To celebrate International Women’s Day on the 8th March, we have selected 5 inspirational women in film whose work we admire. These women tell stories of courage, compassion, love, loss, strength, vulnerability and determination. They serve a meaningful purpose, not simply created to entertain, but to educate and inspire.
1. Natalie Portman
A star nearly her whole life, adored by many and on the receiving end of many an award, Natalie Portman is an icon both on and off screen. Not only does Natalie continue to play great roles but actively tries to change the industry she grew up in - working with the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements. Learning what so many women and friends in the industry had been subject to and living in a culture where it is regular for men to behave badly and women to be hurt spurred Natalie to want to make a change. Natalie has since stood up to advocate for gender parity across industries and encouraged a stop to the notion that a woman is “crazy or difficult” and inspires people to look at the bigger picture.
2. Julia Roberts
Our favourite nineties movie star Julia Roberts has starred in some of the most iconic films over the years. The nineties are where you find her impeccable run from Pretty Women in 1990 to Erin Brockovich in 2000 with a fair few mega-hits and awards in between. Julia is celebrated for championing a genre that is often undervalued, highlighting female stories of falling in love in so many of her films yet never playing the damsel in distress, but women with power. Julia’s desire to be paid equally to her male co-workers came long before the exposure of Hollywood’s gender pay gap. She was the first woman to demand a $20 million salary for Erin Brockovich and later became the highest paid actress for Mona Lisa Smile banking $25 million. A particular favourite Julia moment of ours was her act of defiance at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival where she removed her high heels to walk the red carpet in protest to the organisers who rejected a group of women in flats the previous year. Julia is truly a feminist icon to be celebrated.
3. Joan Fontaine
A film icon from Hollywood’s golden age remembered for her beauty, glamour and exquisite screen performances. Joan was cast for her first leading role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Hollywood debut Rebecca in 1940 which she was nominated an Oscar for, unfortunately losing out but winning the following year for her next Hitchcock film, Suspicion. Joan appeared in over 45 feature films in a career that spanned five decades, and will forever be remembered for her iconic roles during the Classic Hollywood era.
4. Frances McDormand
Over the course of Francis’s career, she has commonly played women who support a man’s story yet takes these marginal characters and makes them the most robust people in the movie. Francis often speaks out about how her looks had disqualified her from many roles for being too old or too young, too fat or too thin, but knew at some point they would need the other and that’s where she made herself fit in. Now at the age of 61, Francis is the recipient of an Academy Award for Best Actress (2018, 1997), a Golden Globe for Best Actress (2018), a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role (2018), Critics Choice Movie Award for Best Actress (2018), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (2018, 1997) and the list goes on. Need we say more?
5. Diane Keaton
Winning an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1977, two Golden Globes in 2004 and 1978, a BAFTA for Best Actress in 1977 and many more Diane Keeton is an iconic actress to have graced our screens. Keaton found her way to stardom after appearing in the Oscar-winning The Godfather in 1972. She has since appeared in many films and has even tried her hand in directing and producing. In 2017 Diane Keaton accepted the 45th AFI Life Achievement Award from Woody Allen which marked her a true icon and legend for her contribution to enriching American culture through film and television.