Inspirational Women's History Trailblazer Biopics

by urbanemovies | created - 20 Mar 2016 | updated - 3 weeks ago | Public

Each March in the USA, we recognize female achievements during Women's History Month. Biographical movies are a great way to educate the public about landmark events in the struggle for gender equality. At the same time, these movies honor and celebrate each woman's achievement with the star power they deserve. Bios Source:

Which trailblazing or pioneering female* in their field inspires you the most, or alternatively their biopic? * Explorers, Scientists, Pioneers, Discovers, Rebels, Etc.

Women's History Month Companion Polls Leader Biopics : Trailblazer Biopics : Humanitarian Biopics : Sports Biopics : Writer Biopics : Singer/Musician Biopics

Cast your vote here or Discuss the topic here.

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1. The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)

R | 148 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

54 Metascore

A young girl receives a vision that drives her to rid France of its oppressors.

Director: Luc Besson | Stars: Milla Jovovich, John Malkovich, Rab Affleck, Stéphane Algoud

Votes: 61,611 | Gross: $14.28M

Joan of Arc: Warrior General, led her country's army to victory over England. Alternate Biopics: Joan of Arc (1948), Saint Joan (1957), La passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928)

2. Amelia (2009)

PG | 111 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

37 Metascore

A look at the life of legendary American pilot Amelia Earhart, who disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 in an attempt to make a flight around the world.

Director: Mira Nair | Stars: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston

Votes: 11,462 | Gross: $14.24M

Amelia Earhart: Aviator, was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and inspiration to millions of girls worldwide.

3. Hidden Figures (2016)

PG | 127 min | Biography, Drama, History

74 Metascore

The story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.

Director: Theodore Melfi | Stars: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner

Votes: 175,599 | Gross: $169.61M

Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan or Mary Jackson: NASA Pioneers, who helped get the space program off the ground and into space.

4. Gorillas in the Mist (1988)

PG-13 | 129 min | Biography, Drama

The story of Dian Fossey, a scientist who came to Africa to study the vanishing mountain gorillas, and later fought to protect them.

Director: Michael Apted | Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Bryan Brown, Julie Harris, John Omirah Miluwi

Votes: 22,426 | Gross: $24.72M

Dian Fossey: Naturalist, who was a pioneer in the fields of zoology, primatology, anthropology and a fervent conservationist.

5. Boys Don't Cry (1999)

R | 118 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

86 Metascore

A young man named Brandon Teena navigates love, life, and being transgender in rural Nebraska.

Director: Kimberly Peirce | Stars: Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III

Votes: 87,946 | Gross: $11.53M

Teena Brandon: Trans Man, whose story highlighted the legal and medical discrimination she suffered to live as a transgender man. Her murder led to the establishment of hate crime legislation and a better understanding and acceptance of transgenders. Alternate Biopic: The Brandon Teena Story (1998)

6. Coco Before Chanel (2009)

PG-13 | 105 min | Biography, Drama

65 Metascore

The story of Coco Chanel's rise from obscure beginnings to the heights of the fashion world.

Director: Anne Fontaine | Stars: Audrey Tautou, Benoît Poelvoorde, Alessandro Nivola, Marie Gillain

Votes: 37,040 | Gross: $6.11M

Coco Chanel: Chanel Founder, a pioneering lifestyle designer and business founder who changed the look of women's fashion far beyond couture clothing. Alternate Biopic: Coco Chanel (2008)

7. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

R | 111 min | Action, Biography, Crime

86 Metascore

Bonnie Parker, a bored waitress falls in love with an ex-con named Clyde Barrow and together they start a violent crime spree through the country, stealing cars and robbing banks.

Director: Arthur Penn | Stars: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman

Votes: 95,522

Bonnie Parker: Bank Robber, an American legend participating in more than hundred or more robberies. Although, her portrayal was greatly exaggerated by the press during the hardscrabble times of Great Depression, but nonetheless elevated her to mythical stature in her day and beyond.

8. Agora (2009)

R | 127 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

55 Metascore

A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, concerning a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hope of pursuing freedom while falling in love with his mistress, the philosophy and mathematics professor Hypatia of Alexandria.

Director: Alejandro Amenábar | Stars: Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Ashraf Barhom

Votes: 62,171 | Gross: $0.62M

Hypatia: Professor, a Greek mathematician, astronomer, educator and philosopher. While in Egypt, she made notable scientific contributions, championed human rights for all and paid the ultimate price for her beliefs.

9. The Post (2017)

PG-13 | 116 min | Biography, Drama, History

83 Metascore

A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country's first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between the press and the government.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk

Votes: 111,659 | Gross: $81.90M

Kay Graham: Newspaper Publisher was the first female publisher of a major American newspaper. She led The Washington Post for more than two decades, overseeing its most famous period and also won a Pulitzer Prize for her memoir.

10. Julie & Julia (2009)

PG-13 | 118 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

66 Metascore

Julia Child's story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book.

Director: Nora Ephron | Stars: Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, Chris Messina, Stanley Tucci

Votes: 97,912 | Gross: $94.13M

Julia Child: French Chef was a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef, best-selling author and television pioneer.

11. Norma Rae (1979)

PG | 114 min | Drama

61 Metascore

A young single mother and textile worker agrees to help unionize her mill despite the problems and dangers involved.

Director: Martin Ritt | Stars: Sally Field, Beau Bridges, Ron Leibman, Pat Hingle

Votes: 9,547 | Gross: $22.23M

Crystal Lee Sutton: Union Organizer whose early labor organizing work at the J.P. Stevens mills in North Carolina in the 1970's was the basis of this semi-fictionalized account.

12. Mary Magdalene (2018)

R | 120 min | Drama

48 Metascore

Twelve men heard and spread the message of Jesus. Only one woman understood it.

Director: Garth Davis | Stars: Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tahar Rahim

Votes: 6,269 | Gross: $0.12M

Mary Magdalene: Disciple, one of the original advocates of the teachings of Jesus and influential spiritual leader. Alternate Biopics: Gli amici di Gesù - Maria Maddalena (2000) plus others.

13. Radioactive (2019)

PG-13 | 103 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

53 Metascore

A story of the scientific and romantic passions of Marie Sklodowska-Curie (Polish scientist) and Pierre Curie, and the reverberation of their discoveries throughout the 20th century.

Director: Marjane Satrapi | Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, Rosamund Pike, Aneurin Barnard, Sam Riley

Votes: 25

Dr. Marie Curie: Scientist, who won not one but two seperate Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry. Alternate Biopic: Madame Curie (1943) w/Greer Garson

14. Battle for Sevastopol (2015)

110 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

A story of Lyudmila Pavlichenko, the most successful female sniper in history.

Director: Sergey Mokritskiy | Stars: Yuliya Peresild, Evgeniy Tsyganov, Oleg Vasilkov, Nikita Tarasov

Votes: 8,700

Lyudmila Pavlichenko: Sniper, credited with 309 kills and regarded one of the top military snipers of all time. She was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union medal, the Soviet military's highest military decoration.

15. Domino (2005)

R | 127 min | Action, Biography, Crime

36 Metascore

A recounting of Domino Harvey's life story. The daughter of actor Laurence Harvey turned away from her career as a Ford model to become a bounty hunter.

Director: Tony Scott | Stars: Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramírez, Delroy Lindo

Votes: 62,777 | Gross: $10.17M

Domino Harvey: Bounty Hunter, a former Ford model who excelled and was well-regarded in the male-dominated bail recovery field.

16. Temple Grandin (2010 TV Movie)

TV-PG | 107 min | Biography, Drama

A biopic of Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who has become one of the top scientists in the humane livestock handling industry.

Director: Mick Jackson | Stars: Claire Danes, Julia Ormond, David Strathairn, Catherine O'Hara

Votes: 25,218

Temple Grandin: Scientist, animal behavioral expert and autism pioneer whose advanced work in the autism field led to the invention of the "hug box". Her shared personal autism experiences led to a better understanding and acceptance of autism.

17. Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999 TV Movie)

R | 120 min | Biography, Drama, Music

This biography of Dorothy Dandridge follows her career through early days on the club circuit with her sister to her turn in movies, including becoming the first black actress to win a Best... See full summary »

Director: Martha Coolidge | Stars: Halle Berry, Brent Spiner, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Obba Babatundé

Votes: 3,044

Dorothy Dandridge: Actress, first African-American actress to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in the 1954 film Carmen. Dandridge's second nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Porgy and Bess demonstrated her widespread appeal to audiences of all races.

18. Annie Get Your Gun (1950)

Passed | 107 min | Biography, Comedy, Musical

77 Metascore

The story of the great sharpshooter Annie Oakley, who rose to fame while dealing with her love/professional rival, Frank Butler.

Directors: George Sidney, Busby Berkeley | Stars: Betty Hutton, Howard Keel, Louis Calhern, J. Carrol Naish

Votes: 4,040 | Gross: $8.00M

Annie Oakley: Sharpshooter, whose shooting prowess was legendary, well-deserved and unrivaled. Alternate Biopic: Annie Oakley (1935)

19. The Far Horizons (1955)

Not Rated | 108 min | History, Western

After purchasing Louisiana from France, the USA sends surveyors Lewis and Clark, assisted by a Shoshone guide, to chart the new territory.

Director: Rudolph Maté | Stars: Fred MacMurray, Charlton Heston, Donna Reed, Barbara Hale

Votes: 896

Sacajawea: Explorer, showed Lewis and Clark how to get from one end of United States to the other. Upcoming Biopic: SACAJAWEA the Windcatcher

20. The Josephine Baker Story (1991 TV Movie)

R | 130 min | Biography, Drama, History

Born poor in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine Baker achieved fame and fortune through her sizzlingly exotic, erotic performances. Starting life on the American Vaudeville circuit, success ... See full summary »

Director: Brian Gibson | Stars: Lynn Whitfield, Rubén Blades, David Dukes, Louis Gossett Jr.

Votes: 1,132

Josephine Baker: Entertainer, was a civil rights activist/pioneer, a French Resistance agent and a symbol of the Jazz Age and the 1920's. Baker was the first person of color to become a world-wide entertainer and to star in a major motion picture, Zouzou (1934).

21. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017)

88 min | Documentary, Biography, History

70 Metascore

The life and career of the hailed Hollywood movie star and underappreciated genius inventor, Hedy Lamarr.

Director: Alexandra Dean | Stars: Hedy Lamarr, Mel Brooks, Jennifer Hom, Anthony Loder

Votes: 2,554 | Gross: $0.82M

Hedy Lamarr: Actress, a mathematical prodigy and little-know inventor who co-developed with composer George Antheil a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes. It pioneered spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers. The principles of their work are the foundations upon which Bluetooth, CDMA (wireless phones) and Wi-Fi are built. This work led to their induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

22. Sister Kenny (1946)

Approved | 116 min | Biography, Drama

An Australian nurse discovers an effective new treatment for infantile paralysis, but experiences great difficulty in convincing doctors of the validity of her claims.

Director: Dudley Nichols | Stars: Rosalind Russell, Alexander Knox, Dean Jagger, Philip Merivale

Votes: 823

Elizabeth Kenny: Medical Pioneer, who developed a polio treatment that ran counter to conventional medical wisdom of the day. Kenny showed the need to exercise muscles affected by polio instead of immobilizing them. Her principles of muscle rehabilitation became the foundation of physical therapy, or physiotherapy we know today.

Rosalind Franklin: Scientist, led pioneering work on the molecular structure of DNA and viruses before an early death at 37 years old. Her work garnered two Nobel prizes for others with her own omission only due to the Nobel Committee's policy against posthumous nominations.

24. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017 TV Movie)

TV-MA | 93 min | Biography, Drama, History

An African-American woman becomes an unwitting pioneer for medical breakthroughs when her cells are used to create the first immortal human cell line in the early 1950s.

Director: George C. Wolfe | Stars: Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sylvia Grace Crim, Reed Birney, Karen Wheeling Reynolds

Votes: 2,798

Henrietta Lacks, progenitor of the HeLa immortalized cell line, one of the most important medical research discoveries ever made. The theft of her cells for commercial purposes made a groundbreaking impact on medical research. While highlighting concerns for both medical privacy and patients' rights.

25. Margaret Bourke-White (1989 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 105 min | Biography, Drama

Biographical account of pioneering photographer's career.

Director: Lawrence Schiller | Stars: Farrah Fawcett, Frederic Forrest, David Huddleston, Jay Patterson

Votes: 82

Margaret Bourke-White: War Correspondent, who is best known for her work as a world-traveled photojournalist for Forbes and Life magazine.

26. Florence Nightingale (1985 TV Movie)

TV-PG | 140 min | Biography, Drama, Family

The fact-based story of the pioneer of nursing, known as "the Lady with the Lamp".

Director: Daryl Duke | Stars: Jaclyn Smith, Claire Bloom, Timothy Dalton, Timothy West

Votes: 284

Florence Nightingale: Nursing Pioneer, who forever bettered society in a number of ways. She professionalized nursing through the establishment of the first nursing school. She improved health care for all classes, elevated the treatment of the war wounded and established an new, acceptable female profession, when there were few. Upcoming Biopic w/Elisabeth Moss

27. Lucy & Desi: Before the Laughter (1991 TV Movie)

PG | 95 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

This made for TV movie tells the story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. It begins in the 1930's when they met as actors under contract at RKO and ends with their divorce in 1960. In between ... See full summary »

Director: Charles Jarrott | Stars: Frances Fisher, Maurice Benard, Robin Pearson Rose, John Wheeler

Votes: 190

Lucille Ball: Studio Founder, the star comedian dominated the airwaves for over a decade. The first woman to run a major television studio and the executive responsible for some of the 1960's biggest shows.

28. The Queen of Code (2015)

Documentary, Short

The Queen of Code tells the story of Grace Hopper: mathematics professor and US Navy Admiral. She worked on the first computer and she headed the team that created the first compiler, which... See full summary »

Director: Gillian Jacobs

Votes: 22

Grace Hopper: Computer Pioneer, one of the first computer programmers and greatly shaped the direction computer science. She was one of first women to achieve the rank of admiral in the US Navy.

29. Nancy Wake, the White Mouse (2014 TV Movie)

49 min | Documentary

Docu-drama telling the story of an extraordinary undercover agent who worked with the resistance against Nazi Germany, evading the Gestapo while on their most-wanted list.

Director: Mike Smith | Stars: Rachel Blampied, Owen Black, Gavin Rutherford, Richard Chapman

Votes: 19

Nancy Wake: British Spy, one of the most decorated servicewomen of the war by the Allies. She topped the Gestapo's most wanted list with a 5-million-franc bounty on her head. Alternate Biopics: Nancy Wake Codename: The White Mouse (1987), Charlotte Gray (2001) (fictionalized)

30. The Godmother of Rock & Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe (2011)

60 min | Documentary

Documentary about gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who influenced the early rockers.

Director: Mick Csaky

Votes: 13

Rosetta Tharpe: Rock & Roll Pioneer, was one of the earliest rock-and-roll musicians. Other pioneers including Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, all cite her music as influential to them and the foundation upon Rock & Roll was built on.

31. Victoria Woodhull

Biography, Drama | Announced

In 1872 activist Victoria Woodhull becomes the first female presidential candidate for the United States of America.

Star: Brie Larson

Victoria Woodhull: First U. S. Female President Candidate who is best known for her presidential campaign run in 1872. She also was the first female stockbroker Wall Street, a brokerage firm founder and newspaper editor/founder.

Upcoming Alternate Biopic: Victoria C. Woodhull

32. A Dangerous Method (2011)

R | 99 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

76 Metascore

A look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel

Votes: 94,008 | Gross: $5.70M

Sabina Spielrein: One of the first Female Psychoanalysts

Added 15 August 2019

33. On the Basis of Sex (2018)

PG-13 | 120 min | Biography, Drama

59 Metascore

The true story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her struggles for equal rights, and the early cases of a historic career that lead to her nomination and confirmation as U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice.

Director: Mimi Leder | Stars: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Sam Waterston

Votes: 14,825 | Gross: $24.62M

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: the second female U.S. Supreme Court Justice who as an ACLU lawyer argued and won five of six U.S. Supreme Court gender equality cases (for both men and women) between 1973 and 1976 and later became one its leading voices on the bench for over a quarter of century on a range of issues.

Added 15 August 2019

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