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Fall culture season is in full swing, and one of the notable trends with the autumn feature film releases is how many of them feature a tough, compelling female protagonist. Our correspondent has curated a list of them. Here are five examples – in addition to Cate Blanchett’s star turn in Tár – where strong women characters are taking center stage in the best fall 2022 movies.

tough female protagonists anchor several upcoming films this fall

As the leaves change and the weather cools another major indicator of fall is that the film releases get a bit better than the more fluffy summer cinematic fare (though let’s all just agree that Top Gun: Maverick was a masterpiece.)

We are now close to awards season, so all the studios are releasing their best work. And luckily, many of the best new movies of fall 2022 feature strong women characters. Even better? These women are all quite different from each other – and none are cookie-cutter stereotypes. From glamorous journalists with sordid pasts to a female warrior in Africa – there’s even a lead in a horror film (how’d she manage to sneak in there?)

In addition to Cate Blanchett in Tár, there are a number of new movies this fall with strong female leads. Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

In addition to Cate Blanchett’s star turn in the upcoming Tár, here’s a look at some of the best new movies this fall 2022 with strong female leads.

Strong Women Take Center Stage in the Best Fall 2022 Movies

1. Tiffani FaNelli in Luckiest Girl Alive

If you didn’t read this best-selling book by former Self editor Jessica Knoll then you are missing out. However, don’t think this is some fun chicklit romp just because when you meet our main character she is working at a glam magazine in New York City. Toting a Goyard bag and a John Kennedy Jr. type as her fiancé.

Oh no, peel back the layers in Luckiest Girl Alive and you will find a deep, dark and rotting core in Ani FaNelli (real name Tiffani.) You soon find out Tiffani went through hell in high school and not the kind most any of us can relate to (hopefully.) Two interlinked traumas have impacted her life forever, causing her to adopt a new name, a new look, and, really, an entirely different persona. However, that voice inside her, quite abusive at times, is still there. And comes out just when you least expect it.

fall 2022 movies with strong women center stage

Fall 2022 movies with strong women center stage: Luckiest Girl Alive. Courtesy Photo.

Played sharply by Mila Kunis, the film moves quite quickly. But still maintains Knoll’s brilliance(she wrote the screenplay as well). But just be warned: this film, streaming on Netflix starting October 7th, is not for the faint of heart. In a recent talk at The 92Y Kunis praised Knoll’s work and explained why she was drawn to this particular role. “I didn’t want to make just another film because it was an ‘It’s a woman who…’ To me what makes it incredibly special and why I chose this is two things: it is loosely based on the writer’s life. So there is an element to it of “that is how it happened,” and to me that was really important. And the writer who wrote the book who this is is based off of also wrote the screenplay. Her voice is incredibly specific. This is the first screenplay she’s ever written, and she has amazing books out there. They’ve all been on The New York Times best-seller list. She has a very specific cadence and a very specific tone. A lot of it has to do with this voiceover and it’s not exposition.”

Watch the trailer here: Luckiest Girl Alive | Official Trailer | Netflix

2. Nanisca in The Woman King

We know anything with Viola Davis is at least worth considering. And she doesn’t disappoint in The Woman King, a film inspired by a 19th-century tribe of female warriors known as Agojie. Davis plays Nanisca, the general of the Agojie. The character has seen quite a lot in her time, and is visibly weary as she protects the new king (John Boyega.) Wendy Ide of The Guardian writes: “What elevates the picture is that it’s not just about the ass-kicking (although the fight choreography is exemplary and the action is a technical triumph).”

Fall 2022 movies with strong women center stage

Fall 2022 movies with strong women center stage: The Woman King. Courtesy Photo.

The Woman King gives its cast the opportunity to properly flesh out their characters. The movie dares to tackle uncomfortable themes, like overcoming trauma. It confronts and interrogates the role of some African peoples – the Dahomey included – in the enslavement of others. This film is also a thunderously cinematic good time: see it on the biggest screen you can find. The Woman King is in theaters now.

Watch the trailer here: THE WOMAN KING – Official Trailer (HD)

3. Drea and Eleanor in Do Revenge

You are probably thinking – as are we all – how many teen movies can Netflix put out every year? The answer is about 170. And while that number may sound like overkill, and indicate a distinct decline in quality, there are always exceptions. And Do Revenge is one of them. This one is worth a watch.

The story is classic and a bit Shakespearean (which as we all know makes for the best teen movie fodder). Queen Bee Drea (played by Camila Mendes) is dethroned and becomes an outcast, leaving her to become friends with the quirky but completely charming Eleanor (Maya Hawke.)

Fall 2022 movies with strong women center stage: Do Revenge. Courtesy Photo.

Together they come up with the plan to “do revenge” on each other’s enemies who have ruined their high school experiences. Of course, this leads to makeovers, hilarity, romances and all those other essential elements of a great teen dramedy. You’ll see a lot of influences from iconic teen film predecessors such as Clueless and The Heathers. If you ask us, the wardrobe choices alone should win an award. But most importantly, this movie portrays female rage in a way that we typically don’t see in these type of films. The female gaze is strong in this one.

Watch the trailer here: Do Revenge | Official Trailer | Netflix

4. Rose Cotter in Smile

Though the horror genre isn’t for everyone, you do have to give credit where credit is due. The plots of gory horror flicks tend to favor strong women characters, especially in the last decade. Even before the 20-teens, horror movies often focused on a young woman finding her power. Like in Carrie or Halloween (we won’t count The Exorcist though anyone that can survive the devil doing that to their body is pretty impressive but, again, she was 14. They can bounce back from almost anything.)

Anywho, the plot of Smile will seem familiar in a The Ring/Sixth Sense/The Grudge-type way. It may also leave you never looking at a smile the same way again.

Fall 2022 movies with strong women center stage, in addition to Cate Blanchett in Tár: Smile. Courtesy Photo.

Young female psychiatrist Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon, daughter of Kevin and Kyra Sedgewick) works with a patient who commits suicide right before her eyes. However, there’s a twist. The patient has a huge, haunting grin on their face while doing it.

Afterward, Cotter can’t stop seeing horrific images, and feels herself losing her mind. And possibly her life. Well, you know the rest. But audiences keep returning for horror. Look at the Halloween franchise. It sees its (maybe) final iteration with Halloween Ends (out this month) with the fierce and tough female protagonist played once again by Jamie Lee Curtis. And we should note that Smile grossed $22 million its opening weekend. Considering the budget was only $17 million, that is a big deal. It even beat out the history-making Bros, which came in fourth.

Watch the trailer here: Smile | Official Trailer (2022 Movie)

5. Lib Wright in The Wonder

Florence Pugh’s other new film release this fall 2022, Don’t Worry Darling, is getting a bit of attention. And not for the best reasons (although her performance has been lauded.) But never fear: the Academy Award nominee has another film out this fall: The Wonder. And it looks quite staggeringly different than DWD in the best possible way.

In it, Pugh plays an English nurse in 1862 who is called to Ireland to observe a young girl (Kíla Lord Cassidy) who claims she hasn’t eaten in four months. She is sustaining herself on a holy energy force. Ahh . . .  that old Joan of Arc trope. It just never gets old.

Fall 2022 movies with strong women center stage, in addition to Cate Blanchett in Tár: The Wonder. Courtesy Photo.

The film is an adaptation of a novel by Emma Donoghue (the author of Room). Though not quite as horrific as Smile, The Wonder definitely counts as a psychological thriller – with a strong female protagonist. There is no doubt Pugh will give another banger of a performance. The film will be released on Netflix on November 2nd.

Watch the trailer here: The Wonder | Official Trailer | Netflix

strong women characters take center stage in movies this fall 2022

That’s our take on some of the best new movie releases this fall 2022 – many of which feature strong women characters center stage. Along with Cate Blanchett’s star turn in Tár, this bodes extremely well, we think, for more tough and complicated female protagonists in movies to come. Now let’s all get out there and prove that there’s a huge audience for this kind of film.

Meredith Lepore

Meredith Lepore is a travel and luxury writer and editor whose work has appeared in Travel + Leisure,, Marie Claire, Self and more. She’s visited many top hotels and restaurants (although she’s still waiting on that private jet ride, which she insists would help her get over her fear of flying.) Her personal definition of luxury is Doritos and The Gilmore Girls, plus the occasional meal at Per Se. Meredith resides in New York City with her Yorkie, Otis; her preferred home décor vibe channels Valley of the Dolls.