Girls rule, boys drool. Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t really follow that mantra. But I do… sort of. When I recently looked at my movie collection, I suddenly realized that I wasn’t quite representing the ladies as well as I should be. Being a child of the 90s, I’m well aware of girl power and a fan of a woman who can kick some ass. Now that the Spice Girls are talking about bringing a new musical to the stage, I felt the need to “spice up my life” with a look back at some of my favorite “girly” movies. It is my solemn duty as a woman who loves fantasy, horror, and action movies just as much as a great romantic comedy, to bring you a list that best represents the awesome power of a woman in heels. Note: Though this list only shows 10 great movies featuring the ladies there are many, many more.
10. Underworld – Kate Beckinsale
Before there was Bella Swann (who is in no way a part of this list because she sucks), there was a bad ass in a black cat suit shooting up werewolves. Kate Beckinsale plays Selene, a vampire soldier in a war against the lycans (werewolves). Selene is a death dealer, an order of vampire assassins. Her love of black leather is only matched by her love of guns with lots of bullets to put holes her enemies. The great thing about this movie? Selene is the one saving the guy, not the other way around (damsel in distress my ass!). Subsequent sequels also focus on Selene and her ability to kill everything in sight, but nothing is better than the original. I mean… she splits some guy’s head with a sword while wearing some fabulous boots. How much more awesome can you get?
9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Kristy Swanson
We move right along from a vampire to the slayer, and Kristy Swanson embodies the perfect valley girl with a stake. I suppose I’m inclined to be a fan of this movie because of the television series that was spawned from it (created by Joss Whedon and starring Sarah Michelle Gellar). But the movie is a great campy horror movie complete with ass kicking and Pee-Wee Herman (I’m not kidding – he plays a vampire). Kristy Swanson plays Buffy, a high school cheerleader who finds out she’s next in line for the special powers to terminate the un-dead. She has to battle Rutger Hauer (from Blade Runner) and a bunch of fanged baddies at the prom. While it’s definitely a cheese-fest, the movie does prove one thing. Blondes are smarter, and better at decapitating vampires, than you think.
8. Spice World - The Spice Girls
Who doesn’t love The Spice Girls? They dominated the world (and the music charts) in the 90s, even going so far as to make a movie. And what a movie it is. I remember dressing up to go see it with the rest of my friends (there were five of us - I was Sporty Spice). I watch it today with fond memories and a little bit of a “did I really enjoy this as a kid?” grin on my face. But though it’s cheesy and campy, it still captures the spirit of the pop group and their battle cry of girl power. Each of the girls represented another facet to women: sporty, posh, baby, scary, and ginger (who’s character was the ”smart” one filled with random facts – though i don’t know what that has to do with ginger…). It wasn’t until later in life that I realized how scandalous some of their lyrics were, talking about womanly independence and sexual freedom. But it’s a lesson that has lasted in society today, and which may be featured in a new musical featuring the beloved girl power group. Here’s one person who will be buying a ticket to that show.
7. Girls Just Want to Have Fun – Sarah Jessica Parker
This is a movie that you’ve probably never heard of, but it was one of my favorites as a kid. It is a beautiful 80s cheesy flick (as you can probably tell from the title – it was named after the Cyndi Lauper song) and it features Sarah Jessica Parker before she was bleached blond and having Sex In The City. I’m a big fan of dance movies (the music, the dance, the drama, the romance – who doesn’t love dance movies?) and this one combines my love of the 80s with my love for girl power. Sarah Jessica Parker plays Janey, a catholic school girl from a military family who loves to dance. Janey goes to an audition to be the next big couple on Dance TV (or DTV as it’s called… remind you of anything?), against the wishes of her family and teachers. It’s got big hair, romance, and the ability for girls to show how awesome they are at high kicks.
6. Bend It Like Beckham – Parminder Nagra
Riding the feel good train, Bend It Like Beckham is another one of those movies that you can watch over and over again. It follows Parminder Nagra’s Jess Bhamra as she defies her parents wishes in order to pursue her love of playing soccer (or football as it’s called in the movie, got to love those Brits). Though cultural issues take center stage (Jess is Indian, which means family honor is incredibly important), she’s still making girl’s soccer look just as cool as the boy’s league. You can’t help cheering for her while she kicks some serious ball. Also keep an eye out for Keira Knightley before she was in Pirates of the Caribbean, as Jess’s good friend and fellow footballer Jules. Jess is strong enough to stand up for what she loves, which is definitely something we ladies need to do more of.
5. Mean Girls – Lindsay Lohan
Before Miss Lohan was a crazy pants alcoholic with a fondness for stealing, she was on top of the world with a starring role in Mean Girls. It’s an awesome movie, the perfect chick flick. There’s enough humor, cute boys, and bitchy behavior to keep everyone entertained. Tina Fey (another absolutely awesome woman) wrote the script about Cady Heron, a girl who moves from Africa to high school hell in the USA. Her knowledge of the wild kingdom helps her to navigate the social cliques of public school. The Plastics are the stereotypical cheerleaders but when Cady shows up, things start changing. When fighting breaks out in girl world, everyone from the jocks to the theater nerds throws a punch. Girl on girl violence never looked so good.
4. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Rooney Mara/ Noomi Rapace
It’s hard to choose between the two versions of this movie. For one thing, the American version featuring Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander has yet to be completed. For another, even though I had to read subtitles the entire time watching the Swedish version, which features Prometheus‘s Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth, it still captivated me. I read the series back when it got crazy popular in 2009, and I have to say one thing about the title girl: she kicks some major ass. The fact is that there has never been a character quite like Lisbeth Salander. She’s a strong female, but most of her power is hidden behind a small frame and a computer screen. Unless you start to mess with her, then you’re going to see her open up in completely controlled rage that will scare the living daylights out of any sane person. She fights for the innocent, while getting a little dirty herself. She empowers a different kind of female, and she does it while defying every system and stereotype. Vengeance is very sweet when Lisbeth Salander is serving it.
3. Batman Returns – Michelle Pfeiffer
I am the first to admit that I am excited about Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. But I’m also a fan of the Tim Burton Batman movies. Sure Micheal Keaton’s Batman has no personality, but that simply means that the villains get to have all the fun. And one of the better evil criminals is Catwoman. Starting out as a mousy doormat of a woman, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Selena Kyle transforms into the bad ass that can take on the Bat. And she looks damn good in that tight leather suit. It’s not easy to beat the crap out of someone while wearing high heels, but Catwoman manages to do it while still looking sexy. Let’s hope that Anne Hathaway is able to continue the tradition of awesome action sequences and crazy sex appeal.
2. The Hunger Games- Jennifer Lawrence
Boy am I glad that Katniss Everdeen has taken the world by storm. For one thing, The Hunger Games is a great trilogy of books that young adults can be proud of (unlike other novels that are under the young adult heading). But the fact that everyone is getting behind the bow and arrow wielding Miss Everdeen like she’s the best thing since sliced bread means more opportunities for lead female characters on the big screen. Katniss (played wonderfully by Jennifer Lawrence) is a girl living in a post apocalyptic world where there are now 12 Districts, and each of those Districts has to contribute 2 kids for a yearly fight to the death. After taking her sister’s place in the competition, Katniss must use her skills with a bow to stay alive. While we’ve only seen the first installment, I can guarantee that the next 2 movies will only further Katniss’s status as an ultimate ass-kicker.
1. Alien/Aliens – Sigourney Weaver
There is a reason why there are enough women in movies to make a list of the best, and it is all because of the original female action star that is Ellen Ripley. Back in 1979, when Alien was brought to theaters, Sigourney Weaver was just another woman in the mostly male crew aboard the Nostromo. But after battling it out with a murdering alien species, she reigned supreme as the sole survivor. When asked to once again face the xenomorph in Aliens, Ripley shows that her ability to kick ass is no fluke. When she tells that alien to “get away from her you bitch!”, it forever cements her in the bad ass hall of fame. Sigourney Weaver is the reason why girl power is still around today, because Ripley proved that women can do it just as well as a guy can. I salute you Ellen Ripley, for giving girl’s like me a hero we can look up to.
I think I’ve proven how awesome women can be in cinema. If you have any other entries into the girl power hall of fame, feel free to leave them in the comments. Just for giggles I leave you with the song that launched girl power. GIRL’S RULE!