With all of the damsels in distress and borderline-desperate women looking for love, it can be tough to find role model-worthy leading ladies on the silver screen. Y'know, smart, savvy women who can kick ass if necessary and even save some men from danger along the way. Think Starbuck from 'Battlestar Galactica,' except on the big screen.

This month, you can find two formidable female leads in the theaters. The ultimate tough-as-nails, smarter-than-everyone hero, Lisbeth Salander (played by Noomi Rapace) in 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest,' and Valerie Plame (played by Naomi Watts), the real-life CIA agent outed by the Bush Administration in 'Fair Game.'

While 'Fair Game' falls flat and really just rehashes everything we already know about the Plame Affair, it's refreshing to see a heroine who's focused on saving lives and bringing home the bacon, while her husband shares the homemaking duties without being portrayed in an emasculating light. (It would have been nice to see a bit more of Plame's back story in 'Fair Game' to get a better sense of just how tough she is and what drives her.)

Lisbeth, a.k.a. The 'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' is definitely someone you want in your corner if things turn sour. She may be tiny, but she can take down biker dudes, serial killers and muscle-bound freaks. And she's much more than an ass-kicking machine – she can outsmart the best of them. In a nod to 'Fair Game' and in honor of the iconic new heroine Lisbeth, here's a list of my favorite, awe-inspiring leading ladies who foil bad guys with their smarts and, in some cases, some awesome ass-kicking moves. And no, I'm not including the heroines designed more to titillate teenage boys than inspire young ladies (ahem, Catwoman. Elektra. Lara Croft).
The Silence of the Lambs Movie Poster
The Silence of the Lambs
Based on 19 critics

Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI's training academy. Jack Crawford (Scott... Read More

Alien Movie Poster
Based on 22 critics

In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules... Read More

The Matrix Movie Poster
The Matrix
Based on 35 critics

Neo (Keanu Reeves) believes that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), an elusive figure considered to be the... Read More

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 Movie Poster
Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Based on 43 critics

A former assassin, known simply as The Bride (Uma Thurman), wakes from a coma four years after her jealous... Read More

Salt Movie Poster
Based on 42 critics

When Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) became a CIA officer, she swore an oath to duty, honor and country.... Read More

Fair Game Movie Poster
Fair Game
Based on 35 critics

Wife and mother Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) has a double life as a CIA operative, hiding her vocation... Read More

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest Movie Poster
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Based on 31 critics

Hospitalized Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) awaits her murder trial, while Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) tries to... Read More

categories Columns, The Rundown