In 1977, Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star; in 2015, Daisy Ridley's Rey kicked Kylo Ren's butt so hard, it rocked the galaxy. In a world where girl power is enough to awaken the Force, pink dresses and bubblegum Barbie worlds just aren't cutting it anymore -- our girls want lightsabers, bows and arrows, superpowers, and estrogen-powered role models with both brains and muscles. And why shouldn't they?
So let your girls rule flag fly high with five movies that are happy to oblige, and happy to empower.
1. 'Frozen' (2013)
You probably saw this one coming. "Frozen" packs crazily striking visuals and catchy-stuck-in-your-head melodies that helped win it the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2014, but it's the movie's emotional themes – not just its musical ones – that make it award-worthy for girls of all ages. Anna (Kristen Bell) absolutely refuses to give up on her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), and as the girls face everything from trolls to snowstorms, they learn to stay true to themselves, appreciate their inner gifts, and love each other unconditionally. And there's absolutely nothing cold about that.
2. 'Kiki's Delivery Service' (1989)
Princesses and super-heroines are par for the girl-power course, but the preteen witch in "Kiki's Delivery Service" (voiced by Kirsten Dunst in the American dub) teaches us that you can't judge a book by its magical, broomstick-loving cover.
In this modern Hayao Miyazaki classic, Kiki doesn't just fly on a literal level, her personality absolutely soars -- she's an imminently generous, insistently helpful, and always passionate role model who sticks to her guns despite very human insecurities (in this case, she's worried about magical powers, but you get the idea). Spoiler alert: Her persistence and selflessness eventually enable her to overcome those insecurities and confidently save her friends.
Also, this all happened way before Harry Potter was cool, so Kiki is basically like the hipster of witches.
3. 'Matilda' (1996)
As an actor, you know Danny DeVito for his down-to-earth grit and quirky humor. And in a way, that strange earthiness makes the perfect match for Roald Dahl's text in this 1996 movie adaptation of "Matilda."
Though its bizarre and sort of surreal tone might be a bit much for young kids, bright girls in the eight-and-up range can relate to its sincere sense of imagination. Once you separate Matilda's fantastic powers from reality, you can appreciate a brilliant young female lead (Mara Wilson) who exudes positivity, wit, candor, and independence. Bonus points: Matilda's a famously avid reader, which totally doesn't hurt either.
4. 'Brave' (2012)
No one character shows how awesome girls are than Merida -- the blazingly red-headed girl from Pixar's 2012 hit "Brave." This rugged Scottish fairy tale delves into the very real issue of strained mother-daughter relations wrapped up in a fantasy shell, and trumpets the possibility of mending things by working together and learning from one another. And though strength of will plays a huge role in Merida's journey, you can't deny just how much butt she kicks with a bow.
5. 'Akeelah and the Bee' (2006)
In a reality where bullying is an everyday issue and kids feel pressured to win constantly, "Akeelah and the Bee" is a smart, defiant breath of fresh air for tween viewers. As an 11-year-old Angeleno girl and spelling bee prodigy who brings her talents to the national level, Akeelah, played by Keke Palmer, learns to take pride in her intelligence and talent -- despite true-to-reality bullying -- and eventually chooses generosity and empathy over a shallow victory. This drama hits the feels a lot harder than other movies, but the emotional gravity only heightens Akeelah's character strength, and makes it easier for parents to invest in the story alongside their kids.
And whether you're a young girl, the rad aunt, the coolest grandpa that ever lived, or anyone in-between, powerhouse performances from Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett most definitely don't hurt the watchability factor.
- NOLA.com: Oscars 2014: "Frozen" Delivers Disney Its First Ever Win for Animated Feature
- Common Sense Media: "Frozen" Movie Review
- Common Sense Media: "Kiki's Delivery Service" Review
- RogerEbert.com: "Matilda" Review and Film Summary
- Common Sense Media: "Matilda" Movie Review
- Common Sense Media: "Brave" Movie Review
- RogerEbert.com: "Akeelahd and the Bee" Movie Review (2006)