50 iconic onscreen female friendships

Written by:
February 3, 2020
Columbia Pictures

50 iconic onscreen female friendships

Dating back to the early years of the film industry, female friendships made their way into some of the industry's top films, from comedies to dramas. Using IMDb ratings from July 2019, Stacker looked at 50 iconic female friendships depicted on celluloid. From a 1939 film based on a play by American writer and politician Clare Boothe Luce, in which there are no men in the entire ensemble cast, to a 2010 film by acclaimed feminist writer, director, and actress Lena Dunham, in which the stark realities of money and ambition in contemporary New York foil even the closest of friendships, each of these 50 friendships illuminates something nuanced and new about female friendships.

Far from the stereotypical portrayals of female friendships as revolving around men and featuring nothing but supportive camaraderie, they weave these friendships into far richer and more complicated tapestries that have resonated strongly with audiences, especially females. The friendships span the full range of human emotion, from envy to encouragement, from estrangement to reconciliation, from extreme sadness to extreme joy.

The one thing they all have in common is their insistence that no matter the eventual status of the relationships, or whatever pitfalls or travails have complicated or derailed the women's bonds, the depth of feeling underlying the relationships could not have mattered more to the women involved. The friendships often lifted the women above their less-than-ideal circumstances and were transformative and significant enough frame the stories for the film's viewers through the powerful lenses of those friendships.

Read on for 50 iconic onscreen female friendships.

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1 / 50
Twentieth Century Fox

Waiting to Exhale (1995)

- Director: Forest Whitaker
- IMDb user rating: 5.8
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 124 min

Forest Whitaker's directorial debut tells the story of four African American women who are best friends and help each other navigate the trials and tribulations of their lives—particularly as it pertains to their love lives. Each woman in “Waiting to Exhale” wants to be in romantic relationships with men, but for their own reasons are experiencing difficulty. They ultimately realize that the power of female friendship offers them much of what they were looking for with men. The film is particularly significant in cutting against the traditional Hollywood trope of the happy ending for women involving finding a man, and in proving to studio heads and the public at large that the lives of black women could be a big box office draw.

2 / 50
Twentieth Century Fox

This Is My Life (1992)

- Director: Nora Ephron
- IMDb user rating: 6.0
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 105 min

Writer Nora Ephron's directorial debut, “This Is My Life,” focuses on a cosmetics saleswoman named Dottie who leaves cosmetics to pursue her dream of becoming a stand-up comedian. When her career takes off, Dottie leaves her two daughters, Opal and Erica, largely in the dust. Erica and Opal lean on each other to navigate the abandonment and acquire the familial structure they desire all on their own. The choice to have the daughters' friendship grow specifically because of the abandonment of their mother is an unconventional and distinctly feminist choice, given traditional narratives surrounding motherhood, encouragement, and the primacy of family above all else.

3 / 50
IDG China Media

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2011)

- Director: Wayne Wang
- IMDb user rating: 6.1
- Metascore: 42
- Runtime: 120 min

Set in 19th-century China, “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” charts the life of Lily, who lives through four Qing dynasty emperors. Throughout practical Lily's life, she and her best friend—the more free-spirited and contrarian Snow Flower—confide in each other as they endure the foot-binding, classism, and sexism common at the time. The women are ultimately torn apart for a period thanks to pernicious forces stronger than they, but reunite on Snow Flower's deathbed. The film was particularly important for its portrayal of Asian women who did not fit the stereotype of being submissive or weak, suggests New York Times writer Tatjana Soli; the film was critically acclaimed for its nuance and boldness.

4 / 50
Touchstone Pictures

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997)

- Director: David Mirkin
- IMDb user rating: 6.2
- Metascore: 59
- Runtime: 92 min

The classic American comedy “Romy and Michele's High School Reunion” focuses on the titular characters preparing for their 10-year high school reunion. Neither Romy nor Michele has found success in their careers or love lives and invent fabulous lives for themselves to convince former classmates how well they're doing. The film has become a cult classic since its release, not least for its feminist shades; female friendship trumping romantic love, and self-love and self-expression trumping all.

5 / 50
Tiny Ponies

Tiny Furniture (2010)

- Director: Lena Dunham
- IMDb user rating: 6.2
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 98 min

Aimless recent art school graduate Aura is bumbling around her hometown of Manhattan when she runs into Charlotte, her childhood best friend, who is now a recovering drug addict. Although their lives have taken dramatically different turns, the pair become fast friends again and help each other navigate the perils of trying to make art and make a life in 21st-century New York. Like the writer, director, and star Lena Dunham herself, the film “Tiny Furniture” has been acclaimed by feminists, particularly for its focus on women who are far from perfect, but still worthy of audiences' care and attention.

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6 / 50
Perfect World Pictures

Girls Trip (2017)

- Director: Malcolm D. Lee
- IMDb user rating: 6.2
- Metascore: 71
- Runtime: 122 min

“Girls Trip” follows four female friends, otherwise known as the Flossy Posse, who have drifted apart, and go to a music festival in New Orleans with the goal of reconnecting. The film allows the financial successes and failures of the four women to intersect with their friendship, going against the grain of the old-fashioned narrative that relationships are always more important to women than money. Critics appreciated the nuances of film, as did audiences—"Girls Trip" was the first film with writers, a director, producers, and a leading cast of African Americans to make more than $100 million at the box office.

7 / 50
Night Life Inc.

Mystic Pizza (1988)

- Director: Donald Petrie
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Metascore: 60
- Runtime: 104 min

“Mystic Pizza” follows the lives of two sisters and their close friend as they come of age working in a pizza parlor called Mystic Pizza. At the film's outset, the three are focused on their love lives and their futures far away from the pizzeria, but as the film progresses, each realizes that the restaurant—and each other—are more important than they had realized. The film has become a 20th-century classic, so much so that the Mystic, Connecticut restaurant on which it is based has become a tourist attraction.

8 / 50
Columbia Pictures

The Craft (1996)

- Director: Andrew Fleming
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 101 min

Supernatural horror movie “The Craft” centers around four outcast girls at a California high school who turn to witchcraft to deal with their feelings of alienation and boredom; although the witchcraft soon grows out of hand and proves to be the group's undoing. The film has been praised by critics, including the New York Times' Stephen Holden, who wrote in 1996 about its “celebration of adolescent nonconformity and female independence.” The film has since become a cult classic.

9 / 50
Paramount Pictures

The First Wives Club (1996)

- Director: Hugh Wilson
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Metascore: 58
- Runtime: 103 min

Based on a best-selling novel of the same name, “The First Wives Club” focuses on three divorced female friends who set out to get revenge on their ex-husbands for having left them for younger women. The film is praised by women for its lack of focus on men, despite the inclusion of men in the plot, and for laser-focusing instead on women helping each other stand up for themselves and their self-actualization.

10 / 50
Faliro House Productions

Queen of Earth (2015)

- Director: Alex Ross Perry
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 90 min

The critically acclaimed psychological thriller “Queen of the Earth” is set in a lake house retreat featuring two old friends who come together for a week. Over the course of the film, it becomes clear that one of the two friends is distinctly not well after the death of her father and the dissolution of a relationship. The film is noteworthy for treating the problems of women as devastating enough to lead to real psychological horror, without diminishing the power a female friend has to help and to hold the other's pain.

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11 / 50
Alcor Films

Boys on the Side (1995)

- Director: Herbert Ross
- IMDb user rating: 6.4
- Metascore: 61
- Runtime: 115 min

The film title “Boys on the Side” says it all: The film follows three unlikely female friends who embark on a cross-country road trip after their lives fall apart in various ways and realize that the men in their lives can never offer them the unconditional support they find in each other. The film has been praised for showing how women can protect each other against environments hostile to them.

12 / 50
Burn Later Productions

Support the Girls (2018)

- Director: Andrew Bujalski
- IMDb user rating: 6.4
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 93 min

A female friendship film for the #MeToo era, “Support the Girls” features the owner of a sports bar named Lisa as she protects her female employees from inappropriate interactions with males and other conflicts. Although Lisa's efforts are not always successful or reciprocated, the film is notable for the sincerity of its complex relationships among the female characters, who sometimes do put men and profit above one another, but ultimately end up together. The film has been commended for showing just how important female connection is, especially in environments where women are often pitted against each other.

13 / 50

2 Friends (1986)

- Director: Jane Campion
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 76 min

“2 Friends” illuminates how even the closest of female friendships can unravel, through no fault of either party. The film follows two teenage girls, Louise and Kelly, who are admitted to the same prestigious high school, but only one of whom is allowed to attend. The film travels backward in time to illuminate just how close they once were. “By flipping convention on its head... [the director] urges the viewer to be alert to what went wrong between the girls,” one IMDb reviewer noted.

14 / 50
Castle Rock Entertainment

The Last Days of Disco (1998)

- Director: Whit Stillman
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 113 min

In Whit Stillman's film, “The Last Days of Disco,” Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale) and Alice (Chloë Sevigny) have a complicated friendship in which Charlotte is subtly, but continually putting Alice down. The film offers an important depiction of a female friendship turned toxic, and shows that—as critics have pointed out—the only self-respecting approach to the friendship is to leave it.

15 / 50
B Story

Thoroughbreds (2017)

- Director: Cory Finley
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 92 min

There are toxic female friendships, and then there are those that are simply bad news. Cory Finley's “Thoroughbreds” is a case study in the latter, with seductive troubled teenager Amanda convincing her “friend” Lily that it's a good idea to murder Lily's stepfather. The premise rang true with many women who saw the film, inducing them to remember problematic female friendships in their own pasts, albeit with less gruesome endings.

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16 / 50
IPC Films

9 to 5 (1980)

- Director: Colin Higgins
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Metascore: 58
- Runtime: 109 min

As its title suggests, “9 to 5” focuses on the power and importance of female friendships at work. The film has been called “the standard by which all workplace friendships on and offscreen are measured,” and was radical for its time for its depiction of how the women must move from seeing each other through the sexist lens of their male colleagues before they can unite and ascend.

17 / 50
New Line Cinema

Now and Then (1995)

- Director: Lesli Linka Glatter
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 100 min

A beloved 1990s classic, “Now and Then” brings a tight-knit girl gang to the treehouse they played in as young girls, transporting them back to a time when things were different in each of their lives. Their proximity to each other and the treehouse enables them all to see things about their lives they could not see apart and away—a premise that resonated strongly with viewers. The film is often ranked among the top movies of the 1990s.

18 / 50
Paramount Pictures

Clueless (1995)

- Director: Amy Heckerling
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 97 min

The eminently quotable “Clueless” features Beverly Hills rich girl Cher befriending the new girl at her high school as a “project.” Cher aims to transform Tai into a version of herself, but learns along the way that not everyone wants to be Cher Horowitz. The movie upended the traditional narrative about the desirability of transforming an ugly duckling into a swan and has remained entrenched in the minds and hearts of audiences ever since.

19 / 50

Walking and Talking (1996)

- Director: Nicole Holofcener
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 86 min

The plot of “Walking and Talking” is deceptively simple: A rift develops between two lifelong friends once one of them announces she is getting married. The complex depiction of two women attempting to navigate the changing currents of their lives while still attempting to hold on to each other resonated with critics, and the film opened to almost entirely positive reviews.

20 / 50
Universal Pictures

Bridesmaids (2011)

- Director: Paul Feig
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 125 min

The madcap comedy “Bridesmaids” focuses on a woman who goes through a series of hilarious trials and misfortunes after being asked to be the maid of honor for her best friend. The two women, and a crew of bridesmaids, fill the film with the full spectrum of human emotion, highlighting the multilayered, oft-harrowing, and ultimately enriching nature of female friendship. The film was also written by two women (Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo)—who costar in the flick.

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21 / 50
All Girl Productions

Beaches (1988)

- Director: Garry Marshall
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Metascore: 46
- Runtime: 123 min

Following the long friendship of two women who first meet as young girls on vacation, “Beaches” is a tearjerker for many. The two connect instantly, despite their wildly different interests and aspirations, and are there for each other no matter what as they struggle to navigate the occasionally choppy waters of their lives. More than 30 years after its premiere, critics still call it a feminist “masterpiece.”

22 / 50
New Line Cinema

Set It Off (1996)

- Director: F. Gary Gray
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 123 min

“Set It Off” follows the lives of four black women in Los Angeles, all struggling in various aspects of their lives. To better their situations, they decide to rob banks together. One of the first films to showcase black female friendships, the film was a box office hit, and has become a beloved classic.

23 / 50
Hold Up Films

Girlhood (2014)

- Director: Céline Sciamma
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 113 min

“Girlhood” follows the adolescence of a teenage girl named Marieme growing up in the projects of Paris, France. While society expects nothing of Marieme, and cares little for her, Marieme finds a close-knit group of female friends who come from similar backgrounds, and who offer her the understanding broader society denies her—the very understanding the critically lauded film is asking its audiences to find.

24 / 50

Girlfriends (1978)

- Director: Claudia Weill
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 86 min

“Girlfriends” tells the story of a down-on-her-luck photographer whose fortunes slip even further when her roommate and friend announces she is moving out to get married. The movie was made at the end of the 1970s and captures an important moment when the professional ambitions and romantic lives were seen to be far more inherently at odds than they are now. The film's reputation has only grown with time and has been compared favorably by critics to the work of Woody Allen.

25 / 50
Fireworks Pictures

Me Without You (2001)

- Director: Sandra Goldbacher
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 107 min

“Me Without You” begins like a traditional female friendship narrative about two friends sticking by each other through thick and thin. But as the film progresses, wild and troubled Marina is doing more than leaning on Holly—she is instead using her, to the point where Holly feels trapped and in need of an out. The surprising ways jealousy can undercut and underpin female friendship has elevated “Me Without You” into the feminist canon, suggests film critic Alyx Vesey.

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26 / 50
Paramount Pictures

Mean Girls (2004)

- Director: Mark Waters
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Metascore: 66
- Runtime: 97 min

Cult classic “Mean Girls” (screenplay by Tina Fey) follows the life of Cady as she transfers to a new high school and attempts to fit into a group of popular girls, The Plastics. Not only is Cady successful, she soon becomes too successful for her own good—losing her character and principles, along with her true friends. The film was a smash box office hit and even inspired a musical. The cult classic also left fans with numerous quotable lines to insert into everyday conversations, such as "That is so fetch," "Get in loser. We're going shopping," "On Wednesdays we wear pink," and "She doesn't even go here!" to name a few.

27 / 50
Ciné Tamaris

One Sings, the Other Doesn't (1977)

- Director: Agnès Varda
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 120 min

The 1970s French film, “One Sings, the Other Doesn't,” follows the lives of two young women as they grow up during the women's liberation movement in mid-20th-century France. The film is significant for overlaying themes of women's liberation and politics into a film about female friendship, showing how even positive changes can negatively affect the lives of individuals and specific friendships.

28 / 50
Duplass Brothers Productions

Tangerine (2015)

- Director: Sean Baker
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 88 min

“Tangerine” was shot entirely on an iPhone 5s and follows the lives of two transgender black women in Los Angeles as they try to understand a rumor rocking one of their lives. The film was critically lauded at the Sundance Film Festival and beyond, and was groundbreaking in showing the lives of trans women in a way that resonated with broader pop culture themes, allowing a wider audience to identify with the characters.

29 / 50
Twentieth Century Fox

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

- Director: Howard Hawks
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 91 min

The iconic 1950s Marilyn Monroe film “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” features her (Lorelei Lee) and Jane Russell's Dorothy as showgirls and best friends. Lorelei is convinced she must marry a wealthy man to succeed economically, but her penchant for flirting puts her plan at risk while the women are overseas, and Dorothy must come to her rescue. The film is one of the 20th century's most notable, and winks at the audience each time either woman stresses the importance of men, since what is clearly most important for these women—even in the gender-traditional 1950s—is each other.

30 / 50
Columbia Pictures

A League of Their Own (1992)

- Director: Penny Marshall
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 128 min

Set in World War II-era America, “A League of Their Own” is the story of a U.S. women's baseball league that forms while the men who would be playing baseball are fighting in the war. A film for all ages, “A League of Their Own” acted as a primer for feminism for many millennial women. “The idea of women unapologetically doing things they weren't supposed to do was revelatory,” one critic wrote. The friendships seemed primed for today's activist movement, as the women in the film faced obstacles from society regarding equality, and used the power of each other's company and support to persevere.

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31 / 50
Channel Four Films

Career Girls (1997)

- Director: Mike Leigh
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 83 min

The tale of two insecure adolescent girls who reunite after several years apart to catch each other up on their improvements in fortune—or not—"Career Girls” was most lauded for its sharp and nuanced character work. “[Actress Katrin Cartlidge]...gives the sense of being a woman who wished she could live as a free spirit (not easy in practice),” director Mike Leigh said. “She was a brilliant mix of independence, eccentricity, and vulnerability.” Cartlidge died in 2002 at age 41.

32 / 50
Twentieth Century Fox

Julia (1977)

- Director: Fred Zinnemann
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: 58
- Runtime: 117 min

Based on a chapter of a memoir by Lillian Hellman, “Julia” is the story of a female friendship begun in adolescence, in which one young woman becomes the role model for the other to mature into independence, risk-taking, and self-sufficiency. This takes on heroic importance during the second half of the film, set during the rise of Nazi Germany. Unlike many films set in the early 20th century, the women in the film rise and fall with the help of one another, unencumbered and unaided by men.

33 / 50
TriStar Pictures

Steel Magnolias (1989)

- Director: Herbert Ross
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: 56
- Runtime: 117 min

“Steel Magnolias” is a beloved film that takes place in a small town in Louisiana, in which several women form unbreakable bonds through the patronage of the same beauty parlor. Audiences loved the film for its portrayal of female friendship based not only on sweetness, kindness, and support but also on razor-sharp wit, honesty, and the willingness to say what no one else will out of care and loyalty.

34 / 50
Filmové studio Barrandov

Daisies (1966)

- Director: Věra Chytilová
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 74 min

When “Daisies” came out in the Czech Republic in the 1960s, the film was banned, which adds a further tinge of subversion to its already-edgy premise. Two friends, both named Marie, like to dress up and have dinner with wealthy older men. They have all the appetites of men and are not ashamed. Audiences today can appreciate the trailblazing nature of two women bonded in their appetite for life, and unwilling to hide it.

35 / 50
Pathé Entertainment

Thelma & Louise (1991)

- Director: Ridley Scott
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 130 min

“Thelma and Louise” is ostensibly a movie about a road trip gone wrong between two best friends. But on a deeper level, the movie is actually about the film's most famous quote—what it means to be a “ride or die.” Audiences loved the titular duo's humor, and feminists at the time of the film's opening praised the premise of the film as smashing the patriarchal insistence that the plot of women's lives ultimately revolves around a romantic pairing with a man, instead of a friendship with a woman.

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36 / 50
WingNut Films

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

- Director: Peter Jackson
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 99 min

“Heavenly Creatures” lasers in on the unsettling question of what to do when your best friend brings out the absolute worst in you. When Pauline and Juliet become friends as teenagers at a conservative boarding school in New Zealand, they find in each other a necessary portal to escape into a fantasy world of rituals, shrines, and prayers. But things take a dark turn midway through, and the full intensity of female friendship is held up for questioning. The film was celebrated upon its release for its dazzling portrayal of the intoxicating effects of close female friendship, and all its accompanying dangers.

37 / 50
Columbia Pictures

Girl, Interrupted (1999)

- Director: James Mangold
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 51
- Runtime: 127 min

“Girl, Interrupted” took the unconventional setting of a psychiatric ward and wove a rich tapestry of female friendship among its patients. The film was groundbreaking in giving each of the women deeply complicated psychology and a dark side that thwarts their ability or desire to be what would be classically considered a “good friend.” Yet as the film progresses, the women's bonds deepen not despite, but because of, their impairments.

38 / 50
United Artists

Ghost World (2001)

- Director: Terry Zwigoff
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 111 min

While many films about teenage girls focus on their dating lives, “Ghost World” focuses on the relationship between the girls themselves. Cutting against expectations and the genre of high school films featuring teenage girls, both of the main characters are unpopular in school, and lack interest in ascending the social hierarchy. The film was trailblazing in allowing the teenage girls it focused on having multifaceted inner lives, which intersected with one another.

39 / 50
Pine District Pictures

Frances Ha (2012)

- Director: Noah Baumbach
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 86 min

A coming-of-age tale of two friends—Sophie and Frances—who believe they will forever be friends before the trials and tribulations of growing older threaten their bond, “Frances Ha” dives headfirst into how money can destroy even the closest of relationships. Set in present-day New York, the film is beloved for its razor-sharp portrayal of how the vicissitudes of making it in a city like New York can complicate and rend even the purest and most elemental of female friendships.

40 / 50
IAC Films

Lady Bird (2017)

- Director: Greta Gerwig
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 94 min

Best friends Lady Bird and Julie are so tight-knit in high school it seems like their inseparable bond will be there for life. But when Lady Bird's attention is caught by a bad boy and she dreams of a life beyond her hometown of Sacramento, she and Julie begin to drift. The film depicts teenage female friendships as full of heart-rending betrayal, ambition, and complexity but ultimately durable and transcendent. The film was a hit with audiences and critics, scooping up nominations in multiple categories at the Academy Awards.

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41 / 50
Pelemele Film

Bagdad Cafe (1987)

- Director: Percy Adlon
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: 71
- Runtime: 95 min

Set at a remote truck stop motel and cafe in California's Mojave desert, this unlikely setting for “Bagdad Cafe” is the backdrop for an equally unlikely blossoming friendship between two women. Jasmine, a German tourist, has just fought with her husband, and tough American Brenda is also on the outs with her husband. The film was turned into a television sitcom to keep the steady stream of characters coming in and out of the duo's lives at the motel.

42 / 50
Nordisk Tonefilm

Brink of Life (1958)

- Director: Ingmar Bergman
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 84 min

One of the darker tales of female friendship ever captured on celluloid, “Brink of Life” tells the story of three pregnant Swedish women admitted to the hospital because of complicated pregnancies. When one suffers a miscarriage, envy takes the form of cruelty, and the true depth of female pain is revealed. The Italian government censored a labor scene in the film when the film was released, as it was deemed too shocking and painful for wide audiences to view.

43 / 50
Hollywood Pictures

The Joy Luck Club (1993)

- Director: Wayne Wang
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Metascore: 84
- Runtime: 139 min

In the film adaptation of Amy Tan's best-selling novel “The Joy Luck Club,” four immigrant women meet every week to play mahjong, trade stories about their lives, reminisce about the past, and consider what values to pass along to their daughters. The film is notable for portraying these close and deep friendships as still highly competitive, and allowing the women to criticize one another as expressions of love and their own interior complexity, without diminishing their love for each other. The film has been studied seriously by feminist scholars for how the women help each other through their friendship and cast aside the roles prescribed for them by men.

44 / 50
Action Films

Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)

- Director: Jacques Rivette
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 193 min

The paranormal both bonds and stalks the odd couple of Celine and Julie in the French New Wave classic “Celine and Julie Go Boating.” The titular characters meet and connect in a strange series of events and activities, which only draws them closer together. This female friendship is significant because it pushes back on the stereotype that women only enjoy and connect in female-centric activities and shows just how untouchable and unusual a female friendship can be. The film is widely considered one of the most important works in French New Wave cinema.

45 / 50
Universal Pictures

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

- Director: Jon Avnet
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 130 min

“Fried Green Tomatoes” is told in two eras and through the lenses of two sets of female friends. The first pair lives through the Great Depression together, while the second navigates the trials of their lives in the 1980s. The murder of an abusive husband links the narratives together. The storyline highlights the lengths women will go to to protect one another, and the line that connects female friendships through generations and circumstance. The film was a commercial and critical hit, nominated in multiple categories for all the major awards.

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46 / 50
Amblin Entertainment

The Color Purple (1985)

- Director: Steven Spielberg
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 154 min

Based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, “The Color Purple” is told in a series of letters written by different black women in the early 20th century. Through the letters, it becomes evident that though the women's lives are brutal, the women around them lift them up and sacrifice personally to help them escape racial and patriarchal oppression and violence. The film has been studied by feminist scholars as a textbook example of how women can help other women reclaim their identities as full human beings in a world that would have them believe otherwise.

47 / 50
El Deseo

All About My Mother (1999)

- Director: Pedro Almodóvar
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 101 min

A complicated narrative of the lives of four Spanish women intersecting with their grief and life in Barcelona, “All About My Mother” is significant in showing how trauma cuts across demographic boundaries, and can unite an unlikely cadre of women. But far from wallowing in their sadness, the women use the wreckage of their lives as fuel to love and care for one another. The film was a critical and commercial success, winning several awards, including an Oscar.

48 / 50
Mobra Films

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)

- Director: Cristian Mungiu
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 97
- Runtime: 113 min

Set in the last years of communist Romania, “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” depicts two female university students struggling to procure an illegal abortion for one of them. The feminist film not only lays bare the devastation and risk the girls face as they try to get the abortion, but the lengths they will go through to be there for each other in the face of the most repressive of political environments. The film was critically lauded, with one critic calling it a “masterpiece of intimate desperation” exemplifying the “wretchedness and rage... that bred the uprising that changed Romania and the world.”

49 / 50
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

The Women (1939)

- Director: George Cukor
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 133 min

Based on Clare Boothe Luce's play of the same name, “The Women” centers on the lives of bored, rich housewives whose relationships with men are in various states of dissolution. What is remarkable about both the play and the film is that the entire large cast contains not one man; although men are often spoken about, they are never actually present. This canny choice upends the notion of men speaking about and for women without their consent and allows the relationships the women develop with each other to come to the fore.

50 / 50
Les Films Alain Sarde

Mulholland Drive (2001)

- Director: David Lynch
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 147 min

The noir classic “Mulholland Drive” tells the story of an aspiring actress newly arrived in Hollywood who befriends an amnesiac woman recovering from a devastating car accident. The friendship turns romantic, and then goes sharply south, as the women struggle to define themselves independently of the relationship. The film won a spate of international awards, as well as an Academy Award for best director for David Lynch, and leads numerous lists for the title of best film of the 21st century so far.

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