The 30 Best Chick Flicks Of All Time

From trashy blockblusters to independent horror, we look at the best films aimed at women over the last century.

What is a chick flick?

The dictionary definition of the chick flick is ‘a film which appeals to young women’. If you Google the category, you’ll find endless rom-coms from the nineties and early 2000s that centre white, heterosexual relationships. But when you get down to it, a movie that “appeals to young women” can be pretty much anything, right?

So, what makes for a great chick flick? It’s a film that celebrates women’s desires, challenges and achievements.

In light of this, we’ve included a wide range of great films that celebrate women, from trashy romantic blockbusters to groundbreaking sci-fi and independent horror. And they’re all fab picks for a girls’ night in. Enjoy!

30. The Notebook (2004)


Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rachel Adams

Plot: Set in the 1940s, a young couple from different social backgrounds struggle to stay together.

Why it is a must-see: It’s sentimental and cheesy, but let’s face it – it’s nice to indulge in a little melodrama from time to time.

29. Legally Blonde (2001)


Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Luke Wilson

Plot: It’s a classic. Fashion-forward sorority queen Elle Woods follows her boyfriend to law school after he dumps her. There, she works against the stereotypical law student mould.

Why it is a must-see: The bend-and-snap scene alone is a hit. Witherspoon spent two weeks around sorority girls, not wanting to recreate a dumbed-down character.

28. But I’m A Cheerleader (1999)


Starring: Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall

Plot: Before Natasha Lyonne starred in Orange Is The New Black and Russian Doll, she played a naive closeted teen in But I’m A Cheerleader. Ironically, being sent to a conversion camp is what helps her to come out to her peers. 

Why it is a must-see: It’s hilarious at times, and sees great performances from LGBT+ performers RuPaul and Clea Duvall.

27. Ghostbusters (2016) 


Starring: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones

Plot: Four women take the place of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis’s who starred in the 1984 film. Together, they fight the beginnings of a ghostly armageddon.

Why it is a must-see: The film broke the fourth wall and addressed the raised eyebrows about women taking on thes roles, when Wiig’s character read the YouTube comment ‘ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts’. But the film received stellar reviews, and it’s funny as hell.

26. The Secret Life Of Bees (2008)


Starring: Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah

Plot: Set in 1964, a teenage girl breaks her nanny out of jail and goes in search of the truth of how her mother died. They end up living with three African-American women who work as beekeepers.

Why it is a must-see: It’s a warm story about womanhood, loss, and finding family in places you least expect.

25. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)


Starring: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Plot: A young teen can’t date until her older sister dates, and so ploys to get her a boy.

Why it is a must-see: The nineties went nuts with Shakespearean remakes, from Romeo + Juliet to My Own Private Idaho, but this Taming of the Shrew remake stands out. Julia Stiles’ Kat helped bring “feminist prose and angry girl music of the indie-rock persuasion” to a mass audience. Plus, it was Heath Ledger’s first American movie.

24. Halloween (2018)


Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak

Plot: Three generations of women knuckle down to end the terror caused by murderer Michael Myers.

Why it is a must-see: Okay, you might be thinking, ‘really? Halloween? A chick flick?’ Stay with me. The story provides insight into intergenerational trauma and post-traumatic stress syndrome, a condition experienced by many women. Halloween’s main character Laurie Strode has a long legacy, and Curtis even drew strength from her character to speak out publicly about her opium addiction.

23. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)


Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett

Plot: Toula Portokalos, a young Greek woman, falls in love with a non-Greek bloke and all hell breaks loose.

Why it is a must-see: Despite being a small independent film, it’s the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time.

22. Captain Marvel (2019)


Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson

Plot: Air Force pilot Carol Danvers unknowingly becomes one of the most powerful heroes in the universe after a terrible accident.

Why it is a must-see: Every time Danvers falters, she gets back up. Every. Single. Time. Brie Larson trained for four hours a day learning judo, wrestling and boxing, for nine months to prepare for the role as Captain Marvel.

21. Amélie (2001)


Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz

Plot: As a homeschooled teen, Amélie managed her loneliness by forming an over-the-top imagination and a mischievous persona.

Why it is a must-see: It’s an intently thoughtful film. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet collected memories and events that make this story for over two decades.

20. Gaslight (1944)


Starring: Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman

Plot: In his efforts to try and protect a secret, a man slowly drives his wife insane.

Why it is a must-see: The term “gaslighting” stems from this film. When Paula sees the gaslight dim, her husband explains it’s just her imagination. It’s considered one of the best psychological thrillers ever made.

19. The Sapphires (2012)


Starring: Jessica Mauboy, Deborah Mailman, Miranda Tapsell

Plot: In 1968, four talented Aboriginal women entertain U.S. troops in Vietnam with their group, The Sapphires.

Why it is a must-see: Jessica Mauboy and Deborah Mailman pull off an excellent performance.

18. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)


Starring: Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley

Plot: A David Beckham-worshiping, British-Indian teen tries to follow her dreams, but her family has other ideas for her.

Why it is a must-see: Directed by Gurinder Chadha, this movie sees women push each other to bring their sporting careers to fruition. Pretty cool, huh?

17. She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (2014)


Starring: Chude Pamela Allen, Judith Arcana

Plot: This documentary tells the stories of brilliant women behind the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971.

Why it is a must-see: Who’s to say a chick flick can’t be a revolutionary documentary?

16. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)


Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi

Plot: Combing elements of horror, film noir and the spaghetti western, this film sees a young vampire stalk the Iranian town, Bad City.

Why it is a must-see: This feminist horror is thought of as the first Iranian vampire-western ever made. It’s visually stunning, unique storytelling.

15. Dirty Dancing (1987)


Starring: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey

Plot: Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman falls for her summer camp’s dance instructor (and resident hunk) Johnny Castle.

Why it is a must-see: This movie was celebrated as a feminist romance with a focus on women’s desire and sexuality. “It’s got so much heart, to me,” Swayze told AFI of why the film endured. Also, the Cry to Me love scene was voted one of the sexiest movie moments in cinematic history!

14. Always Be My Maybe (2019)


Starring: Ali Wong, Randal Park

Plot: Two childhood friends reconnect 15 years after sharing a rocky one-night stand.

Why it is a must-see: This Netflix film is rare rom-com. It features two Asian-American leads whose identities don’t dominate the story. The comedic writing is wonderfully weird and endearing, showing off Wong and Park’s artistic relationship. Plus, you’ll get to see Keanu Reeves play himself, which proves a wild ride.

13. Radiance (1998)

Deborah Mailman stars in Radiance (Credit: YouTube)

Starring: Deborah Mailman, Rachael Maza, Trisha Morton-Thomas

Plot: After their mother’s death, sisters Nona and Cressy travel to their childhood home in Northern Australia. There, they reunite with their third sister and begin to work through past hurts.

Why it is a must-see: This film won multiple awards and provides an intimate insight into sisterhood.

12. Lady Bird (2017)


Starring: Saorise Ronan, Laurie Metacalf

Plot: Written by Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), Lady Bird is a coming-of-age film set in 2002 Sacramento, California.

Why it is a must-see: This film is an intimate look at mother-daughter relationships in isolated, rural catholic towns. It’s warm, funny, and relatable.

11. Clueless (1995)


Starring: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd

Plot: Largely based on Jane Austen’s Emma, a rich, popular high school student takes a new friend under her wing.

Why it is a must-see: Clueless celebrates femininity in a really cool way and it’s funny as hell. Plus, there are fifty-three kinds of tartan and plaid used in the film. You can stream it on Netflix now.

10. The Big Sick (2017)


Starring: Zoe Kazan, Kumail Nanjiani

Plot: Comedian Nanjiani and his real-life wife Emily V. Gordon wrote a story about how they met. After falling in love, Gordon came very close to death.

Why it is a must-see: It’s a beautiful story, filled with culture clashes, awkward comedy, and standing up for what you want out of life. You can stream it on Stan now.

9. 9 to 5 (1980)


Starring: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton

Plot: Three women working the daily grind fantasise about how they’d like to get back at their “sexist, egotistical, lying hypocritical bigot” of a boss. In a surreal turn of events, their fantasies start coming to life.

Why it is a must-see: Despite being released around 40 years ago, the themes are still relatable, and the humour hits home.

8. It Happened One Night (1934)


Starring: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert

Plot: In this screwball comedy, a young heiress escapes an unwanted marriage with the help of an investigative journalist.

Why it is a must-see: You could consider this one of the first chick flicks ever made. It’s about a woman doing whatever it takes to live the life she wants to lead. Despite being over 80 years old, It Happened One Night holds its own as a funny, charming story.

7. Mean Girls (2004)


Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams

Plot: Cady Heron has to learn how to navigate cliques in high school after being home-schooled in Africa.

Why it is a must-see: Mean Girls was Tina Fay’s first feature film, and it’s a hit. It was based on the book Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman. It’s also one of the most quotable movies of all time.

6. Hidden Figures (2016)


Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe

Plot: This drama biopic retells how three African-American mathematicians were pivotal in the early years of NASA’s U.S. space program.

Why it is a must-see: Janelle Monáe plays a fierce, fiery engineer babe. It’s an entertaining, moving homage to the African-American women who, without them, Astronauts could have lost their lives. After the film screened, a 98-years-old at-the-time Katherine Johnson expressed approval of Henson’s portrayal.

5. Booksmart (2019)


Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein

Plot: When holier-than-thou Molly learns that her degenerate peers have gotten into Harvard, she enlists her best friend Amy on a quest to find a party. This coming-of-age film feels similar to Superbad, but instead of two nerdy dudes, we have two teenage girls.

Why it is a must-see: It feels rare that you get to see teenage women portrayed in a way that isn’t overly angelic. In Booksmart, we see two young, intelligent, funny women be as disgusting as Jonah Hill’s Seth in Superbad, but without the overt sexism. There’s a queer lead that spins the traditional first-time sex scene on its head. It’s a strong, funny directorial debut by Olivia Wilde.

4. Bridesmaids (2011)


Starring: Kirsten Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne

Plot: A young woman on the verge of hitting rock bottom agrees to be maid-of-honour for her newly engaged best friend.

Why it is a must-see: This movie is a great pick me up when you’re feeling like life is kicking you in the guts. It was the highest-grossing R-rated women-led comedy of all time in the States.

3. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)


Starring: Lana Condor

Plot: The mortified Lara has to face up to her feelings when her secret love letters end up in the hands of her former crushes.

Why it is a must-see: Based on Jenny Han’s YA novel, the story takes a young women’s vulnerability and turns it into something powerful. It’s well worth a watch.

2. Alien (1979)


Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt

Plot: Directed by Ridley Scott, Alien sees a space crew’s ship invaded by a terrifying creature.

Why it is a must-see: Again, Alien might not come to mind when you think of chick flicks, but think about it. Weaver’s protagonist Ellen Ripley is considered an iconic female action hero. She told the Independent that Ripley represented 1970s feminist revolt: “Women were agitating to be in the army, to work in warehouses and as truck drivers.” Plus, Ripley doesn’t care about being liked by the dudes in her crew; the movie subverts fear of being impregnated onto men, and Ripley is a resilient survivor. Hell yeah, it’s a chick flick!

1. Thelma & Louise (1991)


Starring: Susan Sarandon, Greena Davis

Plot: One of the best road movies of all time, Thelma & Louise sees two young women take a break from their crappy partners and end up being pursued by police.

Why this is a must-see: Directed by Ridley Scott, this film is considered an original chick flick with a strong feminist message. “The spirit of Thelma and Louise was one of freedom, which still resonates today,” wrote Australian critic Keeva Stratton.

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