The 35 best movies to celebrate Women’s Day

The 35 best movies to celebrate Women’s Day

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International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to watch movies with interesting female characters and inspiring stories about women and their life struggles. So, let’s grab some wine, popcorn, sit comfortably and enjoy a ladies movie night with some truly amazing women!

But first…

Why do we celebrate Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8th. It is a day to commemorate the struggles and sacrifices of the women who fought so that we have a more just and well governed society today (although much still needs to be done). Because women’s rights are human rights and any society that supports its women gets an improved standard of living for all its citizens in the end.

Women of the Reliance Waist Company - Photo: The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
Women of the Reliance Waist Company – Photo: The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives

Historically speaking, in the beginning there was no set date for its celebration. It is said that the particular date is an anniversary of a protest by women garment workers in New York on March 8, 1857. However, this is debated by historians.

At any rate, as the legendary Gloria Steinem said:

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem

Truth be told, there is still much way to go before true equality for all people is achieved. For instance, according to the Telegraph:

“A gender pay gap persists across the globe and women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics. Figures show that globally, women’s education, health and violence towards women is still worse than that of men.”

The Telegraph, UK

So we still have a long way to go. At the same time, it has been found that societies that have better gender equality are also more prosperous and quality of life is better for everyone, regardless of gender or colour. Therefore, a better gender balance is beneficial for all.

35 movies with a strong female-led story

So, in order to get us all inspired to pursue our dreams and goals, whatever they may be, from a big family to a big career, here is my selection of 35 movies with a strong female lead.

1. Erin Brockovich

An unemployed single mother becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city’s water supply.

2. Mona Lisa Smile

A free-thinking art professor teaches conservative 1950s Wellesley girls to question their traditional social roles.

3. Hidden Figures

The true story of a group of Afro-American mathematicians who played a crucial role in the success of NASA’s space exploration program in its early days.

4. Hunger Games

In a dystopian future, a brutal contest between 24 young people, chosen randomly from 12 districts, takes place regularly in the totalitarian society of Panem. 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen will volunteer to take the place of her younger sister and eventually find herself the unlikely hero of the Resistance.

5. Captain Marvel

The first female superhero from MCU with her very own movie, which opened on International Women’s Day. Carol Danvers started out as one of the first female pilots of the US Air Force, and eventually grew into a superhero with unrivaled superpowers (thanks to an alien race’s interference) and a protector of planet Earth.

6. Wonder Woman

When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana, an Amazonian warrior in training, leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

7. Legally Blonde

Elle Woods, a fashionable sorority queen is dumped by her boyfriend. She decides to follow him to law school, while she is there she figures out that there is more to her than just looks.

8. Persepolis

A precocious and outspoken Iranian girl grows up during the Islamic Revolution and witnesses first hand how the religious takeover of the country changes the lives of the women (and the men) of Iran.

9. A League of Their Own

Two sisters join the first female professional baseball league and struggle to help it succeed amidst their own growing rivalry.

10. The Devil Wears Prada

A bright but sensitive budding journalist gets her first job as personal assistant to the notorious director of a famous fashion magazine and discover the real challenges behind fashion’s glamorous facade.

11. Out Of Africa

In 20th-century colonial Kenya, a Danish baroness/plantation owner has a passionate love affair with a free-spirited big-game hunter.

12. Thelma & Louise

Two best friends set out on an adventure, but it soon turns into a terrifying escape from being hunted by the police, as these two girls escape for the crimes they committed.

13. Juno

Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.

14. The Queen

Following the death of Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II struggles with her reaction to a sequence of events nobody could have predicted. An incredible Hellen Mirren stars as Elizabeth II.

15. Million Dollar Baby

A determined woman works with a hardened boxing trainer to become a professional.

16. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Video game adventurer Lara Croft comes to life in a movie where she races against time and villains to recover powerful ancient artifacts.

17. Gone With The Wind

A manipulative woman finds her whole world turned upside down by war and will do everything in her power so that both her and her loved ones survive it. Note: despite featuring a strong female character in the lead, unfortunately the movie’s portrayal of Afro-Americans is quite demeaning.

18. The Iron Lady

An elderly Margaret Thatcher talks to the imagined presence of her recently deceased husband as she struggles to come to terms with his death while scenes from her past life, from girlhood to British prime minister, intervene.

19. Terminator 2: Judgement Day

A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her ten year old son, John Connor, from a more advanced cyborg. But this time, Sarah has evolved into a full-scale kick-ass mother who won’t let anybody hurt her child.

20. Alien

After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.

21. The Long Kiss Goodnight

A woman suffering from amnesia begins to recover her memories after trouble from her past finds her again.

22. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Lisbeth Salander is an eccentric and feisty hacker, who teams up with journalist Mikael Blomkvist, to discover what happened a woman gone missing forty years ago.

23. Nine to Five

Three female employees of a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot find a way to turn the tables on him.

24. The Color Purple

A black Southern woman struggles to find her identity after suffering abuse from her father and others over four decades.

25. Fried Green Tomatoes

A housewife who is unhappy with her life befriends an old lady in a nursing home and is enthralled by the tales she tells of people she used to know.

26. Whale Rider

A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize.

27. Little Women

Louisa May Alcott’s autobiographical account of her life with her three sisters in Concord, Massachusetts in the 1860s. With their father fighting in the American Civil War, sisters Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth are at home with their mother, a very outspoken women for her time. The story tells of how the sisters grow up, find love and find their place in the world.

28. Orlando

Young nobleman Orlando is commanded by Queen Elizabeth I to stay forever young. Miraculously, he does just that. The film follows him as he moves through several centuries of British history, experiencing a variety of lives and relationships along the way, and even changing sex.

Mandatory credit: TM & copyright 20th Century Fox. No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage. No Book or TV usage without prior permission from Rex
Mandatory Credit: Photo by c.20thC.Fox/Everett / Rex Features (409708c)
Keira Knightley, Parminder Nagra, Shaznay Lewis – 2002

29. Bend it like Beckham

The daughter of orthodox Sikh rebels against her parents’ traditionalism and joins a football team.

30. Julie & Julia

The life of chef Julia Child during her years in Paris, when she first fell in love with cooking, as told in parallel to the life of blogger Julia Powell, who set out to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s cooking book. The movie was based on both Julia Child’s autobiography “My Life in France” and Julia Powell’s book “Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen”.

31. First Wives Club

Reunited by the death of a college friend, three divorced women seek revenge on the husbands who left them for younger women.

32. Emma

While matchmaking for friends and neighbours, a young 19th Century English woman nearly misses her own chance at love. Film adaptation of the classic Jane Austen novel, starring Gwyneth Paltrow

33. Elizabeth & Elizabeth: The Golden Age

A film of the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I of England and her difficult task of learning what is necessary to be a monarch, starring the amazing Cate Blanchett.

34. The Joy Luck Club

The life histories of four Asian women and their daughters reflect and guide each other.

35. The African Queen

In Africa during World War I, a gin-swilling riverboat captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.

So, will you be watching any of these movies this Women’s Day? Which one is your favourite and are there any I have left out?


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