In honor of the female-led Ghostbusters in theaters this weekend, I bring to you my top choices for movies with female leads for lovers of geek.
10. Lucy, 2014, Scarlett Johansson
Lucy gets kidnapped and implanted with a bag of chemicals which accidentally punctures and leaks into her system, causing superhuman abilities to emerge. Johansson’s performance transitioning from victim to kick-ass hero is flawless. Disclaimer: this is not a perfect movie. I included it as a fine example of a complex role involving both drama and stunts. Plus Scarlett Johansson kicks ass.
9. Underworld, 2003, Kate Beckinsale
I am not actually a huge fan of the Underworld movies, but it is certainly worthy of this countdown. While Underworld is entertaining enough as a basic vampire vs lychan story, the main character, Selene, is a kick-ass werewolf-hunting vampire no one messes with.
8. The Hunger, 1983, Catherine Deneuve
Female main character vampire movies was by no means a novelty in 1983, but this gets my top pick in the vampire genre because it was just so different. The Hunger moved vampires away from blood & gore (hurrah blood & gore!!) to a beautifully tragic romance. Best not to go into this one knowing too much, so I will leave you with its cast: Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie & Susan Sarandon
7. Hanna, 2011, Saoirse Ronan
“Holy what the hell is this?” would be my one-line review of Hanna. I decided to omit the Hunger Games in favor of Hanna as my pick for a crazy strong female character for teens. Yes, Katniss is amazing and Jennifer Lawrence is amazing. Hanna took bad ass little girl to an entirely new level.
Hanna is..well….a fairytale about a young girl trained to be an assassin by her father…because why not? I will forever love Saoirse Ronan for pulling this off.
6. Barb Wire, 1996, Pamela Anderson
Barb Wire was surprisingly fantastic. Set in the future, Barb is a nightclub owner with connections asked by her ex to help with a plot against the fascist government. The script is excellent and Anderson was born to play the role.
5. Tank Girl, 1995, Lori Petty
Only those who read the comics were fully prepared for the release of Tank Girl. I was not fully prepared for Tank Girl. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where water is scarce, Tank Girl (Petty) and Jet Girl (can you believe that’s Naomi Watts? Who knew?) team up with Kangaroo Ice-T (that’s not a typo) and his gang of Kangaroo men (again, not a typo) to defeat evil water dude Malcolm McDowell. If that doesn’t make you watch it right away, then I give up.
4. The Terminator, 1984, Linda Hamilton
One may argue that Arnie plays the main character, but we all know it’s Sarah Connor, especially when considering the franchise as a whole. If you disagree, back away slowly. If I have to sum up the plot of the Terminator, then I imagine you stumbled upon this article by mistake, so just watch it.
Fun fact: Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones) played Sarah Connor in the 2008 TV series”Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”; Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) played Sarah Connor in the 2015 movie “Terminator Genisys”. Who else would love to see Linda Hamilton on Game of Thrones?
3. Barbarella, 1968, Jane Fonda
Remember when I wrote my review of Hanna as “Holy what the hell is this?”. That goes triple for Barbarella. It’s a movie where Duran Duran kills women with orgasms. Sorry, did I say Duran Duran? I meant mad scientist Durand Durand. Still doesn’t make sense but it doesn’t need to. Barbarella rocks.
Fun fact: Duran Duran did indeed name themselves after the orgasmic killer from the movie. The band have oft referenced the movie, later releasing their hit “Electric Barbarella” in 2009. Having never seen the video, I did not realize until last year that the song is about a sex doll. Which is pretty stupid considering the lyrics.
2. Resident Evil, 2002, Milla Jovovich
Ooooooh how I am obsessed with these movies and Jovovich in general. Ultraviolet, Leeloo (Fifth Element) and Alice from Resident Evil all portrayed perfectly. Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) remains my top pick for best 3D movie. In Resident Evil, Alice (Jovovich) leads survivors of the T-Virus outbreak, a biological weapon designed by the Umbrella Corporation which essentially turns humans into zombies and other surprising hybrids. The movies feature several recurring strong female characters played by some of my favorite actresses, including Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) , Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez) and, you might want to sit down for this, Ruby Rose has been cast as Abigail in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, due for release in January of 2017.
Alien, 1979, Sigourney Weaver
No surprise here. Female lead aside, Alien will land into the top spot on most everyone’s best scifi film list, if not all-time best films list. Ripley is an amazing character made completely believable by the incomparable Weaver.
What was best about this 1979 release is that no one really even talked about it being a movie featuring a strong female lead, which wasn’t terribly common even then. Females were either love interests, side kicks, or overly sexualized: Ripley is none of those things. Sure, she is sexy, but not in a lingerie-wearing, DD cup, naked the entire movie sort of way.
Super extra femme cred to co-star Veronica Cartwright. Her screaming during “that scene” truly took the horror of it to an entirely new level.