Women's History Month 2020 kicks off today, March 1, and one of the best ways to get the show on the road is to sit back, relax, and watch some incredible movies about empowering women. Between longtime classics like A League of Their Own and 9 to 5 and more recent inspirational flicks like Hidden Figures and Late Night, there so many films out there to help us all celebrate the myriad accomplishments and stories of women.
Every year, folks all across the United States celebrate Women’s History Month throughout March. Whether you do so by introducing your children to prominent female figures, donating your time or money to a local women's shelter and organization fighting for women's rights, or simply watching a movie with your favorite snacks by your side, there's no shortage of ways to celebrate Women's History Month.
And if you are interested in learning about some strong women or wan to feel empowered through film, look no further. Whether you decide to watch them alone or with your family by your side, below you will find a collection of 15 amazing movies about extraordinary women in honor of Women's History Month.
'9 to 5' (1980)
If you've never seen the movie 9 to 5 starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton, you're missing out. Sure it's a little dated as it was made in 1980, but the story of three women who were tired of being sexually harassed and taken for granted by their boss was revolutionary in its time. And sadly still resonates now.
Frida Kahlo wasn't just a talented artist, she was a radical bohemian. A woman who knew herself and wasn't afraid to be exactly who she was no matter what anyone thought. The biopic Frida starring Salma Hayek remains a keeper.
'On The Basis Of Sex' (2018)
Everyone loves Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but it turns out we should love her even more than we thought. As the story goes in the movie On The Basis Of Sex, Ginsburg (played by Felicity Jones) worked tirelessly to ensure women had equal rights. Where would we be without her?
'The Accused' (1988)
In 1989, Jodie Foster won an Oscar for her role as rape victim Sarah Tobias in the film The Accused. The movie isn't easy to watch, particularly the scene when Tobias is assaulted in the back room of a local bar by three men as other men cheer them on. The story was loosely based on a similar case from 1983, according to The Hollywood Reporter, but this was one of the first films to highlight how hard it was (and is) for women to be heard when they've been sexually assaulted. In the #MeToo era, it's important to remember the stories of all the women who came before, the women who were never heard.
'Norma Rae' (1979)
The 1979, film Norma Rae starred Sally Fields as a factory worker in North Carolina trying to improve conditions at work. In the climactic scene in the film, she holds a sign up and asks her fellow employees to unionize; she has already been fired herself. But she's there to galvanize others. It was based on a true story of mill worker Crystal Lee Jordan, and it remains a story of solidarity and selflessness.
'The Help' (2011)
The movie version of Kathryn Stockett's novel The Help tells the story of black women working in the homes of white people during the civil rights movement in Jackson, Mississippi. The film is not without its problems, particularly the narrative of Skeeter, played by Emma Stone, sort of swooping in to save the day. But the stories of Aibileen and Minny, played powerfully by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer respectively, are worth a watch.
'Hidden Figures' (2016)
Hidden Figures is another movie based on women who were largely written out of the history books for much of their lives. The women who were likened to "human computers" and helped NASA win the space race, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
There was a time not so long ago when the female orgasm was a thing of fiction and any woman who did not conform to society's strict standards was accused of being "hysterical." Women who suffered from this so-called disorder were treated manually by their doctors with "hysterical paroxysms," according to The Guardian, and you need to watch this film Hysteria starring Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal to see what it's all about.
Suffragette is a movie about women in Britain working to finally get the vote starring Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep. This is all you need to know.
Wild might not be the story of a woman changing the world, but it is the story of Cheryl Strayed changing her own world. Of courage and honesty and loss and fear. It has inspired women to go out and hike the wilderness to find themselves, according to Conde Naste Traveller. And the film stars Reese Witherspoon so it's obviously worth it.
'Erin Brockovich' (2000)
Erin Brockovich was a broke single mom trying to get by when she was working for a law firm and figured out there was something wrong with the water supply of the small town of Hinkley. So she did something about it, and Julia Roberts starred in an Oscar-winning movie about her gumption not long after.
'Big Eyes' (2014)
A husband who takes credit for his wife's artwork for years and becomes rich and famous. Fights her tooth and nail when she wants a little credit. I wish the story behind Big Eyes wasn't true, but it's the real life story of Walter and Margaret Keane. And it deserves a watch if only for Amy Adams magnetic performance.
'A League Of Their Own' (1992)
During World War II, there was a shortage of men to play baseball and keep the country entertained on account of the fact they were overseas fighting a war. Enter the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the first time women played professional baseball. Everyone knows the movie A League Of Their Own starring Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell, and Madonna. Watch it again.
'Late Night' (2019)
Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson's characters in Late Night aren't just eminently watchable, they're also a secret window into the male-driven world of television comedy. Kaling was a writer for The Office and has been open about her struggles trying to get a foothold as a woman of color, according to Variety, and this film pays homage to that.
Sylvia Plath was a poet of burgeoning reputation when she took her own life in 1963, but she was also a mother and a wife. The film Sylvia, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig, focuses on all the elements of her life, particularly how difficult it was to combine being an artist with ambition with the life of a mother and a wife.
Watching this movie, as with all the others, acts as a reminder of how far we have come. And in some cases, just how little has changed.