Movies are like our best friends. They make us laugh, cry and think. They also understand us and help us in understanding ourselves through their characters.
I am particularly drawn to movies that influence me, that infuse positivity in me and that make me feel empowered.
Here is a list of inspiring movies that I think are a must watch for women. These are in no particular order but the top twenty are my all time favorite while some down the line are also connected with me in some way. I have included movies that show women in inspiring roles or leave a strong moral message for the viewers.
Top 60 Inspirational Must Watch Movies For Every Woman
This is by far the most uplifting movie about women that I have seen.
Meera (Ayesha Takia) and Zeenat (Gul Panag) are two different women from different regions and religions. They are also different in their personalities. Meera is a docile, naïve daughter-in-law in an orthodox Rajasthan family and Zeenat is a fearless, determined woman from Kashmir. The story begins when Zeenat sets out for Rajasthan to find Meera to seek mercy for her husband who is being tried for murder of Meera’s husband in Saudi Arabia. Zeenat believes it would have been an accident as her husband and Meera’s husband were friends and he would have never killed anyone. As per the Saudi Arab’s law, if the deceased’s family forgives the guilt, the criminal may be released. Thus Zeenat sets out on the journey to set her husband free.
Meera and Zeenat meet and soon become friends. Meera is a vivacious, exuberant woman but now she has been coerced in living the life of a woman who just gets out of the four walls to go to the temple once in a day.
Their friendship brings out the best in each other and they compliment each other. With her Grand mother-in-law’s encouragement, Meera escapes the trading that her father-in-law tried to indulge her in and flees her home. She reaches out to Zeenat and promises to begin a new, fresh life with her. This is an indication that Zeenat was successful in getting the application signed by Meera and Meera in return got a free, dignified life to begin with.
Watch the movie and you know you get up with a sense of purpose and the confidence to achieve it. Gul Panag as Zeenat and Ayesha as Meera deserve a honorable mention for their performances.
As I put this movie on the second slot, I do it consciously. It would not be surprising if you have not watched it or have not heard of it, but you must watch it for the simple freshness the movie brings to the life of an otherwise abused waitress.
It is the story of a waitress (superbly played by Keri Russell) who is stuck in a marriage with a man she hates the most. He is abusive, bullyish and hell lot of possessive. To add to her misery she is also pregnant with his baby. But she is not excited about it. Infact for initial few months she loathes the pregnancy as well. Her only relief is ‘making pies’ at home and working as a waitress in a diner where she is friends with two other fellow waitresses. She makes beautiful pies and does it so delicately and lovingly that after the movie you would also want to make a pie and give it a completely new name. Making pies serve as a therapy and art for her and finally also give her a way to escape her tumultuous marriage.
The movie ends on a highly positive note. Though it is made in a light, breezy way it is not a normal feel good movie, it is actually an uplifting piece of drama. Finally, Keri is able to leave her marriage behind, win a pie making competition that gives her a huge sum of money and some help from the old customer who kept visiting the diner from time to time and left a small legacy while dying.
This movie is by far my most favourite movie. And the credit goes to Meryl Streep. She has played her character so beautifully well that you immediately relate with her and do not hate her for committing adultery in her marriage.
Francesca is a married woman and has a loving family. She stays in country side and is a fully devoted wife and mother. It happens in those four days when her hubby and kids go to a city fair and she is alone in the house getting bored and feeling lonely. Robert Kincaid, Clint Eastwood, who is a photographer for an adventure magazine passes by the place and asks direction for ‘bridges of Madison County’. Francesca is surprised how easily she agrees to accompany him to the bridges and falls in love with the kind of life he is living. She realizes she also wanted a similar life for herself and with the same dreams she married her husband but in the name of ‘America’ she is now here in the farm taking care of the fields. That brief encounter leads to dinner and much more and Francesca is in love with Robert. He is single and wants her to leave her family and come with him. He loves her too. Francesca packs her suitcase but can not and does not leave.
The thought of hurting her husband who is faultless in her lifeless life and leaving her kids jolts her and she decides to stay in the marriage. Watch this movie to know what happens as the movie progresses and why she asks her ashes to be thrown away across the bridges of Madison County.
Every woman in a relationship comes to a point when she feels she is lonely; her life is meaningless. You can easily relate to this emotion in the movie and probably this is why you don’t hate Francesca for being infidel.
An award winning movie by Steven Spielberg is certainly a must watch for everyone. Based on a novel by Alice walker, it is a heart rendering movie that makes you oppressed, sad and grief stricken for a long length of the reel. The movie is sad until the end. But the end uplifts your gloomy mood and you are glad that it happened.
The meticulous performance by Whoopi Goldberg is what makes it such a poignant flick. It revolves around Celie who is 14 yrs old and is continuously raped by her dad. She has a baby which is killed by her father. Later she is sold/ married off to a ruthless man,Albert, who is father of three kids.
The movie tracks her life while she discovers her self worth despite all the injustice and harassment done to her. Her only happy moments are when she writes letters to her younger sister and awaits eagerly for the replies. But her husband removes the letters from the mail box and makes her believe that her sister is dead. Sofia, Oprah Winfrey, also suffers domestic abuse but decides not to tolerate it. But she is badly beaten and jailed for several years when she passes a rude remark to the Mayer’s wife and punches the Mayor himself. Through a series of incidents, Celie meets her younger sister Nettie and discovers that her father was infact her step father and she has inherited a house and a shop from her real father.
The movie is an outright MUST watch for every woman. Even if you think you are too far to be near any kind of domestic abuse or exploitation, you should watch it to understand how it feels even if someone else undergoes it.
In contrast to The Color Purple, this movie is a light spirited, fun movie but the way the movie explores the relationship of a mother-daughter duo is exemplary.
The movie is about two remarkable women and their relationships with each other and with the men in their lives.
It is the story of a mother and daughter who are like best friends of each other and understand each other’s thoughts and needs perfectly well. Problems arise when the daughter, Emma, falls in love with a man who does not have a stable career. Emma’s mother, Aurora, was opposed to the relationship but Emma still marries the man. The mother supports her daughter throughout until the end when Emma falls prey to cancer.
All in all, it is a lovely movie that makes you want to become a mother like Aurora and a daughter like Emma. The movie is packed with some dialogues that make you laugh but this does not undermine its emotional quotient.
6) Erin Brokovich
Erin is a twice-divorced woman and has three kids to look after. She is jobless and recently her baby sitter quit. She has around $75 in her bank account and her life is miserable. But Erin or our favourite Julia Roberts is not going to give up.
Do not focus on the deep cleavages of Ms. Roberts or the high- heels, focus only on the message and the grit. Erin takes up a low paying job working for a lawyer and comes to know of the hazardous health threats, the chemicals of a power plant pose to the residents of a California town. Erin fights the long legal battle and finally wins it.
This movie makes you feel good, empowered and inspired.
This movie by Mahesh Bhatt captures the trauma of a wife who is left by her husband.
Pooja (Shabana Azmi) is married to Inder who is now having an extra marital affair with Kavita (Smita Patil). He deserts Pooja for Kavita and Pooja leaves her home (that she had dreamt of since her adulthood) and moves in a women’s hostel. There she finds a new job and tries to begin a new life.
Raj, Pooja’s friend, proposes to her but she refuses. In the mean time, Pooja’s maid kills her husband who stole the money she had hard earned to pay for her daughter’s school fee. The maid finds out that her husband is having an affair with another woman and thus kills her and confesses her crime in a police station. Pooja decides to take care of the daughter and again refuses Raj’s proposal saying that she has found a new meaning and purpose in life.
The movie proves that being deserted by a man is not the end of life and that with self belief and self respect, every woman can be what she wants to be , with or without a man.
It is a totally beautiful movie about a naturally beautiful, soft woman.
Amelie, an innocent and naive girl in Paris, with her own sense of justice, decides to help those around her and along the way, discovers love. She is a waitress in a café in Paris and decides to improve the lives of her customers. Though she is not able to improve her own. But as time passes, she falls in love with a handsome loner and finally wins his heart.
This movie shows the real spirit and capability of an innocent woman and tells how a free spirited, good hearted woman can spread smiles around.
11) English Vinglish
It is a light-hearted yet emotional movie that I think is a must watch for every wife and a mother. I have written a long review of the movie here.
Why you must watch – Mother India is a woman of indisputable integrity
20) Brief Encounter
I do not remember how many times I cried while reading the book, this book is based upon. If I have to personify positivity, I would give it the name of Annie Frank!
25) Julie and Julia
I am not too fond of the movie though I loved the novel. However the movie is still included in the list for its plot. It is a movie about two sisters who love each other despite being poles apart in personalities.
Why you must watch – A dose of love and understanding in relationships. Helps in bridging generation gaps.
Why you must watch (or read the book) – A timeless classic, it is as relevant today as it was many decades ago.
Three reasons you must watch this movie – Oprah Winfrey stars in it, It is based on Toni Morrison’s novel (I have reviewed Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye on the blog) and it deals with the subject of racism and slavery.
Why you must watch – It touches your deepest feelings as a woman.
Why you must watch – A story that will equally move you with as much disgust as with hope and will power.
Based on the life of French singer Edith Piaf, the movie is highly inspirational taking us through all the ups and downs Edith faced in her life. Born to a street singer and a circus acrobat, Edith is left with her mother who runs a brothel. She is temporarily rendered blind and deaf but amidst such adversities, the young girl grows to be Edith Piaf.
What’s inspiring – Her story of life itself is so inspiring which takes you through joys and tragedies and from love to heartbreaks.
Quite similar to La Vei En Rose, Lady Sings The Blues is another inspiring story and a tribute to famous Jazz singer Bill Holiday.
On the lines of the previous movie in the list ‘Lady Sings The Blues’, Mahogany also follows the journey of an aspiring designer named Tracy who dreams of being the top designer of the country. Her ambition later leads her to a path where she has to choose her love or her blooming career.
The American biopic film Whats Love Got To Do With It and the Bollywood film Abhimaan, starring Amitabh and Jaya Bhaduri, are movies on the same lines.
What’s inspiring – Tina Turner’s undeterred spirit that enables her to face the gun her husband holds at her and go onto the stage to perform.What’s inspiring – Here the woman does not leave her husband but her husband isn’t a wife beater either! She is forgiving in nature and reconciles with her husband.
Although the movie is full of cliches and is a little predictable it is still a must watch for women. Two young girls who become friends on a beach continue to remain best friends while going on their separate paths. After a major fall out, destiny brings them together again and they are friends forever.Why you must watch – to celebrate friendship.
What can be more inspiring than this?
Who does not know about Gone With The Wind and who does not love Scarlett O Hara!?
Why you must watch – To just see who is Scarlett O Hara.
It is an animated film about a young girl who defies her kingdom’s rules and thus creates a chaos. Her mother is turned into a bear and the girl has to undo this effect before the next sunrise.
Though the movie is animated and may feel like a cartoon film for kids but the essence of the movie lies in the strength and undefeated attitude of the protagonist. Apart from this, the movie also contains an emotional side of a mother and daughter relationship.
Why you must watch – A woman can run a whole kingdom.
The result? – A union is formed and gains victory.
The movie isn’t just about union and strikes in a factory but also has a pathos angle when another union organizer whose speech had inspired Norma, falls in love with her but does not even tell her because he knows Norma is dedicated to her family and loves her husband.
Why you must watch – A woman can bring a revolution.
What all can happen in a span of just 24 hours? Watch this movie to know. It is about a middle class woman named Pettigrew who becomes a part of high society through a new job she takes up. She makes new friends and sorts out her own life plus the life of her new friend-cum-employer.
Why you must watch – A day can change your life.
60) Mrs. Henderson Presents
Why you must watch – Innovation and entrepreneurship are not bound by times or gender.