Sometimes the world will throw coincidences of timing at you that you know are no accident. Like when I was asked to write about 10 movies every girl should see, on the very same day I learned that my good friends Stephanie and Steve's first child will be a girl. Suddenly, this assignment began to take on almost epic proportions, as I thought about the movies I would spend the next eighteen years urging my friends to show their daughter.
If they were having a boy, I could steer them toward this handy-dandy guide. But, being a girl, and a movie lover myself, I think I may know a thing or two about the best modern films that can equip today’s girls with some of life’s most important lessons.
So, for Stephanie and Steve’s forthcoming daughter, as well as all the other girls in the world, here are the top ten movies every girl should see in their lifetime, in chronological order:
Because a lot of the movies girls see in their formative years shove a lot of crap down their throats about damsels in distress being saved by true love’s kiss (which apparently can only be delivered by some handsome prince). While these fairy tales are undoubtedly entertaining, sometimes you need a reality check, and one comes perfectly in the form of this tale of an ogre who falls in love with a beautiful princess, who has an ugly secret of her own. True love’s kiss never felt truer.
Mean Girls2. Mean Girls:
Let’s face it, every girl faces enemies like The Plastics at some point in high school. There’s no avoiding the cattiness that all teenaged girls unfortunately seem capable of, but this sharp satire of high school politics will at least make it seem funny.
13 Going on 303. 13 Going on 30:
Here’s where we learn what happens to The Plastics when they grow up. This girl version of Big tells the story of how the nerdy Jenna Rink, desperate to be popular, gets to see how her life would play out if she got everything she thought she wanted on her thirteenth birthday, and how miserable it would actually make her. Great lesson, great performances from Jennifer Garner and Judy Greer, and a classic dance sequence not to be missed.
Say Anything4. Say Anything:
Because to know Lloyd Dobler is to love him. And when it comes time for young ladies to start dating, wouldn’t you rather have them looking for a guy who will stand outside their window playing “In Your Eyes” on a boom box all night, rather than say, Spencer from The Hills?
Pride and Prejudice5. Pride and Prejudice:
All six of Jane Austen’s novels are essential reading, but none have ever been brought to the screen as vibrantly as the story of her greatest heroine, Elizabeth Bennett, in Joe Wright’s 2005 film. Keira Knightley brings fiery rebellion and biting wit to the role of a headstrong young woman who finds herself falling in love with the last man she thought she could ever consent to marry.
And now for a completely different interpretation of Jane Austen. Here, her novel Emma is transplanted from 1800s England to 1990s Beverly Hills with shocking ease. Beneath all the catchphrases and bimbo humor is an incredibly clever satire about the humbling of the prettiest, most popular girl in school.
Kill Bill7. Kill Bill:
Seeking vengeance is bad, but sometimes, you have no choice. And after being left for dead at her wedding by her former employer, the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (aka, the DiVAS), The Bride has no choice. No lesson here, except don’t mess with Uma Thurman unless you want your head and limbs chopped off and your blood to squirt out of your body like something from an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon.
Million Dollar Baby8. Million Dollar Baby:
There are plenty of so-called female empowerment movies out there, but they all seem just a little bit cutesy when compared with the story of Maggie Fitzgerald, a dirt poor waitress determined to become a champion boxer under the tutelage of reluctant trainer Frankie Dunn. There’s no love story subplot or glamorous happy ending for Maggie as she pursues her dream, just an incredibly powerful lesson in dignity from Hilary Swank’s Oscar winning performance.
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon9. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon:
Some romances tell their stories with love letters and trips to the ball, but this one uses majestic sword fights and tragic sacrifices. Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat are the veteran warriors constantly repressing their unspoken love for each other. Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen are the passionate young lovers who will destroy anything or anyone that tries to keep them apart. When the two women face off in battle, you realize they both could learn something from each other.
Fight Club10.All the movies on the list for guys:
Because although the author of this list goes to great lengths to emphasize that these movies are specifically “guy” movies, I know plenty of girls, including myself, who include films like The Bourne Identity and Fight Club among their favorites. A couple of these so-called guy movies even crossed over onto this list. In order to be a truly empowered, well-rounded woman, I’d suggest checking out them all, while never letting anyone dismiss a movie you like as a mere chick flick.