With Women’s Equality Day having come and gone on Aug. 26, there’s no better time than to sit back, relax and applaud some of the women who refused to be cowed by the stereotype that women were inferior to men.
All women have wanted was a seat at the table, a chance to get their voice heard in the same regard as any man would have, but unlike most men, the women in these biographical movies, or biopics for short, had to prove their worth to people.
Here are the five strong female biopics that every girl needs to see.
1. Hidden Figures (2016)
It was hard to be a woman living in the 1960s, let alone a black woman. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe played Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson and Katherine Johnson, respectively, in this phenomenal female biopic about the three women’s key roles in getting an American astronaut into orbit. Johnson was a mathematician that solved the flight trajectory puzzle, known as Project Mercury, Vaughan was a NASA supervisor and Jackson was a NASA engineer.
Johnson, Vaughan and Jackson worked under a gender and racially segregated division of NASA to try and help the U.S. They were grossly underestimated by their male coworkers and had to combat the difficulty of getting their voices heard as black women, in addition to solving the ultimate project of getting a man in space. Through their great mix of personalities, the three women are full of great punchlines that are sure to make you laugh and inspire you to take a stand.
2. Jackie (2016)
Natalie Portman portrays Jacqueline “Jackie” Kennedy as the first lady of the United States in this female biopic about her and President John F. Kennedy’s time in the White House. From the Kennedys’ initial arrival to D.C. until the infamous assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, Portman displays a stunningly beautiful performance of Jackie, similar to how the world was captured by Jackie in the sixties.
Aside from Portman’s portrayal of Jackie, the film’s costumes and setting are accurate to a tee. Many of Jackie’s outfits are recreated and even the tragic assassination is drawn up so accurately it seems like you are watching the real thing unfold before your very eyes. By using close camera shots to capture many of the scenes, the producers manage to more vividly capture the moving performances of the actors portraying the emotionally harrowing true life events. Jackie is examined under a microscope by the world and comes out stronger than ever to not only take ownership of her role as first lady, but in leading her country through such a tumultuous time.
3. Elizabeth (1998)
Queen Elizabeth II is widely known as the oldest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, but before there was a second Queen Elizabeth, there was a first. “Elizabeth” depicts the early part of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign over England, which was filled with a deceitful administration in an attempt to get rid of her.
After her predecessor and half-sister Mary I passed away, Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett) was locked up for conspiracy charges, but was released and crowned queen in 1558. In her sister’s wake, Elizabeth was left with England’s rising debt as well as a slew of conflicts between neighboring countries and her own administration.
Blanchett had a huge undertaking in taking the role of Queen Elizabeth I, but she played the part exceptionally and evoked a true sense of a queen with unwavering values that allowed her to make difficult decisions. This biopic was a little bit outside of the realm of reality, however, the over encompassing deception produces an exciting and suspenseful film.
4. Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999)
Back in the day, the entertainment industry was always on the lookout for a triple threat — someone who could act, sing and dance extremely well. Additionally, most of the people nominated at award shows in the fifties were white. To find a triple threat woman of color who is worthy of an award nomination was never thought to be possible until Dorothy Dandridge came along. Played by Halle Berry, Dandridge’s biopic reveals the many struggles and barriers that stood in her way to become the first African American woman nominated for an Academy Award for best actress in 1954.
The HBO TV movie is a classy, old school film that educates viewers on the restrictions Dandridge had to face in order to get to where she wanted to be. However, she gets caught up in the fame and fortune, always wanting the attention on her. In doing so, she loses grasp of who she is. Berry’s performance grapples the pursuit of fame with the underpinnings of her difficult childhood while maintaining the poise image of an actress with a seemingly great life.
5. Erin Brockovich (2000)
A low top, short pencil skirt and six-inch pumps were part of Julia Roberts’ essential outfit in the hilarious drama “Erin Brockovich.” Don’t let her revealing wardrobe and limited education fool you, however. Based on the true story of the same name, Roberts plays a momma on a mission that put the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in murky waters through a $333 million lawsuit. PG&E had contaminated drinking water with hexavalent chromium, which caused illnesses and diseases like cancer in many of the citizens who lived around the company’s headquarters in Hinkley, California.
Roberts’ role as Brockovich addressed and simultaneously broke down the female stereotype of how people automatically assume who women are based on the way that they dress. With three children, two divorces, no job or law experience, Brockovich made a complete 180 of her life in finding success as a legal clerk while proving many people wrong in the process. Roberts completely embodies Brockovich’s quick-witted personality and steadfast relationships to the victims of PG&E’s water crisis.