2015 was a good year for movies. In particular, it was a great year for women in film. Many of last year’s films featured women in lead roles, in different genres, telling compelling yet diverse stories that redefined what it means to be a woman, as well as addressing feminist issues past and present.
We had Mad Max Fury Road, with Charlize Theron leading her group of rebels in a post-apocalyptic world. Then there was Kristen Stewart, Chloe Moretz, and Juliette Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria, an intellectual French drama that tackled the double standards women have to face in the movie industry. There was also the romantic, historical piece, Brooklyn, about a young Irish immigrant falling in love with an Italian man and having to decide between New York and her homeland. If you saw either of these films, watched a trailer, or simply read a review, there was a palpable sense that these films were based on fully developed characters with stories that women young and old, gay or straight, could relate to on some level and, perhaps, even learn from them.
It definitely looks like Hollywood will be continuing this awesome trend in 2016. Of course more still needs to be done regarding actresses and equal pay. But we can at least appreciate that 2016 will feature many films written and directed by women and led by talented actresses who are up to the task of bringing both iconic and new characters to life. Fictional and nonfictional, these are just some female characters we can't wait to see on the big screen this year.
15 Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Last year, Felicity Jones was announced to star as the female lead in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Not much is known about the film, except it’s supposedly a prequel to Star Wars: A New Hope and that Jones’ unnamed character is the leader of a group of rebels who are out to steal the plans of the Death Star. That being said, the new space opera is still generating a lot of excitement due to the monumental success of Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens which features another female lead, Rey, played by Daisy Ridley. Hopefully, this film will be just as impressive.
14 Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Now we can’t say yet whether DC’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is going to be mega hit or a major disaster. We are hoping it’s the former. But we can say that Gal Gadot’s battle pose as Wonder Woman was one of the best highlights of the movie trailer. Diana," Princess of the Amazon" aka Wonder Woman is just one of many iconic female comic book characters fans have been waiting to see. We won’t have to wait too long since the film is set to be released in March of this year. Whether Gal Gadot can deliver is another thing but she certainly looks the part! Let’s hope that Gadot and her bro counterparts Batman (played by Ben Affleck) and Henry Cavill's Superman don’t disappoint us.
13 Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) - Suicide Squad
Amanda Waller is one of DC Comics’ most dangerous villains who uses her intelligence and fierce intimidation to get what she wants. Fans of the comics and of the character herself are looking forward to seeing Amanda Waller in the DC universe’s Suicide Squad, played by the Oscar nominee Viola Davis. In the film, Waller is the one calling the Squad’s every move but we’re sure her role is more complicated than that. Viola Davis reportedly read Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E Thomas in order to prepare for the role. Davis is just as fascinated by her character as we are, stating that she is a "powerful black woman, hard, ready to pick up a gun and shoot anyone at will."
12 Kim Barker (Tina Fey) - Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Of course, whenever Tiny Fey is working on something, you have to pay attention to see what crazy antics this SNL alum comes up with next. This time she brings us a unique wartime satirical comedy, based upon international journalist Kim Barker’s memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Fey plays Barker, a cable news reporter, who, while working as a correspondent in Pakistan and Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, develops a relationship with a Scottish journalist (played by Martin Freeman). Margot Robbie, Alfred Molina, and Billy Bob Thornton are also among the cast. The film is to be released March 4, 2016.
11 Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) - Girl On The Train
2014’s mystery/thriller Gone Girl, based on Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name, rocked many people’s heads. This year’s Girl On The Train has been called “the next Gone Girl”. We’ll have to wait to see if that comparison is true, but it does seem to have similar traits, one of them being a dark female character who's the focal point of the story. Rachel, played by Emily Blunt, is an alcoholic and recent divorcee who gets caught up in a world of mystery and murder. Lisa Kudrow, Allison Janney, and Justin Theroux also star in this thriller set for an October 7 release.
10 The Female Characters of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies
The renowned English classic written by Jane Austen gets the post-apocalyptic upgrade in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. Based on the adaptation of Austen's timeless novel by Seth Grahame-Smith (she’s even credited as co-writer), the story follows the characters Elizabeth Bennett and Catherine De Bourgh (played by Lily James and Lena Headey respectively) who turn from classy Victorian aristocrats to classy Victorian bad-asses. James shows off her martial arts skills, while Headey is fierce with a sword. Her outfit even comes complete with an eye-patch! Looks like these women are no joke! Men and women who like the book and zombies are sure to love this movie.
9 Maggie (Greta Gervig) - Maggie’s Plan
In the upcoming Rom Com titled Maggie’s Plan, Greta Gerwig gives another charming and charismatic performance as Maggie, a woman who is dead set on becoming a mother. That plan seems to be going in the right direction when she meets and falls in love with a writer/ fellow co-worker, John, played by Ethan Hawke. Unfortunately, he is married to Georgette, played by Julianne Moore, who is a pretentious book snob. The film also stars Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph. It premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival and is set to be released in theaters this May.
8 Antonina Zabinska (Jessica Chastain) - The Zookeeper’s Wife
Antonina Zabinska is played by Jessica Chastain in the film The Zookeeper’s wife. Set in World War II, she and her husband, played by Daniel Bruhl, saved over 300 Jews’ lives by allowing them to use their zoo as shelter as they escaped from the ghetto in Warsaw, Poland. Directed by Niki Caro, the film is based upon author Diane Ackermann’s non-fiction novel of the same name, which in turn is based upon Zabinska's lost diaries. Chastain is a beautiful actress who has already made a name for herself in other historical films like Zero Dark Thirty. This sounds like a poignant film that we hope will be greeted with praise.
7 Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) - Bridget Jones' Baby
The moment Bridget Jones’ Diary came out in 2001, the lovable character was an instant favorite among fans of the book series and single women alike. Renee Zellweger returns as everyone’s favorite British singleton in Bridget Jones’s Baby. She is pregnant but she has no idea who the father is. No word as to whether the baby belongs to her main squeeze, Mr. Darcy, reprised by Colin Firth, or to a new character named Jack Qwant played by Patrick Dempsey. It’s been over 10 years since Zellweger gave us her quirky, lovable performance as Jones so it will be great to see how much the character has changed. The movie is set to be released this September.
6 Harriet Mutesi (Lupita Nyong'o) - Queen of Katwe
Oscar winning actress of 12 Years a Slave and The Force Awakens' Lupita Nyong'o is set to play Harriet Mutesi, the mother of a Ugandan chess-playing child prodigy, Phiona Mutesi, in the upcoming biopic Queen of Katwe. The film follows Mutesi’s life as she becomes the Woman Candidate Master after she gives an unprecedented performance at the World Chess Olympics. The film is being developed by Disney. This should be an uplifting, inspiring story highlighting these women’s achievements from a country we don’t always hear about in film. And if Lupita Nyong'o is in it, you know you are getting a knockout performance.
5 Alice (Mia Wasikowska) - Alice Through The Looking Glass
Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland was the film that launched Mia Wasikowska's career. She has played some resilient female leads since; just last year she starred opposite Tom Hiddleston in Guillermo Del Toro’s gothic film Crimson Peak. She returns to reprise her role as Alice in Alice Through The Looking Glass. Last time she beheaded the Jabberwocky and now she has to confront Time, a human-clock hybrid played by Sasha Baron Cohen. Alice must fight Time, rescue the Mad Hatter and save Wonderland once again. Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, and the late Alan Rickman also reprise their original roles. The movie is slated for a May 27th release.
4 The Women Of The Huntsman: Winter’s War
Kristen Stewart will not be starring in The Huntsman: Winter’s War, the prequel/sequel to 2012’s Snow White and The Huntsman. But there are three other beautiful women who will fill in the indie darling’s shoes. Charlize Theron returns as Ravenna. After her resurrection, Ravenna joins forces with her sister Freya, the Ice Queen, played by Emily Blunt, to bring 10 times more darkness over the land. Jessica Chastain plays Sara, the brunette beauty also known as the “The Warrior” and is the lover of Eric, portrayed by Chris Hemsworth. The sisters build their strongest army yet, but can it withstand the two lovers who will do anything in their power to reunite?
3 Jane (Natalie Portman) - Jane Got A Gun
Jane Got a Gun is a Western drama directed by Gavin O’Connor starring the lovely Natalie Portman as the titular character. Jane Hammond has no choice but to turn to her ex-lover Dan Frost to help protect her husband Bill “Ham” Hammond and her family from a vicious gang of bandits called the Bishop Boy’s Gang. It’s not very common to see a strong female lead in Western movies but in the last several years that has seemed to change with films like True Grit (where Hailee Steinfeld stole the show) and the more recent violent tale The Hateful Eight with Jennifer Jason Leigh.
2 The Female Ghostbusters - Ghostbusters
When word got out that there was going to be a reboot of the classic 80s comedy with an all-female Ghostbusters team, there was mixed reaction. It's understandable why people don’t want a remake of a film that is considered perfect by many, but it’s great to see a fresh take on the original source material.
And it’s off to a great start! Its cast is made up of SNL alumni (just like its predecessor) and members Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, and Kate McKinnon are ready for action . Each of these women is talented and funny in her own right. While we don’t know how the finished product will be received, we can look forward to seeing these hilarious women on the screen busting some ghosts.
1 Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) - Suicide Squad
While Suicide Squad is one of the most anticipated superhero films this year, Harley Quinn is undoubtedly the most anticipated character. Mischievous, Sexy, witty, and The Joker’s better half, Harley Quinn has become a comic book fan favorite since her DC debut. She’s even one of the most cosplayed character among women and young girls. With the exception of animated tv shows & movies, DC’s most beloved female villain has never been portrayed in a live action movie before so we are all looking forward to seeing how Margot Robbie plays her. Judging by recently released trailers, it’s looking good! Up until now, the 25-year-old Australian actress has played the typical female film archetypes but this role, if done successfully, will be Robbie’s breakthrough role. Out of all of these characters, she takes the number one spot on our list!