In making this list, I was actually quite horrified to realize how often the female leads in movies fall into the following categories: gorgeous and unattainable romantic interest, gorgeous and messed up romantic interest, gorgeous and bitchy “career focused” romantic interest, gorgeous and in need of saving romantic interest, and of course the relatively new trope, the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” – whose sole purpose in the film is to prop up the ego of the male lead without seeming to have any sort of individual desires or goals of their own (I’m looking at you Kirsten Dunst in ”Elizabethtown” and Natalie Portman in ”Garden State”). So yeah, also a gorgeous romantic interest. Screenwriters, MPDG’s don’t exist, please stop writing about them. It’s lazy.
The common thread here is that female leads are often seen through the eyes of the male leads, and so their characterization is left pretty vague and two dimensional (although ”(500) Days of Summer” does this deliberately, most films don’t). Those rare times when they are in fact the centerpiece of the film, they are usually running from some heinous monster (any horror movie), or their baggage is what propels the film forward (”Young Adult”, ”The Good Girl”, ”Waitress”, ”Carrie”…big characters with bigger problems).
There are many great female characters in film, but they also seems to go hand in hand with athletic and tough. Sarah Connor in ”Terminator”/s, Ellen Ripley in ”Alien”/s, Beatrix Kiddow in ”Kill Bill”/s, and more recently Lisbeth Salander from ”The Girl” series, all very strong, very complex and very admirable female roles. But, let’s face it, they’re not the not the first people you would call if you just had your heart broken, or felt like a fun night out on the town. That is, they are not female characters that reflect women in our real lives.
But there are some. Below is my list of female leads I would love to hang out with:
Olive Penderghast – Easy A
Still gorgeous, but funny, intelligent, self aware, and sympathetic, Olive as played by Emma Stone is one of the first great 21st century female leads. She’s modern, she’s fun, and you would totally want her as your wing-woman, with a witty retort for every lame come on, or bitchy female encounter who can also help you with your homework. Just watch the video below of Olive’s weekend at home, and don’t tell me she wouldn’t be fun to have around.
Bridget Jones – Bridget Jones’s Diary
Bridget is the friend that has the worst taste in men, but you love her to bits and so you put up with her many male dramas because she totally returns the favour. There with a bottle of wine (or five) and ice cream whenever you needed to be cheered up, and always the last left on the dance floor with their heels kicked off. She knows how to entertain herself on her own as well.
*From the two clips above you might get the sense that I relate to people who like to dance around and sing songs when they are alone. I will neither confirm nor deny this.
Annie Porter– Speed
Annie gets special recognition for being the “love interest” portion of an action film no less, but still having personality, likeability and vulnerability as a character. A breakout role for Sandra Bullock, this was the first example of her charm as an actress.
Can you imagine how friends might describe Annie? “Oh that Annie, first she loses her license for speeding, then she gets on the one bus that has a bomb on it, the driver gets shot, she ends up driving the bus, finally gets off it, then has a bomb strapped to her and gets stuck on runaway train, and of course, only Annie would get a hot new LAPD boyfriend from something like this. I tell you though, next time we go out I’m totally just going to tell her I’ll meet her there. And definitely not going on any holidays with her. She’s fun though.”
Marge Gunderson – Fargo
The pregnant police chief in a small town, Marge goes against every stereotype that would normally surround such a role. She’s doesn’t feel sick because she’s surrounded by a brutal murder scene, but because she’s got morning sickness. She’s smart, grounded, and intuitive. As a police chief she’s seen how the world works, and can sniff out bad boyfriend material from good. She would also totally come pick you up when you’ve had too much to drink, with a wise word on the way home.
Amelie – Amelie
While not surrounded by a large circle of friends due to her secluded upbringing, Amelie is the friend that sees the world a bit differently, and can show you how to as well. She goes above and beyond to make the world a more magical place, and don’t we all want a friend like that.
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The Princess Bride
A good wine
Clint's Nicolas Cage impersonation