Gizmodo Movie Night: Movies With Powerful Female Characters, a List Inspired by Grace Tame

Gizmodo Movie Night: Movies With Powerful Female Characters, a List Inspired by Grace Tame
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For those of us who had the honour of having Grace Tame as our Australian of the Year for 2021, we know how powerful she is. This past year she has proven she is nothing short of a badass who will not stop fighting for what she believes in. In honour of that, this week’s movie night is dedicated to powerful female characters in movies.

The women in these films embody strength, wisdom, power and rebel against every label and expectation that’s been imposed on them.

In short, these women are iconic badasses and they, like Grace Tame, will not be told who to be or what to do.

Obviously, there are many, many, many powerful female characters in cinema so this is by no means an exhaustive list. In my opinion, almost every lead female character is powerful in their own way. But for movie night’s sake, we’ve made a shortlist for you.

Without further ado, here is this week’s Gizmodo Movie Night, in honour of the incredible year of Grace Tame.

Black Panther (2018) – Shuri and Okoye

Black Panther is a revolutionary film and one that is filled with powerful actors and characters but two stand out the most.

Okoye (Danai Gurira) is the fearless and iconic commander of the all-female special forces team in Wakanda called the Dora Milaje. These strong and powerful women are the most elite group of fighters in all of Wakanda.

As the commander, Okoye is the most courageous of them all. She’s also not someone you’d want to mess with.

Shuri (Letitia Wright), is second in line to the throne of Wakanda. At only 16 years of age, she’s already the head of the nation’s science and technology development program.

Shuri proves that the only role a sister plays isn’t just to stand quietly in the shadows of her brother just because he is a king.

In my opinion, Shuri is the most powerful character in Wakanda. Without her technological capabilities and inventions, Wakanda would not be the most advanced civilisation in the world.

Black Panther (2018) is currently streaming on Disney+.

The Hunger Games (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) – Katniss Everdeen

Besides it being one of my favourite film franchises of all time, The Hunger Games gave rise to the powerful female heroin whilst also proving that young adult action films with a female lead can be successful.

In every film we see Katniss navigate her turbulent life with determination and strength. All while a male president tries to dictate what she can and can’t do with the consequence of her disobedience being the death of her and her family.

A male leader trying to blame a young woman for causing problems because she called out what was wrong with things? Seems somewhat familiar.

Katniss showed young girls and women that despite how much people underestimate them, they are strong enough to fight any battle.

The best part about Katniss is that she is not shown to be this sub-human character. In fact, she is awfully realistic which makes her even more powerful.

In my opinion, Grace Tame is Australia’s very own Katniss Everdeen.

A Fantastic Woman (2017) – Marina

A Fantastic Woman shows the diversity in womanhood and explores the realities of trans womxn.

Marina (Daniela Vega), a waitress, endures a constant barrage of cruelty and transphobia from people around her.

After the one man who loves her for all that she is dies unexpectedly, we are launched into Marina’s journey through emotional turmoil.

This movie illustrates the inner strength of trans women to fight to survive when all odds are stacked against them. The power in Daniela Vega’s acting is moving and incredibly heartfelt.

The film won the Oscar in 2018 for the Best International Film.

A Fantastic Woman is currently streaming on SBS on Demand.

Alien (1979) – Ellen Ripley

It’s hard to go past the character of Ripley from Alien when talking about badass and empowering women.

What’s best about Alien is that the space crew have been given their roles based on nothing else besides their capabilities and talent. Ellen Ripley does more than enough to demonstrate her competence.

In my opinion, Ripley is one of the toughest characters in cinema history. She’s also incredibly smart and knows how to take down an alien.

As a character, Ripley breaks down the barriers of what women were expected to look like and behave, especially in reductive heroine tropes.

Alien is currently streaming on Disney+.

Suffragette (2015)

You really can’t have a list of strong and powerful female characters in films without having Suffragette on the list.

Based on the true stories of the women who fought bravely for their rights to vote, Suffragette is an emotionally powerful historical drama.

In order to stand up for what they believe is right, these women were willing to lose it all and we have lots to thank them for that.

This film will anger you but it’s incredibly important to watch these women enter spaces that weren’t designed for them and make it theirs.

Suffragette is currently streaming on Stan.

Hidden Figures (2016)

This movie is incredibly powerful and one that works to rewrite the narrative and give credit where it’s deserved.

The film follows three female African-American mathematicians who played a crucial role in developing NASA’s early space program and helping astronaut John Glenn launch into orbit.

The incredible leads are played by three powerful actresses themselves. Taraji P. Henson as Katherine G. Johnson, Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson.

Besides the fact that the sheer brilliance of these women is on display to see, what’s poignant about this film is how the women have to deal with racial and gender discrimination at work (and in life) and yet they never let it deter them.

Hidden Figures is currently streaming on Disney+.

The Matrix (1999) – Trinity

To put in simply, Trinity is an icon.

She is the best part of The Matrix and I wish we would normalise her style. I wanna go shopping in a latex bodysuit.

Trinity lives with a band of rebels in Zion after being freed from the Matrix by Morpheus. She is dedicated and loyal to Neo who she helps to try and save the world.

There is nothing more powerful than the leather-clad, master of Kung Fu, skilled shooter that is Trinity.

I really don’t have much more to say than that, you can’t really top that.

The Matrix is currently streaming on Netflix.

Erin Brockovich (2000)

In the film that gave Julia Roberts an Oscar for best actress, Erin Brockovich is the movie to watch.

Based on the true story of the titular character who, because she is an outspoken, single mother, is repeatedly underestimated by everyone around her.

Erin is an intelligent (although people try to tell her that she’s not) and incredibly tough woman who fights against corrupt lawyers and policymakers who are contaminating the water supply to the local community.

She is the definition of powerful female character energy.

Like Grace Tame, Erin does not back down, ever. She fights for what she believes in and she does it unapologetically her way.

Erin Brockovich is currently streaming on Binge.

Any film with Charlize Theron deserves to be on this list. She is the definition of badass woman energy in every role that she plays.

From Long Shot, Monster, Mad Max, Atomic Blonde, Snow White and the Huntsman, Bombshell the list really goes on.

I think this is mostly because Charlize herself is a powerful and inspiring woman with an equally inspiring life. With that, Charlize brings that energy into the roles that she plays that are always diverse and portrayed incredibly well.

I would love to see Charlize Theron play Grace Tame if there were ever a biopic about her.


Gizmodo Movie Night is our fortnightly roundup of movie and TV recommendations for the weekend. If you’re ever stuck and looking for inspiration, check out our list and see what’s in store. 

Stay tuned for the next edition of the column and check out our last one: New Year, New (Self Love For) You.