As I mentioned in my first instalment, in 2015 (and beyond) I'm make a conscious effort to watch more films that pass the Bechdel test. As pointed out in this article, the Bechdel test is not an ultimate standard but rather a bare minimum of female representation. I want films that go way beyond passing the test (as the films below do), but for me it provides a useful starting point for beginning to look at the representation of women in film.
As with the first list, I've crudely categorised my list into 'serious' and 'funny', for want of a better system.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) UK
No part one alas, but you can find the second instalment of The Hunger Games series on Netflix. Jennifer Lawrence gives another engaging performance as protagonist Katniss Everdeen, in what Wiki tells me is the tenth highest grossing film at the US box office. Plus, the fact that the games select a male and female tribute from each district results in a good gender balance in the overall cast, so Lawrence's lead isn't set against an all-male backdrop. The Hunger Games gets a big double thumbs up from me.
Kill Bill: Vol 1 (2003) & Vol 2 (2004) US
Basically tons of kick-ass women kicking some serious ass. I recently gave these films a re-watch and it struck me: anyone who thinks that a film with a female protagonist and largely female cast can't also be a high-grossing, hit at the box office, popular with critics, action-packed and super violent film... is a bloody idiot.
Whip It (2009) UK
I have so much love for this film. Female camaraderie - check. Brutal full-contact sport on roller skates - check. Ellen Page, Juliette Lewis, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Wiig and a veritable boat-load of other brilliant women actors - check. I really enjoy the female relationships represented here: Bliss and her mum; Bliss and her best friend; the Roller Derby girls in general. One of my favourite re-watch-on-a-wet-hungover-Sunday-afternoon movies.
Mean Girls (2004) US
Mean Girls was one of those movies that, on paper, I never expected to like. Then it turned out to be freaking awesome. Like a Clueless or 10 Things I Hate About You for the 21st century. I suppose I should have guessed that with comedy genius Tina Fey writing the screenplay (as well as popping up in the film along with Amy Poehler as hilarious trying-to-be-down-with-the-kids mum), it was going to be pretty good.
Also, can we take a moment to appreciate some of the many quotable quotes! "Stop trying to make fetch happen." "On Wednesdays we wear pink." "Don't have sex, because you will get pregnant and die." "That's why her hair is so big: it's full of secrets." "You girls keep me young." If you watch this movie with friends, prepare for a multitude of quotes to invade your shared vernacular: you have been warned!
The First Wives Club (1996) UK
One of those movies that always seems to be on at Christmas, or when you're off work sick and moping about on the sofa, and (as far as I'm concerned) as comforting as a bowl of warm soup. With plenty of laugh out loud lines from an all star female cast (Goldie Hawn! Bette Midler! Diane Keaton! Maggie Smith!), I love that the main characters in this film are older women - a fleetingly rare occurrence in Hollywood. Frustratingly, when researching this post, I came across the reason that there's no First Wives Club sequel (hint: it's sexism). Grrr.
You can find part one of my list here.