March is Women’s History Month and we celebrate the brave, bright, and fierce nature of women by adding a selection of empowering films to our watchlist. You can binge all 12 of these movies before March 8, International Women’s Day, or spread them out over the month.
Here’s our list of 12 amazing movies featuring inspiring women — some historical figures, others fictional — that deserve a standing ovation. Whether you need a women’s history refresher, or just want to be entertained by female role models, this list will meet your needs.
Brew a cup of tea, light a few candles, and enjoy!
Directed by Greta Gerwig
A piece of literary history, this movie is based on the Little Women novel from 1868. The story focuses on four sisters, who each have unique talents and want different things out of life. As the girls grow and pursue their goals, we’re treated to the beautiful and difficult complexities of sisterhood. The four protagonists in Little Women are fantastically portrayed by some of the best young actresses of our time.
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Billie Jean King, a world champion on the tennis court and of women’s rights, is played by Emma Stone in this film inspired by the 1973 tennis match between her and self-proclaimed male chauvinist Bobby Riggs (played by Steve Carrell). In their battle (watched by millions around the country), King set out to even the playing field between the sexes in sports, prove that women athletes deserve equal pay, and become living proof that there’s no limit on which gender can rank as number one.
Directed by Mira Nair
For 10-year-old Phiona, learning how to master the game of chess could be her ticket out of living in the Katwe slums of Uganda. In this film (based on a true story) a compassionate missionary ends up teaching Phiona how to force checkmate on her opponents, which sets her off on an unexpected adventure competing in local tournaments. This majestic flick proves you can create a brighter future for yourself by surrounding yourself with people who lift you up and by working hard. Save this grounding, heartwarming flick for your next family movie night.
Directed by Lena Dunham
“There’s a rawness and a uniqueness to the voice of that film… Her voice, from the first second of that movie, is so specific and so clear. She really allows room to breathe in that movie, and is really unafraid to be messy – which I love!”
Directed by Theodore Melfi
Based on a true story, Hidden Figures tells the untold tale of how three Black mathematicians, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine G. Johnson, working at NASA in the early ‘60s joined forces to help launch the first-ever American astronaut into orbit. Inspiring, impactful, and historic, this film shines a light on the uphill battle this trio faced just to prove their stake among predominantly white male counterparts. In 2015, President Obama awarded Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contributions to the American space race in the ’60s, ’70s, and beyond.
Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell
Brave introduced Pixar’s first female lead, the strong-willed Disney Princess Merida. Brenda Chapman, who co-directed with Mark Andrews and Steve Purcell, became the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.
Directed by David O. Russell
In Joy, Jennifer Lawrence shines as the titular Joy Mangano, an ambitious businesswoman who became a self-made millionaire. While juggling different aspects of her complex personal life, Joy innovates a self-wringing mop and eventually meets a wealthy investor. Despite numerous people’s attempts to shut her blossoming business down, Joy fights back with tenacity and finds independence as one of the most successful business entrepreneurs of all time. Fun fact: the real-life Joy Mangano is the founder and CEO of Clean Boss, which is still selling products today.
Directed by George Cukor
“Mamma [Ingrid Bergman] won the first of the three Academy Awards with this role. The film deals with a subject still very present in today’s social debate: female abuse, in particular psychological abuse.”
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
“A perfectly written and constructed film. There is not a single piece of casting that doesn’t sing. When I was 11 years old I watched it nearly every night for a year. I loved this erudite, hot mess of a group of grown-ups, and wanted to be a part of it – for better or worse.”
Directed by Michael Showalter
Jessica Chastain’s longtime passion project sees her producing and starring in this biopic of the infamous televangelist, whose scandal-filled marriage overshadowed her messages of love and her work spearheading LGBTQ acceptance in the Christian conservative mainstream. For her performance, Chastain was nominated for Best Actress.
Directed by Pablo Larraín
Acclaimed Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín, who directed the 2016 drama Jackie, returns to tell another story of an iconic woman of history. Kristen Stewart plays Princess Diana at a turning point in the royal’s life. For her performance, Stewart was nominated for Best Actress.
Directed by Nathan Grossman
Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg gets the documentary treatment in I Am Greta, which shows how she went from a 15-year-old skipping school to strike for climate action outside the Swedish Parliament to gaining global recognition.