Mirror, Mirror: When Movies Get Real About Women
There are plenty of badass women in movies—Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games), Beatrix “Black Mamba” Kiddo (Kill Bill), Lisbeth Salander (The Girl With Dragon Tattoo)—but what’s even more inspiring than an action-flick chick is a real female protagonist. Here are eight movies featuring ladies through whom we can see ourselves. Some are funny. Some are seriously not.
1. Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer), Trainwreck
As the writer and star of this hilariously honest rom-com, Schumer reminds us that not every thirtysomething woman’s got her life in order. Some single chicks are even (gasp!) more interested in drinking and partying than settling down.
2. Ana García (America Ferrera), Real Women Have Curves
Getting into the college of your dreams was hard enough without your mother criticizing your every move, wasn’t it? Ana tries to balance her family’s expectations with her own personal goals (one of them being to matriculate out of East Los Angeles) in this Latino dramedy. In the process, she gives a voice to young girls navigating the always-tricky transition into adulthood.
3. Annie Walker (Kristen Wiig), Bridesmaids
Annie loses her dream bakery, struggles to pay her rent and watches her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) get engaged while possibly finding a new BFF in the all-too-perfect Helen (Rose Byrne). How does Annie react to it all? The same way we would, by becoming an even bigger mess. But hey, her downfall is a laugh riot, and she ultimately figures out how to make everything better in the end.
4. Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger), Bridget Jones’s Diary
The iconic Bridget Jones is every woman who’s ever fallen for a complete cad. For our granny panty-wearing heroine, Mr. Wrong arrives in the form of her haughty boss Daniel (Hugh Grant), who sees a more comely colleague on the sly, then begs Bridget to take him back after she walks out on him. She bravely rejects him, eventually realizing that the much kinder Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) has been patiently waiting in the wings all along.
5. Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) and Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), Carol
Though the movie, based on Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, takes place in the ’50s, the love story here is timeless as a young, aspiring photographer falls for an older woman going through a divorce.
6. Jenna Hunterson (Keri Russell), Waitress
Jenna is a pregnant server at Joe’s Pie Diner, unhappily married to an abusive man (Jeremy Sisto). Her ambition to save money, leave her husband and start over is inspiring; as we all do, though, she makes mistakes along the way—including getting involved with her married ob/gyn (Nathan Fillion). But with a little luck and a lot of gumption, Jenna manages to make a better life for her and her daughter.
7. Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles), 10 Things I Hate About You
Kat embodies everything we wanted to be in high school—smart, driven and in love with Heath Ledger. So what if her character, based on the leading lady in Shakespearse’s The Taming of the Shrew, can be a tad overly aggressive? As Kat herself says, you don’t always have to be who they want you to be, you know?
8. Savannah Jackson (Whitney Houston), Bernadine Harris (Angela Bassett), Robin Stokes (Lela Rochon) and Gloria Matthews (Loretta Devine), Waiting to Exhale
Four female friends work through their romantic ups and downs with the help of one another. Talk about squad goals!
9. Sheryl Hoover (Toni Collette) and Olive Hoover (Abigail Breslin), Little Miss Sunshine
Mom Sheryl is just trying to keep her dysfunctional family afloat, while daughter Olive is just trying to be herself amid a sea of petite pageant princesses. Both characters illustrate that life can’t be easily compartmentalized into the winners and the losers, so when you feel like one of the latter, best to just put on some “Super Freak” and dance it out.