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Kick-Ass Female-Led Films To Add To Your Watchlist

By Rachelle  /  09 Jul 2021 (Friday)

Hollywood films featuring strong female leads were once a scarce product.

Thankfully as time progressed, female-led movements such as #MeToo and Time's Up kickstarted new conversations around gender equality that led to newfound emphasis on women's stories. Talented female writers, directors and actors are making their voices heard and claiming the spotlight they deserve and we are here for it!

In honour of Marvel Studios' Black Widow finally hitting the big screens, we have compiled a list of female-led films you'll want definitely want to add to your watchlist:

Hustlers (2019)

Based on Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine article, 'The Hustlers at Scores', the Lorene Scafaria-directed crime drama is one of the most talked about films of 2019.

Starring powerhouse Jennifer Lopez and Fresh Off The Boat's Constance Wu in leading roles, Hustlers follows a group of New York City strippers with a masterplan to scam Wall Street executives. Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart also feature in supporting roles with Grammy-winning artists Lizzo and Cardi B making surprising cameos you should look out for!

Where to watch: HBO GO


Little Women (2019)

Greta Gerwig's Little Women, starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Eliza Scanlen may the 7th film adaptation of the literary classic of the same name, but it is the most critically-acclaimed and arguably the best by far.

It is what's perhaps the most feminist take to date on the Louisa May Alcott's 1868 novel, highlighting the value of women’s joy and labour through sisters Jo, Amy, Meg and Beth. Following their coming-of-age story from childhood to adulthood, the star-studded cast also includes Call Me By Your Name's Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep and Laura Dern, Tracy Letts, Chris Cooper, James Norton and Bob Odenkirk.

A 21st century film starring some of the best actresses of their generation, directed by a female director who's had a great track record thus far? Yes, please!

Where to watch: Netflix


Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel (2019)

It took 10 years (and 20 films!) before Marvel Studios finally shone the spotlight on a female superhero and there's really no "making a list inspired by Marvel Studios' Black Widow" without mentioning the first female-led MCU film.

Written and directed by duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the film stars Brie Larson as the titular hero with a supporting cast of Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, and Jude Law. It follows Carol Danvers as she becomes Captain Marvel after Earth is caught in the center of a galactic conflict between two alien civilizations.

Where to watch: Disney+


Harriet (2019)

Harriet is a powerful biopic of American political activist Harriet Tubman, directed by Kasi Lemmons and starring Cynthia Erivo in the lead as the titular character. It follows Harriet who escapes slavery, joins the abolitionist movement and returns to help others to freedom.

Erivo's performance garnered her Best Actress nominations at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and the Screen Actors Guild. Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae and Joe Alwyn also star.

Were to watch: HBO GO


Bombshell (2019)

Bombshell is a revealing look inside one of the most powerful and controversial media empires of all-time – Fox News, and the explosive story of the women who brought down the man who created it.

Margot Robbie, Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman portray Kayla Pospisil, Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson respectively in this drama film based on the real sexual harassment allegations against former Chairman and CEO of Fox News Roger Ailes. John Lithgow, Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell, and Allison Janney appear in supporting roles.

Where to watch: HBO GO


Hidden Figures (2016)

Hidden Figures is an affirmation of black women’s strength and a symbol of their contribution to minorities struggling for human emancipation.

The biographical drama is loosely based on the 2016 non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about African American female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race. The film stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and other missions. It also features Oscar winning actress Octavia Spencer as NASA supervisor and mathematician Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monáe as NASA engineer Mary Jackson, with Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, and Glen Powell in supporting roles.

Where to watch: Disney+


Thelma & Louise (1991)

It's no surprise that Thelma & Louise is widely recognised as a cult classic. The Ridley Scott-helmed female buddy comedy was something of a breakthrough when it first premiered back in the nineties, featuring two spirited female protagonists who embark on a road trip that ends up in unforeseen circumstances.

It bagged the Oscar for Best Screenplay for writer Callie Khouri, with five other nominations including Best Actress for both Geena Davis (Thelma) and Susan Sarandon (Louise). The supporting cast include Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, and Brad Pitt in one of his first major film roles.

Where to watch: HBO GO

Birds of Prey (2020)

Birds of Prey might not be the biggest blockbuster movie the DCEU has released, but it was still a big hit amongst fans. There's actual @$$-kicking in this one!

Directed by Cathy Yan and written by Christina Hodson, the superhero film stars Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong, and Ewan McGregor. It follows supervillain Harley Quinn, who, after breaking up with the Joker, is threatened by Gotham City crime lord Roman Sionis and joins forces with Helena Bertinelli, Dinah Lance, and Renee Montoya to save Cassandra Cain.

It starred a main cast of diverse women and features girl power moments that were relatable, funny, and realistic. What more could we ask for?

Where to watch: HBO GO


The Color Purple (1985)

The Color Purple is a stirring film is based on Alice Walker's 1982 novel of the same name which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It was directed by Steven Spielberg, based on a screenplay adapted by Menno Meyjesis.

Set in the South and spanning 40 years, it tells the story of young African-American Celie Harris and shows the problems African-American women faced during the early 20th century, including domestic violence, incest, pedophilia, poverty, racism, and sexism. Celie is transformed as she finds her self-worth through the help of two strong female companions. The cast stars Whoopi Goldberg in her breakthrough role, with Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Avery, Rae Dawn Chong, Willard Pugh, and Adolph Caesar.

The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Goldberg, Best Supporting Actress for both Avery and Winfrey, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director for Spielberg.

Where to watch: Netflix


Marvel Studios' Black Widow (2021)

Long before Captain Marvel was given her own film, the MCU had one champion female superhero – Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow. Fans have long-awaited for her to have her own film and was finally promised one in 2020 but the ongoing pandemic thwarted release plans.. until now. The wait is finally over.

The 24th MCU film is directed by Cate Shortland from a screenplay by Eric Pearson, and sees Johansson reprise her role as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow alongside Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, and Rachel Weisz. Set after Captain America: Civil War (2016), Natasha finds herself on the run and forced to confront a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, she must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.

Where to watch: in cinemas OR Disney+

Will you see any of these films? Let us know in the comments below!

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