International Women's Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. What better time to binge some of your all-time favourite feminist flicks?
March is the perfect time to indulge in girl-power movie marathons. Not only does the world celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, but March is also Women's History Month in the US, meant to highlight the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.
Although the women’s movement is enjoying more attention than ever thanks to campaigns like #MeToo and #TimesUp, there’s still a long way to go. A gender pay gap persists across the globe. Violence against women remains one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations worldwide. It’s crucial to keep fighting for equality. So movies featuring strong, witty, ambitious, intelligent and tough women are just what the doctor prescribed for when you’re in need of an extra ounce of motivation.
The characters who inspire us
In celebration of International Women's Day, finder discusses the most badass women in film and television. Read more…
There are a lot of feminist movies out there, but we decided to focus on titles readily available on streaming platforms, to make this list as accessible as possible. Some of these movies are classics, others are plain fun, but they all have one thing in common – they feature complex and powerful female characters. Ready, set, binge!
1. Hidden Figures
Intersectional feminism triumphs in Hidden Figures, a movie about African-American female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Space Race. It's a heartwarming and charming flick, all about celebrating the contributions these remarkable women made during a pivotal moment in history.
Moreover, Hidden Figures portrays its protagonists as hard-working science researchers who are able to balance their personal and professional lives to achieve success. And last but not least, it highlights the fact that equal opportunity is necessary to find the best person for the job, promoting innovation and productivity in the workplace. To sum up, this movie is inspiring on so many levels.
- Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Goble Johnson
- Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan
- Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson
- Kevin Costner as Al Harrison
Watch Hidden Figures with iTunes from iTunes StoreView details
2. Gone With The Wind
Scarlett O'Hara may not be 100% likeable, but she's one of the most complex and intriguing female characters to ever grace the big screen. The movie follows her as she survives through the tragic history of the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction, while also depicting her tangled love affairs.
Gone with the Wind is a classic for many reasons – the gorgeous cinematography, the strong performances, the humour that still holds up all these years later. But it's also important to note how refreshing it is to see a female character just as well-rounded as her male counterparts. Scarlett is selfish, narcissistic and manipulative. At the same time, she's a strong and quick-witted woman who survives because of her ruthlessness in a time when being ladylike was a must. A woman ahead of her time, to say the least.
- Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara
- Clark Gable as Rhett Butler
- Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Hamilton
- Hattie McDaniel as Mammy
Watch Gone With The Wind with iTunes from iTunes StoreView details
A feminist story for the ages. Fearful that her ailing father will be drafted into the Chinese military, Mulan takes his spot. As a girl living under a patriarchal regime, she is unqualified to serve, so she decides to impersonate a man. Accompanied by her dragon, Mushu, Mulan trains with her fellow recruits and uses her smarts to help ward off a Hun invasion, bringing honour to her family along the way.
Mulan is Disney's feminist princess, strong and determined. She challenges gender roles by becoming a skilled soldier and saving her country. She refuses to conform in order to fit into society. Instead, she disrupts the standard for women by staying true to her beliefs and strengths. To say the movie is empowering would be an understatement.
- Ming-Na Wen as Mulan
- Eddie Murphy as Mushu
- Lea Salonga as Mulan's singing voice
- B.D. Wong as Captain Li Shang
Watch Mulan with iTunes from iTunes StoreView details
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
Set in a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland, the movie follows Max, who joins forces with Imperator Furiosa to flee from a cult leader and his army in an armoured tanker truck. But here's the catch: Max is a secondary character in the movie. Mad Max: Fury Road is actually the story of a feminist revolt, as Imperator Furiosa leads the despot's five wives in a daring escape.
The movie is riveting, action-packed
and thrilling. A larger-than-life story with mind-blowing cinematography, Mad Max: Fury Road will have you on the edge of your seat. At the same time, it will make you admire these women so willing to advance life while surrounded only by death and destruction. All in all, this is a rare action blockbuster that doesn't reduce women to arm candy. It acknowledges their resourcefulness.
- Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky
- Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa
- Nicholas Hoult as Nux
- Zoë Kravitz as Toast the Knowing
Watch Mad Max: Fury Road with iTunes from iTunes StoreView details
2. 9 to 5
Had a bad week at work? Sit back and enjoy this tale of three women who decide to get back at their tyrannical boss. 9 to 5 is a hilarious office satire about three female secretaries who abduct their sexist boss and run the business themselves. Silly? Maybe. Radical? You bet.
After the secretaries take over, they implement progressive changes that turned out to be way ahead of the curve, given that the movie was released back in 1980. In fact, some of these changes are so progressive that we're still waiting for them to become reality all these years later. Oh, and did we mention the movie stars Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda?
- Dolly Parton as Doralee Rhodes
- Jane Fonda as Judy Bernly
- Lily Tomlin as Violet Newstead
- Dabney Coleman as Franklin M. Hart Jr.
Watch 9 to 5 with iTunes from iTunes StoreView details
Clueless is a coming-of-age romantic comedy film released in 1995 that's so embedded in pop culture that people still enthusiastically talk about it today. In a nutshell, the movie is about Cher, a high school student who tries to boost a new pupil's popularity and ends up reassessing her life in the process. It's loosely based on Jane Austen's Emma, doing an excellent job of adapting the tale to a modern setting.
A comedy about high school life on the surface, the film's feminist undertones are now clearer than ever. Cher may appear like your typical spoiled rich girl, but she is fiercely loyal and ambitious. She values her female friendships, stands up for herself and isn't looking for anyone's approval. In other words, when it comes to Cher, there's more than meets the eye. She may value her appearance, but who doesn't? Clueless is a joyous celebration of being a girly girl, and there's nothing wrong with that.
- Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz
- Stacey Dash as Dionne Davenport
- Brittany Murphy as Tai Frasier
- Paul Rudd as Josh Lucas
Watch Clueless with iTunes from iTunes StoreView details
4. Legally Blonde (Foxtel Now, Stan)
Not only is Reese Witherspoon a precious cinnamon roll, but she gives us an iconic feminist hero to look up to – one who manages to accomplish her goals without losing sense of who she is along the way. Legally Blonde follows Elle, a sorority girl who attempts to win back her ex-boyfriend by enrolling to Harvard and getting a law degree.
The movie shows that women can achieve anything they want without sacrificing their femininity. It highlights supportive friendships between women and proves that it's not OK to allow others to define you. Finally, Legally Blonde is plain fun. You'll laugh, you'll sigh, you'll cheer. It's the perfect flick to watch when you're feeling down.
- Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods
- Luke Wilson as Emmett Richmond
- Selma Blair as Vivian Kensington
- Jennifer Coolidge as Paulette Bonafonté
Watch Legally Blonde with iTunes from iTunes StoreView details
1. Erin Brockovich
This biographical movie follows an unemployed single mother who becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a California company accused of polluting a city's water supply. It stars Julia Roberts, who delivers a nuanced and memorable performance. You'll root for Erin from beginning to end and you'll likely appreciate the movie's smarts and humour along the way.
More than that, though, Erin Brockovich showcases the true strength of women. Erin doesn't let people who judge her solely by her clothes bring her down. She doesn't let the fact that she doesn't have a higher education get in her way. She's strong and unafraid to fight for success, despite the odds being against her. And hey – she looks great while doing it.
- Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich
- Erin Brockovich as Waitress Julia
- Albert Finney as Edward L. Masry
- Aaron Eckhart as George
Watch Erin Brockovich with iTunes from iTunes StoreView details
1. A League of Their Own
This iconic movie tells a fictionalized account of the real-life, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). Not only is this a feminist flick because of the subject matter, but it also stars Geena Davis, an outspoken feminist, and was directed by Penny Marshall. Marshall also directed Big, which became the first film directed by a woman to gross in excess of $100 million at the US box office.
A League of Their Own showcases the importance of female friendship and teamwork. At the same time, the movie proves that women can do everything men do. While the female team doesn't become as popular as the male one, the girls build a devoted audience and earn respect amongst baseball fans. After all, there's no crying in baseball.
- Geena Davis as Dorothy "Dottie" Hinson
- Madonna as "All the Way" Mae Mordabito
- Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan
- Rosie O'Donnell as Doris Murphy
Watch A League of Their Own with iTunes from iTunes StoreView details
2. Thelma & Louise
Back when it was released, Thelma & Louise challenged gendered genre norms, offering a rare female version of the male buddy film. Two best friends set out on an adventure that turns into a flight from the law after Louise shoots and kills a man who tries to rape Thelma at a bar.
Besides obvious feminist themes, the movie is amazing for highlighting the depth of female friendship. Thelma and Louise's relationship isn't perfect, as they often give each other a hard time. But that's the beauty of it. It's raw and real and complex, just as female friendships are in real life. If you haven't seen it yet, now's the perfect time to tune in.
- Brad Pitt as Dorothy "Dottie" Hinson
- Geena Davis as "All the Way" Mae Mordabito
- Susan Sarandon as Jimmy Dugan
- Harvey Keitel as Doris Murphy
Watch Thelma & Louise with iTunes from iTunes StoreView details
Bonus: Wonder Woman
This is the epic origin story of Wonder Woman, who started off as Diana, Princess of the Amazons. Raised on Themyscira, a sheltered island paradise, Diana rescues an American pilot who crashes nearby and finds out about the massive conflict that's raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can help, she leaves the island for the first time and begins to fight alongside men in a war to end all wars.
The movie itself is a step forward for feminism. Diana embodies a feminine sense of justice and emotional intelligence, without sacrificing that superhero charisma viewers are so familiar with. She's kind and fearless. She doesn't let others tell her what to do; instead, she forges her own path and discovers her destiny. Because that's what feminism is all about – equality, choice, and freedom.
The movie isn't available on streaming services just yet but will drop on both Netflix and Foxtel Now on March 20. Mark your calendars.
- Gal Gadot as Diana Prince
- Chris Pine as Steve Trevor
- Robin Wright as Antiope
- Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta
Watch Bonus: Wonder Woman with iTunes from iTunes StoreView details
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