Movie About Women Friendships That We Can’t Live Without


A good friend is like a four-leaf clover: hard to find and lucky to have. The same thing used to happen — at least up until recently, with movies about women’s friendships. In fact, it wasn’t that common to see on the silver screen the portrayal of these necessary bonds and the roles they play in these women’s lives, keeping each other company through the good times and the bad. It was, however, much more common to see women as rivals, fighting for a job position or a love interest, such as Andy Sachs and Emily Charlton in The Devil Wears Prada.


This is confirmed by the Bechdel Test, created by cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985, which measures women representation in films. In order for a movie to pass this test, it must meet three criteria: have at least two named women characters, have them talk to each other, and the conversation must not be about or related to a man. These standards are so basic that it is hard to believe that world-famous and acclaimed movies like Slumdog Millionaire, La La Land, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy or films like Toy Story and Finding Nemo could not pass the test.

However, for some time now, Hollywood has been peeking into women’s friendship with several films that explored the personal bonds between women beyond romantic and family relationships. There have even been several groups that are now working to advocate for gender diversity and inclusion in the global film industry. A close friendship can even change the entire course of a story, as in Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings’ case with Thor and Darcy Lewis.

2023 saw many new movies embrace the idea of female friendships. Movies like Bottoms, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, Joy Ride, and The Marvels now join a special group of movies that speak to the different perspectives of female friendships. These movies took the baton from other classic films about female friendship and carried it forward. Here are some of the best movies about women’s friendship that we can’t live without.

Update December 30, 2023: by Samuel Cormier: If you love seeing the power of women’s friendships in movies, you will be happy to know that this article has been updated with more titles and where each movie is streaming.


10 Thelma & Louise (1991)

In Thelma & Louise, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon portray two completely different women who come to become close friends. While Thelma is trapped in a dull life and an unhappy marriage to Darryl, Louise works full time as a waitress, with the sole aspiration of being proposed to by her boyfriend. One weekend, they decide to go on a trip together in Louise’s car to escape from their mundane life and take a break from all their frustrations. But their getaway, which promised to be fun and liberating, turns out to be an experience full of tragic episodes. After a man who attempts to rape Thelma gets killed, these women are forced to make some decisions that will completely change the fate of their journey.

What Makes It Great

Thelma & Louise helped popularize the idea of casting two women to play the kind of rule-breaking, action-packed protagonist roles that Hollywood regularly gave to men, so it was a turning point in terms of female representation. While Ridley Scott might be more well-known for other sci-fi movies, he delivers an emotional testimony to the fact that women stick together when faced with adversity, no matter their differences. This film also features one of the most iconic endings in cinema history. Thelma and Louise is currently streaming on Paramount+.

9 Clueless (1995)

Clueless

Release Date
July 19, 1995

Director
Amy Heckerling

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
97

Clueless is a 1995 film that follows the story of Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and Dionne (Stacey Dash), two of the most popular girls in a Beverly Hills high school, whose main concern is wearing the best-looking clothes and becoming as popular as they can possibly be. Cher lives with her strict father, a famous California lawyer, and her sensitive stepbrother (Paul Rudd), the son of her father’s ex-wife. Soon, Cher’s life is turned upside-down as a new girl, Tai (Brittany Murphy), transfers to the school: she becomes obsessed with the idea of giving her a full life makeover.

Why We Love Clueless

The film is based on Jane Austen’s book Emma, which chronicled the life of a 22-year-old single, well-to-do, society girl who couldn’t imagine herself married and dedicated her time performing as a matchmaker for her new friend, Harriet Smith. Directed by Amy Heckerling, it illustrates the social and emotional problems of young people from California’s upper economic class, and how Cher, despite being a shallow teenager, had a big heart and an innate need to help those around her, so she ends up setting up two of her teachers, and turning her shy new friend Tai into a school beauty prodigy. Meanwhile, Tai herself makes Cher realize her true values, and which boy she should actually turn to. Clueless is currently streaming on Paramount+.

8 Ghost World (2001)

Ghost World

Ghost World

Release Date
July 20, 2001

Rating
R

Runtime
111

In Ghost World, Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) are two teenagers who can’t find their place in the world. They pass unnoticed through high school, and it seems that their adulthood will follow the same path. When they graduate from high school, they are faced with a rather uncertain and unpleasant future: failed jobs and very little chance of romance. Eventually, Rebecca gets a job in a local coffee shop and manages to save some money for the apartment she has always dreamed of. Meanwhile, Enid becomes friends through a newspaper advertisement with Seymour (Steve Buscemi), a grumpy middle-aged man who has never found his place in society. Besides spending time with Seymour, Enid also tries, with little to no luck, to enter the workplace so that she can move into the apartment with Rebecca. However, because of different life circumstances, Enid and Rebecca’s paths begin to drift apart.

What Makes Ghost World Great

This movie was inspired by the comic book Ghost World by Daniel Clowes. It was Clowes himself who later assisted the director of the film, Ferry Zwigoff, in its adaptation for the big screen. The two girls are simple American women, not Hollywood starlets, not kids with rich dads. They have ups and downs that affect not only their mood but also their whole life. It shows the friendship between two girls who were inseparable but eventually parted ways. Its relatability is what earns this film a spot on the list. Ghost World is currently streaming on Paramount+ and Roku.

7 Frances Ha (2013)

frances ha

Frances Ha

Release Date
May 17, 2013

Rating
R

Runtime
86

In Frances Ha, directed by Noah Baumbach, Frances (Greta Gerwig) is a young woman of 27 years old who tries, despite her age, to succeed in the world of dance in New York. Optimistic, risk-taking, and innocent, it could be said that Frances lives in late adolescence and that she is a woman with rawer and more authentic feelings than other people. However, her carefree life and strong refusal to take on responsibilities gradually contribute to Frances’ sadness, especially after her friend and roommate Sophie (Mickey Sumner) decides to move out and live with her boyfriend.

Why Frances Ha Is Great

Who has never felt lost and stuck at some point in their life while friends and loved ones were moving on? That was exactly what happened to Frances when Sophie moved out: she tried to hold on to the simple and carefree life of a young woman, but that moment became a turning point from which Frances went a long way in trying to find herself. Frances Ha walks the line between drama and comedy, making the choice to be a modern black-and-white movie. Nonetheless, it delivers audiences with cerebral jokes and a restrained approach to the depiction of friendships in movies. Gerwig does an outstanding job in front of and behind the camera in this feature. Frances Ha is currently streaming on Netflix, AMC, Mubi, and the Criterion Channel.

6 Uptown Girls (2003)

Uptown Girls

Uptown Girls

Release Date
August 15, 2003

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
92

Directed by Boaz Yakin, Uptown Girls follows the story of Molly Gunn (played by the late Brittany Murphy), the carefree daughter of a late rock star. Molly is a very prestigious girl: designers are fighting to dress her, the most eligible bachelors are looking to date her, and her birthday party is the most requested invite-only event in town. Her life is a never-ending party, but when her bookkeeper steals her inheritance, Molly’s life abruptly shifts, and she is forced to do one thing she’d never done before: find a job. With the help of her friends, Molly lands a position as a babysitter for Ray (Dakota Fanning), a precocious and uptight eight-year-old girl who is extremely careful, responsible, and obsessed with germs.

Uptown Girls Is Underrated

Ray was raised by a multitude of nannies and had very little stability in her childhood, which is why she tried to control anything and everything in her power. Molly has never needed to be a responsible adult, and Ray has always carried the load of the world on her tiny shoulders, so this bond results in each one teaching the other to behave according to their age and leads to a never-before-seen friendship. This movie shows how neglect can result in two different qualities: being neurotic or being a spoiled brat. But it does so in a way that will make the audience laugh and tear up in alternation, making for a great Friday night watch. Uptown Girls is currently streaming on Max and Roku.

5 Pitch Perfect (2012)

Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect

Release Date
September 28, 2012

Director
Jason Moore

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
112

In Pitch Perfect, Beca (Anna Kendrick) is a self-sufficient, uptight college girl. She doesn’t have a lot of friends and would rather be in the company of her music than spend time with others. But everything changes when she enters university and is forced to join a vocal group with a bunch of totally different girls. Once part of the team, Beca is challenged to find her place and to adapt to them vocally, and once she succeeds, she feels the need to radically shift the group’s course, so that they can sing something different together. She wants to break free from the old-fashioned style they practiced and perform popular tunes in a refreshing way, giving them a distinctive personality. This marks the beginning of a new adventure for Beca and her new friends, as they have to overcome numerous obstacles in order to succeed as a group.

What Made Pitch Perfect Strike the Right Note

A classic within the classics, this movie reinvents the girls’ friendship theme with the addition of a cappella songs and memorable scenes that can still be quoted for years to come. Along with Anna Kendrick, it also stars Alexis Knapp, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, and Kelly Jakle. The overwhelming success of Pitch Perfect led to two sequels featuring the adventures of this singing group being premiered in the years that followed, and a Pitch Perfect TV spin-off featuring Adam Devine as Bumper Allen even came out in 2021. This one is a true sleepover staple. Pitch Perfect is currently streaming on Peacock.

4 Booksmart (2019)

booksmart

Booksmart

Release Date
May 24, 2019

Rating
R

Runtime
105

Olivia Wilde made her directorial debut in 2019 with Booksmart, starring Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein. In the film, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are two straight-A students and great friends who believe that being so devoted to school will grant them the opportunity to fulfill their dreams of attending a prestigious university and flying to Africa. Just before the end of the school year, however, they find out that the cool kids who partied all year and didn’t spend any time on their schoolwork are also getting into amazing colleges. This is a hard blow for Molly, who realizes she has wasted a lot of time not going to parties and not having fun. So, the day before graduation, she and Amy decide to go to the biggest party ever, and the two friends are forced to overcome situations that no book has ever prepared them for before.

Why Booksmart is a Modern Classic

In this movie, director Olivia Wilde shatters many clichés and stereotypes about teenage female friendship to make way for an incredible and authentic story about two friends who realize that they have a lot to live for. It is a fresh take on the coming-of-age film that has the potential to inspire a new generation of teen movies. It tactfully deals with modern subjects without being moralizing or partisan, and is a genuine account of the modern teenage experience. The actresses masterfully deal with the fast-pacedness of the movie, balancing comedy and drama sometimes within the same scene. The dialogue is outstanding and promises to leave audiences with more than just a few chuckles. Booksmart is currently available to rent on Apple TV and Prime.

3 Girls Trip (2017)

girls trip

Girls Trip

Release Date
July 21, 2017

Rating
R

Runtime
122

Girls Trip follows the lives of four lifelong friends: Ryan (Regina Hall), a best-selling author who is at a turning point in her marriage, Dina (Tiffany Haddish), the driven, open-minded, unconditional friend, Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith), a conservative nurse and mom of two who desperately needs a weekend getaway, and Sasha (Queen Latifah), a blogger seeking a new twist in her life. These friends head to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, where they rediscover their wild side, rekindle their bond, enjoy dancing, messing up and experiencing romance in a whole new way.

Why Audiences Loved Girls Trip

This film earned very good reviews, harvesting a score of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. While most movies on this list focus on teenage girls, this one chose to explore the bond between four active women, which may relate to a broader audience — and did it well, without too many exaggerations that similar movies tend to commit. While films like Bad Moms and Rough Night came out in theaters first, Girls Trip connected with audiences in a much bigger way becoming a box office hit at a time when studio comedies were beginning to fizzle out. It should also be highlighted that this film stars four Black actresses and contains many references that speak to the African American community. It was also the first film written by an African-American female screenwriter to cross $100 million at the box office. Girls Trip is currently streaming on Peacock.

2 Steel Magnolias (1989)

Steel Magnolias

Steel Magnolias

Release Date
November 15, 1989

Director
Herbert Ross

Rating
PG

Runtime
117

In Steel Magnolias, six women develop or expand their friendships in a small Southern town. Shelby (Julia Roberts) is somewhat the central character of the story; she is a young bride (and later on, a young mother) who struggles with Type 1 diabetes. Her mother is M’Lynn (Sally Field), a woman with a strong character who also wrestles with two teen boys and a sluggish husband. They both often visit a beauty salon led by Truvy (Dolly Parton), a typical Southern belle who knows all the gossip in town and often helps her friends and clients make decisions. A new hire actually recently joined the salon, Annelle (Daryl Hannah), a quiet young woman who seems to hold a few things secret about her past. Two other clients of the salon are Clairee (Olympia Dukakis) and Ouiser (Shirley MacLaine), two best friends, and the former is as sweet as the latter is abrasive.

What Makes It Great

This movie was adapted from the 1987 play of the same name by Robert Harling, who had lost his sister to diabetes two years prior. It explores friendships that transcend age gaps, blood relationships, and even illness and death. It also gives a beautiful account of Southern fashion, habits and community life in the 80s. The stunning ensemble cast somehow exceeds expectations, kickstarting Roberts’ stardom, as well as confirming Field’s chameleon-like acting abilities and Parton’s charm on the silver screen. These resilient women take center stage, and while they all have husbands, lovers, fathers, and brothers, they show the strength that womanly bonds can have. Steel Magnolias is currently available to rent on Apple TV, Prime, or Vudu.

1 The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)

In The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, four teenage girlfriends who spent their whole lives together are faced with the dramatic but unavoidable reality of having to go separate ways for the summer: Carmen (America Ferrera) is looking forward to spending time with her father, whom she has rarely seen since he divorced her mother years ago. Bridget (Blake Lively) enrolled in a soccer camp in Mexico. The laid-back Lena (Alexis Bledel) purchased a ticket to discover her roots in her grandparents’ village in Greece, and the rebellious Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) remains in town against her will, working at the local supermarket and filming a documentary. Determined to keep in touch, they come up with a plan to keep the memories of their friendship alive: a quirky scheme that focuses on swapping a pair of magic jeans that fits all of them despite being different sizes. The jeans, therefore, travel to every destination and become each one’s lucky charm, a reminder that they will always have a friend through every difficult moment, or whenever they feel lonely or sad.

What Makes It Great

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is the ultimate teen and friendship movie, with four realistic characters that anyone can probably recognize themselves. It shows that with good friends, any hardship, failure or breakup can be overcome. While it may not have the most groundbreaking plot, this film earns its spot at the top of this list thanks to the way that it portrays friendships between four very different girls through a specific item of clothing and the coming-of-age qualities that have undoubtedly spoken to a whole generation of teen girls — but other audiences as well. Its success earned it a sequel three years later. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is currently available to rent on Apple TV, Prime, and Vudu.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was just one of many teen movies from the early 2000’s that defined a generation, check out our video to see more movies from that era that have become beloved classics.



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