At least five nominees at Sunday’s Oscars failed the test, but all nine of these picks pass with flying colors
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
The Bechdel Test is deceivingly simple. A passing movie must feature (1) two named women (2) who talk to each other (3) about something other than a man. However, many of our favorite childhood movies fail to pass (“Shrek”). While filmmakers today have gotten better at meeting this bare minimum requirement (“Shrek 2”), women are still severely underrepresented in modern cinema. Since March is women’s history month, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite Bechdel-test approved films to watch once you finish winter quarter finals.
Sophie Dewees — Editor-in-Chief
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989) is one of my all-time childhood favorites. The film tells the story of Kiki, a 13-year-old witch who sets out to find a life of her own. She settles in a beautiful coastal town with her cat, Jiji, and meets several inspiring female role models including Osono, a friendly bakery owner who helps Kiki find her way, and Ursula, a young artist who lives alone in a cabin in the woods. The film offers a sweet coming-of-age story of a girl learning how to live an independent life that, typical of Studio Ghibli movies, features beautiful hand-drawn nature scenes and picturesque landscapes.
Katie DeBenedetti — Managing Editor
Content warning: sexual assault.
Based on the title, it’s no surprise that “Women Talking” (2022) passes the Bechdel Test. The entire movie is, quite literally, women talking (and one man taking notes of the women’s conversation, as it should be). The film, directed by Sarah Polley, is loosely based on a Mennonite community, and follows a group of women of all ages who discover that the men in their community have been abusing them. This group of women — the only people who know the truth — is tasked with deciding the fate of all of the women in the colony. They decide that they have three options: stay and fight, say nothing or leave.
Sonora Slater — Campus News Editor
“Dear old world,” she murmured. “You are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”
The 1985 film “Anne of Green Gables,” adapted from the novel of the same name, follows 11-year-old orphan Anne Shirley as she embarks on adventure (read: hijinks) in Avonlea after being adopted by middle-aged siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Although the quote above is from the book, not the movie, it captures the imaginative romanticism, the love for life and the overdramatic nature of a girl who has captured the hearts of audiences for generations, with her story now having been adapted into all varieties of mediums. “Anne of Green Gables” celebrates female friendships (or “kindred spirits”), allows a young girl’s perspective and narration to take the forefront and serves as a love letter to girls everywhere who love using big words, sometimes act before they think and can’t shake the notion that, despite days when we’re “in the depths of despair,” there will always come again a time when we are grateful for the lovely world we live in.
Chris Ponce — City News Editor
Content warning: violence, suicide.
Sure, it’s not October. It’s actually not even close to spooky season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in the spirit early! And why not watch a horror movie to go with the recent rainy weather? “Midsommar” (2019) is the perfect spring horror movie. This hauntingly beautiful horror movie is unique in the aspect that the cinematography features bright and flowery colors. The film stars Florence Pugh who gives a powerful performance as her character Dani experiences the different stages of grief. “Midsommar” features many female characters who are essential to the plot’s progression. Throughout the movie, we see how the people in Dani’s life — her boyfriend and his friends — take advantage of her grief and how she learns to adapt to the horrific situation she is thrown into.
Owen Ruderman — Opinion Editor
Ok, sure, maybe the last couple weeks of school aren’t the best time to be sitting down and watching movies. But when you’re finally done, “The Menu” (2022) is the perfect final course; a delectable dessert to round out the quarter. Ralph Fiennes gives a stellar, haunting performance as Chef Slowik, a celebrity chef who seems to be… slipping, to say the least. The rest of the cast, including Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult, sail out to the private island where the restaurant is located for a night of once-in-a-lifetime courses and unforgettable fine-dining experiences. And the icing on the cake: the movie passes the Bechdel test. So if you love dark comedy and food (and women), I think it’s about time you perused “The Menu.”
Levi Goldstein — Features Editor
Content warning: domestic abuse, alcoholism, kidnapping, racism and racial violence, cannibalism.
If you’re looking for an emotional movie night, “Fried Green Tomatoes” (1991) is the perfect balance of hilarious and heart-wrenching. In this classic film, Evelyn Couch, who is unhappy with being a housewife, befriends Ninny Threadgoode in her nursing home, and throughout their developing friendship, Ninny tells Evelyn stories of family and friends from her youth. The movie switches narratives from the present time to flashbacks of Idgie Threadgoode, Ninny’s sister-in-law, and Ruth Jamison, who bond as they cope with the death of a loved one. As Ruth and Idgie fall in love, open a café together and deal with Ruth’s abusive ex-husband in the past, Evelyn gains confidence to make changes in her life and Ninny makes peace with her family history in the present. “Fried Green Tomatoes” is a heartwarming story of love and friendship between women that is woven with artful social commentary. It tackles difficult themes and is certainly a tear-jerker, but it also has humor that will make you laugh until you can’t breathe, which makes it one of my favorite movies of all time.
Clara Fischer — Arts & Culture Editor
Maybe it’s because the Davis rain has me missing summer or maybe it’s because I would rather be dancing on a Greek island than taking my finals next week, but either way, the movie on my mind right now is the iconic “Mamma Mia” (2008). This jukebox musical smash-hit is one of my all-time favorites. Not only does it feature Meryl Streep (a legend), but the ABBA songs that support the film’s plot have been a recurring feature in my life. These tunes have provided the soundtrack for countless road trips, karaoke nights and time spent dancing with friends. To that matter, the film is essentially a culmination of these moments, resulting in a true testament to the power of love, family and female friendships. It’s refreshing to see older actresses being cast in roles that showcase their vibrant personalities without limitations, and I can only hope that my friends and I are one day as cool as Donna and the Dynamos.
Marlon Rolon — Sports Editor
“M3gan” (2023) is the latest and greatest sci-fi horror flick to hit the big screen. The AI used in this film makes connections to our addiction to hand-held electronic devices and provides a sneak peek into the future of how life could be with smart toys that are built for companionship. M3gan is a lifelike doll that is programmed to be a child’s best friend and essentially is built to replace a parent. This movie gives off “Chucky” vibes and is relatable to the infamous killer doll that is adored by many who are into dark horror films — M3gan is creepy, deceiving, obsessive, and demonic (oh, and I can’t forget she has some dance moves too). Like Chucky, M3gan is hard to kill, whether she’s disfigured or cut in half, she always finds a way to come back. The supporting cast — Allison Williams plays Gemma, a super busy aunt who gains legal guardianship of her niece, and Violet McGraw plays Cady, an orphan who tragically lost her parents in a car accident. Gemma feels forced to look after Cady but takes on the responsibility even though she has no time to care for a child due to her job that requires her to create, develop and program smart toys. She then creates M3gan…
Brandon Ngyuen — Science & Tech Editor
Searching for a gentle, springtime movie to cozy up to and watch with your family and/or friends? Look no further than the well-renowned Studio Ghibli film “My Neighbor Totoro” (1988). This animated coming-of-age story follows two young sisters who move with their father into an old, rural house in the countryside as they wait for their hospitalized mother to recover from her illness. As they get accustomed to their new home, the sisters explore the farmland and nearby forest, befriending neighbors like the sweet old Granny and, most notably, the giant, cuddly, plush spirit Totoro. Just when you feel like you are getting older with yet another speedy end to the quarter, legendary director Hayao Miyazaki’s fantastical adventure story captures a heartwarming nostalgia that will make you reminisce on playful memories of your childhood and make you feel young again.
Written by: The Editorial Board