Thursday Movie Picks: Female Ensemble

Welcome to Thursday Movie Picks, a weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves where each Thursday you have to pick three films to match the week's topic.

It's female ensemble week, and, as a woman, I couldn't not love this theme. And since I love it, it seems pretty fair to me to pick three great films, so without further ado, I leave you to them. 

Caramel (2007)

The plot may not sound very interesting, it's just about six Lebanese women living in Beirut and how they handle their romantic life, but the film is definitely worth watching. Despite it being a romantic comedy, the film is a refined, and touching, and genuine portrait of women, not only Lebanese women, and Nadine Labaki, in the role of director, co-writer and actress, wonderfully balances the emotions and will make you feel things there are barely words for you to describe. 

Mustang (2015)

Five sisters set up a scandal that has unexpected consequences: their home is progressively transformed into a prison and marriages start being arranged. This one's easily is one of the best films of 2015, and the credits go to the film's women: director Deniz Gamze Ergüven for telling this intense story in such a beautiful and fresh way, and the actresses, especially the young Güneş Şensoy, for giving very natural and believable performances. 

Volver (2006)

After an attempted rape, Paula stabs to death her father, and her mother Raimunda tries to cover up the murder. As if that wasn't enough, Raimunda's aunt passes away, and her mother comes back from the dead. Another masterpiece from Pedro Almodovar revolving around women and their universe. The film is truly beautiful, there's no real suspense yet it is thrilling, and tragedy and melodrama are balanced so well the characters even avoid self-pity. And the cast is spectacular. 


  1. Damn! I completely forgot about Mustang. Such an amazing film, really has a lot to stay about the current state of Turkey. Wonderful film. Heard a lot about Volver and have been meaning to check it out.

  2. I'm kicking myself for not thinking of Mustang, urrrghhhh! lol
    I've never heard of Carmel, but I'm dropping it in my Netflix queue now. Volver is great

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  4. Volver is a genius pick here! Totally forgot about that one. And I'm watching Mustang today. Can't wait.

  5. I have not seen these films but I really want to see Volver because I like the star but Lao the director

  6. I was so close to watching Mustang the other day, but was unable to and plan on seeing it very soon! I've heard great things about it, some compared it to The Virgin Suicides.

    1. Haven't seen Mustang but when I read the synopsis, it really reminded me of The Virgin Suicides too. There's even a screen cap of it on IMDB of the girls laying around in their bedroom in a very The Virgin Suicides style.

  7. Volver is a great pick. What a wonderful film, it is. Kicking myself for totally forgetting it fit the theme.

  8. Haven't seen nor heard of the first two but they sound intriguing. While I didn't love Volver I loved Penelope Cruz in it. Another example of a great European actress who was never used properly by Hollywood.

    This type of film is one I've always enjoyed, so much so that I had trouble narrowing down to three so I split mine into two and did three classics and three more contemporary films.


    Cry “Havoc” (1943)-As WWII rages in the Philippines a group of women volunteer to help the army nurses in a hospital unit on Bataan. Set mostly in their protective bunker and the switchboard that brings increasingly more dire war news this focuses on the struggles and hardships endured by the women as the front moves ever closer. The cast is comprised almost exclusively of great actresses, Margaret Sullavan, Ann Sothern, Joan Blondell and Fay Bainter among them, with only very brief glimpses of men, including a young Robert Mitchum. A compelling heavy drama leavened by doses of gallows humor.

    Westward the Women (1951)-Unvarnished look at the hard road faced by a group of women settlers on a wagon train to California. Robert Taylor, weathered and hard is the rough but fair wagon master and has the only significant male role. Hope Emerson stands out as a plain speaking, no nonsense traveler but all the performances are very good. The cost of the trip is honestly depicted as heavy with human lives. Written by Frank Capra and directed with an unflinching eye by Wild Bill Wellman, an involving, unusual picture.

    The Doughgirls (1944)-Frenzied comedy with a dated situation, the housing shortage in DC during WWII, and an amazing cast of brilliant actresses. Ann Sheridan, skillful with a quip or a withering look, Jane Wyman, sweet and endearing but a borderline idiot, and an ultra-glamorous Alexis Smith. They’re former chorus girls who all camp out in one of the few available rooms when they find their recent marriages called into question as many colorful characters pass through. They’re delightful but don't stand a chance when Eve Arden swoops in as a Russian commando stealing scenes with undisguised glee tearing into her character with abandon and wiping everybody out of the picture.

  9. Then the three from more recent years:

    8 Women (2002)-As a wealthy French family, comprised it seems entirely of women, gathers for the holiday the patriarch is murdered off stage and they are trapped by a snowstorm to figure out which of the eight has committed the crime, occasionally bursting into song along the way. Unique, wacky and bizarre semi-musical comic murder mystery set during Christmas is jam packed with great French actresses including Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Fanny Ardant and Isabelle Huppert. They make the often preposterous goings on plausible.

    Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)-In a dusty Texas town near the location the movie Giant was filmed a devoted group of female James Dean fans reunite 20 years after the film wrapped at the Five & Dime that is was the center of their world. They laugh, argue and reminisce while wondering whether their sole male club member will return. Ultimately long buried secrets are revealed. Highly eclectic cast, Cher, Sandy Dennis, Karen Black and a just starting out Kathy Bates all give excellent idiosyncratic performances. Robert Altman’s filmization of the play he directed on Broadway with the entire cast returning is entertaining and unique.

    Tea with Mussolini (1999)-In 30’s Florence young Luca, motherless and ignored by his father due to his illegitimacy, is taken under the wing of the father’s secretary (Joan Plowright), her group of women friends, somewhat affectionately known as The Scorpioni (including Maggie Smith and Judi Dench), as well as old friends of his mother, Georgie and Elsa (Lily Tomlin and Cher). As Mussolini moves the country progressively towards Hitler’s ideology all their lives are affected but the strength of their spirit and devotion to each other never waver.

  10. Such great picks! I love all these films - can't believe I for got Caramel, such a great film. After only 2 features where has Labaki gone? Mustang was a brilliant film but I can't watch it again - just from the outrage and treatment the sisters get.