It’s International Women’s Month this March, an incredibly important time to advocate and support the fight for gender equality. To celebrate this monumental and difficult time period in current events and history, here are a few films that you can watch to celebrate the strength and resilience of women everywhere.
I love this movie more than words can articulate. I mean, how could you not? The production value of the film is phenomenal, it features an all–star cast, and the plot was an absolute rollercoaster. Its fierce portrayal of women, in a way that other Academy—acclaimed films rarely do, is inspiring and hopeful to see.
The film gives such a diverse representation of femininity—all versions of which are portrayed as equally valid and powerful. Of course, there's Furiosa, with her blackened makeup and undulating ferocity—the absolute epitome of female empowerment. But there's also the harem of wives, each breathtakingly beautiful and undeniably strong in their own right. Every woman rebels bravely and admirably, shattering the trope of purely masculine strength that tends to be common in a lot of big screen female protagonists.
Julia Roberts and her phenomenal acting should be incentive enough to watch this film. She even won an Academy Award for this stunning performance in 2001. But, the most empowering aspect of this movie is its basis in reality. Erin Brokovich was a real–life badass who helped take down the Pacific Gas and Electric Company of California in an anti–pollution lawsuit despite not being formally educated in law. It’s an inspirational tale, and it’s even more awe–inspiring on the big screen.
This film is less well known, a hidden gem within Netflix’s mixed–bag inventory of movies. It stars Julia Roberts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julia Stiles, and Kirsten Dunst, an absolute all–star cast of female heroines. The movie follows a group of female students in 1953 studying at Wellesley who take an art history class taught by Roberts. They all come from varying backgrounds and have wildly diverse future trajectories that are influenced by their perceptions of what women are traditionally meant to pursue. Many have plans for marriage and domestic life that prevent them from pursuing independence, careers, or further education. Roberts serves to teach them about the infinite possibilities available to them that don’t simply end with a wedding ring, and each woman leaves profoundly impacted by her tutelage. It’s a wonderful movie that is guaranteed to leave you invigorated and itching to go out and change the world.
Science fiction is a genre that rarely includes women, which is why this film is so revolutionary. Ellen Ripley was a complete badass and it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with her rugged determination. It is one of very few films centered around a female protagonist that doesn’t shove her femininity down the throats of the audience. It doesn’t contain the stilettos, skin–tight outfits, and cleavage typical of a fighting heroine, but it also doesn’t cover her up with an air of masculinity. She’s a woman, but her gender has no impact on the plot progression. Gender is almost an afterthought, which is what makes it so empowering. It reinforces the idea that your gender orientation should logically play no part in what you can accomplish.
Queer romances are hard to come by, but Academy–acclaimed lesbian romances? Almost an impossibility, which makes this film especially revolutionary. The movie follows Therese and the whirlwind romance she begins with Carol, a divorcee in the midst of a custody battle with her husband. It's heart–wrenching, it’s beautiful, and it depicts a same–sex couple in the 1950s while many movie studios find it difficult to depict a same–sex couple in 2019. It’s a film you need to watch at some point in your life, and there’s no time like the present.
It's upsetting that the list of movies made to empower women of color is far too short, but The Color Purple is an incredibly moving film that manages to do just that. It is based off of the legendary award–winning novel by Alice Walker that follows the life of African–American women in the South during the 1930s. It’s an eye–opening story that never fails to leave me in tears. It’s easy to think of feminism as a white, upper–class movement, especially with how it tends to be portrayed in media and viral trends—but it’s crucial to note that intersectional feminism is the most important kind. Films like this serve to constantly remind us to do so, which is what makes this movie arguably the most important one on this list.
This is by no means an exhaustive repertoire of empowering films, but it serves as a starting point. Movies are a tool with which to empower, educate, and advocate. They are an incredibly powerful medium that, when used correctly, can incite true change in the way we as an audience see the world. Let’s use this power for good this International Women’s Month and support women from all backgrounds, races, sexual orientations, and aspirations. Be loud, be proud, and don’t stop fighting for equality in all forms.