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What do the top three grossing movies of 2017 have in common? They’re all led by women

Moviegoers have spoken, and the results are clear: Films led by women protagonists were a major draw at the box office in 2017. The three highest-grossing movies of the year were Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast, and Wonder Woman. The last time the top three movies were fronted by women was 1958, when South Pacific, Auntie Mame, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ruled the box office, the Guardian reports.

What’s really notable about the movies isn’t that they’re led by female characters, but how those characters are portrayed. Rey (Daisy Ridley) is brave and loyal—and skilled at fighting the movie’s villain, Kylo Ren. Belle (Emma Watson) is intelligent and compassionate, a woman who fights for what she believes in. Finally, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) literally comes from a land with no men. She is effortlessly courageous in the face of mortal peril, often more so than her male counterparts.

There’s a compelling theme here: In a year filled with brave women coming forward about sexual harassment and assault, female empowerment ruled both on screen and off. Cultural contexts are always reflected in the movies that get made, but it’s nice to see that the movies people actually go see can reflect these moments as well.

Hollywood, take note.

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