Women’s History Month, which takes place every year in March, recognizes the contributions women throughout history have made to our nation. It is no secret that women have had to fight for basic rights and continue to fight every day for complete equality, and this month is a designated time to commemorate that fight. It is also no secret that women have not always been accurately represented in the media, particularly in film. According to Variety Magazine, only 24 percent of protagonists in the 100 highest grossing films of 2017 were women, and in the last 10 years, only four percent of top-grossing directors were female. For women of color, representation is even worse. Of the top-grossing directors who were female, only seven were women of color.
These seven films are movies that feature a powerful female lead, were directed by a woman or both. Take some time this month and celebrate women’s accomplishments with a movie off this list or a choice of your own!
Based on the 2009 novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett, “The Help” celebrates the success of three strong women who come together to write a novel that exposes the cruel treatment of African American “help” in the 1960s. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer portray the two maids who step forward to share their stories, and Emma Stone plays the young journalist who comes up with the idea to write the book. Not only does the movie center on a woman breaking away from the traditional housewife expectations of the time to pursue her dream job, but it also shows the hardships African American women faced at the height of the civil rights movement.
“Mona Lisa Smile”
Julia Roberts stars as a recently-graduated art history professor at all-female Wellesley College in the 1950s. As she teaches her first class, she finds the women are incredibly bright but have no aspirations other than to be housewives. Through her modern art teachings and life lessons she helps the women realize their potential and teaches them it is possible to have a successful career while being a great wife. Julia Roberts was paid $25 million for her role, which was the highest ever earned by an actress at that time.
Of course this list would not be complete without a Disney movie, and “Mulan” really takes the cake for female empowerment. Mulan is a young girl living in China preparing for marriage as war strikes. The film pokes fun at traditional gender roles when Mulan decides to give up on the marriage prep and pretends to be a man to fight in the war in place of her elderly father. She pretty much single-handedly saves China and defeats the Huns. Mulan is the only East Asian princess and in my opinion, the most badass.
“The Women” is a film both directed by a woman and featuring an all-female cast. That’s right. Not a single male actor or extra is present in the entire film. Despite gossip and drama being present throughout the film, the main theme is centered on women supporting one other by being there for one another.
Not only is “Wonder Woman” the first female-led superhero movie to have been released in over a decade, but it was directed by Patty Jenkins, the first female director of a live-action, theatrically released comic book superhero film. The movie itself is incredibly empowering as well. Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman, proves she doesn’t need a man to be an amazing, powerful superhero who saves the world.
“The Devil Wears Prada”
Meryl Streep plays the iconic character Miranda Priestly, a powerful fashion magazine editor. Streep’s portrayal of a feared and respected boss is a role we typically associate with men.
The film not only shows Priestly as a powerful boss but also features Anne Hathaway as an aspiring journalist who chases her dream despite the many obstacles thrown her way.
“Hidden Figures” tells the true story of three brilliant African American women working at NASA who are the masterminds behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn into space. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe play the three women who have been largely ignored by history and help shed a light on the racism and sexism of the 1960s.
Melissa Scrivani is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.