30 Women with Gumption Movies

Monday, May 10, 2010 at 1:39 pm

These 30 women with gumption movies are perfect for anyone looking to be entertained by tales of strong and independent females. From gun-toting cowgirls to determined cotton farmers, this list covers a wide range of genres and time periods. But they all have one thing in common: the men take a backseat to the women, and the estrogen will flow like a raging river.

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And just in case you’re wondering what in the blue blazes the word “gumption” means, let’s take a look at the definitions provided by Dictionary.com:

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at 30 women with gumption movies. This one’s for you, Jules (anyone else who wants to request a list topic should email me at onlygoodmovies[at]gmail[dot]com).

Thelma and Louise (1991) – Geena Davis (Thelma) and Susan Sarandon (Louise) star as a pair of housewives on the run from the law and their boring suburban lives. Harvey Keitel co-stars as the cop in hot pursuit, Michael Madsen in Sarandon’s musician boyfriend, and Brad Pitt makes an impression as a paroled robber who steals Thelma’s heart (as well as her money). The final scene is one of the most memorable in modern movie history.

Erin Brockovich (2000) – Julia Roberts captured a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of real-life figure Erin Brockovich, a single mom who gets a job as a file clerk at a lawyer’s office and ends up discovering a massive cover-up involving Pacific Gas and Electric. Albert Finney co-stars as her pushover boss, and Aaron Eckhart as her biker boyfriend.

All I Wanna Do (1998) – Set in a fictional New England all-girls boarding school during the early ‘60s, this film follows the arrival of new student Odie Sinclair (Gaby Hoffmann) and the eventual plot by the students to sabotage a proposed merger with an all-boys school. Co-starring Kirsten Dunst, Rachael Leigh Cook and Lynn Redgrave. Also known by the title The Hairy Bird.

Miss Potter (2006) – Renee Zellweger stars as Beatrix Potter, the author of such children’s stories as Peter Rabbit. A strong-willed woman, she starts her career as an author, defies her parents when it comes to marriage, and eventually begins buying up property to help preserve nature. In real life, she was also a respected figure in the field of mycology (the study of fungi). Luckily, the film doesn’t focus on the fungus.

9 to 5 (1980) – Sick and tired of their sexist boss (Dabney Coleman), a trio of female employees (Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda) decide to give him a taste of his own medicine. A great success, the film would later be made into a musical and a TV series.

Places in the Heart (1984) – Sally Field won another Best Actress Oscar for playing Edna Spalding, a Texas widow who tries to keep her farm going and raise her family during the ravages of The Great Depression. Along the way, she gets a little help from an African-American man (Danny Glover) and a blind tenant (John Malkovich). Her transformation from wife and mother to head of the house is a real treat to watch.

Kill Bill (Volumes 1 & 2) (2003 & 2004) – Uma Thurman and director Quentin Tarantino join forces for this tale of a pregnant woman (The Bride) gunned down on her wedding day by her former teammates in the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. Eventually waking from her coma (and assuming her child is dead), she makes a list, checks it twice, and then travels around the globe getting her revenge. Also starring David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Michael Madsen and Daryl Hannah.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) – Angelina Jolie scored a hit as the busty explorer with a pair of big guns to match. To prevent the mysterious Illuminati from gaining an object that will give them power over time and space, Lady Croft will have to journey to such exotic locations as Cambodia and Siberia. Daniel Craig co-stars as Alex West, a fellow adventurer and possible love interest.

A League of Their Own (1992) – Following the trials of the WWII-era All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the film focuses on the Rockford Peaches and their star player, Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis). Tom Hanks is unforgettable as Jimmy Dugan, a former major leaguer forced to manage the team after alcoholism wrecked his career. Also starring Madonna, Lori Petty and Rosie O’Donnell.

Azumi (2006) – After being trained from childhood to be an assassin, a young woman named Azumi (Aya Ueto) is assigned to kill three warlords who threaten to throw feudal Japan into chaos. Filled with fountains of blood and an eccentric villain, Azumi is a perfect example of some of the violent and original movies being adapted from Japanese manga.

Charlie’s Angels (2000) – Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu star as three capable private investigators who must rescue a software whiz (Sam Rockwell) from his kidnappers on behalf of their mysterious boss, Charlie (John Forsythe). Filled with explosions, a cool soundtrack, and plenty of kung fu fighting, the film co-stars Bill Murray, Crispin Glover, and Kelly Lynch.

Lady Vengeance (2005) – After being released from prison for killing a schoolboy, the innocent Lee Geum-ja (Lee Young Ae) wastes no time putting her plan for payback in motion. Choi Min-sik (Oldboy) stars as the villainous Mr. Baek, and the final 30 minutes will have you cheering for revenge served ice cold. Part of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy.

Real Women Have Curves (2002) – Ana Garcia (America Ferrara) is a talented student who lives in East L.A. and dreams of escaping her current life to attend Columbia. But her mother’s old-fashioned ideas about a woman’s role stand in her way, as well as self-image issues regarding her size.

Jackie Brown (1997) – Quentin Tarantino sat behind the camera for this tale of a flight attendant (Pam Grier) caught between the A.T.F., a sympathetic bail bondsman (Robert Forster), and a murderous drug dealer (Samuel L. Jackson). Also starring Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton and Bridget Fonda.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) – Directed by Ang Lee, this international production features lots of eye-popping fight sequences and wire work, but none is more impressive than the showdown between Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) and Jen (Zhang Ziyi), two martial arts masters with plenty of issues to work out.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – Jodie Foster is Clarice Starling, a plucky FBI recruit who gets embroiled in a desperate hunt to find serial killer Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) before he strikes again. This brings her into contact with the sinister-yet-genius Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), an imprisoned cannibal and murderer who may hold the key to her case. But at what price?

Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1992) – Chantel Mitchell (Ariyan A. Johnson) is a sharp teen living in Brooklyn. Tired of being looked at as poor and just another black girl on the subway, Chantel pursues her dreams of going to college and becoming a doctor. Can she succeed, or will her own faults derail her plans?

Sex and the City (2008) – Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her best pals (Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon) are independent, 40-something women living life and looking for love in the Big Apple. A monster hit with female viewers, the film grossed over $400 million worldwide.

Aliens (1986) – After surviving an alien attack in the first film, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is rescued and once again finds herself in a life-or-death struggle against the horrifying xenomorphs. Directed by James Cameron, Aliens is filled with loads of action and feminist attitude.

Whale Rider (2002) – This New Zealand drama follows a 12-year-old girl’s quest for acceptance within the tribe and her struggles to become their new chieftain. Thanks to her brilliant performance, star Keisha Castle-Hughes became the youngest person ever nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award.

Million Dollar Baby (2004) – Hillary Swank won her second Oscar for playing Margareth Fitzgerald, a scrappy waitress who lives her Missouri hometown and heads to Los Angeles to become a professional boxer. Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman co-star as the crusty trainers who manage her to a title fight.

The Machine Girl (2008) – After her brother is murdered and her arm is severed, Japanese schoolgirl Ami Hyuga (Minase Yashiro) goes on a gore-filled revenge spree, thanks in part to a machine gun attached to her stump. Not for the faint of heart, but fans of over-the-top violence will be howling in delight.

Antonia’s Line (1995) – Winner of the 1996 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, this Dutch motion picture tells the story of Antonia (Willeke van Ammelrooy), a woman living in the years following WWII. Returning to the village of her birth, she has an effect on all those around her, and the liberal-minded film deals with topics ranging from sex and religion to death and lesbianism. When it comes to women with gumption movies, it’s hard to beat this entry from feminist director Marleen Gorris.

Freeway (1996) – Illiterate teen Vanessa Lutz (Reese Witherspoon) is just trying to get to her grandmother’s house, but first she’ll have to survive a stint in prison and a vicious serial killer (Keifer Sutherland) in this grim retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.

Bring It On (2000) – Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) has just taken over her high school cheerleading squad, but she’ll have to contend with romantic entanglements, an injury on the team, and the fact that their routines are stolen from another school. Co-starring Eliza Dushku and Gabrielle Union.

Girlfight (2000) – Michelle Rodriguez made a name for herself as a troubled teen who takes up boxing in this debut film from Karyn Kusama. Winner of numerous awards on the festival circuit, you’ll even get to see Diana Guzman (Rodriguez) fight her own father in the confines of their cramped kitchen. A glimpse of things to come for the brassy Latina actress.

The Matrix(1999) – While Neo may be akin to Superman, the leather-clad hellion named Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) is nothing to scoff at. With a perpetual scowl and plenty of firepower, she specializes in wreaking havoc in this sci-fi classic from the Wachowski brothers.

Norma Rae (1979) – Sally Field won a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a factory worker in Alabama who becomes involved with the struggle to bring in a labor union. Based on the real-life tale of Crystal Lee Sutton.

Coffy (1973) – When her 11-year-old sister runs into problems with heroin, an L.A. nurse named Coffy (Pam Grier) strikes back against the criminals and crooked officials with a mixture of feminine charms and lethal force. As the poster so adequately states, Coffy is “the baddest one-chick hit-squad that ever hit town.” Amen to that.

The Quick and the Dead (1995) – Sharon Stone plays a mysterious gunfighter who rides into Redemption and enters herself into a quick draw contest to gain revenge against John Herod (Gene Hackman), the town’s iron-fisted ruler. Plenty of Old West action, and the film co-stars Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio in early film roles. Directed by Sam Raimi with his usual distinctive flair.

If you enjoyed this list about women with gumption, you might want to visit Netflix and try out their free trial membership. We do get a small commission if you buy something via one of our links, but all proceeds go right back into the site. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

And here are a few more Only Good Movies articles that you’ll be interested in:

This entry was posted on Monday, May 10th, 2010 at 1:39 pm and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 Responses to “30 Women with Gumption Movies”

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June 27, 2010


nice list, some all around good movies in here… also, check out “The Brave One” with Jodi Foster

April 19, 2012

Richard Downward

Wow, I didn’t know they made a movie about the Peter Rabbit lady. I’d like to see a tournament where these women fight for supremacy. I think the title match would come down to Coffy versus Machine Girl…but maybe Michelle Rodriguez.

December 30, 2012


Nice list. So many more can be added…
Can someone make a list of classic actress’s with gumption in films? Hepburn, Russell….. Remember the movie “Holiday” when Kate Winslet’s character meets the old next door neighbor? …he was talking about the women with Gumption, and was having her watch old movies. .. BTW I love the word Gumption!

January 10, 2013


I agree. “Gumption” is a great word.


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