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The Best Feminist Films to Watch for Women’s History Month

March is now upon us, which means it’s Women’s History Month! Being the avid movie fan that I am, I always turn to cinema when it comes to celebrating a holiday or honoring an occasion. In the spirit of celebrating everything female this month, I’ve compiled a list of four of my personal favorite films centered on women, with representation from a handful of time periods and genres to suit whatever mood you may be in when you decide to partake in your binge-a-thon. Below, I’ll break down these four feminist films, and additionally give some honorable mentions for further viewing. 

Mildred Pierce (1945)

Mildred Pierce stars Joan Crawford (one of the most badass women to ever grace the silver screen) in the titular role. The film centers around Mildred’s struggle to provide for her two young daughters when her husband abandons them. She starts as a waitress and works her way up to owning her own business, proving herself a successful and independent woman in 1940s America. Mother-daughter relationships are a central focus of the film, and (as it’s technically film noir) there’s a twisty mystery at the film’s core, guaranteed to keep you enthralled. Though you may not always go for black and white, I think you’ll find that this film, as well as its feminist message, holds up today. Currently available on HBO Max and to rent on Amazon Prime Video.

Thelma and Louise (1991)

I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as moved by a film as I was when I saw Thelma and Louise for the first time; it’s a cinematic punch to the gut in the best way possible. The film follows best friends Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) as they embark on a trip, temporarily leaving behind their lives as a housewife and a waitress. What starts out as a weekend getaway turns into an extended run from the cops, as Thelma and Louise get into all kinds of trouble and end up as fugitives. The friendship between the two women is really powerful, and it’s also the first movie I remember seeing in which the male characters essentially exist solely to propel the growth of the women characters; it’s typically the other way around in Hollywood. It’s one the boldest and most refreshing films you’ll see. Currently available to rent on Amazon Prime Video. 

Legally Blonde (2001)

Legally Blonde was misunderstood for a very long time. On the surface, it may seem like a dumb comedy, but its message is actually really important. Hyper feminine protagonist Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) decides to get into Harvard Law School after her boyfriend breaks up with her for being “too blonde.” Not only does she get in based on her intelligence and accomplishments, but to his surprise, she uses her feminine insights to win a case for her professor. Elle shatters the idea that women can’t be both hyper feminine fashionistas as well as intellectual law students. Femininity and intelligence do not cancel each other out, and women are complex human beings who can be any number of things at the same time. For this reason, as well as Witherspoon’s iconic performance, the film deserves higher status than just another run-of-the-mill early 2000s comedy. Available on Showtime and to rent on Amazon Prime Video. 

Little Women (2019)

While Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel has been the subject of multiple film adaptations, the 2019 Greta Gerwig-helmed version is my favorite. Maybe I’m biased because this is the only one that came out when I was alive, but I just love the way that Gerwig plays with the timelines in the film, and the cast is amazing. The story centers around four sisters, Meg (Emma Watson), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Beth (Eliza Scanlen), and Amy (Florence Pugh),  growing up in post- Civil War America. It’s a story of both familial love with its focus on the strong sisterly bond, as well as romantic love. It’s just an all-around lovely coming of age story in every conceivable way. Gerwig is able to accurately depict the time period, but also to effectively convey themes and issues that women still face today through her cinematic style. Not to mention that Jo’s character is extremely ahead of her time in terms of recognizing the capabilities of women. Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.

Further viewing:

The Women (1939) Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video. 

All About Eve (1950) Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video. 

Carrie (1976) Currently available on Showtime and to rent on Amazon Prime Video. 

Alien (1979) Currently available on HBO Max and to rent on Amazon Prime Video.

Steel Magnolias (1989) Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.

The First Wives Club (1996) Currently available on Showtime and to rent on Amazon Prime Video.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999) Currently available on Disney+ and to rent on Amazon Prime Video.

Jennifer’s Body (2009) Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.

Girls Trip (2017) Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video. 

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