Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne and Maya Rudolph delight in this movie about getting ready for the big day; but it’s Melissa McCarthy who steals the show in this smash hit comedy that passes the Bechdel Test with flying colours.
- Big Eyes
Tim Burton directed this biographical film about the artist Margaret Keane, whose husband spent years taking credit for her work. Obstreperous though he is, the movie focuses on Keane’s passion for her art, her will to protect her daughter and the courage she builds to fight back.
She may be a little bit clueless, but Cher has a heart of gold and knows Shakespeare better than her stepbrother’s hipster girlfriend. Adapted from Jane Austen’s Emma, this modern twist on her tale is sharp, witty and oh-so-‘90s.
Little girls also love adventure and Coraline finds plenty of it when she discovers an alternate universe behind the doors of her new home. Based on the book by Neil Gaiman, it will offer young film fans something a little different and darker than the typical princess fare.
Speaking of royalty, Cate Blanchett delivers a magnificent performance as Queen Elizabeth I in this film by Indian director Shekhar Kapur. A tumultuous childhood, imprisoned by her sister, reigning for decades, and never marrying despite pressure to do so, Elizabeth was one tough lady.
- For Coloured Girls
An ambitious adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s play, the film’s melodrama somewhat drowns its themes, but is rescued by an incredible cast that includes Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Thandie Newton and Kerry Washington.
- Happiness is a Four-Letter Word
We’re proud to be able to include a local film on this list. Centering on the lives and loves of three very different and dynamic friends living in Jo’burg, it’s based on the award-winning novel by Cynthia Jele about happiness being more than what society expects.
- The Hateful Eight
Quentin Tarantino’s latest was accused of sexism, yet it’s anything but. Jennifer Jason Leigh, the only female lead in the film, is provided the exact same treatment as any of her male counterparts. As Daisy Domergue, Leigh more than holds her own amongst the heavyweight male cast, earning her a well-deserved Oscar nomination as she joins the ranks of Tarantino’s formidable female characters.
Women can kick serious butt, as evidenced in this action flick starring MMA champion Gina Carano. Betrayed and bamboozled, she becomes a one-woman fighting machine effortlessly taking out Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender and Ewan McGregor.
- The Hunger Games
Move aside Bruce Willis, Jennifer Lawrence is here to save the day. In a post-apocalyptic future, it’s up to Katniss Everdeen to save the impoverished districts surrounding the Capitol from its autocratic leader and his bloodthirsty death matches.
- Mad Max: Fury Road
It might say Max in the title, bit it’s Charlize Theron’s Furiosa who drives this film. Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Furiosa is the hero who rescues Immortan Joe’s wives from being picked for breeding like so much cattle.
- The Piano
It’s bizarre to think that in 89 years of Academy Awards history, only one woman has won Best Director. What’s even more difficult to believe is that only four have been nominated. One of them is Jane Campion, for this intense New Zealand set drama about a mute piano player and her daughter. With a beautiful score and magnificent performances from Holly Hunter and a young Anna Paquin, it’s not to be missed.
- Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen was an early critic of the roles women were expected to fulfill, so it’s no surprise that her work has served as endless inspiration for filmmakers. Pride and Prejudice is one of her most renowned novels and has seen multiple adaptations. One of its best is undoubtedly the 2005 version, with Keira Knightley wowing audience in the coveted role of Elizabeth Bennett.
Melissa McCarthy proves women don’t need men to save them in this hysterical comedy that rewrites the rules of the action and spy genres. McCarthy is in top form and Jason Statham proves he’s just as brilliant at comedy as he is at action.
Focusing on the story of women’s suffrage in early 20th century Britain, it’s an apt addition to this list. Focusing on women’s fight for equal civil liberties, including the right to vote, its stellar cast includes Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson, and Ben Whishaw, as well as Meryl Streep as famed political activist Emmeline Pankhurst.
Want more movies? Sign the National Movies Day petition below and you could be joining us for a film-filled day on 31 March.
Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #NationalMoviesDay.