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A Ridiculously Huge List of Empowering Movies and Series

By: Amber Newberry



I can't really say where this list started, but I had several ideas along the way for what it could be and as it turns out, I didn't stick to any one of them. I'm going to blame an intense love for pop culture, especially movies and television... but let's be honest, my ADHD played a part in the size of this list.

I've been feeling especially stunted and just unable to muster the inspiration to get things done, so ultimately, I wanted to watch something to make me feel motivated. What I realized was that I wasn't sure what kind of motivation I needed. Was I looking for a fluff series to make me laugh? Or perhaps a classic favorite with a touch of some good old-fashioned girl power? Was I craving a documentary about some incredible women overcoming obstacles to beat the odds? Did I want to see some badass babe wreaking havoc trying to save herself and her cat from certain death? Perhaps a sweeping historical movie with a strong female lead and incredible costumes? Maybe I needed a good biopic to settle in with, or a character study featuring any number of exceptional actresses in the main character role...


Like so many moments of indecision, while scrolling through row after row of movie posters and series promos on various streaming apps, I couldn't figure out what the hell it was I wanted, so I did what I always do when I can't make a decision: I made a list! And I'm putting it here for anyone else looking for something to watch that might make them feel motivated or empowered.

While I started building the lineup, I realized that there are a lot of different things that make me feel empowered, inspired, or motivated and that might vary from time to time. For example, when I'm looking for motivation for humanitarian work, I like to watch documentaries. When I'm looking for something to make me feel invincible, I like to watch horror movies, sci-fi, or adventure films. When I'm working on my business, it's biopics, biographies, and character studies. If I'm creating art, I like dramatic stories with incredible set design and costuming. It's for that reason that this list spans all different genres and eras. And, like most things, it's probably different for everyone, so what works for me might not necessarily work for you. But, that's what is so great about this monstrosity—there are lots of options in lots of genres!

I’ve organized the list by, biography/based on a true story, fiction, and documentary, and then further sorted between film and series (except the docs), because sometimes you're ready to binge for days, and sometimes you just need to kill an hour or two.


BIOPICS/BASED ON A TRUE STORY (FILM)

· Becoming Jane (2007)

· Belle (2013)

· Bessie (2015)

· Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)

· Coco Before Chanel (2009)

· Erin Brokovich (2000)

· Frida (2002)

· Hidden Figures (2016)

· Joy (2015)

· Julie & Julia (2009)

· Norma Rae (1979)

· On the Basis of Sex (2018)

· Queen of Katwe (2016)

· Suffragette (2015)

· Temple Grandin (2010)

· Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

· To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters (2017)

· Wild (2012)

BIOPICS/BASED ON A TRUE STORY (SERIES/MINI SERIES)

· Girlboss (2017)

· Self-Made (2020)

· The Crown (2016)

FICTION (FILM)

· 9 to 5 (1980)

· A Fantastic Woman (2018)

· A League of Their Own (1992)

· Adam’s Rib (1949)

· Alien (1979) & Aliens (1986)

· Brooklyn (2015)

· Crimson Peak (2015)

· Daughters of the Dust (1991)

· Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (1991)

· Dumplin’ (2018)

· Grandma (2015)

· Ginger Snaps (2000)

· Halloween (1978)

· His Girl Friday (1940)

· I Capture the Castle (2003)

· Jolene (2008)

· Little Women (1994)

· My Brilliant Career (1979)

· Princess Mononoke (1997)

· Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

· The Craft (1996)

· The Dressmaker (2015)

· The Trouble with Angels (1966)

· White Oleander (2002)

· Working Girl (1988)

FICTION (SERIES)

· Call the Midwife (2012)

· Dead to Me (2019)

· GLOW (2017)

· Grace & Frankie (2015)

· I Am Not Okay with This (2020)

· Mildred Pierce (2011)

· Orphan Black (2013)

· Parks & Rec (2009)

· Shrill (2019)

· The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel ( 2017)

DOCUMENTARY

· A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Valazquez Story (2015)

· Advanced Style (2014)

· A Secret Love (2020)

· Ask Dr. Ruth (2019)

· Black Ballerina (2016)

· Delores (2017)

· Dream, Girl (2016)

· Girl Rising (2014)

· He Named Me Malala (2015)

· Iris (2014)

· Knock Down the House (2019)

· Kuma Hina (2014)

· Ladies First (2017)

· Losing Sight of Shore (2017)

· Miss Representation (2011)

· Miss Sharon Jones (2016)

· RBG (2018)

· She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (2014)

· Shut Up & Sing (2006)

· The Ascent of Woman (2016)

· The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things (2014)

· The Punk Singer (2013)

· Tig (2015)

· What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

We'd love to hear your recommendations! Comment below and let us know what films and television series inspire, empower, and motivate you.



Amber Newberry is a writer, editor, and entrepreneur living in Salem, MA. In 2016, Amber began FunDead Publications, a small independent horror publishing house with co-editor Laurie Moran. This spurred an interest in business ownership, and building on what she learned from previous jobs in marketing and retail management, Amber started her own online and brick and mortar shop in 2018, called Die With Your Boots On. She founded the Daughters of Darkness market in 2018, and it has become a passion for her, working alongside co-organizers Laurie Moran (FunDead Publications & The Cemeterrarium) and Liz Frazier (Witch City Wicks).



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