In a year that's been largely defined by political turmoil, global tragedies, and a very public stream of sexual misconduct allegations, you may be in search of — nay, in need of — some good old-fashioned escapism. Of course, it's understandable that right now, it might be daunting to think of movies that will make you feel better about the world. With news surrounding the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein unfolding every day — especially in the wake of other troubling accusations that have hit in recent years — Hollywood may feel like the last place you'd look for comfort.
But rest assured, there are plenty of films about female empowerment to turn to in such dark times. Whether you want to hunker down for an emotional tale of triumph or rile yourself up with a high-stakes blockbuster about a badass hero, the women of cinema are only a click away on your streaming services. It won't change what's been happening, but at the very least, it might help you not think about it for a few hours, and at the most, it might inspire you to dust yourself off and keep fighting. So, without further adieu, take this list and settle in for a fem-powered movie marathon.
1'Mad Max: Fury Road'
Charlize Theron's post-apocalyptic crusade to to free five wives from Immortan Joe is both action-packed and empowering. The movie may take name from Tom Hardy’s Max Rockatansky, but this is Imperator Furiosa’s story through and through.
If you've yet to see Patty Jenkins' summer triumph, now's the time. Not only is it an action epic that centers around a strong, stouthearted female lead (and the first female-fronted superhero film in more than a decade), but it's a win off-screen, too: The record-breaking blockbuster is officially the highest-grossing live action film directed by a woman in the world.
In one of the few Disney classics that focuses on a warrior, not a princess, Mulan refuses to let ancient sexism hold her back. When her elderly father is called upon to enlist in China's ancient army, she valiantly disguises herself as a man so that she can protect her family and fight in his place.
4'The Color Purple'
Steven Spielberg's 1985 period drama tells the hard-to-watch but heartwarming tale of a Southern woman who rises up against the racism, misogyny, and abuse she's suffered throughout her life, discovering her own self-worth in the process.
Legally Blonde is the ultimate lesson in underestimation, starring Reese Witherspoon as a California blonde who follows her ex-boyfriend to Harvard law school but ends up proving there's so much more to her than good looks, despite the many people that doubt her.
6'Thelma & Louise'
Fed up with the sleazebag men in their lives, two best friends embark on a lawless road trip across the country. Spoiler alert: In the end, they drive off a cliff rather than submitting to the patriarchy (and a life in prison).
7'Bend It Like Beckham'
Gurinder Chadha's early 2000s rom-com follows Jess Bhamra, a British teen who rebels against her Orthdox parents to pursue her dream of playing soccer, damning all those "girls can't play sports" clichés along the way.
8'Resident Evil' Franchise
Mila Jovovich leads six films as a tough-as-hell action star in this video game-spawned sci-fi franchise.
Another highlight from Reese Witherspoon — this one Oscar-nominated — Wild traces one woman's journey to mourn her mother's death, test her limits, and reconnect with who she is as she survives amid the Pacific Crest Trail's often difficult conditions.
If you're really in the mood to rage against the man, try Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino's martial arts saga about a scorned assassin's quest to get revenge on the team that betrayed her and took her baby.
Ridley Scott's 1979 classic features one of the most iconic female characters still to this day: intergalactic badass Ellen Ripley, played by the incomparable Sigourney Weaver.
Brave's Princess Merida pushes back against archaic traditions at every turn: First, when she refuses to water down her archery skills in front of her suitors, and again when she helps to upturn her kingdom's longstanding rule that she must marry a man of her family's choosing.
13'Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants'
OK, this movie may bum you out at certain moments, but it's still an empowering tale of friendship. By the end, you'll be reminded that together, women are unstoppable. Plus, with four different strong personalities at the forefront, there's bound to be one you relate to — whether Tibby, Lena, Bridget, or Carmen.
14'A League Of Their Own'
A League Of Their Own chronicles the beginnings of the first female professional baseball league, putting an oft overlooked but crucial piece of women's history at center field.
15'Iron Jawed Angels'
Katja von Garnier moves the suffragettes stateside for this 2004 recount of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, two feminist trailblazers who formed the National Woman's Party back in 1913.
There's a reason The Help drew in so many Oscar noms: It's a heartfelt, funny, and earnest tale about women taking back their voice in the face of oppression.
17'The First Wives Club'
As if stars Diane Keaton, Bette Midler, and Goldie Hawn weren't enough of a draw, The First Wives Club is also a feel-good story of three women who take the high road after their husbands leave them and band together to start a shelter for abused women.
From the quietly inspiring to the bold and exhilarating, these should at least get you through the end of 2017.