10 Movies With Strong Leading Ladies


Mulan (1998) movie poster, featuring one of Disney’s strongest female leads; Photo Courtesy of: imdb.com

In the spirit of Women’s History Month (and in an effort to give you something to do during quarantine), I’ve compiled a list of 10 great movies featuring a female lead. 

The following are in no order of preference:

Mulan (1998)

My personal favorite Disney movie, “Mulan” follows Mulan as she brings honor to her family in a different way than they anticipate. Her family expects her to marry, but when the Huns invade and one man from every family is forced to join the Chinese army, Mulan disguises herself as a man in order to take her sickly father’s place. With a fantastic score and a thrilling story, “Mulan” will not disappoint. The live action version will be released later this year. 

The Hunger Games (2012)

Based on Suzanne Collins’s dystopian novel of the same name, “The Hunger Games” follows Katniss as she volunteers for the games in her little sister’s place. Every year, one boy and one girl from each of Panem’s 13 districts is chosen via a lottery to fight to the death on live television. When Katniss is thrust into the arena, her sole goal is to survive. But what about Peeta, the boy from her district who has shown her nothing but kindness? Forced to make difficult choices, Katniss unwittingly becomes a revolutionary figure for all of those the games oppress. 

Frozen II (2019)

I will admit that after the original “Frozen” came out, I was more than ready to let it go (pun intended) after everyone obsessed over it. That being said, I wasn’t excited about the sequel when it was announced. However, quarantine inspired me to get Disney+, and Disney+ promoted “Frozen II,” so here we are. I had low expectations, but when I say it was amazing, I mean it was better than the original. The scenery, the music, the character development, and the story were fantastic. If you’re sick of “Frozen” like I was, seriously consider giving “Frozen II” a try. It’s different, better, and all-around magical. 

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

I’ve always been a huge fan of Anthony Hopkins and Jodi Foster, so there’s nothing better than a film they’re both in. Jodi Foster plays a young FBI trainee who is assigned to interview Hannibal Lector (Hopkins), a cannibalistic serial killer, in the hopes of gaining insight into catching a psychopath nicknamed “Buffalo Bill.” Thrilling, creepy, and downright disturbing, “The Silence of the Lambs” doesn’t have a dull moment. 

The Lovely Bones (2009)

Warning: make sure you have tissues next to you for this one. I read Alice Sebold’s book of the same name when I was only 12 (which was WAY TOO YOUNG for the record). I believe the book is better, but the movie is great in its own right. A 14-year-old Susie Salmon is murdered by her neighbor in the beginning scenes. The rest of the movie follows her as she explores Heaven and watches her family grieve over her death and desperately search for answers. 

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

I cannot stress enough how much I love this movie. Based on Arthur Golden’s novel of the same name, “Memoirs of a Geisha” begins with young Chiyo as she is sold into a life of servitude along with her sister. Kayoko Nitta, the mother of a geisha house, takes Chiyo in, but Chiyo’s sister is sold to a brothel instead. After getting into trouble for trying to run away with her sister, Kayoko tells Chiyo that she will no longer invest in Chiyo’s geisha training. Devastated over losing her sister and Kayoko’s faith in her, Chiyo is found crying on a riverbank by the Chairman, who shows her remarkable kindness. Because of him, Chiyo vows to become a geisha and become a part of his life. 

Changeling (2008)

This is another movie that will have you reaching for the tissues. Angelina Jolie plays Christine Collins, a woman living in the 1920s with her nine-year-old son Walter. When Walter goes missing, Christine feels like she’s lost everything. When the police notify her that they’ve found him, she is initially overjoyed, but then she sees the boy and realizes it’s not her son. But the police, and the boy, insist that he is. The police tell Christine to take him home on a trial basis, but she refuses to give up until she learns where the real Walter is.  

Titanic (1997)

Again with the tissues. Kate Winslet plays Rose DeWitt Bukater, a 17-year-old first-class passenger aboard the infamous ship who is engaged to a jerk named Cal Hockley. But then Rose meets Jack Dawson, a poor artist who literally saves her life. The two fall in love aboard the doomed vessel, and I’m already tearing up writing this. Go watch it now. 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson, this film is so complex I don’t even know where to begin. Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist suffering as a result of a libel suit against him by Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Lisbeth Salander is an incredible hacker and “victim turned vigilante” who compiles a background on Blomkvist for a man named Henrik Vanger. Henrik offers Blomkvist evidence against Wennerstrom if Blomkvist agrees to investigate the 40-year-old presumed murder of his grandniece Harriet. Blomkvist and Salander head to Henrik’s island to investigate his odd family and become entangled in its dangerous secrets. 

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

In the absolute best version of “Pride and Prejudice” (sorry Dr. Dougal, the Colin Firth version is inferior), Keira Knightly plays Elizabeth Bennet, a young woman pressured by her family to marry well. Elizabeth meets the insufferable Mr. Darcy, and the two initially cannot stand one another (hence the pride and prejudice). However, as time goes on, they find themselves falling in love. It may be another love story, but it’s one that also explores class, gender, education, and more.