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Top 23 Movies to Watch for Women’s Herstory Month 2023: Part 2

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kutztown chapter.

Hope you readers enjoyed part one of my previous Herstory movie month list. Now here comes part two of a list of films about fierce females. Again, for anyone who hasn’t seen these movies yet, expect spoilers ahead!

23.) The Duff

If you enjoy a good teen flick with a funny female lead, then The Duff is for you. Based on the book of the same name by Kody Keplinger, this film stars Mae Whitman as Bianca, a sarcastic horror fan high schooler who discovers from her classmates that she’s a DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). She starts off on a journey of reinvention, but in the film’s climax she discovers the importance of self-worth and what she believes what a DUFF is instead of what society tells her.

22.) The Shallows

If anyone reading this is a shark movie fan, then you’ll love The Shallows. Starring the fabulous Blake Lively as Nancy Adams, a promising med student goes off on a personal surfing retreat to help process the grief of her mom’s death. This trip of hers takes a dark turn when a vicious shark comes at her while surfing. Using natural instincts along with her medical know-how after the shark took a bite of her, Nancy must use every strength she has in order to not only escape the shark, but to escape the despair that weighs her down.

21.) Black Widow

This marvel film might not be everyone’s favorite, but no one can deny the amount of badass women empowerment played out in this story. Scarlett Johansson returns as master spy and avenger, Natasha Romanov/Black Widow, as she’s on the run from the government after the events of Captain America: Civil War. As Natasha runs from one family, she finds herself returning to her first when her sister and fellow widow, Yelena Belova played by Florence Pugh, asks her help to takedown the man who forced them and other girls to become his personal assassins. This film shows Natasha at her strongest as she confronts the demons that haunt her. It also makes a memorable debut to Pugh’s character as many fans loved Yelena’s humor, relatable vulnerability, and determined spirit, thus making her the perfect person to don the Black Widow moniker after Natasha’s fate in Infinity War. This film also is brimming with girl power, but the heart of the film is the sisterly bond between Natasha and Yelena.

20.) Rosaline

We all know the epic love story of Romeo and Juliet, but have you ever wondered about Romeo’s ex Rosaline? This romantic comedy Hulu original film and novel adaptation of Rebecca Serle’s “When You Were Mine” stars Kaitlyn Dever as Rosaline Capulet. In this movie we not only see the famous Romeo and Juliet story from her point of view, but we get to see her story in the midst as well. Rosaline is an intelligent modern woman who works to get her boyfriend back from her cousin. Along the way however, she discovers what true love really means and does what no one else has done, ending the Capulet/Montague war through passion and reason.

19.) The School for Good & Evil

Netflix’s adaptation of Soman Chainani’s book series had no shortage of powerful women. There’s Charlize Theron as the mischievously stern Lady Lesso, Kerry Washington as the well meaningly perky Professor Dovey, and Michelle Yeoh as the radiant Professor Anemone. However, the two stars of the movie are the empowering friendship of Sophie and Agatha, played by Sophia Anne Caruso and Sofia Wylie. Both girls who are deemed outcasts by their hometown are suddenly whisked away to a magical school where the most famous fairytale characters were trained. When Agatha, who’s been constantly accused as a witch, is sent to the school for good, and Sophie, who has a taste for fashion and royalty, is sent to the school for evil, they navigate their way while discovering hidden secrets and figuring out what good and evil actually means. Together they overcome separation, expectations, and their own insecurities to fight against a force that’s truly evil.

18.) Penelope

This modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast is not what anyone expected, and that’s a good thing. Christina Ricci stars as Penelope Wilhern, an educated and naive woman of wealth who is kept from the outside world due to her being cursed with a face of a pig. After years of being rejected by suitors and being hectored by her overbearing mother, Penelope takes it upon herself to go out into the world to claim her independence. This romantic fantasy is a powerful tale of self-discovery and self-love.

17.) Battle of the Sexes

It’s right there in the title as it’s feminist versus chauvinist told by the true story of the famous tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. While this film presents both competitors’ personal lives at play before the match, it’s ultimately the story of King’s fight for equality both on and off the tennis field and nobody could play this empowering figure better than Emma Stone.

16.) Hocus Pocus 2

We all love the first Halloween classic, but its sequel gives us a deeper look into the Sanderson sisters. Evil isn’t born, it’s made, and that phrase is proven true about Winnie, Mary, and Sarah as they were casted out of their village for their mischievous mannerisms and unconventional way of living. Afterwards they were found by an ancient witch who saw magical potential in the sisters and gifted them a book of dark spells that paved their path of vengeance and villainy. Newcomers Taylor Henderson, Nina Kitchen, and Juju Journey Brener played to perfection as the Sanderson sisters’ younger selves through their familiar personalities and sisterly dynamic. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy never lost their touch in their returning roles as they nailed their usual ruthlessness, comedic style, and ever entertaining musical performances. The sequel may not live up to the original, but it gives a deeper insight and appreciation to Sanderson’s strong bond.

15.) Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2

While this magical flick centers on Harry Potter, his character and the wizarding world wouldn’t have existed without the words of J.K. Rowling. Plus, Potter couldn’t have made it through the entire series without these badass witches! Wizarding heroines like Emma Watson as Hermione Granger proves time and time again not only how smart she is, but how brave she is in the face of danger. Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood may seem like the odd one out to her peers, but without her wisdom and gentle nature, Harry wouldn’t been able to find the ghost who can lead him to the next horcrux. Maggie Smith as Professor Minerva McGonagall whose magic is as powerful as her words holds nothing back to protect her students and Hogwarts itself. Julie Walters as Molly Weasley, a loving and fierce mama bear who you don’t want to mess with when it comes to her children. Lastly, Geraldine Somerville as Lily Potter, a mother gone but not forgotten as her love for her son, Harry, is the driving force of his character.

14.) Please Stand By

The amazing Dakota Fanning plays Wendy Welcott, a resourceful autistic Star Trek fan with knack for scriptwriting goes on a long cross-country journey to deliver her script for a cash prize contest to prove to her overprotective sister that she’s capable of looking after herself. Fanning’s acting is no doubt believable not only as a woman on the spectrum, but a woman determined to prove her capability for independence.

13.) Patsy & Loretta

This Lifetime true story movie centers on the friendship of country music icons Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Broadway extraordinaries Megan Hilty and Jessie Mueller’s chemistry as the famous females were as compelling and heartfelt as their angelic vocals. Both go through personal struggles during their career, but no matter the obstacles these two southern belles are always there for one another, even after Cline’s tragic demise.

12.) Jane Wants a Boyfriend 

Contrary to the film’s title, Louisa Krause’s character’s personal story is more than finding a boyfriend. Jane is a movie loving, costume designing autistic woman who longs to find true love like the couples she sees in her movies. She learns the hard way that life is no movie, but that doesn’t mean love isn’t possible for a woman like herself. A friend of her sister’s took interest in Jane and took every step to making their date comfortable for her after learning about her ASD. He loves every part of her as she loves herself. Jane also proves to her controlling sister that she has the social maturity, the capacity for independence, and the ability to stand up for herself and others in a world that doesn’t understand her.

11.) Gone

You’ll never look at Amanda Seyfried as the ditzy Karen Smith again after watching this thriller. Seyfried plays Jill, a woman struggling with socially and mentally after her traumatic experience as a kidnapping victim. One day, her sister went missing and discovered that the man who once took Jill kidnapped her sister. After requesting the police’s help, they dismissed her plea claiming to be an act of attention or poor mental issues. When the law refuses to help Jill, it’s up to herself to save her sister and she’ll go through willing lengths to get the answers she needs to find her, and put an end to their kidnapper.

10.) Enola Holmes 1 & 2

Netflix’s adaptation of Nancy Springer’s book series is the must watch films for Women’s HERstory month. Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown portrays Enola Holmes, sister to the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. However, Enola proves she’s more than just the sister of a famous figure, she goes off on her own in the world with her keen intellect, impressive fighting skills, and no quitting attitude to solve mysteries of her own. From saving a missing viscount to solving the disappearance of a match girl, Enola Holmes will fight tooth and nail for the truth and defend her loved ones.

9.) The Princess Diaries 1 & 2

Disney’s adaptation of Meg Cabot’s novels are a fan favorite to millions of women everywhere and it’s thanks to the phenomenal performances of Anne Hathaway as the adorably clumsy Princess Mia Thermopolis and Julie Andrews as the regally warm Queen Clarisse Renaldi. Mia’s coming of age story is something we all love rewatching. From accepting her identity as a princess who can make change to claiming her right as queen without a husband, Hathaway’s performance is inspiring to see and her character wouldn’t have succeeded without the support and wisdom of her grandmother, Clarisse. Andrews’ performance as Clarisse was equally compelling as not only did she only help her granddaughter to become the ruler she needed to be, but learned to be a grandmother who’s always there for her when she falls… and for Mia that’s almost 24/7, HA!

8.) The Devil Wears Prada

Anne Hathaway makes this list again only this time she stars alongside Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep in this fashion dramedy. Based on the novel by Lauren Weisberger, this movie centers on Andrea “Andy” Sachs, a woman with driven ambition finds herself as an assistant to the most successful and scariest business woman in the fashion world, Miranda Priestly. As Andy learns the ropes of the world of fashion, she also discovers the cost. While it’s admirable to want to make a mark on the world, Andy sees that it’s not worth the cost at the expense of friends and allies. Hathaway gave a stellar performance as the smart and driven Andy. Emily Blunt’s performance as the snobby, but relatable Emily Charlton was engaging to watch even if she doesn’t have much screen time. Lastly, Meryl Streep’s performance as the intimidatingly powerful Miranda Priestly brought such command in every scene she’s in.

7.) Rhymes for Young Ghouls

This drama flick will have your eyes glued to the screen from beginning to end. K. Devery Jacobs plays Aila, a rebel artist who lives in a dangerous neighborhood where Indian agents roam to kidnap young indigenous children to the horrific residential schools. When a vindictive agent stole Aila’s earnings, it’s up to her and her friends to claim back what’s hers and to take rightful vengeance against the people who hurt her and her community. This film gives an insightful view on indigenous cultures and struggles in the modern world while also giving a captivating heroine to watch overcoming evil through bravery and creativity.

6.) I, Tonya

Margot Robbie’s role as DC’s Harley Quinn forever impacted pop culture, but her role as real life figure skater Tonya Harding is also enjoyable to watch. Harding had difficulties from her abusive mother to her messy marriage with her first husband, Jeff. She also of course became the talk of controversy when she was accused of planning the attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan. This film allows the skater to tell her story the way she needed to be told instead of what the press smeared it as. While this biopic presents her various trials and woes, it also presents her greatest triumphs, mainly her accomplishment as being the first woman to land a triple axel in competition. 

5.) The United States Vs. Billie Holiday

Famed singer Andra Day portrays another music icon in the role of Billie Holiday. Holiday of course wasn’t a perfect woman given that she was using drugs for most of her career, mostly due to the personal demons that haunt her. That doesn’t mean she isn’t a woman of great influence, as she used her voice to sing about the things that really matter, particularly on civil rights. Her most famous song, “Strange Fruit” helped reveal our country’s darkest actions about the gruesome lynching on people of color. Many tried to silence her voice, such as the Federal Bureau of Narcotics led by the disgusting racist Harry J. Anslinger, but no one could stop Lady Day. Even after her tragic death, her legacy would forever live on in her music.

4.) The Simone Biles Story: Courage to Soar

Based on her memoir, “Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance”, this Lifetime biopic tells the inspiring story of Biles’ road to become an Olympic gymnast champion. Like other aspiring athletes, her journey didn’t come without hardships and sacrifices. Biles’ biological mother was unfit to care for her children due to her addiction, so Biles and her younger sister were adopted by the truest parents they’ve ever known, their grandparents. In her journey to becoming an Olympian champion, Biles had to make hard sacrifices, mainly giving up the regular life of being a high school girl. No proms, no boys, no clubs, and no attending fun school events. Though painful to give up, Biles has no regrets about the more important accomplishments in her life and that was being in a lovingly supportive family and winning four Olympic golds and a silver in the 2016 games.

3.) Pocahontas 

Yes, yes, while Disney’s take on the historical figure wasn’t accurate, it didn’t take away this amazing character’s impact on the world. Irene Bedard voices the free spirited princess as she discovers on her own about her mysterious dreams and the invading colonists that threaten her people. Upon meeting and falling in love with adventurer John Smith, Pocahontas sees that both their people aren’t as different as society divides them to be. Courageous and wise, Pocahontas takes the steps needed to save both sides from destroying each other while also making a hard sacrifice to do what’s best for her, for her true love, and her community. This Disney flick wouldn’t be complete without its songs, and Judy Kuhn, who provided the singing voice of the heroine didn’t skip a beat from the liberating I Want song, “Just Around the Riverbend” to the insightful “Colors of the Wind”.

2.) Turning Red

This Disney and Pixar film took the world by storm in 2022 and beyond. What hasn’t been said about this phenomenal coming of age movie? That it’s directed by Domee Shi, the first woman to direct a short film then the first female with sole director’s credit on a Pixar feature film? That it’s led by a reliable and relatable female protagonist voiced by Rosalie Chiang. That it depicts a strong and fun female friendship ensemble. A compelling and complicated mother daughter story? And of course, there’s the poignantly thought-provoking message of women’s Menstruation as told through the subtext of a girl transforming into a red panda at thirteen! This movie embodies the essence of girl power and the inevitable changes of growing adolescence.

  1. Where the Crawdads Sing

Turning Red wasn’t the only film making waves in 2022. Delia Owens’ book received highly praised receptions for its compelling coming of age narrative, thriller murder mystery, intriguing characters, captivating romance, and an in depth look on nature, both environmental and human. Daisy Edgar-Jones gave a powerful performance as her protagonist Catherine Danielle “Kya” Clark as she explores her home in the marsh while navigating human connections after her entire family abandoned her as a child. Throughout her journey, Kya discovers the light and darkness that lives within both environmental and human nature. Though her family abandoned her and was shunned by society, Kya’s resourcefulness from living in the marsh helped her not only survive this cruel world but thrive as well. Also, with the help of allies and friends like Mabel and Jumpin, and friend to lover Tate, she was able to use her knowledge of the marsh and her artistic skills to publish her books and became a self-made woman. Kya is a survivor against any dangers that come at her whether it’s standing her ground against a judgmental society or fighting back a predator like Chase Andrews. This movie will have you rooting for the Marsh Girl till its shocking end.

I hope you enjoyed part two of this list, and Happy HERstory Month ladies!

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Meaghan Torres

Kutztown '23

My name is Meaghan Xenia Alexandra Torres, I like to be called Alex. I’m a Christian, Autistic, & I’m studying for writing and art in Kutztown. I enjoy movies, books, tv shows, chocolate, swimming, writing, art, and spending time with my family & friends