Top 10 Best Movies to Empower Women

by Kali Tuttle
Empower Women

I Feel Pretty hits theaters this Friday, April 20th, starring Amy Schumer as an insecure woman who gains an insane amount of confidence after suffering a fall. It may just be me, but this doesn’t seem like a good message to be sending to women. You can only love yourself after you forget everything that made you who you are? That is the exact opposite of how women should be gaining the self-confidence they all deserve.

Empowering Women

Image via Variety

In that spirit, I’d like to present all women with the movies they should really watch to realize that the only thing you need to gain self-confidence is love for yourself. I present to you: the top 10 movies to empower all women!

Honorable Mentions

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Brave (2012)

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Precious (2009)

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Moana (2016)

A League of Their Own (1992)

#10: The Hunger Games (2012)

Jennifer Lawrence can drive me crazy sometimes and her character Katniss Everdeen equally grates on my nerves with her hoarse screaming every five minutes, but The Hunger Games is an empowering movie for girls everywhere. Sure, you may not be facing imminent death in some sick game run by the government, but you may face difficult trials like Katniss had to. Did she wait around and hope for a man to come save her? Heck, no! She picked up her bow and arrow and shot some people and ended up saving her man’s life. And if she can do something as bold as that, you can work up the courage to go ask your boss for a raise.

Empowering Women

Image via NPR

#9: Legally Blonde (2001)

Reese Witherspoon absolutely kills it in the role of Elle Woods. I think we all know what Legally Blonde is about, but I’ll quickly recap: Elle Woods studies hard and makes it into Harvard Law School to spite her boyfriend who broke up with her; along the way, she discovers the intelligence hiding deep inside her. What I love about this movie is that it takes a stereotype and turns it on its head. Sure, we still get the Elle Woods with the unbearable Valley girl accent, but we also get Elle Woods, the determined women who proves that she can do anything she puts her mind to. Legally Blonde is honestly just as motivating as any sports movie and it’s hilarious, too.

Empowering Women

Image via The Hollywood Reporter

#8: G.I. Jane (1997)

Every time I watch this movie, I get a strange urge to shave my head and join the military. While I’ll admit this movie isn’t the greatest I’ve ever seen, it’s very empowering and makes the audience feel like they can do anything. Demi Moore went all-out for this performance; not only did she actually shave off her beautiful hair (which would be devastating for most women), she also went through rigorous physical training and ended up looking as ripped as Arnold Schwarzenegger. G.I. Jane is a powerfully motivating movie that will boost all women’s spirits.

Empowering Women

Image via Movie Store

#7: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

While I admit that the original trilogy with Princess Leia has some awesome empowering moments, the fact that the Jedi of the new trilogy is a girl really fires me up. Daisy Ridley gives an amazing performance as the orphan, Rey, who finds her true purpose as the hero of the Rebellion. I especially think the martial arts moves with her signature staff and the fact that she completely shows up the men of the film, like Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Finn (John Boyega), is absolutely stellar. This film and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) show the potential of this character and grants women around the world with a kick-butt female action star.

Empowering Women

Image via Business Insider

#6: Hidden Figures (2016)

This movie is not only great because it shows women that they can do anything they can put their minds to, it also shows that the color of your skin should not limit you. It addresses the oft-forgotten intersectionality of feminism; colored women face just as many problems as white women do, perhaps more. Hidden Figures — starring Taraji P. Henson as Katherine G. Johnson, Octavaia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan, and Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson — relates the story of the three African-American women who were vital members of NASA during the Space Race. It’s an inspiring true story that all women should watch at least once in their lives, if not multiple times.

Empowering Women

Image via Variety

#5: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Let’s face it: we all wanted to be like Hermione Granger after we read and watched Harry Potter. Who didn’t want to be as smart, talented, and pretty as Hermione? Emma Watson’s portrayal of J.K. Rowling’s character is perfect and liberates young girls from the standards society holds them to.

Now, I chose this particular movie from the franchise for a number of reasons, one being the fact that Hermione is so studious and takes so many classes that she literally has to manipulate time to get it all done. Like, dang, you go girl. However, the biggest reason is for this scene right here:

Girl power in your face.

#4: Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

This movie is just so dang empowering that I feel like me, a skinny 5’5″ girl, could punch through a concrete wall. Julia Roberts stars as the art professor teaching her students — who include Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Ginnifer Goodwin — about art and breaking the societal mores of the 1950s. What I love most about this movie is the fact that while it explores breaking the traditional housewife role, it also supports those women who wanted to fulfill that traditional role. Basically, it says screw what everyone else wants you to be and do what you want to do because you are a strong, independent woman who can do anything.

Empowering Women

Image via Into Film

#3: Steel Magnolias (1989) and 9 to 5 (1980)

Yes, I know it’s illegal to put two movies into one ranking, but there’s a good reason for it: Dolly Parton is iconic and deserves to occupy two spots on this list. Admittedly, the two films have different plots — Steel Magnolias centers around a wedding and a death in the family and 9 to 5 is about a group of female employees who band together to make their sexist, egotistical boss pay. However, the two films also feature very strong female relationships and women learning to lean on one another when times get tough. Both movies also include star-studded casts, including Shirley MacLaine, Sally Field, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and even Julia Roberts.

Empower Women

Image via Women

Plus, we get wonderful quotes from Dolly Parton:

“Smile! It increases your face value.”

“If you ever say another word about me or make another indecent proposal, I’m gonna get that gun of mine… And I’m gonna change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot!”

“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”

#2: Mulan (1998)

This movie has everything you expect not only from a Disney movie, but from a good movie in general. Lots of humor, a redemption arc, excellent character development, and an underlying moral through it all. This is possibly one of the more popular Disney princesses simply because Mulan doesn’t sit around waiting for her Prince Charming. She goes out, saves her family and all of China, and her Prince Charming eventually comes to her. Mulan is an independent woman who doesn’t need a man to save China — she can do it all by herself.

empower women

image via This Is Insider

#1: Wonder Woman (2017)

This is quite possibly the best movie to come out of the DC Universe in a long time. It features the astoundingly strong Amazon Diana — AKA Wonder Woman — alongside the handsome pilot Steve Trevor who she saves from trouble time and time again. Starring Gal Gadot as Diana and Chris Pine as Trevor, this movie is extremely empowering and presents the most flattering depiction of female action heroes I’ve ever seen; when was the last time you saw a female action star actually wearing moderately sensible clothing to fight in? (Okay, so it’s not the most sensible but it’s better than most female action heroes.) Believe the hype: Wonder Woman really is the movie that will motivate you to throw Sherman tanks over your head and smash the patriarchy.

Empowering Women

Image via i09

Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on top 10 movies that empower women? Did we miss any? Comment down below!

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nerdthisup April 18, 2018 - 11:47 pm

One of my pet peeves is when directors make women ’empowering’ by turning them into hardened and one-note asskickers. So I appreciate some of these female leads are not just tough girls who can kick butt. Although that can be empowering, I think there are many different kinds of inspiring leads. I wrote a blog post similar to this:

Nice post!

Carly April 18, 2018 - 1:17 pm

Yes, The Devil Wears Prada is a great movie. I want to see Hidden Figures and I Wonder Woman, of course, was women-empowering! :) Steel Magnolias was funny but a little slow for my taste. It’s still a class movie, though. :)

Olaf Lesniak April 18, 2018 - 11:39 am

I’d add Alien (and Aliens), Terminator 2: A Judgment Day and maybe even The Wizard of Oz? Either way, great list. I support all these choices.I also agree with your I Feel Pretty intro.

Jack "Blimprider" Tyler April 18, 2018 - 11:33 am

What a sad comment it is that here in the second decade of the 21st century, we still need to be talking about empowering women. In Roddenberry’s vision of the future, a.k.a. Star Trek, women captain starships, lead governments, and kick ass right alongside and in complete equality with the men. Most of this is considered to be in place and already functioning by the 23rd century of TOS; it’s past time we get started if we hope to make that deadline!

Olaf Lesniak April 18, 2018 - 11:44 am

I kind of agree. I think a better title would have been “Top 10 Female Role Models”. Empowering women is good, but it has gained a lot of negative connotation from all the politicizing so, I can’t blame you for feeling this way. I’m a fan of this blog so either way, I can’t complian yet I know where you’re coming from.

Nick Kush April 18, 2018 - 10:07 am

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