British women have hailed iconic character Bridget Jones as the most inspiring heroine of all time to grace the silver screen.
Played by award-winning actress Renée Zellweger, the heart-warming film sees singleton Bridget confide in her diary while overcoming relationship woes, family pressures and career struggles – showing that not all superheroes wear capes.
Commissioned by Sky Cinema ahead of International Women’s Day (8th March), the poll of 2000 women saw tenacious Erin Brockovich come second, played by Julia Roberts in the autobiographical tale of an American legal clerk who fights for justice and stands up for what she believes in.
Furthermore, sweeping in – on her broomstick – at number three of fearless females in film, was none other than the book-smart best friend of ‘the boy who lived’, Hermione Granger – played by the young Emma Watson.
Characters from much-loved classics such as Mary Poppins, Matilda and Mulan also featured in the top 10 inspiring today’s women, alongside firm family favourites such as Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Miss Honey from the film adaption of Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Merida from Disney Pixar’s Brave.
The study also saw Cher from Clueless, Princess Leia from Star Wars and even Miss Piggy from the Muppets feature in the top 30 list.
Commenting on the research, film-critic, broadcaster and podcast host Anna Smith, said, “The fact that Bridget and Erin are topping the list shows that women relate to complex, layered characters who overcome the obstacles of life with humour and compassion.”
“Even those in fantasy genre are fully rounded characters, not fantastical stereotypes.”
“And I’m thrilled to see that so many women are rooting for more powerful female leads and that Sky Cinema is celebrating this too.”
Delving deeper into why women identify with leading ladies like Bridget Jones portrayed in films, more than eight in 10 cited ‘relatability’ as the main source of admiration, with two-fifths recognising traits of themselves, close friends and relatives in the characters. Finding female leads funny and inspiring closely followed as top reasons why women enjoy these films more than those with male leads.
As many as 56 per cent felt a sense of empowerment when seeing ladies lead on-screen, while others looked for qualities that they aspire to uphold themselves in a female protagonist, such as intelligence, independence and confidence.
According to those polled, watching these female role models has given them the courage to be bolder and braver, with a fifth inspired to speak their mind more and a further 18 per cent less likely to care what people think.
Touching on the future of film, it emerged that seven in 10 women agree more films should feature powerful female leads, with 39 per cent saying it would have boosted their confidence growing up if they’d seen more of these in films.
But more positively, the research also nodded to the progression that the industry has made, with nearly half of respondents agreeing that more movies are being made with a powerful female front and centre compared to 10 years ago.
In addition, when asked if the next 007 should be a woman, a quarter wanted to see Jane Bond replace James Bond, with more than a third finding bravery an aspirational quality in female leads.
Sarah Wright, Director of Sky Cinema and Acquisitions, Sky UK & Ireland said, “I cannot wait to celebrate International Women’s Day on Sky Cinema with our millions of customers.”
“I am enormously proud of our Women in Film collection curated with contribution from critic Anna Smith, and delighted to be able to premiere our very timely, brand new documentary, This Changes Everything, which focuses on the next generation and highlights the importance of strong female role models both on and off screen.”
To celebrate International Women’s Day, Sky Cinema is launching a specially curated collection celebrating women in front of and behind the camera. Titled ‘Women in Film’ this collection also features 20 iconic films featuring fearless female leads, personally selected by Anna Smith – all of which viewers can enjoy on the service from 2nd March until 8th March.
Top 30 fictional female movie characters UK women find inspiring:
- Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones’s Diary)
- Erin Brockovich (Erin Brockovich)
- Hermione Granger (Harry Potter film series)
- Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins)
- Matilda (Matilda)
- Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
- Miss Honey (Matilda)
- Mulan (Mulan)
- Merida (Brave)
- Princess Leia (Star Wars)
- Pofessor Minerva McGonagall (Harry Potter series)
- Sarah Connor (Terminator series)
- Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind)
- Jasmine (Aladdin)
- Black Widow (Avengers: Endgame)
- Alice (Alice through the looking glass)
- Rose DeWitt Bukater (Titanic)
- Captain Marvel (Captain Marvel)
- Princess Tiana (Princess & the Frog)
- Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
- Ally (A Star is Born)
- Kim Possible (Kim Possible movie)
- Miss Piggy (The Muppets)
- Cher (Clueless)
- Bo Peep (Toy Story 4)
- Catwoman (Batman Returns 1992)
- Elastigirl (The Incredibles 2)
- Valkyrie (Thor)
- Hit Girl (Kick-Ass)
- Trinity (The Matrix)