You know those nights when you flip through the channels searching endlessly for something to watch? You finished the baking show, the one with the vampires, and that fish out of water series set in 1800s Pennsylvania. Why not see an entertaining movie about women entrepreneurs? Here are ten films (plus a few more) that will get you to stop flipping and start watching.
The Associate (1996): Amazon Prime
Whoopi Goldberg is a talented financial analyst who can’t get ahead. No one listens to her, but they still manage to take credit for her ideas. She decides to start her own investment firm, but, as a Black woman, she can’t get a business loan. Enter her new partner, Robert Cutty, a white man with a pedigree. The firm takes off. Now, everyone wants to meet the financial genius, Robert Cutty. There’s just one problem, he doesn’t exist. Goldberg and the script are funny in an absurd but relatable situation.
Why should you watch? Whoopi Goldberg made some funny films in the 1990s. The Associate lets her show off her comedy chops. Also, it’s satisfying to watch her succeed.
Baby Boom (1987): Amazon Prime
Diane Keaton is a no-nonsense, super competitive ad executive who inherits a baby girl. Motherhood, at first, a chore, complicates her streamlined, work-centric life. When she’s pushed out of her firm, Keaton moves to Vermont, floundering at first. After settling in, she starts making natural baby food. Soon, she has a successful line of baby food and the honchos who drummed her out want her back.
Why should you watch? It’s a solid romantic comedy, and there is a love story, but it’s mostly a love story between a mother and her baby. Keaton is likable, especially during quiet moments with her daughter. It’s also a business story. Yes, it’s a Hollywood business story, but it’s fun to watch.
Chocolat (2000): Cinemax
Juliette Binoche opens a chocolate shop in France. The end. Kidding. She does open a chocolate shop in France and the ultra-religious folks in this small town consider it a scandal that she is open on Sunday and that she offers such delicious, irresistible (read sinful) treats.
Why should you watch? Binoche shines in this role and it’s always fascinating to see how people confuse enjoyable with sinful. Also, chocolate.
The Intern (2015): Amazon Prime
Anne Hathaway founds a startup online clothing company and business is booming. She provides solid products and exemplary customer service but is convinced to hire a CEO to run the business. After she absentmindedly adopts a senior intern program, Robert DeNiro, a 70-something retiree shows up. At first, she ignores him but comes to find his counsel valuable. He’s not some fairy godfather either. (Get it?) He acts as a sounding board — a handy thing for entrepreneurs.
Why should you watch? Hathaway does a terrific job as a harried entrepreneur juggling work, kids, and a husband. It’s nice to see her go from doubting herself and thinking of everyone else to standing up and deciding to do her own thing.
Joy (2015): Amazon Prime
This film, based on the life of inventor Joy Mangano stars Jennifer Lawrence as the long-suffering titular character. After years of working hard and taking care of everyone in her family, Mangano follows her dream and invents a self-wringing mop. She uses her own money and friends’ investments to fabricate the mops in her dad’s garage. She sells a few, but her lively appearances on home shopping networks increase sales dramatically, enabling her to keep inventing.
Why should you watch? Jennifer Lawrence can act and watching her confront unsupportive family members, indifferent executives, and her own self-doubt and win will make your day.
Mildred Pierce (1945): Amazon Prime
Joan Crawford stars as Mildred Pierce in this melodramatic film noir about an unhappy wife and mother who rallies after her husband leaves her. She’s smart, determined, and works hard, opening a chain of successful restaurants and becoming rich. Unfortunately, some of the folks around her, including her daughter, will stop at nothing to take advantage of her industry. Crawford won the Oscar for this one, effectively turning her career around. Ann Blyth plays the spoiled daughter. Watch for Eve Arden as Crawford’s wise-cracking best friend.
Why should you watch? For a film from the 1940s, the subject matter is modern and relatable. The ensemble cast of veteran actors knows their way around a script and the snappy patter makes it fun. Did I mention Eve Arden?
Out of Africa (1985): HBO
Meryl Streep stars as Karen Blixen, a.k.a. Isak Dinesen, who owns and runs a coffee plantation in Kenya. Married to a philanderer who offers little help on the farm, Blixen runs it herself, learning the local languages and culture of the Kikuyu, Masai, and Swahili people.
Why should you watch? The cinematography, by David Watkin, is gorgeous as are Streep’s clothes. The film shows her keeping her cool and running the show in a male-dominated world. Also, prime Robert Redford.
Steel Magnolias (1989): Amazon Prime
A group of women friends in Louisiana deal with family issues, old age, love, illness, and death by relying on each other. Sally Field, Julia Roberts, and Dolly Parton head up a terrific cast and the dialogue is choice. Parton’s beauty salon, which supports her family, serves as the meeting place where the women can speak freely.
Why should you watch? It’s funny and sad and then funny again — kind of like life. Also, the support these women give each other helps them make it through hard times. The film serves as a reminder that as capable as we are, we still need friends to help lighten the load.
The Wedding Planner (2001): Amazon Prime
Jennifer Lopez plans weddings with an astounding sense of organization and style. She’s devoted to her job and is trying to make partner in the firm, run by her boss, Geri (Kathy Najimy). She meets a man, Matthew McConaughey, and there’s a spark. Later, she discovers he’s engaged and Lopez is planning the wedding. Hijinks ensue.
Why should you watch? Yes, it’s a light romantic comedy, but it’s also a film about a woman who is sharp, thoughtful, and lives for her job. When she finds someone special, she has to decide if working 24/7 is worth it.
You’ve Got Mail (1998): Amazon Prime
Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are business rivals. They’re also online friends starting to fall for one another. Will they ever find out? Will they ever meet?
Why should you watch? It’s a pleasant movie with a good cast. Yes, Ryan’s bookstore fails, but she moves on. That’s a good lesson, too.
Here are a few more. After all, you’ll need something to watch tomorrow.
The Boss (2016): Amazon Prime
Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Bell start a brownie business.
Cat Ballou (1965): Amazon Prime
Jane Fonda leads a gang of train robbers out to avenge her father’s death. Ok, it’s not a legitimate business.
The Dressmaker (2015): Amazon Prime
Kate Winslet moves back to rural Australia and starts a high-end dress shop.
Imitation of Life (1934): Amazon Prime
Claudette Colbert and Hattie McDaniel open a pancake business.
Sunshine Cleaning (2008): Showtime
Amy Adams and Emily Blunt start a business cleaning up crime scenes.