Watching TV or movies is seen as entertainment for the lesser mortals who can’t enjoy literature. Who doesn’t love it? However, I believe movies have a lot to offer in terms of intellectual stimuli. Movies have a great impact and generally take much lesser time to consume as compared to books – requiring much lesser mental effort on one’s part as well. Having watched Ford v Ferrari recently, I drifted a little back into the days I used to hunt for movies centred around business and especially the ones concerning women. And eventually, came up with the idea of curating this list of inspiring movies for women entrepreneurs and startup founders.
List of Movies for Women Entrepreneurs
Since their inception, movies have delved into all sorts of niche genres and there is a whole category of movies dedicated to women empowerment. Here is a handpicked subset of that list, that could aid future Female entrepreneurs and also the aspiring ones.
Disclaimer: The movies are not listed in any particular order or based on ratings or metrics.
Chocolat – 2000
This movie is about two chocolatiers making it big in a small town. Business & entrepreneurship is seen as a field for men. Even women who manage to thrive in this arena are expected to “toughen up” and be masculine versions of themselves. Chocolat shows two female entrepreneurs who are very conventionally womanly have a prosperous business. The women are soft-spoken yet assertive, they convince without coaxing. And take on their challenges with grace.
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writers: Joanne Harris (novel), Robert Nelson Jacobs (screenplay)
Stars: Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina
IMDB Rating: 7.2
Baby Boom – 1987
People generally view children as a liability and feel their career growth (more so in the case of a woman) stagnates post-child. Baby Boom shows the reverse happening, as J.C. learns a lesson far more valuable than anything her job could’ve taught her. After her child, she grows and matures as a human being. It is the child that breaks the monotony in her life and instils a new sense of responsibility in her.
Director: Charles Shyer
Writers: Nancy Meyers, Charles Shyer
Stars: Diane Keaton, Sam Shepard, Harold Ramis
IMDB Rating: 6.2
The Help – 2011
While the movie doesn’t specifically showcase a corporate or a flourishing business, it portrays strong independent women, who aren’t afraid to speak up to get what they want. Eugenia (Emma Stone) herself is ostracized for taking a special interest in the lives of maids and people working for white families, yet she persists with faith. She even is bold enough to go against her dear ones for justice. Having a strong will and an independent mind is essential for a business that is growing. Moreover, it teaches tact, unctuosity, and resourcefulness as the characters have portrayed the above qualities on multiple occasions.
Director: Tate Taylor
Writers: Tate Taylor (screenplay), Kathryn Stockett (novel)
Stars: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer
IMDB Rating: 8.1
Erin Brockovich – 2000
Many may disagree but the truth is – everything gets tougher when you are a woman. It is for that reason that Erin Brockovich has made it to this list. You see how the odds are always against her favour. How being a broke single mom just exacerbates the situation. But she always fights back. She is manipulative and aggressive and is able to get what she wants. These are the skills that make an entrepreneur.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Susannah Grant
Stars: Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, David Brisbin
IMDB Rating: 7.3
The Devil Wears Prada – 2006
For anyone anxious about starting their first corporate job or too apprehensive about taking on new and difficult challenges, The Devil Wears Prada is a must-watch. You see how unremarkable Andy (Anne Hathaway) is in many ways. At the same time, you see how resilient she is every time she’s made to feel like an outcast. She adapts herself to the new environment presented to her and eventually manages to succeed. Its conclusion is also a good lesson on staying grounded and not letting even a small amount of success get to your head.
Director: David Frankel
Writers: Aline Brosh McKenna (screenplay), Lauren Weisberger (novel)
Stars: Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Adrian Grenier
IMDB Rating: 6.9
ⓘ You might want to read: 9 ideal Tips for Women to become better Entrepreneurs
The Associate – 1996
Women are rarely viewed independently. They require a title (Ms or Mrs), a surname (father’s or husband’s), and most definitely cannot be expected to handle serious work on their own. They need a boss. The Associate is a satire on this precise belief most of us have internalised. It shows a woman independently getting wealthy, whilst being the associate of the fictitious Mr Cutty. Ironically, it is Mr Cutty who leads to her success, but it is she herself who creates Mr Cutty in the first place.
Director: Donald Petrie
Writers: Jenaro Prieto (novel), Jean-Claude Carrière (screenplay “L’Associé”)
Stars: Whoopi Goldberg, Dianne Wiest, Eli Wallach
IMDB Rating: 6.1
The Intern – 2015
The movie may not be particularly entertaining or moving but it has a lot of things to teach you about leadership, responsibility, and workload. You realise it is difficult, but not impossible, to stay on top of everything. That your personal and professional life usually come at the cost of the other. That you always need a parental figure however high you’ve climbed the corporate ladder. And lastly that there’s no age to take on new challenges and continue growing.
Director: Nancy Meyers
Writer: Nancy Meyers
Stars: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo
IMDB Rating: 7.1
Sunshine Cleaning – 2009
Sunshine Cleaning is a movie that shows how at times there’s no “secret to success”, there’s only plain and simple hard work. It is not at all a glamorous film but deals with the mere basics of survival – struggle and getting out of your comfort zone. Sometimes the best you can hope for is an average life, and even that calls for a lot of effort and sacrifice. One must learn to make huge changes in our personality if we want drastic changes in our lives.
Director: Christine Jeffs
Writer: Megan Holley
Stars: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin
IMDB Rating: 6.8
Joy – 2015
Joy is about an outspoken young woman who fiercely charges at her dreams. She is ready to take on the several challenges a life of entrepreneurship is going to entail. She manages to find humour despite the challenges life throws at her. Also, it is a movie that showcases the realistic and plain life of movie stars. While the plot may not necessarily seem compelling it is a must-watch for Lawrence’s performance alone.
Director: David O. Russell
Writers: David O. Russell (screenplay), Annie Mumolo (story)
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper
IMDB Rating: 6.6
Over To You
Did any other movies inspire you as a woman entrepreneur or startup founder? Or have any more insights regarding the movies in the above list? You are welcome to share your thoughts in the comments below.
ⓘ Last updated on 27 Nov 2019
▸ Recommended read: Top 40 inspirational movies for entrepreneurs & startup founders