I love lists. And I love female-led movies. So here’s a list of female-led movies that I really like! While there is certainly no perfect feminist film out there (at least not to my knowledge), these are some of my favourites.
Starring Ellen Page & directed by Drew Barrymore, this movie is not only led by and focused on women, but also written and directed by women! The story follows 17-year old Bliss Cavendar, whose mother makes her compete in beauty pageants. Bliss doesn’t exactly love going to pageants, and while shopping in Austin she finds flyers about Roller Derby – and after attending a game, she starts skating and joins a team herself, and through the sport & the support of her teammates, she finds new strength and a new identity.
For a Good Time, Call
This movie may not sound like a feminist’s dream, but trust me, it’s pretty heartwarming. It follows two friends who start a sex line of their own to earn extra cash, and the ups and downs of their friendship and business partnership. While both women are in relationships, the main “romance” is between the two of them. It’s a cute, light-hearted film about female friendship that I really enjoyed.
Alien is pretty much THE woman-led action franchise, and the first movie is a must-see for fans of science fiction. A commercial mining ship investigates a possible SOS and inadvertently brings aboard an alien life form when a crewmember is attacked by a parasitic ‘face–hugger’ on the planet. Said alien life form turns out to be a sadistic, fast-growing monster set on killing off the crew one by one but finds a worthy opponent in the clever, no-nonsense Ellen Ripley played by actual legend Sigourney Weaver.
In ‘Aliens’, Ripley reaches earth only to find she’s been adrift for half a lifetime. And during her time in stasis, a colony has been set up on the same planet where the first xenomorph was picked up. Unsurprisingly, the colony becomes overrun with xenomorphs who use the colonists as living incubators for their tiny, adorable baby aliens. A bunch of tough-talking space marines are sent to the colony to deal with the alien problem, and Ripley comes along, being the only person with any know-how when it comes to xenomorphs.
A League of Their Own
As someone who actively avoids anything sport-related, the baseball-themed movie is one of my (few) exceptions. The story follows sisters Dottie & Kit who join an all-female baseball league during World War II. The female league is made to replace the regular men’s league when the men are off to war, but when the tide turns in favour of the allied forces, the female league is at risk of being shut down to make space for the returning “real” stars. The story follows the sisters and follows themes of sisterhood, rivalry and following your dreams.
But I’m A Cheerleader
Megan is a typical teenage girl – cheerleader, boyfriend, many friends. But one day, she comes home to an “intervention” – her friends and parents suspect her of lesbianism, and want to send her to “gay rehab” to make her straight again. Said “rehab” is hilariously bizarre – girls are surrounded by pink and made to learn how to take care of babies and clean while boys must only wear blue and learn how to fix cars and chop firewood. In this bizarre situation, Megan falls in love with Graham, a girl who also attends the rehab. This movie is absurdly hilarious and heartwarming, as Megan comes to terms with her identity. If you like older Tim Burton stuff like Edward Scissorhands or Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, you’ll probably enjoy the strange humour of this movie!
This Disney/Pixar release is a beautifully animated story set in the Scottish highlands. Princess Merida finds out that her parents intend to marry her off to an heir to one of the three other clans, and as she has absolutely no interest in getting married, Merida cooks up a plan to win her own hand. This leads to a big fight with her mother, and Merida rides into the forest to be alone for a while. There, she meets a witch from whom she buys a spell to change her mother – but it turns out said spell has unwanted side effects. Set on saving her mother, Merida must break the spell before it’s too late. It’s a really beautiful and heartwarming movie that for once focuses on a mother-daughter relationship in a healthy way.
Milla Jovovich kills zombies. There’s really not much more to say.
St.Trinians has quite the legacy, as movies about the delinquent schoolgirls of St.Trinians have been made since the 1950s. This newer version stars Talulah Riley as Annabelle Fritton, who is transferred to St.Trinians, a school where her eccentric auntie is headmistress. St.Trinians is brimming with out-of-control kids and illegal activity, and Annabelle is soon pulled into the punk-rock spirit of the school. When the students find out that the school is bankrupt and is to be shut down, they devise a plan to steal “Girl with a pearl earring” and sell it on the black market to save St.Trinians from being shut down. It’s a pretty funny, cheeky heist story starring delinquent rejects and there’s a fun sequel as well, where the students overthrow an evil secret-society whose main purpose is to oppress women.