There is, undeniably, a genre of movies that stands head and shoulders above the rest: female ensemble movies. Films that are led by a mostly female cast just tend to be better, we don't make the rules! From thrillers to comedies, these girl gangs know how to entertain and get sh*t DONE in a movie. What's the old saying? Anything men can do, women can do better? Because these movies prove that if you throw a bunch of talented women in a room together you're going to get great results. These iconic female ensemble films don't lie!
We like movies that don't just pass the Bechdel Test, but get an A+ on it! There is a true lack of female-fronted films in the world today so these lady-led ensembles are rare treasures. Case in point, over a decade in and the Marvel Cinematic Universe just released their first film led by a woman! These films aren't just led by a woman they're led by women, and all the better for it. Some of the funniest, most emotional, and most suspenseful films of the last few decades are ones where the ladies are in charge and the men take a back seat. Here are all our fave female ensemble movies!
Bring It On may look like just a dumb cheerleading film on the surface, but it is so much more. The film, which is about cheerleading, also tackles big issues like economic disparity and race, all while centering on strong, competitive women. The Toros reign supreme in the high school cheerleading world but their new leader, Torrance (Kirsten Dunst), soon learns that it's all because of cheating and stealing from disadvantaged teams. Now, for the first time, the Toros have to craft their own original routine in a story about leadership, aggressive women, and the effects of race and class in the sporting world. In the film, women are allowed to be bold in their pursuit of winning — even when the result is not pretty! Female ensemble films are a bit rare but female ensemble sports films are basically unheard of which makes us love this one even more!
Coyote Ugly gets a bad rap. Sure, the movie is pulpy and wild but it's also sneakily feminist and boasts an impressive roster of women. Violet (Piper Perabo) comes to NYC to be a songwriter but finds herself broke and without any significant job prospects. Then she meets the "Coyotes," ladies who work at the trendy Coyote Ugly bar and make bank enticing dudes and getting them to tip like crazy. It's there that she finds herself, and her performative nature, amid the chaos of NYC. Yes, it's a bunch of hot girls pouring drinks on themselves and acting sexy. But they're in charge of their sexuality and they're making plenty of money doing it. You go, girls!
Gary Sanchez Productions
Think of this as the more realistic, rowdier Bridesmaids. The film deals with a group of women struggling through adulthood as they reunite for their high school friend Becky's (Rebel Wilson) wedding and bachelorette party. It's not a lovely film about love and friendship, though, as we learn these girls weren't so nice to Becky in high school and aren't so nice to themselves in general. One is career obsessed with an eating disorder, another is a coke addict, and the third is a 30-something-year-old party girl who seems to be living in the past. Every female in this movie is flawed, but you root for them anyway just like your imperfect BFF's and your imperfect self. This female ensemble isn't easy to like but they are often easy to relate to, showing a realistic version of female friendship that isn't sugarcoated to oblivion like in most movies!
This female-led baseball movie is also tinged with a real-life history that makes it even better! The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and most women's professional sports, in general, were preceded by the increase in female-dominated sports throughout the '40s when many men were off fighting in World War II. A League of Their Own explores a women's baseball league, led by women who just want to be taken seriously. Oh, and have a little fun! While the account of how the AAGPBL was created is fictionalized, it's women like those in the film that legitimately paved the way for female athletes to be able to play their sport professionally.
The iconic female ensemble includes Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin, so you know it's going to be good. Those three ladies lead the film as disgruntled women in the workforce who just want to get rid of their chauvinistic, pig boss. But, instead of just fantasizing about it, they put their plans into action. While this is mostly accidental, they do manage to get their boss out of the office and enact change that benefits all of the workers — men and women alike. It's a huge testament to the importance of equality in the workplace. Oh, and how you don't wanna mess with feisty women!
Gold Circle Films
This movie is all about the badass ladies of a cappella. That may not be a sentence that makes a whole lot of sense ("badass" and "a capella" don't really go together), but after watching this movie you'll totally get it. The Barden Bellas are Barden University's female-led a capella group and, unfortunately, they've gotten a little stale. The inclusion of new, diverse members liven up the group and helps them become formidable foes for their rivals, The Treblemakers — who just so happen to be all men. This film is full of different kinds of women who bring their unique perspectives to the group, all while being funny AF and giving us iconic songs like "Cups."
The Samuel Goldwyn Company
The kind of bond you have with your co-workers is unrivaled. For Kat (Annabeth Gish), Daisy (Julie Roberts), and JoJo (Lili Taylor) it's everything. The three spend their nights working at Mystic Pizza in Mystic, Connecticut while navigating life and love. The film covers plenty of hard truths about growing up and coming into your womanhood. The main women in the film feel like real small-town, hard-working girls who are just trying to find their way. Life is tricky, love is even trickier. Having good friends and co-workers by your side is key!
Warner Bros. Pictures
It's an all-ladies heist film, y'all! Everyone knows the notorious Danny Ocean (George Clooney) from the OG Ocean's films, but prepare to meet his sister Debbie (Sandra Bullock). Turns out she has the same criminal smarts as her bro. She assembles a team of talented women to plan a heist of a very expensive Cartier necklace during the Met Gala. Because it was a crew of all women they are, of course, successful. So rarely do women get to be smart, cunning, and — dare we say — actual criminals. All while being likable and the type of people you want to root for!
The Help tackles the stark racism African American maids faced throughout most of the 1900s with surprising honesty. The film centers on Skeeter (Emma Stone), an aspiring journalist who decides to write a book from the perspective of the maids to expose the abhorrent living conditions and racist derisions they're subjected to. It's an excellent look at a white woman, Skeeter, using her privilege to share stories for those who may otherwise never be able to tell the world what they've experienced. While doing this she doesn't make it about her, she lets the maids' experiences speak for themselves. It's a testament to strong women overcoming and helping each other do good.
This movie is all about letting women be themselves no matter the pressure put on them by society and those around them. Bliss (Ellen Page) is over her mother's overbearing ways and is desperate to escape the pageantry lifestyle that's been laid out for her. When she meets the "Hurl Scouts," an all-female roller derby team, she finds something she can finally enjoy for herself. The excellent female ensemble includes Drew Barrymore, Eve, and Kristen Wiig — just to name a few! They're all rockin', rollin', and pun makin' women finding community in an unconventional way.
Yes, this is the "Britney Spears movie." But, it's also a movie with a great female ensemble that practices what it preaches about women-centered friendship. Three childhood BFFs reunite after their high school graduation to dig up the "wish box" they had buried as kids. Growing up had caused them to grow apart, but they realize quickly how much they still have in common and commit to a road trip to L.A. together where each girl has a different goal. Along the way, they deal with the big question of "what comes next?" in their lives post-high-school pre-anything-else. While there are some cheesy twists and cringe-worthy turns, at its core, the film is about getting through life's crossroads with a little help from your friends.
They may be little, but they are mighty! The classic Louisa May Alcott story made it to the big screen in this adaptation about the Massachusetts-bred March sisters who are growing up in the throes of the Civil War. This film tackles everything from young romance to the perils of war. The March sisters are all incredibly different, but as they grow through adolescence and adulthood they find that they need to lean on one another more than ever. This incredible female ensemble nails the finer points of sisterhood. Oftentimes blood is thicker than water and these ladies make us want to be part of the March family!
20th Century Fox
Sometimes when life gets crazy, we're all just waiting to exhale and get a bit of relief. For four adult friends, life is getting a little rough. Two are in relationships with married men, one is a blind-sided single mother, and the last is feeling more regretful than ever that she gave up her potential catering career at the behest of her ex-husband. Life isn't just hard through your 20s, it's pretty hard forever. These ladies, luckily, have the support of one another to get them through those moments where you hold your breath and wait for the storm to pass!
New Line Cinema
Some things never die, like the bond between childhood friends. Now and Then bounces between timelines as it follows four friends in their youth during a particularly tumultuous summer and in adulthood as one of them is about to give birth. The summer of 1970 proves one of the most transformative in these young girls' lives. There's some boy drama, dealing with family issues, and a few seances for good measure! (Relatable.) It's the type of summer that makes someone who they're going to be. Years later, in 1991, the group comes back together and realizes how important they have always been to one another. While they don't see each other as often as they'd like (adulthood sucks sometimes), they recognize the significance of their friendship. Having a group of female friends you can rely on, no matter the distance and time between you, is so essential!
Sometimes a good female ensemble isn't about the amazing benefits of friendship — it's about how some friendships can drag you down! Mean Girls follows Cady Heron's (Lindsay Lohan) journey from "home-schooled jungle freak" to one of the most popular girls in her new high school. Cady makes some friends, but she also makes plenty of "frenemies" along the way. The people you hang out with can determine everything about who you are during your teen years. Cady turns into a bit of a witch-with-a-b, but eventually is able to turn it around. Being a woman is hard at any time, but during your teen years, it's arguably the hardest. Mean Girls gets to the root of what really happens between girls in HS and how it's not all pretty! The cast is packed, too. Rachel McAdams, Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried, and Tina Fey!
Will Packer Productions
Just because you're grown doesn't mean you can't take a fun trip with your gals! Four BFFs dubbed the "Flossy Posse" have been friends for years but have grown apart a bit as they traverse adulthood. So what better way to reconnect with your ladies than with a trip somewhere fun?! The women have plenty of harsh realities about their lives to deal with, but who says you can't do that over a bottle of tequila and plenty of laughs with your besties? If there is one thing almost all of these female ensemble films have in common, it's that having your girl tribe around you for support is key. They may not tell you what you want to hear, but they'll sure as hell tell you the truth!
Is there a more iconic movie about female friendship than The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? We doubt it. This coming-of-age film follows four best friends who are about to spend the summer apart for the first time in their lives. Aided by a magical pair of pants that happens to fit them all despite their different body types, they set off on their separate journeys. Throughout the summer, the girls go through so many life-changing events revolving around family, new friends, and romance. But at every turn, they have their shared pants and deep friendship to lean on. Sometimes knowing someone is at the other end of a letter can be enough to keep you going. So much of life is about finding your "people" and those you can depend on!
This is one of the funniest, raunchiest, and most outlandish movies in the last decade. Oh, and it's led by all ladies! It's so rare that women are able to lead a film about anything other than romance, motherhood, or tragedy. Kristen Wiig leads the cast of funny ladies, who provide poop jokes and dirty comedy with ease. Anyone who says women aren't funny clearly (or, like, the millions of hilarious female stand-ups) has never seen this movie. But, we digress. Wiig's Annie deals with the all-too-familiar reality of feeling like she's behind in life as her BFF gets married and seems to be moving on without her. During the build-up to her friend's wedding, she meets her other bridesmaids and forms lifelong friendships with this rag-tag group of weirdos. It's one of our fave female ensembles not only for the hilarity of the cast, but for the message that making friends when you're an adult isn't actually impossible!