4 Summer Blockbusters That Put Female Empowerment Front and Center

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Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning at The Beguiled photocall at Cannes Film Festival 2017
Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

Since time immemorial, summer blockbusters have been relegated to the realm of major action movies like Jaws, Jurassic Park, and Independence Day. However, a new crop of female-led films is bringing empowerment to the big screen. This inspiring crop of action films and psychological thrillers starring all-female casts or with female directors are proving women are a force to be reckoned with.

1

The Beguiled

Starring Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, and Kirsten Dunst

A new Sofia Coppola movie is headed for the theaters, and we couldn’t be more excited – mostly because it’s a female-led remake of a 1971 gothic horror drama directed by Clint Eastwood. In Coppola’s new film The Beguiled, Nicole Kidman is a Civil War-era school headmistress, with Kirsten Dunst as a teacher and Elle Fanning as a rebellious student. The arrival of a Union soldier, played by Colin Farrell, electrifies the all-girls seminary and leads to a gripping confrontation. The film was critically lauded at the Cannes Film Festival, so expect it to be loaded with can’t-look-away moments.

The Beguiled film still
Photo: Courtesy of Focus Features
2

Lady Macbeth

Starring Florence Pugh

Despite its name, Lady Macbeth is not a retelling of the Shakespeare play, but is instead a taut psychological thriller set during the 1860s in Britain. The film’s heroine is a young bride named Katherine, played by Florence Pugh, who must succumb to repression and subjugation at the hands of her new husband.

However, she is not the docile woman that her husband first believes her to be, and the two unravel around a series of escalating events. What is so interesting about this film is the complexities given to Katherine, who may or may not be a sympathetic figure. Masterful storytelling by director William Oldroyd allows for the plot to be peeled back in layers, each more thrilling than the next.

3

Atomic Blonde

Starring Charlize Theron

Given the incredible success of Wonder Woman, chances are high for a similar outcome with Charlize Theron’s new action movie Atomic Blonde. In the film – which is adapted from a graphic novel called The Coldest City – Theron plays a top secret assassin/spy named Lorraine Broughton, and she’s already being hailed by critics as the new James Bond. We love seeing a woman front and center in the action, while the fight scenes offer a no-holds-barred showdown between Broughton and a notorious espionage ring in Berlin.

4

Step

Step is one of the most uplifting and empowering films you’ll see all year. This real-life documentary revolves around the all-female senior class at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women in 2015, just after the tragic death of Freddie Gray rocked the city to its foundation. As aspiring performers, the girls’ dance team heads to the state finals to face-off with more affluent schools in competition. Critics are calling it Bring It On meets The Fits, with plenty of memorable moments that will have you rooting for the girls long after the film is over.

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