'Oceans 8' movie poster (Image via Screen Rant)

The 12 Biggest Female-Led Movies Coming Out This Year

Female-led Hollywood movies continue to make headway for gender equality.
February 8, 2018
11 mins read

As the fight for gender equality continues, Hollywood is beginning to create more films telling women’s stories. Female-led films struck big last year and delighted female moviegoers, and this year will be no different.

With all the advocating women will be doing in 2018, whether for reproductive rights or merely fighting for a place at the table, it’s important to remember to relax. And what better way is there to take care of yourself than by cozying up and watching women kick butt on the big screen? Here are some must-see female-led films to watch out for in the next year.

1. “Annihilation” (Feb. 23)

Based on the book by Jeff VanderMeer, this female-led sci-fi horror film stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson and Tuva Novotny. In the film, a biologist named Lena (Portman) travels to a zone called Area X with a group of fierce women to figure out what happened to her husband. In this region, the laws of nature do not apply, and the group must face various obstacles as they encounter strange creatures and other indescribable phenomena.

Directed by Alex Garland, “Annihilation” is a highly-anticipated release that is expected to be surreal and visually stunning.

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2. “A Wrinkle in Time” (Mar. 9)

Based on the science fantasy book by Madeleine L’Engle, this theatrical and adventurous film stars Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and other talented actresses. The film follows Meg (Reid), a young girl who discovers that her father is trapped on another planet. She, her brother and her classmate travel with three otherworldly guides as they cross dimensions to rescue him, while navigating tough topics such as conformity and love.

This spectacular film is directed by Ava DuVernay, the first woman of color to direct a live-action film with a production budget of over $100 million. “A Wrinkle in Time” earns a special place on this list as a diverse movie both on screen and behind the scenes.

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3. “Ocean’s 8” (June 8)

A spinoff of the “Ocean’s Eleven” movies, “Ocean’s 8” offers a refreshing twist on the series fans have come to know and love, with female-led star actresses such as Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway and Awkwafina. Debbie Ocean (Bullock) leads this extensive group of talented women in pulling off a heist at the Met Gala.

Directed by Gary Ross, who is also responsible for “The Hunger Games,” the star-studded comedy is expected to be a successful continuation of the well-loved film series.

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4. “The Incredibles 2” (June 18)

The long-awaited sequel to “The Incredibles” is finally here! Starring Holly Hunter and most of the original cast, “The Incredibles 2” picks up where the first film left off.

Unlike the first film, which had the superhero family fighting evil together, the sequel focuses on Helen (Hunter), also known as Elastigirl, the matriarch of the Parr family. Elastigirl switches traditional gender roles with Mr. Incredible as she goes out to fight crime while he stays home with the kids.

Directed by Brad Bird, those who are still kids at heart will be satisfied to finally get the sequel everyone has been anticipating for over a decade!

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5. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” (July 20)

Good news for Meryl Streep fans: There’s now a sequel to the widely-loved musical, “Mamma Mia!” Starring Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters and Cher, this musical comedy reveals Donna’s (Streep) past as her daughter deals with anxiety during pregnancy. The abundance of female relationships in the film is heartwarming, especially as Sophie (Seyfried) receives all the support she needs on her journey to motherhood.

Directed by Ol Parker, viewers can expect the same gorgeous landscape and empowering female-led story as in the first movie.

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6. “The Spy Who Dumped Me” (Aug. 3)

Starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, this action comedy film will be the highlight of the summer! In it, best friends Audrey (Kunis) and Morgan (McKinnon) get roped into an espionage plot after one of the girls discovers her ex is a spy. Audrey and Morgan end up going on a life-changing mission to save the world that will be sure to include hilarious antics.

Directed by Susanna Fogel, this female-led film will put a nice spin on the typically male-dominated action/comedy genre.

7. “The Nightingale” (Aug. 10)

Aisling Franciosi stars in this historical drama set in Tasmania in 1825. Not to be confused with the film of the same name hitting theaters in 2019, this movie follows a female convict as she braves the wilderness with an Aboriginal companion. After witnessing the murder of her husband and child, she goes on a journey to seek revenge on the people who tore her family apart.

Jennifer Kent directs this thrilling film. Viewers can expect excellent directing, as Kent is known for her psychological horror film, “The Babadook,” which was one of the best-reviewed films of 2014.

8. “Crazy Rich Asians” (Aug. 17)

Based on the book by Kevin Kwan, the comedy stars Constance Wu and features a stellar all-Asian cast — the first movie backed by Hollywood to do so since “The Joy Luck Club” in 1993.

The film centers on Rachel (Wu), an economics professor who discovers the world of wealthy Singaporeans as she accompanies her boyfriend to his best friend’s wedding.

Even more exciting, the film is directed by Jon M. Chu. To have Asian representation both on screen and behind the scenes is a blessing, considering how few films feature characters of Asian descent. Chu’s movie is hopefully only the start of more diversity in film.

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9. “Cadaver” (Aug. 24)

The horror thriller film stars Shay Mitchell and Stana Katic and explores the psychological state of a cop fresh out of rehab. When she takes the graveyard shift at a local morgue, she encounters terrifying and violent circumstances that originate from an evil entity within one of the corpses in her morgue. Rather than featuring Mitchell as a sexy sidekick to a male hero, “Cadaver” places her at the forefront and allows her to tell her own story.

Diederik Van Rooijen directs this terrifying film, which will leave viewers unsettled and wanting more.

10. “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” (Nov. 2)

The new installment in the “X-Men” series will star Sophie Turner as Jean Grey along with the familiar cast of characters from previous installments. The events in this superhero film take place nearly a decade after “X-Men: Apocalypse” and center on what happens after Jean Grey gets hit with a solar flare, unleashing her Phoenix personality.

Simon Kinberg directs this anticipated film, which will be a welcome addition to the successful movie franchise.

11. “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” (Nov. 9)

“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” is the sequel to the 2011 hit, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” In this adaptation of David Lagercrantz’s novel, Claire Foy plays Lisbeth, a computer hacker who gets involved in a deep web of corruption and cyber-crime.

Fede Álvarez directs this exciting look into computer hacking from a female perspective. With few tech-savvy women portrayed in film, this crime thriller fills a hole that has long existed.

12. “Bumblebee” (Dec. 21)

Just in time for holiday audiences, the creators of “Transformers” are switching up the game a bit. Starring Hailee Steinfeld, the typically male-centric movie franchise is now introducing a film with a main female character.

Set in 1987, teenage Charlie finds Bumblebee in a small California town. Unlike the other movies in the franchise, which tended to feature more action and large explosions, “Bumblebee” is more of a coming-of-age story and will be a bit softer than the usual films in the series.

Directed by Travis Knight, this new twist on a beloved franchise will be something to look out for in the next year.

Kayla Platoff, Maryville University

Writer Profile

Kayla Platoff

Maryville University


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