ROMANTIC MOVIES WITH "FEMINIST AGENDAS"
I used the strong term "anti-feminist agenda" in my last list to point out that even light, mindless entertainment can have a political agenda, and a harmful one at that. I love @ChrisK for requesting this list, but want to point out that a "feminist agenda" can be as simple as an authentic, complex female character and a balanced point-of-view.
- •Out of SightNow this is what a badass FBI agent looks like. JLo is so good in this. She is confident and powerful and sexy and it's no wonder bank robber and escaped convict George Clooney falls for her while they are locked together in the trunk of a car (in one of the most romantic scenes ever). The fact that she falls for him too is just part of what makes her complicated and interesting and somewhat flawed. They are equals in complexity, charisma and power, and their chemistry is 💥.
- •SecretaryThis isn't an obviously feminist tale, as it's about a woman who is dominated - emotionally, professionally, and sexually - by her boss. But really she has equal power over him, and finding the balance in that relationship allows her to be herself and accept her own needs and desires. A way more romantic and empowering movie about S&M than 50 Shades of Grey, with a far more interesting and complicated female character. Bonus: creepy/sexy James Spader at his best.
- •Mary PoppinsMary and Bert have the best mysterious romance in a movie ever, full of shadowy back story, hinted at heartbreak and enduring devotion. There's obvious love and easy affection between them, but this was the first movie I saw that didn't put the romance front and center, but allowed the story to be about the mysteries of the woman herself and the romance just one small element of her character and her life. She's a complete badass, and Bert knows it, and for now he's just happy to be near her.
- •Sense and SensibilityJust a really beautiful exploration of smart, kind, loving sisters doing their best at a time when women had very little opportunity, and finding the love of devoted, equal partners. Jane Austen is pretty good at this stuff.
- •Love and BasketballA sexy, sweet romance about friendship, competition and the expectations we place on ourselves. Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps are childhood friends who go on to fall in love and become professional basketball players, and they have to figure out how to follow their own dreams and still have room to support each other's. So often, the woman is in the supportive role, and the difficulties that arise when she has equal talent and career prospects complicate things in new and interesting ways.
- •Buffy the Vampire SlayerIt's not a perfect movie, but I still love it for Buffy's transformation from intentionally vapid and self-involved to badass and heroic. I equally love her romantic storyline, in which Luke Perry fully acknowledges, admires and is attracted to her strength and heroism. Good boyfriend IMO.
- •BridesmaidsA long-awaited response to both gross-out men's comedies and the very tired "wedding" genre. Kristen Wigg and Maya Rudolph play very believable best friends, and Kirsten Wigg's character manages to be a mess without being a joke or a cliché. Her love interest is entirely loveable but still realistic, and he doesn't save her so much as show her that she is worth saving herself, and she has the power to do it. Even supporting characters who could be punchlines have depth and heart.
- •Obvious ChildA sweet, real look at dating and making mistakes and being a woman but not really being an adult yet. This movie deals with abortion gently and sweetly, without ignoring how complicated and difficult it is. Also, truly romantic.
- •The Hunger Games moviesKatniss is the perfect antidote to Bella, and Peeta the perfect cure for the Edward Cullen curse. Katniss is the hero here, and Peeta her quiet supporter, with heroic moments of his own. I just love them, and I love the idea of little girls and boys growing up with these examples. It's ok for girls to be tough, and for boys to stay home and bake, and they can still be equal partners in a loving relationship.
- •The Sound of MusicMaria Von Trapp is a badass, and she saves the Captain from his own whiny, entitled unhappiness. She may be the OG manic pixie dream girl, but she's also a real woman with her own baggage and a lot of love to give, looking for her place in the wider world, and she's willing to climb the Alps to get there.
- •MoonstruckThere's nothing particularly feminist about this movie, other than the wonderful and unfortunately unusual fact that it's about a complicated grown-up woman with emotional baggage figuring out what she wants and owning it, and bonus it is truly laugh-out-loud funny, slightly tragic and extremely romantic. (Cher is magnificent and Nicolas Cage is at his very goofy, hunky melodramatic best.)
- •Me and You and Everyone We KnowJust feels real and authentic and both feminist and feminine, with delicate, poignant explorations of women and girls at many different ages. "We have a whole life to live together, you fucker, but it can't start until you call."
- •Ruby SparksA deconstruction of female tropes in romantic movies: the muse, the saint, the supportive girlfriend, the manic pixie dream girl, and how these titles can chafe and these expectations can be both unfair and disappointing, and how love is messy and women and men are too.
- •Breakfast at Tiffany'sPeople might disagree with using the word feminist to describe this movie, but I like how it slowly breaks down a stereotype into small, complex pieces and hidden mysteries. Holly Golightly is an invention she created herself, and not at all what she seems, and not at all defined by what any man does or thinks. Her love interest is entirely boring, and entirely captivated by her, but I never felt at the end that they would end up together. He needed her, but she had no real need for him.
- •Edge of TomorrowI found Emily Blunt's character truly remarkable, and Tom Cruise's admiration for her truly romantic. Pretty sure this movie failed the Bechdel test, but I still loved it.
- •Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's DeadNot strictly a romance because it is much more about a girl finding her own strength, intelligence and ability, which is why it's great, and why I wrote this list about it: REASONS 'DON'T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER'S DEAD' IS A FEMINIST CLASSIC