Growing up with brothers and a father who loved movies, I was constantly surrounded by action, adventure and superheroes. And a large part of me grew to love these genres, specifically science fiction. However, you would never catch any of the men in my life in a “chick flick.” As a result, I thought movies made for a specifically feminine audience were lesser, unimportant and boring. The nickname itself demeans entertainment that is created and driven by the female consumer. To challenge these beliefs, I’m going to highlight five of my favorite female-centered movies that I will always love.
1. Pride & Prejudice (2007)
I’m a sucker for novel-turned-movie on a good day, but then paired with Jane Austen and Kiera Knightley? It’s like this movie was produced for a very specific Venn diagram of literary nerds and movie buffs, and I happily sit myself in the overlap. Not only is the cinematography stunning, the dialogue is so spot on that each re-watch I attach myself to new lines and find even more delight in the language. Our brooding Mr. Darcy does a fantastic job of walking the line between closed-off and vulnerable, which leaves me a puddle by his ending declaration of love. Not to mention, the main character is another Lizzie, how can I not love it?
2. The Holiday (2006)
What I love about this movie is that not only do we follow two very different love stories, but other layers of storytelling interact to create a realistic and impressive story. Kate Winslet not only is stuck on her ex-boyfriend, but befriends her elderly neighbor, a Hollywood big shot with stories of his time in the spot light. Cameron Diaz is wildly successful but has a difficult time connecting with her emotional side and is shown how to do so with the adorably weeping Jude Law. I love the gender dynamics that combat our expectations and of course, a happy ending. Because although I appreciate the ingenuity of messy endings, sometimes knowing everything is okay is a comfort.
3. Runaway Bride (1999)
Why, out of all the Julia Roberts/ Richard Gere partnerships do I pick Runaway Bride? Simple: nostalgia. Many swoon over the rags-to-riches (or rather prostitute-to-lady) story of Pretty Woman, but Runaway Bride was my mom’s favorite for a stint of time in the 2000’s. After a hard day, a break up, a good day, Runaway Bride was in our DVD player. The thing I genuinely love about watching movies with my mom is that she has a specific ailment called Movie Ending Amnesia (diagnosed by me). Halfway through a re-watch she’ll say, “Do they end up together?! How does it end?” It’s frustrating for someone with a memory for movie details, but really endearing how submersed she becomes in each fictional universe.
4. Clueless (1995)
Clueless is my generation’s Sixteen Candles. Alicia Silverstone is perfect, but struggles with the issues most sixteen-year-old girls do: getting their license, finding a purpose, solidifying friendships and falling in love. Although the setting and privilege of LA is ridiculous and often comedic, I focus more on the small conflicts Cher (Alicia Silverstone) faces. Little did I know I would grow up to be the jaded, liberal Paul Rudd type character.
5. Ever After (1998)
Although Ever After isn’t based explicitly on a book, it brings the fairy tale, Disney princess craze of my childhood to screen in a respectable and incredibly romantic way. Drew Berrymore is the brainy Cinderella who pours over every book she can get her hands on, and has a radical sense of justice and strong opinions of the class system in her country. She’s a better, stronger, more intelligent Cinderella upgrade from the classic damsel in distress. She even saves herself from captivity with the brandish of a sword.
Celebrate women, celebrate our stories. And as I saw posted on twitter a few days ago: “Like the art you like, not the art you think you’re supposed to like.”