We’ve rounded up a selection of female-led movies with the kind of ceiling smashing ladies we would want on our team.
These are the films that do more than entertain us; they inspire us, empower us and make us feel proud to be a woman. From Little Women to Hidden Figures, these are the movies that have no problem passing the Bechdel Test. Who run the world? Girls.
1. Moana (2016)
This Disney film does away with the classic white fairy tale formula. Moana is a determined, diligent, go-getting heroine with bigger fish to fry than finding her prince charming. She’s out there doing it for herself, speaking her mind and setting sail on a great voyage of self-discovery, not for a man but for the sake of her family and her people. Honourable mention: Heihei her hopeless but hilarious rooster sidekick.
2. Thelma & Louise (1991)
Despite its release nearly 30 years ago, this landmark feminist film still resonates today. Starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis as two road-tripping buddies on the run from their abusive boyfriends and the law, it’s a movie with female triumph at its core. What a duo!
3. Queen of Katwe (2016)
Disney’s feel-good film Queen of Katwe is based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a 10-year-old girl living in the Uganda slum of Katwe with her single mother and siblings. For Phiona and her family, life is a constant struggle but when she is introduced to the game of chess, her world changes for the better. From slum kid to international chess champion, this film redefines what it means to play like a girl.
4. Legally Blonde (2001)
Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) single-handedly flipped the dumb blonde stereotype on its head, proving women can wear whatever the hell they want and get sh*t done. A woman who likes pink AND slays in the courtroom – it was a wild idea for 2001.
5. Erin Brockovich (2000)
Julia Roberts stars in this legal drama based on the true story of Erin Brockovich, a single mother of three who becomes a legal assistant at a law firm. When she stumbles across suspicious medical records from a little-known case filed against Pacific Gas and Electric, she does some digging and discovers the company is poisoning a city’s water supply which threatens the health of an entire community. So she takes on the big dogs and brings them to their knees. She who dares wins.
6. Hidden Figures (2016)
Based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s non-fiction book of the same title, Hidden Figures tells the untold story of three pioneering African American female mathematicians who worked at NASA in the ‘60s. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson were the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. But this isn’t a film about the man who made it to the moon, it’s about the brilliant black women who helped get him there in the first place.
7. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Remember this cult classic from the 00s? Not only did it bend the rules by raising questions about inequality in professional sports, cultural expectations and gender roles, it also broke on-screen tampon taboos. Yep, in 2002. It was way ahead of its time.
8. Suffragette (2015)
Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep lead the cast of this powerful historical drama about the women who were willing to lose everything in their fight for the equality. A movie bound to make you stop and think next time you’re free to pop your paper in the ballot box.
9. Harriet (2019)
“I will see every last drop of blood in my veins until this monster called slavery is dead.” This is the extraordinary true story of the heroic freedom fighter, Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo). After fleeing the Maryland farm where she spent her life enslaved, she changed the course of history by joining the abolitionist movement and making the perilous journey back to the plantation. Her fight led to the liberation of hundreds of enslaved black people.
10. Little Women (2019)
Drawing on the classic Louisa May Alcott novel, Little Women is the coming of age story about four young sisters determined to live life on their own terms. The recent remake just made us love this story even more – plus, you can’t go far wrong with Saoirse Ronan at the helm. We want ‘Be more Jo March’ tattooed on us immediately.