To celebrate the occasion, here’s some of my favourite ladies from fiction!
Row 1: Amy Pond (Doctor Who), Sephy Hadley (Noughts and Crosses), Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Rose Tico (Star Wars), Elsa (Frozen/Disney), Melissa Chartres (The Last Man on Earth)
Row 2: Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings/Middle Earth), Quinn Ergon (Final Space), The Thirteenth Doctor (Doctor Who), Princess Bubblegum (Adventure Time), Jane Foster (Thor/MCU), Amy Santiago (Brooklyn 99)
Row 3: Brook Soso (Orange is the New Black), Nebula (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Erica Dundee (The Last Man on Earth), Kitty Winter (Sherlock Holmes), Rose Tyler (Doctor Who), Briony Tallis (Atonement)
Row 4: Meredith Quill (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Missandei (Game of Thrones), Rey (Star Wars), Donna Noble (Doctor Who), Carol Pilbasian (The Last Man on Earth), Esmeralda (The Hunchback of Notre Dame/Disney)
Row 5: Sansa Stark (Game of Thrones), Ash Graven (Final Space), Tiana (The Princess and the Frog/Disney), Sophia Burset (Orange is the New Black), Misty (Pokemon), Clara Oswald (Doctor Who)
Row 6: Bill Potts (Doctor Who), Mary Brown (Paddington), Mako Mori (Pacific Rim), Gwen Stacy (Spider-Man), Jackie Tyler (Doctor Who), Ursula Ditkovich (Spider-Man)
Row 7: Yaz Khan (Doctor Who), Mary Jane Watson (Spider-Man), Marceline (Adventure Time), Michelle (10 Cloverfield Lane,), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow/MCU), Mantis (Guardians of the Galaxy (MCU)
Note that these are (mostly) not what I consider the BEST films of the decade. Honestly I don’t even get to go the movies all that much, so the best ones I might not have even seen. But they are the ones that made me the happiest.
My GOD this film. It was claustrophobic, creepy, gnaw-your-own-arm-off terrifying… and a FANTASTIC power fantasy. Michelle, the protagonist of this film, quickly became one of my favourite sci-fi heroines ever. She suffers a lot of trauma during the movie, unimaginable things (but nothing graphic/titillating/male-gazey) and comes out the other side swinging. Then she downs an entire alien spaceship using nothing but her wits. God I love her and this film so much. I could write essay after essay about female empowerment as portrayed in this flick.
When I was a child I dreamed they would one day make a Pokemon live-action film, and they DID, and it was better than I ever imagined. It was sweet, it was funny, it was packed with references to the Pokemon lore (Pokelore?) that would have gone over most people’s heads but was included anyway, and Bill Nighy was in it. I loved this film so much and I can’t wait to show it to my future children.
Okay here goes: I never saw the original Ghostbusters. I never saw the sequel movie either, or any of the cartoons. Why’d I like this so much then? Well… honestly… because it was all women. Funny, smart, main-character women, the mere existence of which apparently drove some people into teeth-gnashing mania. And that was it. That’s enough, right?
The Greatest Showman
It stills surprises me that this film got such bad reviews on release. Audiences apparently disagreed because not only did it get really high audience ratings it ALSO made a ton of money AND everyone I’ve ever shown it to liked it! I know some of the songs within it ended up massively overplayed (especially This Is Me, thanks a bunch Simon Cowell) but when you see them being performed in the movie they really do seem raw and real and touching.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
I have absolutely no idea if GOTG2 is a good movie or not and honestly, there’s a part of me that doesn’t even care. It fills me with such insane joy every time I watch it. I love the friendships between all the main characters, I love Yondu’s redemption, I love how the music ties into the story, I love Baby Groot. And I especially love how the film is mostly about different forms of abuse and how we all have it within ourselves to overcome them.
Les Mis is a very good movie, but it’s actually on this list not so much for itself but because its existence introduced me to the book, which transpired to shape my entire life. That being said I do really mean that it’s a very good movie (and quite faithful to the book as well it turns out), it thoroughly deserves to be on everyone’s Best of the Decade list. Don’t be put off by the fact that Tom Hooper’s next musical was Cats.
The Lego Movie
I wasn’t expecting much from The Lego Movie. Was anyone?! I thought it was a cheap, cynical cash grab. MAN was I wrong. Instead it was an amazing story about the power of imagination and the importance of childhood. The final speech (“You are the most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe…”) is one of my favourite speeches in any movie, ever. It makes me think of a parent talking to a child and it captures the spirit of Lego perfectly.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Is there anything to be said about Mad Max: Fury Road that hasn’t already been said? It’s been called the greatest action film of all time, a feminist masterpiece, one of the best movies of its era… and all the people claiming those things are 100% right. I don’t think it’s technically perfect but it’s damn close. And special-effects wise it’s a staggering achievement. (All those people REALLY WERE climbing poles on motorbikes, holy heck.) I hope it’s celebrated for years to come.
I love Pacific Rim not because it’s a bonkers, brightly-coloured monsters-vs-robots movie (though that definitely helps) but because how utterly adamant it was that teamwork, collaboration and in some cases love would help humanity save the world. God, the whole movie seems like a relic from a totally different time, doesn’t it? The less said about the sequel the better.
Apparently Paddington 2 is the highest-rated film ever on RottenTomatoes, and despite what you think of RottenTomatoes the site (I personally am not a fan) HOLY HECK IT DESERVES IT. This is a children’s film about a cute teddy bear who lives among humans and loves marmalade sandwiches and somehow it was more hard-hitting, beautiful and poignant than a lot of the “serious” movies released the same year. Hugh Grant deserved an Oscar for playing such a fantastic baddie/hilariously exaggerated version of himself. The whole damn film deserved an Oscar. (As it happened, The Shape of Water won that year. They got the wrong Sally Hawkins Forms A Relationship With A Non-Human Character Resulting In An Emotional Underwater Scene film.)
Honourable mentions: (my god there are a lot) Toy Story 3, Avengers: Endgame, Black Panther (most of the MCU honestly), The Rise of Skywalker, Belle, Their Finest, Big Hero 6, Frozen II, Aladdin, Batman vs Superman (yes really), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the entire Hunger Games series, SO MANY
Not to start shit but Cloverfield Lane was a masterpiece
It’s true and you should say it
I love 10 Cloverfield Lane so dearly and I think it’s because it’s a straight-up survivor narrative of the kind you so rarely get to see. Howard’s abuse of Michelle (who’s already survived abuse from her father) isn’t sexual, but it’s terrifying in another sort of way. He wants to control her and keep her trapped with him as his innocent “princess” forever, he doesn’t even see her as a woman but as a child or worse, a thing. He exerts his power over her by constantly reminding her that her only option is to co-operate him at all times, because the outside world is dangerous.
And he’s right…about the second part. Once Michelle kills Howard, using nothing but her own smarts, she finds the outside world is incredibly, unfathomably dangerous. Except that that isn’t the end of the story, and Michelle isn’t a child or Howard’s helpless princess. She defeats the aliens easily, in the sort of move a man could pull off ten times in an action movie but it’s apparently weird when a woman does it, and hits the road to join the alien resistance. Because hey! Turns out that that particular “women are more at risk than men, so they should submit to man’s authority for their own good” bit of patriarchal bullshit is, well, bullshit.
Michelle’s character arc is also really great! When she talks about her childhood abuse, she explains how she once saw a father in a store physically abusing his daughter the same way her father abused her, but she was too scared to confront him and ran away. But by the end of the movie, having survived so much, she’s not afraid anymore. Given the choice via the radio to either seek sanctuary or join the resistance, she makes the decision to help others and utilize her considerable skills in the best way. There’s a massive alien spaceship in the sky as she heads off, but you suspect she has it well in hand.
God it’s such a good movie, with such a great heroine, the fact that it’s so underrated is criminal.
Can I just say that one thing I absolutely love about 10 Cloverfield Lane is how it takes all these things which are considered symbols of feminine frivolousness and turns them into weapons or aids for Michelle. Girly fashion magazines? Sewing? Fashion design? Michelle uses all of them to save herself, and Howard never suspects what’s going on until it’s too late, because it never once occurs to him that femininity can be strong.
10 Cloverfield Lane is still my favourite one though, mostly because-
-it’s the only one to have a hopeful ending. In the original Cloverfield, it’s implied that almost everyone on Earth died, and the main characters definitely did. In Cloverfield Paradox, Ava and whatshisface make it back to their own reality but it’s in even more shit than it was before. Whereas 10 Cloverfield Lane ends on a note of “Fuck, aliens everywhere……. y’know what, I got this.”