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Nine movies to celebrate Women’s History Month

Women take on drama, horror, epic fantasy

Women’s History Month is a chance for what really should be done all year long: sharing women’s stories and promoting female voices. While some of these movies aim to empower and uplift, others may provide comfort, serving as a reminder of joy, hope and fun amidst all the chaos.

“Little Women” (2019) 

Based on Louisa May Alcott’s novel, Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” follows the lives of the March sisters — Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Amy (Florence Pugh), Meg (Emma Watson) and Beth (Eliza Scanlen) — as they make their way through the world. While Jo dreams of writing and publishing her own novels, Amy grapples with the politics of high society. Through it all, the sisters wrestle with illness, romance and the meaning of growing up.

Gerwig’s adaptation is nothing short of stunning. Ronan and Pugh expertly convey the intense emotions of youth and womanhood. Gerwig’s unique style, complete with a fresh take on Alcott’s ending, creates an empowering and heartwarming narrative that’s fit for every generation.

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“The Edge of Seventeen” (2016) 

Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, “The Edge of Seventeen” centers around Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), an awkward teenager caught in the middle of a budding relationship between her brother Darian (Blake Jenner) and her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). Distraught by their romance, she turns to classmate Erwin (Hayden Szeto) and sarcastic teacher Max Bruner (Woody Harrelson) for comfort. 

The film is a classic coming-of-age story. Nadine is dramatic, anxious and more than a little stubborn — qualities many high schoolers can relate to. She gets caught up in the big and small things but, with some help, manages to work through her emotions and emerges stronger on the other side. With honest acting and playful writing, the film is a reminder that there is life after high school. 

“Real Women Have Curves” (2002)

Patricia Cardoso’s “Real Women Have Curves,” based on Josefina López’s same-name play, tells the story of Ana Garcia (America Ferrera), a senior at a Los Angeles high school. Bogged down by the pressure of providing for the family, Ana dreams of going to college.

“Real Women Have Curves” stands out for its humor and heart, caringly portraying the complex relationship between Ana, her mother Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros) and her sister Estela (Ingrid Oliu). Through Ana’s coming of age, Cardoso masterfully addresses issues of cultural heritage, family pressure, self-confidence and sexuality — all of which still feel extremely relevant today.

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (2019)

Gorgeous and touching, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (directed and written by Céline Sciamma) revolves around a sexual affair between aristocrat Héloïse (Adéle Haenel) and Marianne (Noémie Merlant), a painter. Amidst death and scandal, the two find each other in this slow-burn romance while navigating a quest for autonomy. 

Sciamma’s film is a raw and tenacious portrait of falling in love. Alongside artful cinematography and a wise score, Merlant and Haenel carry the film with magnetic performances. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” retells multiple classic narratives, including a forced betrothal and the Greek myth of Eurydice. But Sciamma avoids the male gaze altogether, beautifully highlighting the equal relationship Héloïse and Marianne share. 

“Saint Maud” (2019)

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Historically speaking, horror films haven’t been good to women. The genre constantly demonizes female sexuality and, simultaneously, hypersexualizes the female body. While there are notable female horror protagonists, most of those films are directed by men. Rose Glass challenges that with “Saint Maud.” The film tracks newly religious young nurse Maud (Morfydd Clark), tasked with caring for a terminally ill, formerly famous dancer Amanda (Jennifer Ehle).

Men are practically irrelevant to “Saint Maud’s” plot. More psychologically scary than violent, Glass’s film dramatizes the furthest limits of religion and devotion. Glass refuses to explain too much, trusting the viewer to interpret Maud’s reality and visions how they see fit. Even if it doesn’t cause a jump scare, “Saint Maud” will, at the very least, stick with you.

“Bottoms” (2023) 

Emma Seligman’s 2023 film takes the high school experience and dials everything, including emotions, stakes and humor, up to ten. Best friends PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri) are outcasts with huge crushes on popular cheerleaders Hazel (Ruby Cruz) and Isabel (Havana Rose Liu). PJ and Josie hatch a compelling plan: start a fight club, seduce their crushes and lose their virginities. 

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While its humorous tale of romance and deceit is incredible, “Bottoms” thrives on its message of empowerment. Through some dramatic fights (both physical and verbal), PJ, Josie and the other women in the film develop friendships, strength and wisdom, all while experiencing the emotions of high school. 

“Princess Mononoke” (1997)

Hayao Miyazaki’s epic historical fantasy film cleverly explores themes of environmentalism and violence. Ashitaka, a young Emishi prince travels the Earth in search of a cure for a corrupted boar god’s curse. Throughout his journey, he attempts to broker peace between humans and the gods, trying to restore harmony with nature.

“Princess Mononoke” weaves together legends and history to comment on human’s relationship with nature. Even in its fantasy, the film is packed with realistic representations of women. San, the female lead and titular character, is the strong and epic hero, an incredible fighter and lover of nature who rides a giant wolf. Lady Eboshi, one of the film’s villains, shows compassion for the women of the town, sparing them from antiquated male treatment. “Princess Mononoke” is surreal, inspiring and hopeful, a combination that has made it iconic since its release.

“Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” (2020)

The eighth film in the DC Extended Universe, “Birds of Prey” (directed by Cathy Yan) follows Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) after her breakup with the Joker. Harley teams up with an army of female antiheroes — including a singer, an assassin and a detective — to protect young pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) from crime lord Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor).

“Birds of Prey” is the perfect balance between camp, fun and honest representations of womanhood. Yan subverts the typical portrayals of female superheroes, never overemphasizing her feminist message. Yan and screenwriter Christina Hodson lean heavily into the silliness and chaos of Harley Quinn’s character, making the film a colorful and exciting watch.

“Thelma and Louise” (1991) 

Ridley Scott’s 1991 classic tells the story of Thelma (Geena Davis), a housewife stuck in a controlling marriage, and Louise (Susan Sarandon), a hardworking waitress, on the run after Louise shoots and kills a man to thwart his attempt to rape Thelma. Rather than succumb to a life in prison, the pair breaks out of the monotony of their lives, learning to survive on their own and trust in each other.

“Thelma and Louise” may not be the most action-filled crime film, but its heartfelt tale of female friendship and perseverance against all odds has captured viewers for decades. Scott gracefully balances fun, sadness, struggle and joy. Despite its darker moments of abuse, “Thelma and Louise” reminds us of the importance of female relationships.


Gabriella Wrighten

Gabriella is a junior from Los Angeles, concentrating in English, Modern Culture and Media, and Literary Arts. If she’s not at the movies, you can find her coaching the Dodgers from her dorm, plotting her future Big Brother win, or perfecting her chocolate chip cookie recipe.



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