
Y’all had to have seen this one coming. What is a women’s empowerment post without mentioning the phenomenal Elle Woods? Elle Wood is incredible. While she appears at the start to be a selfish, snobby rich girl with no brain or determination (an overused film trope), she’s actually everything but all of those things. This film hits the nail on the head. It puts intelligent women at the forefront, gives icky men what they deserve, and highlights the importance of female friendships. Hallelujah. Also, this film gets extra points just for the “You got into Harvard?”- “What, like it’s hard?” scene. Iconic.
What female-led film has left a lasting impact on you?