Drama and Film


Although the majority of the winning films follow the Hero’s Journey pattern, there has been a significant increase in Heroine Journey films in recent years. In the past several years, the Academy Award winning film makers have also gravitated toward movies that involve ambiguous journeys (The Shape of Water) or resist concluding a journey arc (Moonlight and Parasite).  We believe this trend is based on an increasing recognition (at least by artists) of the complexity of an interconnected global world.  Our review of these movies also reinforces our observation that literature and films with Heroine Journey arcs most often involve female protagonists and/or men who are marginalized due to prejudice or an unusual characteristic.

Hero or Heroine’s Journey?Winning FilmHero or Heroine’s Journey?
1990Dances with WolvesHero’s Journey
1991The Silence of the LambsHeroine’s Journey
1992UnforgivenHero’s Journey
1993Schindler’s ListHero’s Journey
1994Forrest GumpHero’s Journey
1995BraveheartHero’s Journey
1996The English PatientHeroine’s Journey
1997TitanicHero’s Journey
1998Shakespeare in LoveHero’s Journey
1999American BeautyHero’s Journey
2000GladiatorHero’s Journey
2001A Beautiful MindHeroine’s Journey
2002ChicagoHero’s Journey
2003The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the KingHero’s Journey
2004Million Dollar BabyHero’s Journey
2005CrashHeroine’s Journey
2006The DepartedHero’s Journey
2007No Country for Old MenHero’s Journey
2008Slumdog MillionaireHero’s Journey
2009The Hurt LockerHeroine’s Journey 
2010 The King’s SpeechHeroine’s Journey 
2011The ArtistHeroine’s Journey
2012ArgoHero’s Journey
201312 Years a SlaveHeroine’s Journey
2014BirdmanHero’s Journey
2015SpotlightHero’s Journey
2016MoonlightHero’s Journey toward Heroine’s Journey
2017The Shape of WaterHybrid Journey
2018The Green BookHeroine’s Journey
2019ParasiteAborted Journey

The Silence of the Lambs: female protagonist

The English Patient: female protagonist

A Beautiful Mindmale protagonist who is mentally ill

Crash: multiple outsider protagonists and overall story examines racial prejudice from many angles

The Hurt Locker: a male protagonist with PTSD.  This story plays with the border / point of view relevance of  Hero’s Journey and Heroine’s Journey narrative.

The King’s Speech:  male protagonist with a speech impediment

The Artist male protagonist who is literally without a voice

12 Years a Slave:   disenfranchised African American male protagonist who is enslaved.

Spotlight:  a Hero’s Journey narrative arc with heroine’s journey elements for some characters

Moonlight:  Hero’s Journey arc with twist at the end; best friend chooses heroine’s journey. Main characters are marginalized by class and race.

The Shape of Water:  A fantasy that can be interpreted as hero’s journey or heroine’s journey depending on how magical elements are interpreted. Main characters are marginalized by disability and species (metaphor for all marginalized people treated as non-human).

Parasite:      Aborted Hero’s Journeys; characters appear to be following hero’s journey arc, but film maker aborts journeys and characters end up dead or where they started. Central theme of story and characters’ lives is class.