15 Movies with Strong Female Leads

Did you know women are 50% of the population?  While there are 107 boys born to every 100 girls, boys have a higher death rate, so the ratio of men to women stays about 50%.  This, according to the Institut National d’Etudes Demographiques in France.  Even though this is the case, women are constantly fighting for the same rights as men, the same wages as men, and the same opportunities as men.

15 Movies with Strong Female Leads

But, we’re still fighting and we’ll continue to fight.  In the wise words of suffragette Maud Watts, “What you gonna do? Lock us all up? We’re in every home, we’re half the human race, you can’t stop us all.”

If you’re looking to be inspired in this current political environment, here is a list of movies you should check out!  Some real people, some fictional characters, all amazing.  And to Donald Trump’s chagrin, Meryl Streep appears 3 times.

15 Movies with Strong Female Leads 

  1. Annie Hall – Diane Keaton stars as the Fedora wearing girlfriend to Woody Allen’s Alvy Singer. He’s neurotic, she’s quirky and together they pulled off a Best Picture win in 1977.  This gem solidified Woody Allen as a relevant filmmaker.
  2. Charlie’s Angels – Say what you will about this 2000 movie based on the beloved television series, but Lucy Lui, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz are solving mysteries by being independent, smart, and funny. Plus, Beyonce, sorry Destiny’s Child, sings the title song on the soundtrack.  “All the honeys who makin’ money, throw your hands up at me…”
  3. Erin Brockovich – Julia Roberts won an Academy Award for Best Actress portraying this tenacious activist who fought hard for the small town of Hinkley, CA and their cancer causing tainted water supply.
  4. Evita– This 1996 film starring Madonna as Ava Peron is based on the musical by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. It may not be the most obvious choice, but I personally love this movie.  I also love belting out “Don’t cry for me Argentina” at random moments.  My daughter loves when I do it, too.
  5. Hidden Figures – My daughter and I loved this movie about three African-American women who were at the forefront of the 1960’s “space race.” Working for NASA, these three were instrumental in John Glenn’s launch into space, his orbit, and his safe re-entry.
  6. Million Dollar Baby– Hilary Swank won her second Academy Award for Best Actress portraying Maggie Fitzgerald, a woman determined to be a female boxer. Get your tissues ready and be prepared to ugly cry.
  7. Norma Rae– Sally Field won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in this 1979 movie about Norma Rae, a young, single mother working in a textile mill and fighting for worker’s rights.
  8. Places in the Heart– This 1984 film also stars Sally Field as a Texas widow during the Great Depression. She must learn how to keep the family’s farm up and running with little knowledge, little help, and little money.
  9. Silkwood This 1983 movie stars Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell and Cher. Streep plays Karen Silkwood an employee at a nuclear facility.  When she starts raising concerns about dangerous practices at the facility, she suddenly and mysteriously becomes exposed to high levels of radiation.
  10. Suffragette– Another one starring Meryl Streep {we’re not worthy,} this 2015 movie also stars Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter as leaders of the Suffragette movement in England. Hard to imagine these women had zero rights.  None.  Nada.  But so grateful for their tenacity, fearlessness, and refusal to stand down in the face of opposition.
  11. Terms of Endearment– The story of the struggles of widowed mother Aurora and only daughter Emma is equal parts funny and heart wrenching. You will ugly cry.  This gem was the 1983 Academy Award winner for Best Picture and stars Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger as said mother and daughter.
  12. The Blind Side– Sandra Bullock plays Leigh Anne Tuohy, a tough as nails mother who along with her husband Sean takes in a homeless black teen, Michael. When Leigh Anne realizes Michael’s potential to be a significant football player, she takes on the role of tutor and coach to help him reach his true potential.
  13. The Devil Wears Prada – Meryl Streep again! That’s all.
  14. The Hunger Games This YA series of novels became a hit with just about everyone. It’s hard to argue it’s success when you have a strong female character such as Katniss Everdeen.  She can hunt, she’s strategic and smart, and she’s a rebel with a cause.  When her sister is selected to compete in The Hunger Games, knowing her sister will never survive, Katniss volunteers to take her place setting off a chain of events larger than she could ever imagine.
  15. The Iron Lady The final Meryl Streep movie on the list, this is the story of Margaret Thatcher, the first female British Prime Minister. Streep won her third Academy Award for her portrayal of the woman known as the Iron Lady.


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  1. Anna Almvig says

    Hollywood is upping their game when it comes to strong female roles, but it has a way to go. Have you seen Moana? I know it’s a Disney flick but I really liked it. Very empowering. Thanks for the list! There’s a bunch I haven’t seen so I may need to start catching up this weekend 🙂

    • Angela says

      I did! I loved Moana, too. I was also going to include Brave, but will save those for a different post:) Thank you for stopping by!

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