Best Feminist Classics on HBO Max Right Now

A woman’s rage isn’t often explored on screen. Since the film’s inception, female characters are often written to take up as little space as possible when they enter a frame and stand on the sidelines while the men become the action heroes and hell raisers. So when women explode on screen and speak their minds, commit acts of violence, and soar across rooms with fists raised ready to strike, it’s empowering to watch. Seeking vengeance, seeking glory, seeking peace, here are 25 feminist classics streaming right now on HBO Max featuring angry women taking up as much space as they want in pursuit of justice and revenge.


Related:The Best Movies on HBO Max Right Now

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The First Wives Club (1996)

Run Time: 103 minutes

Rating: PG

Genre: Comedy/Romance

Director: Hugh Wilson

Cast: Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Stephen Collins, Victor Garber, Rob Reiner

Cheating husbands have never been sorrier than in The First Wives Club, thanks to Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Bette Midler’s rage-filled performances as three scorned women. Promiscuous men and youth are their enemies, and the trio fights back with all their might as they seek vengeance against their cruel ex-husbands. Undoubtedly a feminist classic, the late 90s comedy finds Keaton, Hawn, and Midler playing Annie, Elise, and Brenda respectively, a squad of former first wives helping one another sabotage their ex-husbands after playing the nice guy for too many years.

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Run Time: 153 Minutes

Rating: R

Genre: Drama/ Action

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Jodie Comer, Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Ben Affleck, Alex Lawther

The Last Duel is a medieval feminist-revenge tale for the ages. A historical drama film based upon one of the last duels ever fought in France during the 14th century, Jodie Comer stars as Marguerite de Carraouges, a married woman who accuses the violent Jacques le Gris (Adam Driver) of raping her after husband,Sir Jean de Carroughes (Matt Damon), goes out of town. At a time when women were expected to keep their mouths shut or die, Marguerite never wavers in telling the truth, and Carroughes and le Gris eventually fight each other in a gruesome duel, permitted by King Charles VI.

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Run Time: 93 minutes

Rating: R

Genre: Thriller/ Dark Comedy

Director: Corey Finley

Cast: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift

Death and murder weigh heavy on the young minds of Amanda (Olivia Cooke) and Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) in the 2017 thriller film, Thoroughbreds. Amanda (Cooke) is a wealthy, disturbed teenager who cannot feel emotions no matter what she tries. After reconciling with her former best friend Lily (Taylor-Joy), they become a lethal combination as they begin daydreaming of murder. While Lily feigns perfection as one of the most well-liked girls at school, she takes advantage of Amanda’s strange afflictions and eggs her on to commit gruesome acts of violence against the men in their lives.

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9 to 5 (1980)

Run Time: 110 minutes

Rating: PG

Genre: Comedy/Crime

Director: Collin Higgins

Cast: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, Sterling Hayden

Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton coming together to take down the patriarchy is what people mean when they say “dream team.” Though it was made four decades ago, 9 to 5 is more relevant than ever as it tackles sexism, equal pay, and workplace sexual misconduct with a potential murder piled on top. Judy (Fonda), Violet (Tomlin), and Doralee (Parton) work in the same office run by the sexist Franklin Hart Jr. (Dabney Coleman), and they decide to throw the rule book out the window by burning down toxic masculinity in the hopes of carving a path towards liberation.

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Run Time: 113 minutes

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Musical/ Crime

Director: Rob Marshall

Cast: RenéeZellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly

It’s the roaring 20s in Chicago, and the streets are running red with murderous women thirsty for fame. After getting revenge on their lovers by killing them, Roxy Hart (Renée Zellweger) and Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) find themselves in jail awaiting trial for their crimes. Both hire the charismatic and dishonest lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) to help them get off while pursuing fame, and he’s more than happy to oblige. Stuffed to the brim with avenging women and dazzling numbers, it’s the raging “He Had it Coming” in Chicago that brings the house down as various inmates explain what murderous deed landed them in jail.

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Run Time: 123 minutes

Rating: R

Genre: Action/Comedy

Director: Paul Feig

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demián Bichir, Marlon Wayans

Sandra Bullock is uptight FBI special Agent Sarah Ashburn, and Melissa McCarthy is wise-cracking, rule breaking Boston detective Shannon Mullins, and together they solve a murderous, explosive case in Beantown. Bullock and McCarthy feed off each other’s energy as they butt heads while working the case, and they also have to combat their male co-workers who love telling them what to do. Lucky for us, they don’t listen to them, and the Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) directed flick is one of the best action comedies to come out of the past ten years.

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Run Time: 109 minutes

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Comedy

Director: Nick Cassavetes

Cast: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Manning, Kate Upton, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Kinney,

Three women band together after being done wrong by the same man in The Other Woman. Cameron Diaz stars as Carly Whitten, and when she finds out the man of her dreams, Mark King (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), is married to a woman named Kate King (Leslie Manning), the two put aside their differences to pursue vengeance. But it just gets worse from there, as they find out there is in fact a third woman, Amber (Kate Upton), and the trio go full Charlie’s Angelsmode to bring down King by sporting binoculars and ill-advised stilettos.

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Miss Congeniality (2000)

Run Time: 109 minutes

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Comedy/Action

Director: Donald Petrie

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine, Candice Bergen, William Shatner, Benjamin Bratt

She’s got gel in her hair, she’s in heels, and she’s armed. Sandra Bullock stars in the comedy classic Miss Congeniality as Gracie Hart, a tough-as-nails FBI agent who’s never quite fit in. A tomboy, Hart is ostracized from women, and at work, her unapologetic confidence among her fellow male agents makes it hard to break through the boys club. That all changes when she goes undercover posing as Miss New Jersey at the Miss United States Pageant after the FBI receives anonymous letters from a criminal threatening to bomb the event. None other than Michael Caine transforms Hart in one of his rare comedic roles as pageant stylist Victor Melling and the duo trade-off killer one-liners in this girl power comedy that has stood the test of time.

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Run Time: 104 minutes

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Action/ Crime

Director: Pitof

Cast: Halle Berry, Frances Conroy, Benjamin Bratt, Sharon Stone, Lambert Wilson, Alex Borstein

Halle Berry is taking down names playing the iconic, titular role in the 2004 film, Catwoman. An origin story of how the stealthy superhero came to be, designer Patience Phillips inadvertently stumbles upon a scandal within the prominent Hedare Beauty cosmetics company she works, and it results in her murder. Brought back to life by cats, Patience swears vengeance on everyone who played a part in her death, in addition to exposing all the deadly crimes Hedare Beauty committed. While the film was negatively received, it remains a monumental moment within pop culture and one of Berry’s defining roles.

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Out of the Past (1947)

Run Time: 97 minutes

Rating: Not Rated

Genre: Noir/ Crime

Director: Jacques Tourneur

Cast: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Virginia Huston, Rhonda Fleming

Noir ruled the screen in the 40s and created one of the greatest female characters within the film: the femme fatale. Bold and dangerous, femme fatales use their wits and allure to get men to do what they want, which usually involves murder. The various femme fatales of the 40s were groundbreaking during a time when many women were entering the workforce while men fought overseas in World War 2, and the silver screen reflected that independence. One of the most iconic femme fatales is Jane Greer as Kathie Moffat in Out of the Past, and she toys with Robert Mitchumlike he’s breakfast. Emanating glamour while getting her hands dirty, Greer’s performance is a touchstone moment within the noir genre.

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The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

Run Time: 1946

Rating: Not Rated

Genre: Noir

Director: Tay Garnett

Cast: Lana Turner, John Garfield, Hume Cronyn, Cecil Kellaway, Leon Ames

Yet another great film noir from the 40s, screen legend Lana Turner simmers as femme fatale Cora Smith as she lures Frank Chambers(John Garfield) down a fiery path towards hell after convincing him to murder her husband. Turner pulls out all the stops as the manipulative Cora, and once she and Frank enter an affair, she plants the seed of murder into Frank’s head. During the neo-noir boom in the 70s and 80s, the film was remade in 1981 starring Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson as the doomed lovers, which is also streaming on HBO Max.

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Run Time: 89 minutes

Rating: R

Genre: Suspense/ Thriller

Director: Stephen Soderbergh

Cast: Zoë Kravitz, Devin Ratray, India de Beaufort, Rita Wilson, Emily Kuroda

Kimi is a stifling pandemic-set thriller starring ZoëKravitz as Angela Childs, an agoraphobic woman terrified of COVID-19 which makes working remotely for the tech company, Amygdala, very convenient. She processes data that comes from the new tech product KIMI and listens in on conversations it records within people’s homes and stumbles upon a crime. Believing to have heard a gruesome murder, Angela is forced to leave the comfort of her own home and chase down killers in pursuit of the truth.

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Run Time: 110 minutes

Rating: R

Genre: Horror/ Suspense

Director: Edgar Wright

Cast: Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Diana Rigg, Matt Smith

An outspoken cinephile, Edgar Wrightpays homage to the many horror films that came out of British cinema during the 60s with Last Night in Soho. A stylish thriller basking in the past, shy fashion student Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) arrives in London to attend a prestigious fashion design school filled with mean girls. Deciding to leave the dorms, she rents out a room from the sweet Miss. Collins, (Diana Rigg in her last film role), and finds that her bedroom is a magical portal that leads her to downtown London during the swinging 60s. Eloise follows the adventures of an aspiring club singer, Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), and while at first, she believes she’s entered a dream, she soon discovers she’s entered a nightmare that proves hard to wake up from.

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Run Time: 108 minutes

Rating: R

Genre: Sci-fi/ Thriller

Director: Jonathan Glazer Jeremy McWilliams, Adam Pearson

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Adam Pearson

Under the Skin is undoubtedly one of the best science fiction films to come out of the 21st century. Scarlett Johansson shines in her most electrifying role as a predatory alien hiding among humans on earth. Though Johansson stars in one of the biggest film franchises as the Black Widow within the Marvel universe, she got her start in independent cinema and returns to those roots in Under the Skin. With a chilling demeanor, Johansson preys upon men and lures them into otherworldly traps using her mysterious charms.

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Cat People (1942)

Run Time: 73 minutes

Rating: Not Rated

Genre: Horror/Fantasy

Director: Jacques Tourneur

Cast: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway, Jane Randolph

Cat People is one of the most influential horror films ever made. Simone Simon plays Irena Dubrovna, a Serbian illustrator living in New York who’s haunted by a myth that warns of women from her hometown turning into black panthers once they fall in love and kiss a man. As luck would have it, Irena meets and falls in love with Oliver Reed (Kent Smith), and she grows jealous of his relationship with his co-worker Alice. Irena becomes convinced she’s turning into a panther, and director Jacques Tourneur uses groundbreaking lighting techniques to elevate the horror with dramatic shadows that would become a staple within the genre.

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Double Jeopardy (1999)

Run Time: 105 minutes

Rating: R

Genre: Crime/ Action

Director: Bruce Beresford

Cast: Ashley Judd, Bruce Greenwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Annabeth Gish

Ashley Judd gives a fiery performance as the bloodthirsty Libby Parsons in Double Jeopardy. Framed for the murder of her husband, Nick (Bruce Greenwood), Libby has been torn away from her young son and sent to jail only to discover that Nick is alive and the mastermind behind faking his death. Libby then learns about the legal term Double Jeopardy, which means a person cannot be charged for the same crime twice. Once she’s on parole and living at a halfway house under the watchful eye of patrol officer Travis Lehman (Tommy Lee Jones), she escapes and hunts Nick down as Lehman follows in hot pursuit.

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Run Time: 113 Minutes

Rating: R

Genre: Crime/Thriller

Director: Emerald Fennell

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Allison Brie, Lavern Cox, Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge

A story about retribution, director Emerald Fennell won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar at the 2019 Academy Awards for her screenplay about a woman’s quest for revenge in a male-dominated world. Carey Mulligan stars as Cassie, an embittered soul who spends her nights hunting predatory men in clubs only to turn the tables on them once they arrive home. Fennell decides not to show what happens once Cassie takes control of the situation, following the hope that a viewer’s imagination is the most powerful tool.

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The Stepford Wives (2004)

Run Time: 93 minutes

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Drama/ Dark Comedy

Director: Frank Oz

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Glenn Close, Christopher Walken,

An adaptation of the 1972 novel under the same name written by Ira Levin, The Stepford Wives enters a world of rosebuds and cocktail parties, but nothing is as beautiful as it seems. When former television executive Joanna Eberhart (Nicole Kidman) and her family move to the idyllic town of Stepford, all the wives are the perfect, supportive helpers to their husbands. Joanna grows suspicious of the wives and their strange behaviors, and soon pursues a way to set them free from their husbands’ grip.

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Run Time: 154 minutes

Rating: R

Genre: Crime

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: Pam Grief, Robert Forster, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton,

No one serves a colder glass of revenge than Pam Grier, and while Jackie Brown isn’t exactly looking for revenge, she is looking to liberate herself from all the men in her life. Starring the silver screen legend in the titular role, Grier lights up Jackie Brown as a flight attendant caught up in a sting operation between law enforcement and the arms dealer Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). Though Grier is best known for playing revenge-seeking women in 70s blaxploitation films like Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974), Quentin Tarantino creates a role of a lifetime in Jackie Brown whichshe knocks out of the park playing a woman with nothing to lose.

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https://collider.com/best-feminist-classics-on-hbo-max-streaming/ Best Feminist Classics on HBO Max Right Now

Sarah Ridley

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