I’m reposting Reel Girl’s list of great movies starring girls because I just updated it. Please let me know if you have movies to add. I’m also posting my initial preamble to my recommendations, explaining why it took me so long to make the list and why Reel Girl’s list is hard to get on.
This is a list of girl centered movies with strong girls. That sentence may seem redundant but sadly, it’s not. Many girl centered movies feature a girl who is a princess in distress or a cheerleader trying to keep a boyfriend or Barbie worrying about how to dress for the prom.
Or, if Hollywood allows a strong girl to appear in a movie that is not about a typical, cookie cutter “feminine” dilemma, her screen time is limited; her role is supporting: she is there to help the boy on his quest.
To clarify: the following is a list of movies with strong female main characters where the narrative is based on her brave quest.
This is not a list of HHH (triple Heroine) movies. Some movies may be included on this list such as a Barbie adventure or Kim Possible that would not get a HHH because of the main character’s plastic looks or typical princessy dilemma, but the movie is listed here because, in spite of that stereotype, it is still centered on a brave female hero who has cool adventures.
A few movies are not included on this list even though they are centered on a girl and her brave quest because the movie is simply too awful, meaning boring. “Judy Moody,” unfortunately, fits that category.
Wow, this is why it has been so hard for Reel Girl to recommend, but here we go.
These movies are for kids, not young adults.
Remember, these are movies to show your sons as well as your daughters.
This is a list in progress. Please send in your suggestions.
Reel Girl’s list of great movies starring strong girls:
Spirited Away HHH
My Neighbor Totoro HHH
Kiki’s Delivery Service HHH
Alice In Wonderland (2010) HHH
The Golden Compass HHH
Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia HH
The Powerpuff Girls HH
Wonder Woman HH (2009)
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind HHH
The Wizard of Oz HHH
Mary Poppins HH
Pippi Longstocking HH
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe HHH
The Last Unicorn HH
The Secret World of Arrietty HHH
Avalon High HHH
Wrinkle in Time HHH
Nim’s Island HHH
The Croods HH
Ramona and Beezus HH
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl HHH
Fly Away Home HHH
Movies suggested to me that I have not yet seen:
The Secret Garden
Anne of Green Gables
Tinker Bell sequel
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Samantha: An American Girl Holiday
The Fox and the Child
Leafie a Hen Into the Wild
The Cat Returns
Whisper of the Heart
The Secret of N.I.M.H.
Castle in the Sky
The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki
Yobi the Five Tailed Fox
Akeelah and the Bee
Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken
An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars
Ronia the Robbers’ Daughter
Sailor Moon, the movie 1 & 2
Pippi Longstocking sequels
The Worst Witch
Return to Oz
The Secret of Roan Inish
Olive, the Other Reindeer
Home on the Range
Cave of the Golden Rose
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
More Reel Girl lists
Harriet the Spy
Not sure if The Fantastic Mr. Fox would qualify. While Clooney’s Mr. Fox is clearly the main character, I do think Streep’s Mrs. Fox is featured prominently and she’s wonderfully fierce!
Isn’t ‘fierce’ another word for ‘feisty’? I think there are big problems with Fantastic Mr Fox. I wrote about them here: http://lynleystace.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/feminist-film-review-fantastic-mr-fox/
Not for me, I like “fierce.” I’ll read your post…
Context is everything. Calling Mrs Fox ‘fierce’ is like calling Hilary Clinton a ‘badass’ for delivering a measured and precise response to a hack question about pro-choice reproductive rights.
Ha! Context IS everything, I was just going through comments on my feed when I responded to yours, thought you were reacting to something by me, not a commenter. I read and shared your post on “Fox” and think its great and agree with everything you said about Mrs. Fox.
Watched part of “Brave” with my four-and-a-half-year-old. She was too scared when Merida’s mom turned into a bear so we stopped. She really liked the archery, wants her own bow and arrows. I’m sure we’ll watch the rest sometime. She thought “Lilo And Stitch” was too scary the first time, later loved it.
I love the blog. I’m a single dad trying to raise a smart, feisty, independent grrrl. Always looking for good books and movies for her.
Of course, I’m not letting the entertainment industry raise my kid. Good movies and books are only a small part.
Penelope with Christina Ricci and Reese Witherspoon. My daughter loves this film since she was 10.
The second Narnia film Prince Caspian.In this Anna Popplewell really shines as a strong young lady
Aquamarine:lovely film about the friendship between 2 girls and a mermaid
Not a film but a TV series The Legend of Korra has a powerful female lead.
There are many Asian films,both animation or with real actors that have strong female characters.Not all are for young kids though.Most of them are available dubbed and my daughter who is now 13 loves watching them.
2 more i can think of are The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Bend It Like Beckham
oops, its there.
My boys liked the Secret of Roan Inish and Nim’s Island
Laura’s Star http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416908/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 and
The Snow Queen http://snowqueenfilm.com/?page=about
Added Laura’s Star, the Snow Queen isn’t out yet, right? Looking forward to seeing it.
No, The Snow Queen is not out yet. IMDB says US release date 11 October 2013. Looks interesting.
Too old for little kids?
It’s PG-13, my 8 and 10 y.o. loved it.
Here are some recs for movie with strong female main characters.
1) Chicken Run has Ginger the hen.
2) The Lion King 2 Simba’s Pride has Kiara the lioness.
3) Olive The Other Reindeer has Olive te dog.
4) Home on the Range has Maggie, Grace, and Mrs. Calloway the three cows.
Chicken Run looks like it has male and female protags; same with Lion King 2, not to mention the title: Simba’s Pride; Olive, the other reindeer looks great, added; Home on the Range addeda s well
Speaking of female protagonists, did you know that the movie Chicken Little was supposed to have one originally. The movie originally stuck to the fable by keeping Chicken Little female. This can even be seen in the the original opening of Chicken Little on the DVD special features. Michael Eisner had her changed to a boy so as to appeal better to boys, because he believed boys would refuse to watch a film with a female lead. This from same the guy that was the driving force behind The Little Mermaid.
Unfortunately, since the movie ended up having a male protagonist, I can’t recommend it to you for your list.
I LOVE Cat in Paris but the protag is the male cat, don’t you think?
I think it’s hard to say who the protagonist is. Judging by agency, the policewoman mother could arguably be the protagonist. The title in both French and English suggests it’s the cat, but titles are chosen for marketing reasons, which sometimes means removing a female billing, as you know.
At any rate, I think it’s a pretty good story genderwise, especially since there’s an excellent female villain. There is one anti girl snipe from one of the hapless baddies, which seems obligatory in all films these days, but I suggest this one anyway because there’s also ‘girl’ used as an insult in Croods, by the grandma. So I figured we’re not excluding based on that.
Here’s my review of Cat in Paris http://reelgirl.com/2012/11/a-cat-in-paris-hh/
Croods makes the list in part b/c the narrator is female, very rare
I really liked Fantaghiro when I was a child
Hogfather is good. Not made for kids, but kid-friendly
I second Fantaghiro. It is amazing.
Is it in English?
The original was filmed in Italian, but it was dubbed to other languages, included English
Oh, and Wikipedia says that they named it Cave of the Golden Rose in English, so maybe is easier to find it with that name.
Dubbed into English, yeah.
Pan’s Labyrinth (for older kids)
too old, but great, sad at the end
Beasts of the southern wild
Ronia the robbers daughter
Beasts is too old, added Ronia
I know there isn’t enough to sort by age, really. Maybe in the future.
Well, I guess I’ll suggest The Worst Witch again. 🙂
[ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092239/ ]
And Return to Oz.
Also, if you wanted, you could add all the sequels to Pippi Longstocking and Tinker Bell because they are all also focused on girls having adventures. Pippi on the Run is my kids’ current favorite.
Leafie a hen into the wild
The cat returns
Whisper of the heart
The secret of n.i.m.h.
Castle in the sky
The wolf children Ame and Yuki
Yobi the five tailed fox
Summer wars (ensemble cast)
thank you, will add to suggestion list. To get on this list, movie must have female protag, not ensemble cast. “Croods” barely makes it but I allowed because of the female animator.
Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie
Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 2: The Sealed Card
Sailor Moon R: The Movie
Sailor Moon S: The Movie
Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie
Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie
The little mermaid 2: return to the sea
Peter Pan 2: return to neverland (it’s a movie about Wendy’s daughter Jane)
Millenium Actress (older kids)
Perfect Blue (teenagers)
Tokyo Godfathers (I say all ages, but I can see why others would find it better for teenagers)
Princess Mononoke (teenagers)
Thanks for these
Looks like Cardcaptor is subtitled only? I’m not including if so.
Only Yesterday also not released in english/ video
Usually, I put suggestions on the list if they seem to fit criteria byt he synopsis of Peter Pan 2 includes lots of Peter and Peter rescuing Jane, not to mention I am no fan of Peter Pan, so I’m leaving it off for now.
Revolutionary Girl also not english? Only english please, will add that to the post
Even though peter saves jane sometimes, the final saving of everyone is done by her and tinkerbell, at the climax.
Cardcaptor Sakura in english: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFmUI1zsqDI
The girl who leapt through time in english: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAexg3fHRzY
Winx Club: The Secret of the Lost Kingdom
Winx Club 3D: Magical Adventure
Totally Spies! The Movie
Winx Club looks awful. Probably the sam ecoud be said about a preview of the Barbie movie I put on the list, but I can’t add it, sorry.
I suggest The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, which is not for the youngest kids, but would suit about 10 and up. For the same age, the French animation A Cat In Paris.
Is Girl Who Leapt Through TIme in English? THis is a list of movies to appeal to young kids.
Dubbed in English. Yes, I did read your list of requirements. My five year old watches it. All kids are different.