There are so many movies out there that it can be hard to find the best girl movies. Which ones have strong female characters? Which ones send a positive message to girls? Girls voted for their favorite girl-positive movies and TV shows in New Moon Girls 2015 Girls Choice Screen Awards. The results are featured in our July-August magazine, too. Some of their favorites include:
Divergent (2014, PG-13) Tris proves herself and more in a world of rival warfare. “I like how Tris can stand up to the people and things she is afraid of,” says Leeloo, 12, Washington.
The Harry Potter Movies (2001-2011, PG or PG-13) Girls have loved Harry Potter movies and books from the time J.K. Rowling started releasing them! Hermione, of course, is a favorite character.
Brave (2012, PG) Oscar winner written and directed by Brenda Chapman, a pioneer in animated storytelling and animation director at LucasFilm, Pixar, Dreamworks.
The Secret of Kells (2009, NR) Ainsling, a fairy wolfgirl who can talk to animals, holds the key to a boy’s quest.
Hayao Miyazaki Movies (1984-2014, G, PG, PG-13) From My Neighbor Totoro to Kiki’s Delivery Service, girls love the adventurous girls of the many manga-influenced movies by Miyazaki.
For more favorite picks, check out the July/August issue of NMG Magazine next month!
Female Leads Rock the Big Screen in 2015
In most years, you can count the number of female-centered mass-release films on one hand. According to NPR’s film critic, Bob Mondello, only 31 female-centered films in the last 30 years were top 10 box-office hits. Despite that shocking statistic, the number may be growing (finally!). This year already, 6 of the top 10 box-office hits have female character-driven stories, including Pitch Perfect 2 and Insurgent. At the same time, women are still vastly outnumbered in key roles behind the camera on big-budget films. Only two of the 6 female-centered films on the 2015 top 10 list were written or directed by women. And of course, many of these films aren’t intended for or developmentally appropriate for girls ages 8-14.
When are girls ready for movies rated above G & PG?
It’s often a source of conflict to decide which movies your girl is allowed to watch, especially as she starts watching them with friends. I was open to my daughters watching things when they felt ready. That’s because by the time they got to the point of choosing movies from beyond our curated in-home collection, I trusted their judgement of what they could handle. They had learned that they had awful dreams after movies with even mild violence and they still pretty much steer clear of those as adults. When it comes to sexism in films, it’s so prevalent that we handled that by talking about it frequently while watching movies together. By the time they were 13, one of them prefaced a family movie night by announcing: “I just want to watch the movie and not have any analysis of the sexism until after it’s over!”
- Sit down and have a conversation about anything you feel uncomfortable with in a movie, whatever its rating. Explore all sides – why the girl wants to watch it, and why the adult is questioning if it’s really okay. Done right, with the adult listening more than you talk, and honest explanation of what concerns you, this will open the door to bigger conversations beyond the summer blockbuster everyone wants to see on opening night. Listening to both sides makes everyone feel respected and validated.
- See what some NMG members think in this message board post about movies. What do you think?
- Are you looking for a movie that will show powerful role models? Try out this version of the Bechdel test for kids’ movies from Reel Girl and see their extensive list of movies with great girl characters.
More Great Sites on Movies & Kids
Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Children’s Media pioneers by raising awareness about gender inequality in films for children and prompting change in the moviemaking industry.
Kids First! teaches kids how to review movies and publishes and distributes their reviews.