Feminist Movies Everyone Should Watch

At the recent 2017 Cannes film festival, actress and jury member Jessica Chastain confessed that after watching hours and hours of films in just one week, she found the portrayals of female characters to be “disturbing.” She says that too often women on screen are passive and two-dimensional, and honestly, we have to agree.

Many films being released today still don’t even pass the Bechdel test, which requires at least two female characters to be onscreen at the same time discussing something other than a man, which isn’t asking for much.

If you’re looking for a film that shows strong, empowered women taking charge then here are 12 feminist films that everyone can enjoy.

 The Handmaid’s Tale

Based on the 1985 dystopian Margaret Atwood novel, The Handmaid’s Tale depicts a disturbing new world order in an imagined future where sexually transmitted diseases have rendered humans almost completely infertile. Women who can still carry children are rounded up and forced to serve as “handmaids” to the barren upper classes.

One handmaid named Offred, played by late actress Natasha Richardson, begins a forbidden relationship with her “Commander” played by Robert Duvall, and begins to push back against the tyrannical powers that have forced her into sexual slavery.


If the film version is a little dated for your taste, check out Hulu’s recent mini-series adaptation starring Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss, which is garnering rave reviews.

Thelma and Louise

Just because you already know how it ends doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still watch the classic 1991 road movie Thelma & Louise. Starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, this quintessentially feminist film tells the story of two best friends who take a road trip to escape Thelma’s controlling husband. After a sexual assault ends with one of them shooting the perpetrator, the two embark on a crime spree that changes their lives forever.

If two female best friends kicking butt and taking names isn’t enough of a draw for you, we should also mention that the movie features a young and extremely hunky Brad Pitt.


The 2002 biographical film Frida is an intersectional feminist’s dream. It tells the story of disabled bisexual female artist Frida Kahlo who defied gender and race stereotypes, rose above her condition, and redefined the role of women in the art world despite being under the influence of her philandering and sometimes cruel husband.

Kahlo was the original wild child who was unafraid to show the vulnerable side of womanhood, often painting frank depictions of breastfeeding, abortions, miscarriages, and other topics that were considered taboo in the early 20th century. Salma Hayek shines in the role of Kahlo, showing that a true actress wears the unibrow, instead of letting it wear her.

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