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10 Movies Every Woman Should See

Confession time: The thing I miss most about my old life, pre-kids, is not having more sleep (although that’s second on the list), or more money, or getting to read the Sunday newspapers before Thursday. It is simply this — I miss going to the cinema as and when I like.

It wasn’t unusual for me to hit the movie theatre three times a week when I was single, more so in the years when I was a film reviewer. Thankfully, my husband shares my movie addiction, and it is the first thing we’ll do together whenever we get the chance to get out sans kids. Ten days after my son was born I went to the movies, and it was the first time I actually felt like myself again. There is just something so inviting about sitting in the dark, being led away on someone else’s journey…

Every time something goes wrong in my life and I want a few hours of peace, of NOT thinking about my problems, I head straight to the cinema, giant coffee in hand. I happily go by myself — during the day or at night (although going alone to see The Hours on Valentine’s Day wasn’t exactly the cheeriest experience of my life). For me, the greatest joy in life is an empty theatre.

Anyway, following my post last week, 10 Books That Every Woman Should Read, I thought I’d write 10 Films That Every Woman Should See.

The hardest part about compiling this list was leaving out some of my most favorite films because they didn’t speak directly to women — there was no lesson there to be learned, no particular moral for a female to absorb (Amadeus, The Lives of Others, and L.A. Confidential to name a few). Also, I didn’t want to include films just because they had an amazing romance, or were a cult ’80s classic (so Dirty Dancing, a favorite of many — me included — isn’t on my definitive list. Sorry!).

The films below all share great female characters, wonderful stories, and exceptional scripts. If there are any I have missed off this list (and I know there are many!), please let me know….

  • Gone With the Wind 1 of 10
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    I first watched Gone with the Wind when I was 10 years old, and it has stayed with me ever since — because never has there been a greater protagonist than Scarlett O'Hara. Arrogant and rude to the point of being almost dislikeable, nevertheless we root for Scarlett as she survives the ravages of war, poverty, death, destruction, famine, and having the man she loves reject her time and time again. Through the epic film, we will her to see the qualities of the remarkable Rhett Butler, who seems invisible to Scarlett as she pines only for the weedy and insipid Ashley Wilkes.

     

    Life Lesson: There are too many lessons we can learn from Scarlett's steely determination and unshakable pride, but perhaps the one thing we should learn from her is this — to never give up, no matter what life throws at you. And how to make one heck of a dress from a green velvet curtain... 

     

    Photo Credit: Amazon

  • When Harry Met Sally 2 of 10
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    The late Nora Ephron's masterpiece, When Harry Met Sally asks the question, "Can men and women ever just be friends?" Sally Albright meets Harry Burns as she graduates, driving him from Chicago to New York. They bicker on the trip and part on bad terms. Years later, they run into each other and both are in relationships. When they bump into each other again, 5 years later, Harry is getting a divorce and Sally is single, so they resolve to finally become friends.

     

    Life Lesson: This film is a delightful comedy that will resonate with anyone who has been "out there" in the dating jungle. More than answering the above question, it shows that the best relationships are those that have friendship at the core. A lesson to live by...

     

    Photo Credit: Amazon 

  • All About Eve 3 of 10
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    Margo Channing is a highly regarded Broadway star, played by the inimitable Bette Davis. Eve Harrington, played by Anne Baxter, is an eager and helpful young fan who inserts herself into Channing's life, ultimately threatening Channing's career and her personal relationships. Nominated for an amazing 14 Oscars when it was released, All About Eve is one that never dates. We have all had an Eve Harrington in our lives — the friend that is too good to be true, too brilliant and helpful to be sincere.

     

    Life Lesson:Maybe (like me) it took you a while to discover your Eve's true colors — and there is nothing so painful as discovering that a female friendship isn't what you thought it was. But we could all learn valid lessons from Margo about who is worthy of our trust...

     

    Photo credit: Amazon

  • Thelma and Louise 4 of 10
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    The ultimate film on female friendship: Thelma and Louise is the story of two buddies who embark on a trip to the mountains, only to find themselves on the run from the law. Thelma persuades Louise to give hot young cowboy JD a lift (an early role for Brad Pitt), but he robs the women, leaving Louise in despair and passive Thelma having to take charge. The journey in this film belongs to Thelma, who learns to stand up for herself and to take control of her own life, away from her abusive husband.

     

    Life Lesson: A gutsy film with more memorable lines than you could shake a stick at, most of all it shows how at the most crucial moments in life, our closest female friends are the ones we can rely on to see us through. 

     

    Photo Credit: Amazon 

  • Little Miss Sunshine 5 of 10
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    You know the way your family is a bit crazy? Yeah, me too. You know the way that life doesn't always go according to plan, but you end up getting what you need, rather than what you want? This film typifies both. It starts when 7-year-old Olive learns she has qualified for the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant in California, but the only way she can get there is if her unusual family comes along ... in a bright yellow camper van. What follows is an endearing and hilarious tale of personal issues, broken dreams, and er ... a dead relative. If there is a sweeter movie ever made, I have yet to see it.

     

    Life Lesson: The moral, if there is just one, is that we have to value who we are — quirks and all. 

     

    Photo Credit: Amazon 

  • Toy Story 3 6 of 10
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    When I saw Toy Story 3 with my son, at the end he asked me why I was crying ... I began weeping as Andy's mum wished him goodbye as he headed to college, also wishing that she could always be with him. I was still weeping when Woody rescued his buddies, only to find themselves sinking towards the inferno and immediate death. This tale of growing up and letting go, but always holding dear what is in our hearts, is the most wonderful film for adults and kids alike.

     

    Life Lesson: The cycle of life, told through the eyes of toys, makes us all realize that sometimes, you just have to let go and move on. Sob. 

     

    Photo credit: Amazon

  • Working Girl 7 of 10
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    It is the one thing that has saddened me most in my career in television — watching women back-stab and lie to other women, purely to get ahead. Which is exactly what happens in this '80s classic, Working Girl. Melanie Griffith plays Tess, who ends up suggesting a great idea to her female boss, who then tries to pass the idea off as her own. It is only when Tess discovers this and has the opportunity to step into her boss's shoes (while she is laid up after a skiing accident) that she makes career headway. Tess proves that you don't have to stand on others' shoulders and lie your way to get to the top, that integrity and spirit count for something.

     

    Life Lesson: If more women helped each other out (which Tess shows she will do in the final scene of the film), the world would be a much better place. 

     

    Photo Credit: Amazon 

  • Rosemary’s Baby 8 of 10
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    Rosemary and  her husband Guy, a struggling actor, move into the Bramford, an antiquated New York City apartment building. The newlyweds soon discover that Rosemary is pregnant. However, as the pregnancy progresses, Rosemary (played by an incredible Mia Farrow) begins to feel more ill, and she is convinced that something is not right. Why is her husband so friendly with their eccentric neighbors? As odd coincidences keep happening, Rosemary fights to uncover the truth...

     

    Life Lesson: A scary horror film that is utterly riveting — if there is one thing we should all take from this amazing Polanski film, it is to trust your gut instincts.

     

    Photo credit: Amazon 

  • Before Midnight 9 of 10
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    The final in the Before Sunrise trilogy — by now Jesse and Celine are a married couple and parents to twin girls, as well as Jesse's son from his previous marriage. Before Midnight is set in Greece, with the family on vacation. Friends have treated the pair to a romantic night in a local hotel, but the evening descends into a huge row as they pick apart their marriage, with its expectations, resentments, and frustrations. No film has ever made me feel more sane. I felt utter relief upon watching it — that my marriage problems weren't unique, but instead were universal. A friend who is single watched it and hated it, yet every married person who saw it (that I know) loved it.

     

    Life Lesson: We are not so alone in our troubles, our relationships, our hopes — marriage is tough.

     

    Photo Credit: Amazon 

  • The Bridges Of Madison County / Brief Encounter 10 of 10
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    Both these films — The Bridges Of Madison County, and Brief Encounter — tell similar stories: a married woman meets a man, who in turn changes her life. Both lead women in each of these films must make a choice — to follow their hearts, or to remain true to their families and husbands. Do they fulfill their duties and sacrifice the great loves of their lives in doing so? Is there a great love in all our lives, the one that got away? The great shame in both these films is that the women married at a time when conventions dictated that they choose a solid reliable partner, rather than someone they were deeply in love with. So when they encounter such chemistry with another, it is sadly, too late to act upon.

     

    Life Lesson: The moral is to always follow our hearts, and to not settle in life for second best. 

     

    Photo credit: Amazon 

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