On February 13, no matter what your romantic status, gather your girlfriends and fire up your favorite streaming services for these feel-good films.
Galentine’s Day is a celebration of female friendship. And let’s face it: Most of us have women friends who have helped get us through the worst of times and always see the best in us when things are tough. In the spirit of sisters doing it for themselves and each other, here are a few of our favorite female-driven, written, or directed films to remind you of the importance of love in all its forms — self-love; love for each other; and sure, romantic love, if that happens.
These films made our list because they touch on that magical space where the connection between women could become something more…or the next best thing.
Perhaps the best — if not greatest — lesbian movie of all time, this exquisite 1985 drama follows the delicate unfolding of a nascent lesbian relationship between a reserved academic and a wild child casino worker, set against a beautiful desert backdrop. Donna Deitch’s deft direction and uncanny understanding of women’s emotional landscapes makes this perfect viewing for friends, gay and straight.
DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN
While we’re still in 1985, director Susan Seidelman tapped into the feminist punk zeitgeist of the vibrant mid-80s downtown NYC scene in a movie that captures what it feels like to have a massive girl crush on the coolest girl in town (Madonna!) that throws your life into (transformative) chaos. Bonus: the music, the New Wave-punk fashion, and a pre-gentrified Big Apple!
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AT THE WHISTLE STOP CAFE
This 1991 movie adapted from the novel of the same name by lesbian author Fannie Flag features fine performances from all its female leads: Mary-Louise Parker, Mary Stuart Masterson, Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy. Adding to the message of female friendship is the possibility that Idgie and Ruth are much more than friends. Of course. Ahem, and who can forget that food fight scene?
THELMA AND LOUISE
Also made in 1991, this feminist road trip movie starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis will make you laugh, cry, and even lesbians will ogle a young Brad Pitt as a hot hitchhiker. The cracking story by Callie Khouri won her a bunch of awards and the soundtrack will transport you back to a pre-Internet age where our eponymous sheroes even took a selfie before selfies were a thing. That ending, though…
It’s hard a to find a better film to boost a girl’s self-esteem than this 2016 gem about a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program…and largely went uncredited until recent times. The holy trinity of Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae will make you want to stand up and cheer.
This female-driven all-star heist movie had its detractors but we sure loved the mega watt cast who all camped it up, clad to the gills in high couture as they pulled off a jewel heist at the Met Gala. Cate Blanchett was a standout for as possibly lesbian Lou, a motorbike riding crim who had a deliciously close friendship with heist mastermind Sandra Bullock.
Speaking of Sandy Bullock, it’s impossible not to love, adore, and drool over her goofy tomboy FBI agent who must go undercover in the Miss United States beauty pageant to protect it from a potential bomb threat. It’s always cathartic to see ridiculous female stereotypes upended, and this film is PG-13 perfect for junior galentines to join the party.
THE COLOR PURPLE
This 1985 film directed by Steven Spielberg is about Celie, a Black Southern woman who struggles to find her identity after suffering abuse from her father and others over four decades. And getting her through it all is undeniably her relationship with women. From the Pulitzer Prize winning story by Alice Walker. Intersectional viewing before we were using the term widely. And, hello, Oprah!