For too long, women in mystery have been relegated to the roles of damsels and femme fatales. It's about time we've shined a light on the women at the forefront of the action. Whether teen sleuths, quirky spies, or amateur criminals, women know how to get things done. Here are 10 of the best woman-led mystery and thriller movies to watch for Women's History Month.
A Simple Favor
Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is a widowed single mother who runs a parenting blog. Her simple life gets turned upside down when she befriends the elegant and mysterious Emily Nelson (Blake Lively). Bonding over motherhood and the sharing of dark secrets, the women quickly become inseparable. When Emily goes missing one day, Stephanie takes it upon herself to investigate.
Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is a veteran 911 operator who receives a call that changes her life. After a devastating mistake leads to the death of a teenage girl at the hands of a serial killer, another young teen, Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin), is abducted. In order to save the girl's life, Jordan must go above and beyond to coach her through the ordeal and get help there in time.
This film from 2000 certainly has some moments that prove it's a product of its time, but overall serves to show the strength of women and how ridiculous it is to look down on femininity. Rough around the edges tomboy FBI agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) must go undercover in the Miss United States beauty pageant to prevent a deadly bombing. But first, she's gonna need a makeover.
Deadly contract killer Anna (Maggie Q) was rescued as a child by Moody (Samuel L. Jackson), a legendary assassin. When her mentor is brutally murdered, Anna will stop at nothing to get revenge against those responsible.
Charlie's Angels (2000)
The early 2000s was a time where woman-led films didn't necessarily mean a lack of over-sexualization or off-color jokes. So this one isn't exactly a shining example of modern feminism, but it's a classic franchise that speaks to sisterhood, and it would be a crime to leave it off the list. Charlie's latest crop of Angels are Natalie (Cameron Diaz), Dylan (Drew Barrymore), and Alex (Lucy Liu). These bombshell espionage experts must foil a dangerous plot involving stolen voice-ID software.
Speaking of classics, this 1974 film is one of the most iconic blaxploitation movies of all time. Foxy Brown's (Pam Grier) boyfriend—an undercover cop—is shot down by the mob. In order to get close to those responsible and wreak her revenge, she goes undercover herself as a high-class prostitute.
Promising Young Woman
Is this the best movie to ever exist? I certainly think so. Med school dropout Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan) had her whole life unravel when her best friend committed suicide after a horrific sexual assault. Now Cassie has dedicated herself to seeking out and punishing men who prey upon vulnerable women. But her mission for revenge stands in the way of her ever having a normal life of her own.
This 2018 film boasts an incredible ensemble cast of women. When a criminal gang is killed in a police standoff, they leave behind their wives, Veronica (Viola Davis), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki). When a crime boss approaches Veronica with threats unless she pays him back for the money the late crime gang stole from him, she decides to use the plans her husband made to carry out a heist with the widows.
Sherlock Holmes can step aside, as his intrepid teen sister, Enola (Millie Bobby Brown), is on the case. When Enola's mother goes missing, she sets out to find her on her own. In the midst of outsmarting her notorious brother, this super-sleuth in the making uncovers a dangerous conspiracy.
MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is one of the best in Her Majesty's service. When a fellow agent is murdered, she's sent on a tense mission in Cold War Berlin to recover a missing list of double agents. With some of the best fight sequences in cinematic history, this thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat.