I love #movies. Certain ones stick with me. When I can’t fall asleep at night, movies help. I don’t watch them on TV, I watch them from my memory. I pick a movie, roll it on the screen of my imagination, starting from the beginning. Before I get to the end, I have usually fallen asleep.
Some of my favorite movies feature strong female leads — compassionate, smart strong female characters. (Imagine that?!) Memorable standouts include:
1. Reese Witherspoon in the movie, Wild – She hikes 1,100 miles! By herself. All alone.
Reese’s movie is based on the memoir of Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl hikes 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail through the Mojave Desert and into Washington and Oregon. While she walks, she shares memories and faces physical and emotional challenges along the way. Her story of grief, love and loss is carried with her, along with a huge backpack. I like how the movie embraces her sensual side without judgment or exploitation.
Cheryl is courageous and strong. Wild is a lovely movie, and Reese keeps you riveted.
2. Sally Field in Places in the Heart – A loving salute to the single mom trying to bring home the bacon in hard times.
I love Sally in this movie—a beautiful movie it is. Places in the Heart mixes so many themes, while playing the characters out during the Great Depression, on the fields of the Deep South. (I was an Alabama girl long before I moved to the Midwest, so I love seeing the cotton fields and hearing the slamming screened doors and hum of the crickets).
The best scene is when Sally’s character, Edna, is at her kitchen table, her hands are bleeding from trying to pick the cotton and harvest it. She is on a deadline. The bank will take her home, her land, and her children will be dispersed if she doesn’t get this cotton picked in time. She is desperate, almost dead with exhaustion, but she keeps going. Her shaking legs and tired face project the pain that many parents and single parents have felt. The pain of feeling that you have to care for your young without the resources, support or knowledge to do so.
Edna soldiers on, for as long as her legs will carry her.
3. Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth – Don’t F&** with me, fellas!
Everybody thought a woman couldn’t rule. So, when Elizabeth I became queen, everyone told her over and over she needed to marry, otherwise, she would fail. Therefore, Elizabeth smartly feigned interest in marriage and tacitly agreed, but never actually said “yes.” She was a consummate politician, brilliantly playing the “maybe…” card until she dies. Elizabeth ushered in the Golden Age in a time when women were overtly considered to be incapable of leading.
Best line in the movie? “I am my father’s daughter, and I am not afraid of anything!” She roars like a lion.
3. Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction – Oh, yeah. You are gonna hit me?! We’ll see about that…
This chick is gorgeous, hot, nasty, self-centered, and in it to win it. Linda Fiorentino as Bridget is compelling to watch in this film noir. In the beginning of the movie, her honey slaps her in the face. He shouldn’t have done that. I repeat, he should not have done that.
Bridget gets revenge. She has lots of “it’s-all-about-me” sex along the way. She is dangerous but smart. He is gonna regret that slap. It’s a good movie.
Meryl plays Karen Blixsen. The movie takes place in 20th century British colonial Africa. Karen is a baroness who fights lions, starts a plantation (without experience), travels valiantly through Africa to bring supplies to her husband during a war, and takes a lover (played by the wonderful Robert Redford). Things don’t end beautifully in Africa.
Karen powers forward. In real life, this Karen (Isak Dinesen) goes on to write one of the top 100 nonfiction books of all time. That is so cool.
Linda Hamilton plays Sarah, a tough girl, physically and emotionally. She gets attacked by cyborgs who want her son. Mama Bear has a gun and huge muscles. I don’t think there were any successful screen muscle girls before this successful film. The pace of this movie keeps your heart ticking strong and it is fun to see her strut her stuff.
Sarah is fierce and fun to watch.
What are you favorite strong female character movies? Tell us more!