Top ten female film characters

Inspiring change on-screen…

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To coincide with International Women’s Day this Saturday 8, March, we here at ELLE are celebrating strong and powerful women. We take a look at our favourite inspirational female film characters…

Thelma and Louise in Thelma & Louise

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The film follows two unassuming and downtrodden women - Geena Davis as Thelma and Susan Saradon as Louise - who exceed the expectations of everyone around them, and challenge the sexist values of the Deep South in America. An inspirational point has to when the pair ‘discipline’ a trucker for his repulsive and derogatory heckling. You’ve got to love feminists with force.

Ellen Ripley in Alien

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The original on-screen heroine, Sigourney Weaver plays a stern Ellen Ripley in the timeless sci-fi saga, Alien. Confident, empowered and determined – both mentally and physically – Sigourney’s character has been lauded for helping change gender stereotypes in film; in other words Ripley is one female lead not to be reckoned with.

Patsey in Twelve Years A Slave

Unless you’ve been hidden under a rock for the last year, there’s no escaping the acclaim that accompanied ELLE Woman of the week Lupita Nyong’o’s performance in 12 Year’s A Slave (especially now she’s an Oscar winner). Lupita plays Patsey, a female slave savagely targeted by her master. Despite undergoing unbearable hardships and prejudices, Patsey manages to maintain her dignity as well as her fighting spirit.

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Elle Woods in Legally Blonde

An unexpected contender, Reese Witherspoon’s character Elle Woods initially caught our eye with her bend-and-snap, but on closer observation, her legal savvy ways and can-do attitude turn out to be a winning factor.

Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games

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Has anyone ever looked so good – and simultaneously – been so kickass whilst wielding a bow and arrow as Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence)? Bravely protecting her younger sister by volunteering to fight, Katniss still manages to maintain a level of empathy.

Mulan in Mulan

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Animated or not, Mulan will always be a poster-girl for strong, self-sacrificing women everywhere. She cuts her hair off, joins the army in place of her father, and gets rid of the bad guy; efficient and courageous.

Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby

A film that will never fail to make us bawl our eyes out, Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby is an inspirational and fearless character. Played by Hilary Swank, Maggie is a persistent amateur boxer that goes on to win the respect of those who doubt her, and also – physically - dominate the ring.

Erin Brockovich in Erin Brockovich

Julia Roberts plays the eponymous hero in a dramatization of the real story of self-taught Erin Brockovich. A legal crusader – who despite not having formal legal education – went on to fight a huge energy corporation; here’s one ingenious and inspiring lady.

Leigh Ann Tuohy in The Blind Side

Based on a true story, Sandra Bullock won both our hearts and an Oscar with her sassy and determined portrayal of Leigh Ann Tuohy. The touching film centres on Leigh who – against the judgement of her friends and community - takes in downtrodden teenager Michael Oher, and transforms his life. You don’t get any more inspirational than that…

Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass

Don’t be fooled by Chloë Moretz’s angelic face and slight stature in . Foiling gangs, and ridding the world of villains, she scorns the fickle interests expected of girls her age; and aspires to a greater worldly cause. Confident, strong – if not slightly rigorous with her use of expletives - this is one female character that could hold her own in almost any situation.

Lupita's other speech

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