It’s February, and the freezing temperatures and snowdrifts mean that girls’ night in is looking like an attractive alternative to sipping colorful drinks at a bar. So, what’s on the screen for this weekend? If you’ve powered through your Netflix queue and you’re craving a bit of nostalgia, go back in time and treat your friends to some serious girl power. Here are five of our favorite films featuring kick-ass female protagonists:
Ellen Ripley is one of the best female leads of all time, and not just because she was one of the first female science fiction heroes—Sigourney Weaver won her first Academy Award nomination for the role. Ripley is the bad-ass who first takes on the face-sucking, chest-bursting monsters and survives. Most importantly, her victory involves an M-99 assault rifle and a blowtorch. Honestly, what’s cooler than that? Note: do not watch this series past Aliens (the second movie)—it goes drastically downhill.
A classic 90s film (and also an adaptation of the book Emma), Cher Horowitz’s ditzy blonde moments do not preclude her from kick-ass status. Taking on the “popular” crowd? Check. Taking the shy, misfit new girl under her wing? Check. Falling in love with her stepbrother? Check. OK, the last one has nothing to do with bad-assness, but the best part about Cher is her unflinching desire to do what’s right, others be damned. Which is admirable, especially for a high school student.
3. Legally Blonde
The second ditzy blonde on my countdown, Elle Woods is the ultimate champion for anyone who has wanted to do something or be somebody unexpected. Nobody considers her a serious person (or even academic) but that doesn’t stop her from attending Harvard Law—and becoming her class’ valedictorian. Sure, her initial motivations aren’t admirable—getting back together with a loser boyfriend—but she quickly shifts from being the me-too follower to striving to succeed in her own right. Side note: “Watch Me Shine” by Joanna Pacitti is one of the best girl-power songs of all time.
4. Erin Brockovich
This movie is a biographical film based on its namesake, but that doesn’t make Julia Roberts’ character any less kick-ass. Despite no law school training, Brockovich takes on corporate giant Pacific Gas and Electric Company when she discovers the company contaminated the groundwater of Hinckley, CA, with hexavalent chromium, leaving the residents with a host of life-threatening medical conditions. Her sass, gutsiness, and passion for the job (remember the scene where she recites from memory the medical and family history of every single plaintiff?) make her a definite power woman.
5. Bend it Like Beckham
I’m not just putting Jesminder "Jess" Bhamra on here because we’re both Indian. OK, maybe a small part of me is, but the real reason she’s made this list is because she takes on her family’s expectations and pursues something she truly loves—football (also known as soccer). And because she’s a really good player. It’s nice to be reminded that you don’t need to slay dragons or save the world to be kick-ass woman—sticking to your guns is just as important.
Anusha Deshpande, a native of Atlanta, is a first year student at Harvard Business School. She spends most of her spare time listening to Bruce Springsteen, watching Red Sox games and staying up to watch late night comedy TV so you don't have to.More from this Author