If it’s a man’s world, Hollywood didn’t get the memo. Modern actresses have slowly but surely caught up to men in terms of performance, commitment and lasting impression. In 2012, women graced movie-goers with some of the the most memorable performances in recent history, from Jessica Chastain’s role as a succeed-at-all-costs CIA agent hunting Osama Bin Laden to Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of young widow trying to piece her life back together.
The road to cinema prominence wasn’t always paved for actresses. Before Chastain and Lawrence, dozens of others actresses broke down walls and cemented their place in movie history. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or simply some quality entertainment on a Friday night, these films will give you an appreciation for powerful women who grace the silver screen.
Halle Berry — ‘Monster’s Ball’
Mostly featured as eye candy early in her career, Halle Berry established herself as one of the most talented actresses of our time with her role as Letecia Musgrove in “Monster’s Ball.” A racially charged film, “Monster’s Ball” provided Berry the opportunity to demonstrate talent beyond her looks. To this day, Berry is still the only African-American woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in a leading role. Timelessly beautiful, Berry could have accepted a career as a one-dimensional leading lady. Instead, she got her hands dirty and made history. If you happen to see “Monster’s Ball” through your Cable.tv/direct-tv service, stop what you’re doing and revel in Berry’s performance.
Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon — ‘Thelma & Louise’
With distinct Feminist overtones, “Thelma & Louise” put a twist on traditional buddy movie. Fed up with the way men have treated them, the two title characters act anything but ladylike as they hit the road in their Thunderbird convertible. Notable scenes include Thelma and Louise robbing a convenience store, locking a police officer in the trunk of a car and driving their Thunderbird off a cliff. Throughout the entertainment, Thelma and Louise raise poignant questions about sexual assault, gender relations and independence.
Jessica Chastain — ‘Zero Dark Thirty’
When she pulls off her ski mask after an interrogation, Jessica Chastain sets the tone as a no-nonsense agent driven by one purpose: to find Osama Bin Laden. “Zero Dark Thirty” tells the recently concluded story of the United States’ decade-long manhunt for the leader of al-Qaida. Throughout the film, Chastain’s character demonstrates grit and leadership, often standing up to authority to advance her cause. In the end, Chastain’s character gets her man, and the audience leaves with an unprecedented perception of the distinct female lead.
Meryl Streep — ‘The Iron lady’
Perhaps no actress in history has more of an impact on film than Meryl Streep. The 63-year-old was the at the top of her game in “The Iron Lady,” a bio-pic of legendary British politician Margaret Thatcher. “The Iron Lady” effectively illuminates two powerful women: a legendary actress who bucked Hollywood trends by getting better with age and a historic female politician who broke into a established boy’s club.
All of these talented women played a part in giving the modern actress unprecedented opportunities.