PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — "The most dangerous creature on this whole Earth is a woman who knows how to think. Ain't nothing she can't do."
So says Screen Actors Guild Award-winner Will Smith as Richard Williams, father of tennis stars Venus and Serena, and titular character of the current film "King Richard." This being Women's History Month, it may be worth pointing out that the ones who drive the action of the flick are the Williams sisters themselves, despite its title being oh so masculine.
So it seems, maybe, we do need to make the special month-long effort to remember women's history.
In honor of all the "dangerous" women of film and television, we've gathered a list of some impressive titles that showcase the undeniable power of the feminine.
When celebrating women in Hollywood, a great starting off point is Chloé Zhao’s 2020 film, “Nomadland.”
Not only did it win Best Picture that year, but Zhao became the first woman of color to ever win Best Director, and Frances McDormand — the tour de force behind the protagonist, Fern — picked up yet another Best Actress win for her performance.
The film, in a lot of ways, is the exact opposite of what Hollywood typically props up when it comes to depicting the life of women. Fern is in her 60s and a self-proclaimed nomad who, against the gorgeous backdrop of the western United States, is trying to find solace and happiness, despite her world (not to mention the world around her) crumbling.
“Nomadland” is currently streaming on Hulu.
What do you get when you pair Saoirse Ronan’s A+ acting skills with Greta Gerwig’s subdued directing? You get “Lady Bird.”
Based loosely on Gerwig’s own upbringing in Sacramento, “Lady Bird” is a coming-of-age story about Christine “Lady Bird” McPhearson (played by Ronan) a Catholic-school senior itching to break free of her humdrum life in Northern California and start her adult years in New York City
For any young woman who felt out of place growing up in a small town, “Lady Bird” often feels like a mirror more than a movie — the friendships, heartbreak and contentious familial relationships Lady Bird deals with are seemingly universal.
“Lady Bird” also picked up five Academy Award nominations — all for women related to the film — and while it didn’t win any that year, it was an incredible showing that a female-led cast and crew could stand toe-to-toe with the male-dominated categories.
“Lady Bird” is streaming now on Netflix.
Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are collectively known as DC Comics’ “Trinity,” the best and most significant heroes of the brand.
But while Superman and Batman have been represented repeatedly in live-action over the years, Wonder Woman hasn’t gotten a fraction of the spotlight. Save for an iconic ‘70s TV series (and a couple of pilots best left forgotten), the Amazing Amazon was perennially absent from the box office.
And then Patty Jenkins happened.
It’s just as well that the “Monster” director didn’t make her blockbuster debut with a “Thor” sequel as originally planned. Her “Wonder Woman” was an absolute breakthrough, not only for her, but also for steely star Gal Gadot and most importantly, for the character herself.
Finally, the star-spangled superhero received a larger-than-life spectacle worthy of a cultural icon. And fans and critics agreed that it was indeed a wonder.
"Wonder Woman" is currently streaming on HBO Max.
It is 1961, and the United States is racing against real-life, current-day bad guy Russia to launch an American man into orbit and guarantee his safe return. And the three Black women credited with the number-crunching talent that got astronaut John Glenn there and back again — in 1964, way before graphing calculators and iPhones — are the brilliant "human computers" Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe). Their friendship and their audacious rise among NASA's greatest minds forms the story behind "Hidden Figures" (2016).
The trio of American heroes cross all boundaries of gender, race and workplace at a time when Jim Crow was beginning his long, slow death rattle. The scene in which Johnson must run to a separate building at Langley Research Center to use the segregated bathroom there, reportedly, was not entirely true. The restrooms were unmarked, and she carried on using the "white" one without realizing it. But the scene is peak Henson and underscores the struggle she and her sisters undertook to take humankind to infinity and beyond.
"Hidden Figures" is currently streaming on Disney+.
We can’t make a roundup of movies for Women’s History Month without mentioning the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The 2018 documentary "RBG" explores Ginsburg’s upbringing and works on the high court, as well as her daily life as an 80-something icon — just a few years before her death in September 2020.
She lives on as an icon for women’s advocacy, both in the work she forged and the ever-trendy Notorious RBG emblems adorned by the masses.
"RBG" is currently streaming on Netflix.
Looking for a great film for the kids to celebrate Women’s History Month? Watch (or rewatch — let’s be honest) Disney’s "Frozen." The two main characters are women, sisters in fact, and some of Disney’s best female role models on film.
Elsa is a queen with magical powers, and her story is about learning to overcome shame and to take pride in her unique gifts.
Anna has her own unique gifts, but not the magical kind. Audiences follow this brave, resourceful, determined, kind, loving woman on a journey to save the world with a very special act of love.
"Frozen" is currently streaming on Disney+.
The life of trailblazing but oft-forgotten 1920s blues singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) was the inspiration for the 1982 August Wilson play this film is based on. Rainey is an icon of not only music, but also queerness. "She was unapologetic about her sexuality," Davis told The Advocate. "I felt like Ma always had a woman with her. A lot of the women who dance with her were her women. She had orgies with them. That was her world. I didn't want to sweep it under the rug."
The title is derived from the Rainey song "Black Bottom," which refers to a dance of the same name. Created by African Americans in the rural South and made popular during the Jazz Age, the black bottom went mainstream and became a national craze throughout white America.
When Rainey and her band gather in a Chicago studio in 1927 to record a new album, tensions arise between young hot-headed trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman), who dreams of leading his own band, and veterans Cutler (Colman Domingo) and Toledo (Glynn Turman). An appropriate transition from Black History Month to Women's History Month, this film deals with issues surrounding the exploitation of Black recording artists by white producers.
"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" is currently streaming on Netflix.
"Battle of the Sexes" (2017) is ostensibly about the internationally televised Sept. 20, 1973, tennis match between 29-year-old Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and 55-year-old Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell). The film might instead be seen as a social commentary of the two athletes' own personal crucibles, only culminating in the legendary match. Riggs, riding high after beating tennis pro Margaret Court in a similar challenge four months earlier, is coming to terms with his legacy. And as King fights for equal pay for women's tennis, she struggles with the effect her emerging sexuality has on her marriage.
Spoiler alert: King won the match in three sets — a milestone in public acceptance of women's tennis. So, we know the outcome going in. The spectacle, held at the Houston Astrodome, set a record as the most-watched TV sports event of all time, seen by an estimated 50 million people in the United States and 90 million worldwide. Yet watching it play out here is almost as riveting as watching it live.
You might be forgiven for thinking of this film as a historical document. But considering the toxic masculinity that still runs rampant, and the fight for equal pay that women's soccer won just last month, it's déjà vu all over again.
From the mind of West Philly native Quinta Brunson, “Abbott Elementary” follows the staff of an underfunded Philly public school. Months into its first term, we can say it’s passing with high marks.
The ensemble features Brunson and Chris Perfetti as over-eager young teachers. It’s also stacked with pros like Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lisa Ann Walter as jaded older educators, and “Everybody Hates Chris” star Tyler James Williams as a straight-laced substitute.
And then there’s Janelle James as their inept, self-centered principal. She’s an excellent addition to the pantheon of horrible TV bosses, as cringe-inducing as she is hilarious.
“Abbott Elementary” has been a ratings smash since it began. It’s also been lauded by teachers, many of whom say it accurately reflects their daily struggles. Funny and real? For that, it gets an “A.”
"Abbott Elementary" is currently streaming on Hulu.
Issa Rae’s “Insecure” has not only been a big hit for HBO, but an important show in terms of Black and female representation in television.
So for many, this final season is bittersweet. Issa and Molly try to figure out the parameters of their reformed friendship while looking back on how it all began at Stanford.
"Insecure" is currently streaming on HBO Max.
Who’s that low-ponied, long “O”-accented, Wawa coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking broad? It’s no other than our beloved detective of Delco, Mare Sheehan. In addition to HBO Max’s “Mare of Easttown” being the most Philly Philly-based show, it also illustrates the strength of women who are dealing with a slew of familial and community tragedies.
Mare is a reprieve in a long line of male-led detective plots — both fictional and real-life. Rather than trying to live up to her male counterparts, Mare simply lives, and we thank Kate Winslet for that.
The tenacity of the other strong matriarchs and female characters in Mare’s life is palpable: her daughter Siobhan (Angourie Rice), her best friend Lori (Julianne Nicholson), and her mother Helen (Jean Smart, who gets an honorable mention for leading in the equally female power-driven HBO show “Hacks”).
"Mare of Easttown" is currently streaming on HBO Max.
We just learned there are people in this newsroom who’ve never watched “The Golden Girls.” To that we say - how is that possible?
“The Golden Girls” is one of the finest sitcoms of all time. The cast is legendary - Bea Arthur is sardonic, irritable Dorothy; Betty White as sweet, naive Rose; Rue McClanahan as the incredibly social (yes, let’s go with that) Blanche; and Estelle Getty as Dorothy’s tough, yet senile mother Sophia.
“The Golden Girls” was the first series to truly focus on the lives of senior women without reducing them to supporting or maternal roles. Creator Susan Harris was also unafraid to tackle tough issues, from homophobia to racism, addiction, and of course, aging and elder care.
After Bea Arthur decided to leave the show, Harris and the rest of the cast moved on to a spinoff called “The Golden Palace,” where Rose, Blanche and Sophia buy a hotel. Though it didn’t lack for talent, with Cheech Marin and Don Cheadle joining the cast, the magic wasn't quite there without Arthur.
But if you’re a completist, both series are streaming on Hulu. You’ll quickly learn why the Golden Girls are the perfect TV friends
The Golden Girls is currently streaming on Hulu.
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