Wednesday, 11 June 2014

My Favourite Films Starring Women

Okay, so sexism in Hollywood is not new, and Cate Blanchett called them out on Oscar Night, letting people know that films starring women aren't "niche" and actually do make money! The shock!

So I thought I'd make up a list of my favourite films that definitely star women. Whether or not they pass the Bechdel test (because Gravity doesn't and the fact that it "fails" as a feminist film is silly) is not coming into question here, but I thought I'd just highlight films that I love that star females. It's a range of films, some critically acclaimed, some not, but it's a list of films I personally enjoy, and I hope you like as well.

Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Okay, you all knew I was going to list this one. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books and favourite films. Beautifully shot and starring a vastly female cast it's a story of first impressions and how wrong they can be. Elizabeth Bennett is a fantastic icon for women. She's strong and independent and knows she shouldn't just take the first guy to ask her to marry her. It's got a great cast and even has a fab role for Judi Dench being amazingly mean (which she's brilliant at). And while the movie is about romance and husbands and parties, it's still a film about a diverse range of women and one worth appreciating. There's room for strong female leads in a romantic film!

The Hunger Games & Catching Fire
The first and second The Hunger Games movies are also filled with great characters. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss was great casting and these films really show that both men and women will enjoy a female lead action film. Catching Fire was one of the top grossing films of 2013, and nabbed a 89% on RottenTomatoes to boot. Katniss is another strong (but also vulnerable and scared) female lead, and while she does lean on Peeta and/or Gale for a lot of support, she ultimately follows her own heart and mind. 

All About Eve
An oldie here, but definitely a great female film. An aging star and a bright new star, and a satire on Hollywood. Bette Davis is fantastic (as always, really) as the older "mentor" star, and Anne Baxter is great as Eve, the young girl clamoring for fame and success. While these women do have male counterparts, they definitely don't need them to get where they are, and pick their battles between each other on their own. 

An Education
Carey Mulligan is perhaps my favourite thing about this movie, but this also says a lot about the importance of education and feminism. Jenny is doing everything she can to get accepted to Oxford, and has a fantastic shot at it. But then she meets David, a much older man who shows her the world outside of school, and even charms her parents. But she has to make choices, between her education and a life of wealth and marriage. It's a great little film and Carey Mulligan gives a great performances. It's also pretty cute and really pretty. 

Julie and Julia
Gotta have some Meryl Streep on here! Meryl has played such a range of women and I just love her in this. It's 2 contrasting stories. The first is of Julia Child, a woman recently moved to Paris and is trying to find her place in the world, knowing she loves food and takes up cooking. She bursts through the sexist barriers of the time and becomes a legend. In post-911 New York, Julie Powell has a terrible job, is now 30 and needs a hobby. She decides to cook through Julia Child's cookbook in 1 year. It's about marriage, and cooking and the power of food and a bond between two women who have never met. Amy Adam is also quite fun and it's overall a nice little film. 

Easy A
Emma Stone is fantastic and the fact that she hasn't starred in more films as a lead is beyond me. Olive lies to her friend about what she did over the weekend and the rumors spread, labelling her a slut. Instead of correcting these rumors, she decides to play them up. A definite nod to the Scarlet Letter, Emma Stone is hilarious as Olive, and never needs a guy to get her out of her situation. 

The Help
I have a sort spot for the Help. I know it's not the most brave film about racism and definitely is a little glossy, but there are such fantastic female performances and the film has very few men (and even less of importance). It's a role about unlikely friendships and the barriers they break in the process. Octavia Spencer is a stand-out and Viola Davis is heartbreaking and Jessica Chastain is such a riot.

The Devil Wears Prada
I'm a sucker for this film. Meryl Streep is extremely fabulous and, like tumblr likes to say, Miranda Priestly is everyone's inner sass. It has such a fun range of women, from Meryl Streep as cold and fabulous, Anne Hathaway is just trying to fit in, and Emily Blunt as the self-obsessed Paris fashion fanatic (and I can't help but mention Stanley Tucci as he's awesome always). Even though this film is about fashion, the women are definitely not weak. 

Mean Girls
How could I not include this one? One of the most popular films ever stars a mainly female cast, most of which went on to make great careers for themselves to boot. I don't even think I need to say anything about Mean Girls. It shows how funny women can be. Also Amy Poehler makes an appearance which is kind of my favourite part 

I love Gravity. And I love Alfonso Cuaron for saying no to the studio when they requested he make the lead a male, and when he said no to giving Sandra Bullock a love story and flashbacks. We see Ryan Stone exactly how she is at the moment and where she's going. Sandra Bullock is fabulous in this film and entirely carries the movie. It's beyond beautiful and immense and is an amazing cinematic experience, all of it resting on the shoulders of Sandy. 

So this concludes my personal list! There's probably tons more I could've added but these are the ones I love lately and the best ones I could think of. I'm sure I could've added a rom-com or two here, but whatever. Sound off in the comments on your favourite movies starring women!

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