Sometimes, what we need is a good, solid movie to remind us how wonderfully complex it is to be a woman in today’s world. Injustice, emotional vortex, self-love (and lack of) – clichéd as it may be, these are things that we are just all too familiar with. Being able to relate to a strong, female lead who faces adversity head on is sometimes needed to give you that extra spring in your step the next day.
While female-centric movies are in abundance, your time is not, we get it. Here we are, inspirational saving you from the endless vortex of browsing with this list of movie recommendations your girly heart will thank us for.
Both written and directed by Lulu Wang based on her own experiences, The Farewell tells the story of a family trying to hide her impending death from their beloved family matriarch. The family stages an elaborate wedding in China as a ruse for everyone to travel back to see Nai Nai before she passes from terminal cancer, unbeknownst to her. At the centre of the film is Billi, who battles with her conscience in keeping the truth from her Nai Nai.
Why watch it?
Billi (Awkwafina) is every one of us who has tried to hide the less rosy things in life from loved ones while putting on a defensive front. There is one poignant scene in the film where she breaks down when she tells her mother about memories of the time she spent with her grandparents who raised her in her early years. If you come from a typical Chinese family, Billi’s mother’s reaction is something that can feel all too familiar.
Interesting fact: Lulu Wang first featured this story on the podcast, This American Life, where she played actual recordings from her trip to China for the fake wedding. Where the film version was incredibly moving, the radio episode has a lighter side to it though it’s equally as tender. We recommend you give it a listen as well, but don’t skip the tissues.
Podcast link: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/585/in-defense-of-ignorance/act-one-7
Danggal is a film about three sisters from the small village of Haryana, India, who defy all stereotypes to emerge as national wrestling champions. Bollywood darling Amir Khan plays their former wrestler father who puts his daughters through gruelling training. The training involves cropping their hair really short, and social backlash to achieve his own failed personal dream of a championship.
Why watch it?
Who doesn’t love a true story about underdogs rising above the clouds? One of the sisters, Geetha, won India’s first ever gold medal in wrestling at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and went on to be the first Indian female wrestler to have qualified for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games.
Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johanssen) are a couple who have hit a rough spot in their marriage and are negotiating a separation. When Nicole moves to LA with their son to pursue her acting career, Charlie stays in New York to continue working on his play. The move pushes their relationship to the brink.
Why watch it?
This movie is not a story about divorce, nor is it really about marriage. It’s about how the demise of a relationship can bring out the worst in two people. We’ve all been there, hurting the ones we love even though that’s not what we set out to do. Brace yourself for the scene where Nicole and Charlie hurl truth bombs at each other; the script is raw, real and downright devastating. The honesty in this film can be painful to handle especially if you’re going through a challenging time with your partner, but it’s all the more reason to watch it.
This is an outstanding documentary about the life and work of marine biologist, author, lecturer, National Geographic explorer in residence, and amazing human being in general, Dr Sylvia Earl. The legendary oceanographer is on a life-long crusade to protect our precious ocean at all costs.
Why watch it?
Dr Sylvia has broken the mould many times over, not just as a woman in her field of work but as someone who has pioneered expeditions and made headway in many areas of marine research. Mission Blue is very much a celebration of an extraordinary woman fighting tirelessly for her cause. P.S You may start thinking twice about eating fish after watching this documentary.
Set in the 90’s, Ilo Ilo is about a Singaporean family who hire a live-in Filipino helper to carry out domestic household tasks and look after their 9-year-old son. At first, Jiale is resistant to Teresa’s arrival but in time, the two develop a special relationship between them.
Why watch this?
The film has two strong female characters at the lead. There is Teresa (Angeli Bayani), who attempts to navigates her new environment as domestic helper while trying to find space for her own wants and needs. On the other end, Hwee Leng (Yeo Yann Yann) is juggling pregnancy, work, a bratty son, and supporting her husband. This is a bittersweet story about women who strive daily to keep everyone around them afloat.
In 1961, NASA is working hard to launch astronaut John Glenn into space. Three African-American female mathematicians ladies were assigned to be a part of the Space Task Force. Amidst facing both sexist and racist challenges, the women played vital roles in making the launch successful.
Why watch this?
If you ever need something to inspire you to spit in the eye of your naysayers, this is the film to watch. Better still, the movie is based on true events. If Dorothy (Octavia Spencer), Katherine (Taraji Hanson) and Mary (Janelle Monáe) could do it in the 60s, you definitely can now.