• Hannah Ferguson

Looking for a film with a gritty female lead? Here's five

Hi, I'm Hannah. I have unpopular film opinions and in spite of this I like to push my agenda constantly. I make too many recommendations, am a professional summariser and always order a large popcorn and Pepsi Max combo with a mint choc top at my local cinema. I think the scene where Woody gets fixed in Toy Story 2 is one of the greatest in history and I am still frightened by Mrs Tweedy in Chicken Run. I watch at least one movie everyday and still refuse to see Star Wars because frankly, I don't care. When I'm talking about female film characters, I am absolutely not going for perfect. Honestly, there are none. Film does not serve feminism ever... really. These five films offer truly magnificent leading females roles that, although fallible, had me engrossed from the first scene.


5. In Her Shoes


The rating: 7.8/10

The gals: Toni Collette, Cameron Diaz, Shirley MacLaine

The gist: Rose (Collette), a successful but lonely attorney, breaks relations with her party-going irresponsible sister, Maggie (Diaz). Soon, the arrival of their grandmother (MacLaine), whom they don't remember, brings them closer.


This is one of the best drama/romance/classically-troped-as-a-chick-flick films I've ever seen. No one seems to know about this absolute triumph of a movie. I fall in love with it every time I watch (usually once a year). It focuses on familial love, tragedy and struggle. It also excels in representing the nuance of something films always miss and ALWAYS undercut, female friendship. It is just plain excellent.




4. Changeling


The rating: 7.8/10

The gal: Angelina Jolie

The gist: After Christine's (Jolie) son goes missing, she contacts police to help her search for him. They locate a boy fitting her son's description months later, but she insists that he is not her child.


I remember watching this film alone at the age of ten, one of my worst choices to date. It is TERRIFYING. Do not watch if you are afraid of the world, that's just honest. Jolie is objectively brilliant in this role and in what I believe is an underrated film about the love between mother and child. It is a traumatising viewing experience to say the least but if you want to be rattled, very much recommended.


3. I, Tonya


The rating: 8.2/10

The gals: Margot Robbie and Allison Janney

The gist: The VERY REAL and VERY TALENTED figure skater Tonya Harding (Robbie) becomes the first American to complete a triple axel during competition. In 1994, her world comes crashing down when her ex-husband conspires to hurt Nancy Kerrigan, a fellow Olympic potential, in an attack that forces the young woman to withdraw from the national championship.


I could watch this movie every week and never get bored. The stylistic choices are just brilliant, the movie is genuinely hilarious and the costumes are glorious. This is Robbie's standout performance, but Janney undoubtedly steals the show. I will never stop recommending this film. I've never enjoyed a sporting film SO much. Pure grit and bogan.






2. Miss Sloane


The rating: 8.4/10

The gal: Jessica Chastain

The gist: Elizabeth Sloane (Chastain), an unparalleled lobbyist, goes above and beyond in an attempt to pass gun control legislation. However, she is cornered when the opposition discover things hidden in her personal life.


One of the great political thrillers of our time. A true chess match between one woman and Capitol Hill. Chastain is fucking perfect in this lengthy drama which requires all of your brain capacity as a viewer. It is twisty, nitty gritty and features a delicious plot twist. Sloane is the unlikely leading woman and her ability to subvert the traditional female lead is SO refreshing, and severely underrated (coincidence???) which appears to be a pattern within this list.



1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


The rating: 9.6/10

The gal: Frances McDormand

The gist: Mildred Hayes (McDormand) is broken after the rape and murder of her daughter. Months later, she challenges police officials when they fail to find the murderer.





My favourite film of all time. McDormand is a powerhouse. I cannot talk to you, let alone look at you until you have inhaled this film. She won THE Oscar for this piece of beautiful, beautiful violence and she deserved it. She exists solely in the 'good for you' cinematic universe.