The 5 Most Feminist Films of 2016 So Far
2016 has been a great year for cinema, even if the superhero movies this summer have been a bit of a let down (I’m looking at you, Suicide Squad). But there’s a lot of great film out there that’s both blockbuster and not blockbuster related, so here I am to break down for you five of the best, most interesting films of the year thus far that put an emphasis on female characters and lady power.
Zootopia is one of those animated films you walk out of thinking how could anyone bring a kid to see that? Heartwarming, charming, and aware of its societal implications, Zootopia is definitely a film for empowered women of all ages. The plot follows a bunny named Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), as she moves to the big city to become a police officer, makes friends, enemies, and uncovers plots that threaten to destroy the fabric of society, not to mention engaging with institutionalized racism, sexism, and police brutality. By the time Shakira is singing pop music over the credits, you’ll be thinking critically about the very human social structures reflected in this film. (directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, writer: Jared Bush)
Is there anything more fun than a good Melissa McCarthy movie? The Boss is not as good as Spy, but it is solid McCarthy and totally excited about girl-power. Besides passing the Bechdel test with flying colors, McCarthy helped write the screenplay, so you know you can relax for some good laughs and some good, feminist fun. McCarthy is joined by Kristen Bell, Kristen Schaal, and Peter Dinklage, to tell the story of the rise, fall, and rise again of Michelle (McCarthy), a seriously smart, driven woman, who (subtly) engages with that question haunting all of us: is it possible to have a family and a career. This little gem might surprise you. (director: Ben Falcone, writers: Ben Falcone, Steve Mallory, Melissa McCarthy)
Besides being directed by a woman, and written by two women, this film is a particularly fun twist on the indie genre. Without giving away too much, suffice it to say your expectations will be set up and then summarily thrown away. Maggie’s Plan does not pass the Bechdel test, but it is good entertainment that treats women like real human beings, which is a (sadly) refreshing change. (director: Rebecca Miller, writers: Rebecca Miller, Karen Rinaldi)
Okay, confession time: I saw Finding Nemo for the first time last year (I know, gasp) so I don’t have the same nostalgic love of it that everyone else in their 20s seems to. But Finding Dory holds up on its own. A beautiful tale of loss and a funny story about fish rolled into the colorful world of classic Pixar, Finding Dory is also one of the most feminist films of the year so far. Much like Maggie’s Plan, Finding Dory does what many Hollywood films fail to: treats its female characters like fully formed human beings, rather than objects. Sure, it’s hard to objectify a fish, but that shouldn’t take away from all the things Finding Dory does right. If you haven’t seen it by now, go! Do it! I won’t say anymore here. (director/writer: Andrew Stanton)
Yes, we have reached that point. Despite Ghostbusters having become more of a phenomenon than a film, it’s still an important piece of comedy, and a fun few hours to boot. Again, Melissa McCarthy delivers a stunning performance, as do Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones as fellow ghostbusters. But Kate McKinnon absolutely steals the show with her portrayal of the final ghostbuster in the foursome, Holtzmann. Yes, this is a remake, and yes, it will do all it can to remind you of that fact, but it doesn’t matter; the film holds up on its own. And very little could be more pleasurable on a hot summer day than watching four smart, cool, weirdo ladies kicking some ghost butt. (director: Paul Feig, writers: Paul Feig, Katie Dippold)