March 8 marks a significant day celebrated around the world and the day in question refers to International Women’s Day. There are many ways you can honour the day, and one of them happens to involve watching some movies. Not just any movies, but female-centric movies featuring strong female characters, because we can all learn from and be inspired by these stories and characters. Here’s our list of 8 Inspiring Female-Centric Movies To Watch On International Women’s Day!
1) Lt. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in “Alien” and “Aliens”
The first two “Alien” movies are both certified classics that remained unsurpassed even today. But beyond its iconic alien creatures (the Xenomorphs) and the gripping sci-fi horror/action vibes lies a significant lead character played by Sigourney Weaver. What makes her a standout is how her character isn’t a damsel in distress but more of a survivor, who manages to overcome the ordeal even if it involves an otherworldly threat.
Ridley Scott introduced her as the unlikely final girl in the otherwise male-dominated “Alien”, but it wasn’t until James Cameron in “Aliens” transformed Weaver’s Lt. Ellen Ripley into a full-fledged action hero. Interestingly enough, Cameron subverts the usual expectation of introducing a military team, only to have Ripley save the day again. Her engaging, take-charge performance even earned her an Oscar for Best Actress nomination — a rarity, indeed since the Academy is traditionally biased against genre pictures like “Aliens”.
2) Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) in “Erin Brockovich”
Julia Roberts and romantic comedies go hand in hand, thanks to the likes of “Pretty Woman”, “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “Notting Hill”. But she’s more than just a delightful leading lady with the mega-watt smile. In 2000, she shed her sweet-girl image in favour of a more dramatic role as Erin Brockovich. Based on the real-life person, Brockovich famously defies all odds and manages to take down a company responsible for poisoning a town in California with a multi-million lawsuit. It’s an engaging true story backed by Steven Soderbergh’s vibrant direction and most of all, Julia Roberts in the title role. As provocative and sleazy as she may look throughout the movie, Roberts exhibits great confidence and devotion to her character, which ultimately won her a much-deserved Oscar for Best Actress.
3) Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in “Mad Max: Fury Road”
The first three Mel Gibson-led “Mad Max” movies are male-dominated post-apocalyptic thrillers. Gibson’s out and Tom Hardy from “The Dark Knight Rises” fame may have taken over the iconic title role. But returning director George Miller had something else to offer. Something unlikely: turning his fourth “Mad Max” movie into a feminist-driven action picture. And you know what, it works, thanks to Charlize Theron’s engaging turn as Imperator Furiosa. She even overshadows Hardy’s title role and her character’s mostly one-woman quest to save the helpless women from slavery and tyranny gives the otherwise chase-focused action movie a beating heart.
4) Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) in “Atomic Blonde”
Well, we can’t get enough of Charlize Theron not only because she’s an amazing actress but also capable of handling physically-demanding roles. In “Atomic Blonde”, she plays a bad-a** secret agent Lorraine Broughton during the final days of the Cold War. The story may be convoluted but Theron elevates the movie with her overall femme fatale portrayal. Her commitment to performing all her own stunts are incredible, pushing herself to the limit in delivering the action as visceral as possible. And she does so with such engrossing grace regardless of hand-to-hand combats or gun battles.
5) Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “Terminator: Dark Fate”
The “Terminator” franchise may be synonymous with Arnold Schwarzenegger. But let’s not forget Linda Hamilton, particularly her involvement as the co-star in the 1991 groundbreaking sequel of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”. Her character is no longer the same meek, damsel-in-distress waitress in the 1984 first movie, “The Terminator”. But more of a 180-degree turn into a battle-hardened warrior, making Sarah Connor such an iconic female action hero. Hamilton would reprise her role in the sadly underappreciated “Terminator: Dark Fate” and at 63 years old (!) at the time, she proved that age was just a number and she still looked impressively fit as ever.
6) Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) in “The Iron Lady”
The former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously made history by becoming the U.K.’s first-ever female prime minister. She held office for an incredible 11 years from 1979 to 1990. Her subject became an inspiration for the autobiographical drama in “The Iron Lady”, where the incomparable Meryl Streep won an Oscar for Best Actress for one of her best performances ever seen.
7) Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Morae) in “Hidden Figures”
Racism and gender inequality plagued the 1960s era in the U.S. but in “Hidden Figures”, this incredible true-story biographical drama shows how three little-known female African American mathematicians became instrumental in succeeding NASA’s first space missions. A feel-good history lesson worth checking out and it helps that all three leading actresses give amazing performances all around.
8) Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in “Wonder Woman”
There was a time when fulfilling a big-screen adaptation of “Wonder Woman” seemed like a pipe dream. Sure, we had Lynda Carter back in the 60s but that was a TV series. It wasn’t until several decades later that Zack Snyder cast then-unknown Gal Gadot in the title role. She made her first appearance as a cameo at the end of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and became the scene-stealer in the movie. She finally landed her own solo movie in 2017 and “Wonder Woman” became a huge hit. Gadot made the famous comic-book role truly her own and she has since turned into a global icon.
For more movies with a female lead, check out a list of Michelle Yeoh movies available on Netflix right here: