Words by Sydney McDonald

For decades women have had to settle with powerful characters displayed as men in the media, creating a world in which women have a small spectrum of role models to choose from. Finding a wide range of films and documentaries which express females as strong and complex characters continues to be challenging, which is why CONVICTS is bringing you a list of our favorite girl powered movies of all time. Grab yourself a nicely seasoned bowl of popcorn and settle in for hours of female driven and directed films and documentaries.

IRIS

This documentary explores the life of the 93-year old style icon, Iris Apfel. For decades Iris has influenced New York’s fashion scene, flaunting her signature style of layered jewelry and brightly colored outfits, fully unleashing her free spirit onto the streets of NYC. If you’re looking to feel inspired by the story of a truly one of a kind human, look no further.   

American Psycho

A film about a narcissistic, sexist murderer might not make most women empowered lists, there is a reason why it appears on this list. And no, it is not just because of Christian Bale’s killer dance moves (no pun intended). It’s because of the females behind the camera. This film was directed by a woman, Mary Harron, who also helped write the screenplay.

Raw

Not to give too much away, Raw tells the story of a young woman in veterinary school. She is a steadfast vegetarian, until a hazing ritual sparks an appetite for human flesh. The only thing scarier than a cannibal is a female cannibal. The French know how to make an unexpected film and this is all thanks to the film’s woman director, Julia Ducournau. Just a warning, you may not want to eat for several hours after seeing this movie.

Blue is the Warmest Color

This French film tells the story of a teenager who’s struggling to come to terms with her sexuality when she falls in love with a woman for the first time. Blue is the Warmest Color explores the personal and societal complexities that exist within defining sexuality, making it one of the more accurately depicted love stories involving two women.  

Mad Max

500 hours of film to edit. One woman for the job. Margaret Sixel was the editor of the film and helped make a badass action movie while promoting strong female characters.

Frances Ha

Follow a young Frances as she prances around New York City in search of love, a dancing career and an apartment she can afford. This dazzling homage to the french new wave puts you in the shoes of a woman who doesn’t quite fit in with all the other girls. Co-written by the lead actress Greta Gerwig, who made her directorial debut late last year. As it did in Ladybird, Gerwig’s honest depictions of the delicate moments in life we often consider awkward shows through.

Graduation

Eliza, a recent victim of attempted rape is about to graduate from her high school in Romania. She is the daughter of a doctor in the midst of his midlife crisis. His worries about his daughter’s future poetically become the focus of the film. We lose touch with his daughter along with him and become absorbed in the good intentions of his actions. Eliza is the girl inside all of us women, the one with an independent spirit and plans of her own.

Lost in Translation

Watching this film is like slipping into a warm bath with a glass of wine and an expensive candle. Charlotte is career-less wife of a photographer, tagging along on a business trip. Amidst her wandering throughout Tokyo, she meets Bob Harris, an aging movie star. Both unhappy and directionless, come to each other’s rescue. The film was inspired by the director’s Sofia Coppola experience of self-discovery while visiting Japan in her twenties.

Margarita with a Straw

A film as unusual as its title. Laila is a musician who embarks on a journey of sexual discovery despite her disability. Traveling from her hometown in India to New York City to study, her adventurous spirit guides her into the hearts of others as she gets to the core of her own. Kalki Koechlin’s performance is unprecedented in this touching story of love and acceptance.