There’s nothing we love better than storylines that feature complicated, strong and fleshed out female characters. However, finding films that feature women who add depth and emotion to a storyline that does them justice can be a hard thing to find.
It’s undoubtedly gotten better over the years with production companies like Reese Witherspoon’s optioning lots of great books featuring strong women like Where the Crawdads Sing, but there’s still lots of work to do. For now though, we have a list of some of the best female-led films that are all about power, resistance and being true to your self and beliefs.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
A London writer bonds with the colourful residents of Guernsey Island as she learns about the book club they formed during the WWII German occupation. Starring Lily James, this wholesome watch is all about usurping expectations and following your heart. Definitely one of my favourite films in the last few years.
Easy A (2010)
When a lie about Olive’s reputation transforms her from anonymous to infamous in her high school, she decides to embrace a provocative new persona. Based on Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, this film interrogates shame culture, gossip and social and sexual hierarchies with a searing wit that suits Emma Stone’s character down to the ground.
A United Kingdom (2016)
An English woman’s marriage to Botswana’s royal heir causes diplomatic uproar, but the coupe fights against all odds to follow their hearts. Flying in the face of tradition, Rosamund Pike makes a bold choice to follow her heart in a time when it was dangerous to do so.
Jane Eyre (2011)
Driven from her past at Thornfield House, young governess Jane Eyre reflects on her youth and the events that led her to the misty moors. A classic for a reason, Jane Eyre is all about staying true to your values and finding freedom from an oppressive patriarchal system.
Late Night (2019)
On the verge of being replaced, a longtime talk show host attempts to re-vamp her brand when a driven woman joins her all-male writer’s room. A sharp and funny film from Mindy Kaling, it interrogates diversity and inclusion in new and interesting ways that don’t shy away from the hard and awkward questions.
The Imitation Game (2014)
During World War II, a mathematician leads a team of cryptanalysts as they work feverishly to break the German’s notorious Enigma code. I’m a huge Kiera Knightly fan, so I’m a fan of most films she stars in, but The Imitation Game is definitely one of her best. Tense, fascinating and complex, her character plays an unlikely genius who becomes one of the greatest code breakers of her time.
Mamma Mia (2008)
On the Greek isle of Kalokairi, a single mom goes into a tizzy when her bride-to-be daughter invites three of moms ex-lovers to the wedding. A single mom raising a daughter alone in a foreign country, Meryl Streep’s performance in this film will have you crying both with pain for her and laughter.
At the beginning of the 20th century, circumstances drive a young idealistic suffragette to find radical approaches to fighting male oppression. A young mother is radicalised to resist the brutal state that increasingly quashes her fight for her rights.
Wonder Woman (2017)
A warrior princess leaves the relative safety of her sheltered island home in hopes of putting an end to a devastating war on the outside world. A fun fantasy story that’s all about finding freedom and helping others, Wonder Woman gets a revamp in this modern re-telling.
Inspired by her mom’s rebellious past and a confident new friend, a shy 16-year-old publishes an anonymous zine calling out sexism at her school. It's a refreshing, young look at the roots of why it isn't just 'boys being boys', at why the system will always want as little mess to clean up as possible, why feminism needs to be intersectional and how there is power in girl's unifying, not being made adversaries by the value that men assign to us.
Enola Holmes (2020)
While searching for her missing mother, intrepid teen Enola Holmes uses her sleuthing skills to outsmart her big brother Sherlock and help a runaway lord. A great example of a young woman asserting her independence, Enola is fun, intelligent and has a great storyline of which she is the heroine.
A Call to Spy (2019)
After France falls to the Nazis, two women seek to support the war effort by spying for a secret agency under Churchill. Based on a true story, this heart-in-your-mouth storyline is an unbelievable story featuring so many incredible female storylines of wily and cutthroat women.
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
An updated take on the Snow White tale finds the fair-skinned maiden battling the Evil Queen with skills learnt from the huntsman sent to kill her. A fairytale that’s been twisted to give the power back to the damsel in distress, it’s a refreshing retelling.
I Am Woman (2019)
In the 1960s, Australian singer, Helen Reddy struggles with misogyny in the music industry – until she records and anthem for the women’s movement. Fighting back and asserting independence is what this woman is all about.