My Top 10 Female Empowering Films.

joey-thompson-63366.jpg

I get it. It's the end of a long week and for whatever reason you feel like you have been overlooked, overworked, and running on fumes. You are confident that what you are doing brings meaning and fulfillment into your life but for whatever reason, life decided you were next in line for a good "one-two punch." You have accepted it and you're ready to reset and gain inspiration. You have decided that you want the next two hours of your evening to be brought in with bundles of achievement toppling over waning adversity, loads of female empowerment, and maybe just one glass of moscato.  

Well friends, your wish is my command.

Mona Lisa Smile. In a time when women were highly discouraged to work outside of the home, Katherine Watson, an art history professor from the west coast, takes a job educating at one of the finest, all-girl colleges in the nation. With hopes of molding some of the most brilliant female minds in the country, she is met with resistance for encouraging her students to be authentic, even if their personal goals are different than the lives set out before them by society.

(Currently playing on Hulu and Amazon Prime Streaming with subscription)

A League of Their Own. You don't often times find the perfect combination of sensitivity and toughness in a film, but Penny Marshall isn't every director, as many of her films have been known to champion the successes of women. In the backdrop of this film, the world is at war and America's favorite past-time has called upon its women to come together and play in the first women's baseball league. This film chronicles the story of two very different and talented sisters in their own right, through struggle, heartache, and persistence. By the end of this film, you will be rooting for each and every player.

(Currently playing on Hulu with subscription.)

Elizabeth. Let's be clear, Cate Blanchett is easily one of the 10 most talented actresses of the last 20 years and rightfully so. In this film she plays the title role of a princess turned queen, whose right to the throne of England was questioned from the moment she was born. From an early age she was deceived by those she trusted, plotted against, and threatened, only to take away from all those experiences a source of strength and guardedness. This lady was a boss and strived ceaselessly for others to accept and acknowledge her leadership.

(Available to rent on Amazon Video)

Hello, Dolly! So I love musicals, but perhaps more importantly, is there anything more powerful than a lady who sings, dances, and works hard for what she wants? Dolly Levi is played by the incomparable Barbara Streisand, and whilst wearing the most beautiful full dresses you ever did see, this matchmaker works on pairing up her biggest match ever: her and the curmudgeon, millionaire Mr. Vandergelder. This film is endearing, whimsical and should be accompanied by comfy pajamas so you can get up and dance to the music. Feeling restricted by everyday street clothes would just kill the mood.

(Available to rent on Amazon Video)

In A World... So since we're sharing secrets, I may or may not have wanted to be a comedian and voice actor growing up. This film is awesome because it is pretty much my dream as a child (plus some adult content). Lake Bell plays a Los Angeles local who is slowly making her place in the male dominated, voiceover world. She finds herself in competition with several well-known voiceover players, and brings something unique and feminine to the profession. 

(Currently available on Hulu with subscription)

Steel Magnolias. It's not hard to imagine this is a part of a strong female list of films. Then again, the South is full of commanding, resilient women, as well all over the world (but I was born and raised in the South so I can personally attest to it). This film paints a colorful picture of five colorful women, each with their own set of strengths and vices. It chronicles how a close-knit group of women band together to provide support in the darkest moments. Their source of friendship is rooted in camaraderie, humor, and surpasses age and circumstance. These women are depicted at their absolute best and their most hardened of conditions, only to come out on the other side changed and scathed, but with willingness to press on. 

(Currently available on Amazon Prime streaming)

Mansfield Park. This is a little bit of an ode to my favorite Jane Austen book. Now let me be clear, I'm a fan of most of her books, but I like the resilience of the main character Fanny in this novel, who was born in poverty and was forced to live with relatives who made her live a substandard existence. The central character is so strong, full of insight, cleverness, and good humor. She never paints herself to be the victim of her circumstances. Fanny's honesty and frankness ultimately prevail, and she ends up gaining the love of her life.

(Available to rent on Amazon Video)

My Girl. Can you imagine being a young girl surrounded by death? I can't either. In this "dramedy," with an amazing cast (I mean, Dan Aykroyd, come on), we follow a preteen girl named Vada and her journey to learn about the wears and tears of adolescence, the loss of a friend, and the misguided nature of her family. Taking place in a late 1970s background with plenty of Creedence Clearwater Revival setting the tone, this film appealed to me as a young 90s girl when it first entered theaters. I was honestly just happy to see an atypical portrayal of childhood that didn't involve girls attempting to talk like a valley girl. Veda was precocious and even a bit awkward, but her story, albeit hard at times, inspires me because of its seemingly authentic portrayal of life. I'm sure anyone can identify with that. 

(Currently available on Hulu with subscription)

Little Women. I have often hailed this as a Christmas film somehow, even though it's really only the beginning and end that incorporate that season. I am bibliophile, and boy did I love this book. To me this seemed to mirror much of my own life growing up in a large family full of girls. The heart of this story doesn't just lie with Jo, but with the journey and purpose of each of the sisters. Each in their own way fought hard to find their place in the world, left the home they knew, only to return to find solace and inevitable purpose. Four very different young women, whose camaraderie and love for one another is the cornerstone of this story. Women supporting women and community. Is there really anything stronger? I'm not sure there is.

(Available to rent on Amazon Video)

Gracie's Choice. So I debated including this film on this list. It's obscure, in fact it is actually a Lifetime Original film (I have been known to frequent that cable channel every once and a while, and I most definitely will not apologize for that). In a nut shell, a little known Kristen Bell stars as a teenager who pretty much single handedly raises her younger siblings while her drug addicted mother comes in and out of their life. The human spirit is powerful and this young woman wanted nothing more than to keep her family together. She scraped, over extended herself, and defied odd after odd. Sure, this film is based on some kind of true story, but above that it illustrates a story of how we don't have to allow circumstances to define us, and in many ways we can allow it to enhance and challenge us in the best of ways.

(Available to watch on youtube...for free!)