FemaleFilmsMF08-03-16.jpgWhile this Top 5 will be far less L.A.-centric than usual, March is Women’s History Month and high time to celebrate by throwing the following DVDs into your Netflix queue. We’ve come a long way ladies, and if you don’t believe me, check out the crap working woman Rosalind Russell endures from her male colleagues in 1940’s His Girl Friday (pictured). Spanning the days from when a woman in pants could cause a scandal to our own post-feminist age, here are 5 movies that celebrate the power of the female sex.

His Girl Friday (1940):

Rosalind Russell plays Hildy Johnson, a journalist on the verge of doing what’s expected of a woman of her time: giving up her career to marry. The dependable and bland Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy) accompanies her to the office to say her goodbyes, but complications ensue when Hildy’s dashing editor and ex-husband Walter Burns (Cary Grant) conspires to keep her around. To a modern viewer, the true tug-of-war is not between Russell’s two loves, but between societal expectations and a woman’s passion and talents for her career. While there’s little doubt that Hildy will ultimately follow her heart in this one, the film makes clear how challenging it was for women of this era to break with conventions.

Adam’s Rib (1949):

Katharine Hepburn is a feminist icon for the ages, the first Hollywood leading lady who wore pants publicly. So it’s only fitting that she co-stars with Spencer Tracy in this classic about two married lawyers, Adam and Amanda Bonner who end up on opposite sides of trial. Tensions rise as Amanda attempts to turn the case of her client, a two-timed wife accused of attempted murder, into a feminist cause celebre. Actress Ruth Gordon co-wrote the screenplay, which shows Hepburn and Tracy cooking dinner together, trading massages, and loving and sparring on equal ground. Adam’s Rib presents the notion that marriage can be a partnership between equals, a fairly revolutionary idea in 1949 and one that still ruffles conservative feathers today.

Valley Girl (1983):

This one gets extra points for actually being directed by a woman. Martha Coolidge sets this coming-of-age tale in the San Fernando Valley. Deborah Foreman plays Julie, a sweet Val who knows little about the world outside of the Galleria, her circle of friends, and her jerky boyfriend Tommy until she meets Hollywood punk Randy (Nicolas Cage in his breakout starring role). While the film is a frothy comedy taking place against the backdrop of Valley speak and early ‘80s new wave gems, Valley Girl portrays a young woman leaving the comfort of her clique and becoming her own person with unexpected tenderness.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001):

Less a celebration of femininity than a celebration of the feminine and masculine within us all, this one deserves a spot on the list for writer/director John Cameron Mitchell’s portrayal of the fierce, female-identifying Hedwig, a rock-n-roll singer telling the story of her botched sex change operation. Hedwig and the Angry Inch examines power dynamics in relationships astutely and most of the songs in this musical are top-notch. “Wig in a Box” testifies to the magic of artifice, something every woman who’s ever applied eyeliner and lipstick understands.

Juno (2007):

Diablo Cody took home this year’s Oscar for best screenplay with good reason. With her razor-sharp wit and underlying tenderness, Juno is one of the most fully realized female characters to hit the screen in years, and is especially appreciated since most movies portray teen females as one-dimensional objects of male lust. Throughout the film, we see Juno (Ellen Page) taking the reins of her relationship with Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). While this has unintended consequences, it’s still refreshing to see a teen female who isn’t waiting for a guy to come around and claim her. Juno’s role as the film’s true catalyst is a significant step for cinematic women of any age.

Honorable mentions: Thelma and Louise, The Hours, Far From Heaven, The Accused, A League of Their Own, and Away From Her.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Written by Maggie Flynn