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These movies demonstrate the power of strong female characters in inspiring change, challenging norms, and leaving a lasting impact on viewers of all ages. Whether you’re looking for thought-provoking dramas or heartwarming animations, these movies are sure to leave you feeling inspired and empowered.


Johannesburg, South Africa (27 July 2023) – In the wake of the thought-provoking Barbie movie, which sparked conversations about feminism, social pressures, body standards, toxic masculinity, and female empowerment, we’ve curated a list of 10 must-watch films that also celebrate the strength of women.

These movies showcase powerful female leads who overcome challenges, break stereotypes, and inspire us to stand up and make a difference.

1. Bombshell (2019)

Synopsis: Based on real events, Bombshell follows the story of three courageous women, Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), and Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie), who expose the pervasive culture of harassment and misconduct at a prominent news network. Their fearless pursuit of justice challenges the status quo and empowers others to find their voices.

2. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Synopsis: Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway), an aspiring journalist, lands a job as the assistant to the formidable fashion magazine editor, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). Through a rollercoaster of challenges, Andrea discovers her inner strength, resilience, and ambition. This film celebrates the power of determination and staying true to oneself in a cutthroat industry.

3. Erin Brockovich (2000)

Synopsis: Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) is an unstoppable force fighting against a corporate giant accused of poisoning a community’s water supply. Her unwavering determination, intelligence, and empathy lead her to triumph against all odds, proving that a single person can make a significant impact.

4. Freedom Writers (2007)

Synopsis: Based on a true story, this film revolves around teacher Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank) who transforms the lives of her racially divided students through the power of education and compassion. In a challenging environment, she helps her students find their voices, overcome adversity, and embrace unity.

5. Hidden Figures (2016)

Synopsis: Hidden Figures portrays the untold story of three brilliant African-American women – Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) – who played pivotal roles in NASA’s space missions during the Civil Rights era. Their exceptional contributions shattered racial and gender barriers, inspiring generations to reach for the stars.

6. Promising Young Woman (2020)

Synopsis: Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan) seeks revenge against those who wronged her best friend. As she navigates her mission, she challenges societal norms and confronts issues of consent and accountability. This gripping thriller addresses important conversations about justice and empowerment.

7. Miss Sloane (2016)

Synopsis: Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is a formidable and determined lobbyist taking on a powerful gun lobby in a fight for gun control legislation. Her tenacity, intelligence, and strategic prowess serve as a testament to the strength of women in male-dominated fields.

8. Wild (2014)

Synopsis: Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) embarks on a transformative journey of self-discovery by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone. Facing her inner demons and physical challenges, Cheryl proves that resilience and determination can lead to personal growth and healing.

9. Wonder Woman (2017)

Synopsis: Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), also known as Wonder Woman, is an Amazonian warrior princess who leaves her home to stop a great war and discovers her true destiny. She embodies courage, compassion, and strength, becoming a symbol of hope for humanity.

10. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Synopsis: Maya (Jessica Chastain) is a determined CIA operative on a decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden. Her relentless pursuit and dedication ultimately lead to the infamous terrorist’s capture, showcasing the power of a woman’s perseverance in a male-dominated field.

In addition to the inspiring adult films, we’ve also compiled a list of empowering kids’ movies that feature brave and resilient young girls who teach valuable life lessons.

1. Akeelah and the Bee (2006)

Synopsis: Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer) is an exceptionally talented 11-year-old girl with a passion for words. Against all odds, she competes in the National Spelling Bee, overcoming challenges and self-doubt. Akeelah’s determination and brilliance remind us that age is just a number, and dreams can become a reality through hard work and perseverance.

2. Brave (2012)

Synopsis: In the enchanting Scottish Highlands, Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) defies tradition and challenges societal expectations. Her journey of self-discovery leads her to embrace her inner strength, breaking free from gender roles and proving that true courage comes from being true to oneself.

3. Inside Out (2015)

Synopsis: Inside the mind of 11-year-old Riley, five personified emotions – including Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith) – guide her through life’s challenges. Joy’s unwavering optimism and Sadness’s vulnerability teach us the value of embracing all emotions, highlighting the power of self-acceptance and emotional intelligence.

4. Legally Blonde (2001)

Synopsis: Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is a fashionable and bubbly sorority girl who embarks on an unexpected journey to Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend. Along the way, she discovers her true potential as a brilliant legal mind, proving that intelligence and style can coexist and that one should never judge a book by its cover.

5. Matilda (1996)

Synopsis: Matilda Wormwood (Mara Wilson) is an exceptionally intelligent and compassionate young girl with neglectful parents and a tyrannical school principal, Miss Trunchbull (Pam Ferris). With the power of her mind and a touch of magic, Matilda stands up against injustice, showing us that even the smallest individuals can be the bravest of heroes.

6. Moana (2016)

Synopsis: Moana (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho) is a courageous and adventurous Polynesian princess who sets sail on a daring mission to save her people and restore their way of life. As she navigates the challenges of the open ocean, Moana teaches us the importance of self-discovery, perseverance, and embracing one’s heritage.

7. Mulan (2020)

Synopsis: When the Chinese Emperor issues a decree requiring one man from each family to join the army, Mulan (voiced by Ming-Na Wen) disguises herself as a man to take her ailing father’s place. Her bravery, determination, and loyalty demonstrate that gender should never limit one’s potential or bravery.

8. Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Synopsis: In the mystical world of Kumandra, Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran) embarks on a quest to find the last dragon and restore harmony to the divided land. Through her journey, Raya learns the power of trust, unity, and the strength that comes from within, reminding us of the importance of compassion and reconciliation.

9. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Synopsis: Rey (Daisy Ridley), a skilled scavenger from Jakku, finds herself on a path to fulfill her destiny as a powerful Jedi. As she faces internal conflicts and confronts the dark side, Rey proves that heroes can come from anywhere and that the Force is within all of us.

10. A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

Synopsis: Meg Murry (Storm Reid) embarks on a cosmic adventure to rescue her missing father, guided by three celestial beings – Mrs Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), and Mrs Who (Mindy Kaling). Throughout her journey, Meg discovers her own worth and strength, emphasizing the importance of self-belief and love.

Sources: Brent Lindeque | Good Things Guy 
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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