Movies for Future Women

People imitate what they see. That is my guiding principle when choosing movies for children and teens (and adults, too, truth be told). So I don’t show them what I don’t want them to imitate, and I try to go out of my way to find stories they should imitate.

I already shared movies that I don’t mind my boys trying to imitate. This time, I share a “dad’s list for girls” — with a lot of input from my own wife and daughters.

Click here for Movies for Future Men.

I don’t want my daughters to imitate high-drama teen romances. I don’t want them to imitate girls who use their bodies to get what they want. And I don’t want them to imitate those who reduce womanhood to an imitation of male action heroes or cutthroat competitors.

I do want them to imitate the virtues of femininity that St. John Paul II calls “feminine genius.”

A couple of notes on this list:

Why is your favorite missing? These are movies I (or my wife or daughters) have watched. If Hoopeses haven’t watched it, it isn’t here. If these categories are helpful, let me know movies I missed, at thoopes@benedictine.edu.

What ages? There are some movies here for young girls; others are for older teens. Always preview movies, double-check yourself with the IMDb parents reviews and/or KidsInMind.com — and use your discretion.

First: We want girls to be realistically fearless (and/or encouraging).

Girls need to learn they can grapple with the world and accomplish their goals in life. But they don’t need the endless stream of movies that show girls effortlessly triumphing alone like superheroes. So here I share movies about women triumphing through their own strength, with help from others; notably God.

Cinderella (2015)

Finding Dory (2016)

The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952)

The Mighty Macs (2009)

Nim’s Island (2008) (The girl is “superhero-ish” but Jodie Foster’s character is not.)

Gravity (2013)

The Song of Bernadette (1943)

The Incredibles (2004)

Chicken Run (2004) (A great, great girl movie!)

Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) (I haven’t seen it, but it was vigorously promoted for this list by Facebook friends, so here it is.)

Soul Surfer (2011)

Joan of Arc (1948)

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)

The Village (2004)

Second: Girls should show “emotional virtue.”

This is the term Sarah Swafford coined for the drama-free living we want from girls. We don’t want relationships, outward appearance, and others’ opinions to dominate our girls’ hearts and minds. In these movies women show modesty inside and out.

Pride and Prejudice (television series, 1995)

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)

Anne of Green Gables (1985) and Anne of Avonlea (1987)

Frozen (2013) (Teaches the danger in believing rom-com lies about love.)

Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

The King and I (1956)

The Trouble with Angels (1966) (Two girls learn to stop fighting the system and respond to it with love.)

Inside Out (2015) (A reminder that “emotional virtue” doesn’t mean “bottle it up.”)

The Young Victoria (2008) this movie shows how even a queen needs to learn who to trust and how to discern. We wish we had a “prudence” category for this one. Help us create one by sending examples!

Third: We want girls who know how to bring the best out of others.

St. John Paul II praises the feminine genius for recognizing the gifts of others and arranging things such that everyone feels included and respected. I left out my own favorite, True Grit, because most girls I have shown it to hate it, but found these other movies that show strong females strengthening others.

Charlotte’s Web (1973)

The Blind Side (2009)

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

The Secret Garden (1987) (The 1993 version of this classic novel is better, until it substitutes a strange fireside ritual for the novel’s hymn at the end.)

Heidi (1937) (Yes, this is the cheesy Shirley Temple version. … There is a reason she was so well loved.)

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Babette’s Feast (1987)

Fourth: We want girls who respect the virtues of motherhood.

Too often, the virtues of motherhood are forgotten or belittled in movies. That is a shame. Here are some movies where mothers, biological or otherwise, shine.

The Sound of Music (1965)

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000) (One of the best Disney families; great in-command at-home mom.)

Mary Poppins (1964)

Little House on the Prairie (television series; 1974–1983)

One True Thing (1998) (But skip the last 30 seconds, which ruin it! As soon as they walk toward the grave, turn it off!)

Fifth: We want girls who know what true romance looks like.

True love does not just mean being swept off your feet or finding someone who makes you feel special. It (more importantly) means willing to find yourself in sacrifice with and for another. Here are movies whose characters learn that lesson.

Return to Me (2000)

In This House of Brede (1975)

Marty (1955)

The Singing Nun (1966) (The songs in this movie are unfortunately dated, but it fascinatingly brings up some very contemporary issues in helpful ways as conversation starters.)

Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)

Father of the Bride (1991)

Emma (1996)

Sixth: We want our girls to be intelligent women of valor.

In Proverbs 31, Scripture paints a picture of a great woman. She has “valor” which is a word the text uses to denote her strength, which is greater than simply physical or emotional strength; it is intellectual and virtuous. Show girls women who find their worth in the life of their mind and soul.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)

Akeelah and the Bee (2006)

Queen of Katwe (2016)

Hidden Figures (2016)

Little Women (1994)

Legally Blonde (2001)

Cold Comfort Farm (1995)

My Fair Lady (1964)

Let me know what I missed! thoopes@benedictine.edu

This article appeared at Catholic Digest.

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. His book What Pope Francis Really Said is now available on Audible. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, Hoopes served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.