2018 has been a great year for women in many aspects of life. Women have excelled in many previously male-dominated fields this year: politics, writing, art, science, and film. In an effort to shed a spotlight on these successes, we have put together a list of films that have some of the best leading women of the year. We wanted to showcase the great work that women have done in the film industry this past year. We loved these films, and look forward to a 2019 that is full of continued representation. We hope 2019 is a year filled with women of color at the forefront of not only the casts of films, but also the production.
Here are a few of the movies that stood out for us this past year:
A smart horror/sci-fi 100% lead by amazing actresses? Yeah, we got that this year! The cast consists of Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Gina Rodriguez all playing some seriously badass women. Not only are their characters tough, they are also intelligent and real. In Annihilation we get to see women playing accomplished scientists and well trained soldiers. Not only does this film feel empowering, but also genuine throughout its entirety. It is refreshing to see women represented in fields that women are not commonly seen in, and we hope to see more of this type of representation within the sci-fi genre.
Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, and Michelle Rodriguez lead the cast of Widows, along with great performances by Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson, and Colin Farrell. If that cast alone doesn’t make you want to see this movie, the great representation definitely should. It is great to see women taking the forefront in this thriller; a genre strongly dominated by male protagonists. Women in thrillers are typically written to be the femme fatale or the antagonist. So, we were happy to see women given interesting lead roles in Widows. Watching the women of this film take charge and take their futures into their own hands is awesome, and leaves you on the edge of your seat.
Crazy Rich Asians
This film adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s novel is full of amazing female characters. Constance Wu, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, and Michelle Yeoh turn this movie from an average rom-com, to a fun and colorful film about strong women dealing with the overwhelming aura of family, relationships, and love on their own terms. This movie also gave us some of the best Asian and Asian-American representation that we have seen this year (alongside other movies like, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before). We look forward to less whitewashing, and more genuine representation for Asian women in 2019.
Proud Mary may not have been a smash hit at the box office, but it had some great representation for women. Taraji P. Henson carries this crime thriller excellently, playing a hit woman as she tries to turn her life around with great sincerity and fire. The crime thriller genre is also one (like many others) that has been completely dominated by men in the past. Proud Mary shows the audience that men and white women are not the only ones who can carry a crime thriller. Proud Mary emphasizes how important it is for us to support movies with women of color at the forefront.
Lady horror fans had a good year in 2018 and he Halloween reboot is just one of many great female-led horror films from 2018. It is not only refreshing for fans of the franchise, but also women. Jamie Lee Curtis returned to reprise her iconic role as Laurie Strode who was a groundbreaking character back when she made her debut in 1978 when the first Halloween came out. Strode was a female character in a slasher movie who rather than just getting killed off quickly, fights back; protecting herself and others. Strode’s return to the 2018 reboot is no less groundbreaking. Now seeking out the infamous Michael Meyers to end things once and for all, Curtis brings great character work and sincerity to the role. Curtis presents Strode as not just tough, but also real and broken, which makes this movie all the more empowering for women in the audience.
A Wrinkle in Time
Closing out our list is Ava Duvernay’s adaptation of the sci-fi/fantasy novel, A Wrinkle In Time. Duvernay took what was already an empowering novel, and made it even more empowering by casting women of color in leading roles. This movie not only shows women at the head of fantasy universes, but also shows women at the head of our world too. We get to see a young girl who is smart, kind, and brave; but also has fears and flaws that she must face and conquer. This movie is and will continue to be a great inspiration for young girls of color, and we are so glad that generations to come will be able to experience something this positive in film.