12 Movies On Netflix With Strong Female Leads

by Leah Campbell
Originally Published: 
Main female roles from the Netflix movies
Julia Meslener for Scary Mommy, Netflix and A24

As a single mom by choice, raising a little girl in a world where it is still dangerous to be a woman, I am all about exposing my daughter to as many examples of strength in womanhood as I can. That includes the movies we watch together, and the ones I gain inspiration from after she’s gone to bed.

If you’re looking for a reminder of just how amazing women truly are, check out these movies with strong female leads currently streaming on Netflix:

The Incredible Jessica James (2017)

Starring Jessica Williams as a twenty-something aspiring playwright in Brooklyn, this is a movie that rides on its leading lady’s shoulders, showing its viewers what a strong, confident woman looks like. And sure, it may be a romantic comedy, with all the fluff and romance that entails. But none of that distracts from just how incredible Jessica James truly is as she fights the patriarchy and carves out space for her own happiness at the same time.

Lady Bird (2017)

Saoirse Ronan has been working in Hollywood for nearly 20 years, but “Lady Bird” is arguably the film that made her a recognizable name. In Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, Ronan plays a teenage girl chafing against the constraints of childhood in her senior year of high school. She fights with her mom (who holds her own in the strong women category), laments the lack of culture in her home town, and dreams of the day she’ll be free of it all.

3 Generations (2015)

As if a film starring the likes of Elle Fanning, Naomi Watts, and Susan Sarandon could be anything but a movie about strong women, the title of this one says it all. Fanning plays Ray, a transgender teen fighting for the right to transition as he sees fit, working harder than he should have to in order to convince his single mom, and his grandma, that he knows what he needs. It’s a movie about family relationships, personal identity, and acceptance as his Mom and Grandma learn to support him while battling their own demons in the process.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

Juliet is an author (played by Lily James) in 1946, searching for answers and bristling against the confines of her current relationship. As she works to solve a mystery, she befriends a cast of characters who help her remember her own worth. And in the end, she’s a better writer (and a happier woman) for it.

Mudbound (2017)

There’s no shortage of strong women to admire in this film about two Mississippi families set in the time of WWII. It’s a movie about the slow pace change moves at, about the realities of prejudice, and about women fighting to keep their families together and alive in a time when neither goal was guaranteed.

Enola Holmes (2020)

Millie Bobby Brown is impossible to look away from in this film about Sherlock Holmes’ young sister. When her mother goes missing, she realizes it’s time to do some sleuthing of her own in order to find her. More than once, Enola manages to outsmart and escape the adults trying to force her into a life she doesn’t want. It quickly becomes clear she isn’t the only Holmes capable of solving mysteries.

Lost Girls (2020)

Never underestimate the lengths a mother will go to when it comes to bringing her child home safe. Based on a true story, Amy Ryan plays Mari Gilbert, a mother searching for her missing daughter. What she uncovers along the way is a long list of murdered sex worker cases the police have yet to solve.

Nappily Ever After (2018)

Sanaa Lathan stars in this film about feminine beauty ideals, and Black beauty in particular, as Violet, a main character grappling with her relationship with her hair—and everything else. As her seemingly perfect relationship and career fall apart around her, she begins to embrace the freedom of imperfection, discovering her own ideal of beauty along the way.

Seeing Allred (2018)

Following the life and accomplishments of one of the most notable feminists of our time, Seeing Allred delves into the public and personal sides of Gloria Allred’s life as she works to ensure the protection of women’s rights.

Dumplin’ (2018)

Teenage Willowdean has been raised to believe her mother’s standard of beauty is the gold bar she should be aspiring toward—a bar she is constantly reminded she is nowhere near reaching. As a plus sized girl with curly hair and a whole lot of sass, she decides to enter her mother’s prized beauty contest to prove what real beauty looks like.

Dude (2018)

A movie about the power and importance of female friendships, “Dude” stars Lucy Hale, Kathryn Prescott, Alexandra Shipp, and Awkwafina as four high school seniors dealing with tragedy. Along the way to finding themselves, they face unrelenting pressures on a bond they thought would never be broken.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

There is no denying the goodness and light the three “To All the Boys” movies will bring into your life. It’s impossible to watch these films and not smile. But it’s also impossible to miss the strength Lara Jean Covey (played by Lana Condor) displays as she navigates family, friendships, first love, and her future over the course of these movies. She knows who she is, and even though she stumbles a little along the way, she isn’t afraid of going after what she wants—all while being true to herself along the way.

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