We couldn’t have been more excited when cinemas in Sweden introduced a Bechdel test rating in 2013 to promote gender equality. The test, which is named after American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. While it’s definitely not a perfect rating system, we’re glad the entertainment industry is starting to take notice.
While not all female empowerment films include more than two women who talk to each other, here are a couple of movies that get an A-grade in our eyes. From heading a rebellion to overcoming the dangers of outer space, these films feature some strong women we can really get behind!
The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Katniss Everdeen’s love life may be a huge focus of this series. But having sacrificed herself for her sister to compete in The Hunger Games is something that should be commended. Not only is she nifty with a bow and arrow, but Katniss is a hero because she becomes the face of a rebellion against the Capitol.
What I also love about these movies is the fact that it’s main protagonist isn’t afraid to express her grief. While crying is often seen as a feminine thing to do (and it’s not!), I love that Katniss isn’t afraid to express herself and remember lost loved ones. Her tribute to Rue had me bawling my eyes out!
Not only does this film feature catchy songs and silly humour, but the teamwork and friendship displayed between the strong female cast makes this movie such a hit. I love the fact that this movie doesn’t focus mainly on the budding romance between Skylar Astin’s and Anna Kendrick’s characters. But what I love even more is the confidence displayed by the hilarious Rebel Wilson, who stole scenes as “Fat Amy.”
Bring It On
A teen comedy about rivaling cheerleading squads, Bring It On is a classic film about sportsmanship. Not only does it feature fun and sassy routines, but what makes this movie so great is the fact that it teaches the audience to respect your rivals while still being competitive with one another.
In a film that could have easily went to a male lead, director Alfonso Cuarón managed to create a cinematic masterpiece anchored by the wonderful Sandra Bullock. In the film, Bullock plays a medical engineer who tries to rescue herself when an accident leaves her adrift in space. It’s a lovely tale of redemption and gaining faith in yourself. Bullock’s character is incredibly vulnerable at the beginning of the movie but seeing her get stronger and stronger throughout the film is just inspiring.
There hasn’t been a female ensemble in recent years that has made me laugh harder than Bridesmaids. And for that, I thank Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo for writing this wonderful piece of work. While I was pretty annoyed at the rivalry displayed by Wiig’s and Rose Byrne’s characters, I LOVED Melissa McCarthy’s Megan because she didn’t just make you roll on the floor laughing. Her character was always true to herself and never abandoned Wiig’s character Annie when she was feeling vulnerable. That’s what I call a strong woman. And complemented by an equally talented and hilarious female cast, this movie is just excellent.
I’ll admit that Disney has often promoted films about females finding true love. But Mulan, remains one of my favourite films as she pretends to be a man and enlists in the army to protect her father from going to war. This movie is amazing because she takes charge of her own life and manages to rescue China and get the respect of thousands all while doing it in a dress! As a six-year-old watching the film for the first time, it was Mulan who taught me that there was nothing wrong with kicking ass while being feminine at the same time.
In A World…
Taking on the triple-threat role of actor/director/writer, Lake Bell’s In A World… is a female empowering film about an underachieving voice coach who finds herself competing in the male-dominated field of the movie trailer industry. This film charmed audiences at the Sundance Film Festival last year and it’s obvious why. Its quirky charm, unique humour and endearing female protagonist makes this movie one of 2013’s best.
I love Sandra Bullock in pretty much everything she does. And one of my all-time favourite roles of hers is Miss Congeniality. In the film, Bullock plays an undercover FBI agent who competes in the Miss United States beauty pageant to prevent a group from bombing the event. I love the fact that Bullock kicks major ass in this movie. But what I also love is how she develops some really touching friendships between the other contestants.
Kill Bill Vol. 1&2
I’ve linked the two of these movies together because it features a diverse group of female actors who all just kick so much ass. It’s one of the most well-known roles for Uma Thurman, who plays a woman who wreaks vengeance on a team of assassins who betrayed her. But the character who absolutely slayed me was Lucy Liu’s O-Ren Ishii. She is just brilliant and too underrated!
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Lisbeth Salander remains one of my all time favourite female characters because she’s smart, resourceful and isn’t afraid to get back at those who hurt her. I love that she’s good with computers (even if her actions are illegal) and the fact that she isn’t afraid of being herself even if she’s reclusive and sometimes pretty rude. Because at the end of the day, she really doesn’t mean any harm if you’ve done nothing to threaten her at all.
I absolutely hate what happens to her character in the first part of this trilogy. But while what she does to get back at her abuser was violent and sadistic, I can’t really blame her for doing what she had to do. Rooney Mara plays this character to perfection and it’s no surprise why she was nominated for an Oscar for this role.