15 Empowering Movies to Get You in the Mood for International Women's Day

More like Netflix and feminism.

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International Women's Day is on March 8, and there are many ways to celebrate: By finally asking for that raise, by donating to Planned Parenthood or #TimesUp, by hanging out and doing nothing (you deserve a day off from the patriarchy), or by celebrating the creative work of other women. If you're in the mood to indulge in some on-screen feminism, her are 15 of our favorite films that put women front and center.

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Belle tells the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the "illegitimate" half-black daughter of an admiral, dealing with the systemic racism of the high society she's grown up in. Belle is a beautiful and unusual film about marginalization (it's also incredibly romantic), and Gugu Mbatha-Raw is lovely in it.

'The Wizard of Oz'

Surprised to see 1939's The Wizard of Oz on this list? Don't be. Not only is it a movie about young girl who takes charge of her own destiny, escaping the hot mess known as Oz, but she also helps three clueless men she stumbles upon, and calls out a wizard on his mansplaining. Plus, she has a cute dog.

'Kill Bill'

The entire plot of Kill Bill centers on a woman who's out for vengance on the man who ruined her life. Uma Thurman delivers an iconic feminist performance that never gets old. But (not to bring down the mood) it must be noted that Quentin Tarantino's treatment of her during this Weinstein-produced movie was truly reprehensible.


Considering how regressive Disney princess movies can be, Mulan deserves praise for its portrayal of a woman determine to escape the stereotypes of her gender. Yes, Mulan has some problems (Disney in 1998 wasn't really known for political correctness), but the movie showed countless children that women are just as brave and capable as men—it's society that's just too sexist to realize.

'Thelma & Louise'

There's no greater movie about sisterhood than Thelma & Louise—a landmark feminist film about two women on a road trip. Watch it with your friends for fun, then analyze it with your friends for even more fun. (And FYI, this film launched Brad Pitt's entire career, so you're welcome, Brad Pitt.)

'Bend It Like Beckham'

Bend It Like Beckham is about an aspiring soccer player whose family refuses to let her participate in the sport because she's a girl. Naturally, she proves everyone wrong, falls in love, and subverts expectations in the process. Also, please note that this movie was written, directed, and produced by a woman (who's also a woman of color), Gurinder Chadha.

'Mad Max: Fury Road'

If you went into Mad Max: Fury Road expecting a testosterone-fueled bro adventure, you are not alone. But the movie ended up being one of the most feminist pop cultural moments of 2015—starring Charlize Theron as a lieutenant who risks her life to save a group of women enslaved by abusive men in power.

'Atomic Blonde'

Atomic Blonde is anything but your typical spy drama. Charlize Theron spends pretty much the entire time kicking butt and taking names, and the movie doesn't fall into the trap of giving her a emotion-filled backstory. To quote Theron herself: "[Usually] we need a reason to become a warrior. And I have a problem with that because we really are warriors, and it’s time for us to be shown that way. We don’t need to lose a child or a husband or have some kind of revenge story to become a warrior. We don’t need that today."

'Hidden Figures'

"Inspiring" is one of the most over-used words in existence, but it's hard to think of a more apt way to describe Hidden Figures, a biographical drama about three black mathematicians at NASA. The fact that many people had never heard this story before the film's release is a true testament to how often women—and especially women of color—are sidelined in our history books.

'Wonder Woman'

What more can be said about Wonder Woman that hasn't been said before? It flipped a male-dominated genre on its head, broke all the sexist tropes that come with female superheroes, slayed at the box office, and excited millions of young girls in need of on-screen representation. It couldn't have come at a better time.

'Star Wars'

Look, Princess Leia wasn't always given the most empowering material to work with on Star Wars, but Carrie Fisher made the character a feminist hero worthy of applause. In fact, it's through Fisher's criticism of the franchise (the gold bikini was not her choice, she was asked to lose weight) that the character evolved into the icon she is today.

'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'

Not only does Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon have gorgeous visuals, the story centers on a young woman who rejects her arranged marriage, and instead follows her own path to become a legendary martial artist. It's a beautiful, complicated movie, with beautiful, complicated women.

'Real Women Have Curves'

Real Women Have Curves is directed, produced, and written by women—and it's all the better for it. The movie is just as much a coming-of-age story as it is a reflection on what it means when young women take control of their own destinies—and um, it also happens to have the same plot as Lady Bird.

'Now and Then'

This coming-of-age story about four young girls on the cusp of adolescence is a true gem, packed with ahead-of-its-time girl power moments—including a scene where Christina Ricci's character punches a boy who dares to say that girls can't play softball. Come for the fashion, stay for moments like this:

'Legally Blonde'

Anyone who doesn't think Legally Blonde is a feminist movie isn't paying attention. This film takes the ditzy blonde stereotype and turns it on its head by having protagonist Elle Woods (bow down) get into Harvard like it's no bigs, and then solve the major legal case of her year.

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