Movies That Celebrate & Affirm Older Women
Hollywood is notorious for not giving opportunities to older actresses. While we’ve seen some improvements in recent years (looking at you, Best Actress winner Michelle Yeoh), the data shows that year after year, the female characters we see on screen are much younger than male ones.
This can be disheartening — especially when it seems like the film industry only attributes ‘desirability’ to younger women, with women in midlife often restricted to playing the mother/ boss/ nosy neighbor of the main character.
However, many filmmakers don’t buy that a woman’s value (or deservingness of screen time) are tied to her youth. These directors see older women in movies as the sexy, strong, beautiful beings we truly are — and aren’t afraid to center their stories around it. If you need a little pick-me-up, grab your favorite beverage and snuggle up for one of these enjoyable, engaging, celebratory movies about older women.
1. Juanita (2019)
Fed up with her dead-end hospital job and needy adult children, Juanita buys a bus ticket and heads to Montana. She ends up in a little town called Paper Moon, where she meets Jess, a chef who refuses to cook anything other than French food.
As their friendship evolves, Juanita learns to look at life through a different lens and discovers what it means to truly live in peace.
2. Gloria Bell (2018)
Gloria (Julianne Moore), a free-spirited empty-nester in Los Angeles, spends her nights living it up on the dance floor at a single’s bar. Though she’s looking to have fun, Gloria also struggles with the fact that she is getting older.
After a one-night stand that eventually becomes more, Gloria experiences the ups and downs of trying to make her relationship work, and begins to wonder if she even wants a man in her life. Joyful yet grounded, Gloria Bell is a reminder to rediscover the parts of ourselves that we let go of when the responsibilities of family and careers took over.
3. Frankie (2019)
Frankie (Isabelle Hupper) is a celebrated actress who has learned she only has a few months to live. Determined to enjoy the time she has left, she takes her loved ones to Portugal for one last family vacation — where she’ll tell them the news.
It doesn’t go as planned, however — her family members each have their own struggles, and Frankie must make her peace with all of it
Frankie’s story is one of being comfortable with who you are, coming to terms with a life well-lived, and saying goodbye.
4. The M Word (2014)
Moxie (Tanna Frederick), a children’s star on a struggling television station, launches a documentary about menopause. But when she stages a sit-in to save the station, her life is turned upside down by Charlie (Michael Imperioli), a network executive from New York. The two start a secret romance, while constantly butting heads as Charlie sets about doing his job.
This indie not only normalizes menopause; it also reflects on women in midlife and their second acts.
5. The Book Club (2018)
Four women (Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen) have spent the last forty years bonding over their book club meetings. But when they read Fifty Shades of Grey together, they are inspired to make changes in their own lives, from finding new romances to rekindling old ones.
This film was an enormous hit at the box office, earning $104.4 million dollars — proving that movies about women in midlife aren’t just interesting, they’re good business, too.