Sisterhood is a complex relationship sometimes made of bruises, bloody noses, back–handed comments, and unquestionable magic. Sometimes it takes sisters a little time to find their stride, but gods help whoever chooses to stand in their way once they do.
Before Frozen found an endearing way to dramatize this unique sibling bond, Hollywood had a fascination portraying sisters on the big screen. In honor of National Siblings Day, here are a few notable examples of the best sister partnerships in movies:
1. Teri, Maxine, & Bird In ‘Soul Food’ (1997)
We never understand how important the role of a mother is in our lives, or in our communities, until they’re gone. Or, you know, find themselves in a coma. That’s the plight sisters Teri (Vanessa Williams), Maxine (Vivica A. Fox), and Bird (Nia Long) find themselves in when their beloved matriarch falls ill and it is up to them take care of her and each other.
Anyone who has a sister can relate to all the emotions these three sisters must face and process to find common ground during a deeply stressful situation. While tensions flare, just remember that there’s love underneath all that sass!
2. Elsa & Anna In ‘Frozen’ (2013)
We all have opinions on Frozen, sure. And most can agree that Disney’s blockbuster hit subverted our expectations by focusing on a different kind of love than what we’d grown accustomed to in the studio’s animated films.
Not only did the filmmakers go out of their way to illustrate the fact that true love could exist between sisters, they relied on the audience’s assumption that they’d once again return to the “true love’s kiss” well that we’ve seen them drink from since 1938. Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) might have spent their childhood at odds, but there isn’t a force on Earth (or in Arendelle) that could get in the way of the love between two sisters bringing them closer together than ever.
3. Dottie & Kit In ‘A League of Their Own’ (1992)
Conflict sparks the best drama in movies, and one of the best examples of this in movies is the sibling rivalry between the prim and proper Dottie (Geena Davis) and the rebellious Kit (Lori Petty). The latter’s frustrations grow from feeling unable to escape the former’s considerable and more successful shadow – and all of this comes to a head when the two find themselves on the same all-female baseball team, the Rockford Peaches.
Kit soon leaves the Peaches to join a rival team, where an important game gives her a shot at the spotlight. Here, Dottie sacrifices her personal glory (and her team’s) by seemingly, purposefully, dropping the ball so her little sister can have the big win. The moral debate of putting the needs of the one ahead of the many aside, Dottie’s act is a selfless one that proves some actions say “I love you” louder than the words ever could. While this movie argues “there’s no crying in baseball,” this scene made it so there wasn’t a dry eye in the theater.
4. Lilo & Nani In ‘Lilo & Stitch’ (2002)
The stressed–out older sister struggling to take care of her much younger sibling in the role of sudden single mother is a popular trope in movies. Lilo & Stitch decides to give that dynamic a much-welcomed twist by tossing in a chaotic alien for good measure.
Nani (Tia Carrere) has to find a way to juggle taking care of Lilo (Daveigh Chase), keep a job, and deal with the consequences of her little sister’s relationship with the anti-E.T. Ironically, the disruption Stitch represents in their lives is the very thing that helps bring them closer together, just in time for a Disney happy ending.
5. Kat & Bianca In ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ (1999)
Without question, 10 Things I Hate About You is one of the ‘90s best rom-coms. But, tucked inside this retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is a compelling and timeless story of sisterly love.
Kat (Julia Stiles) and Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) spend most of the film wanting to figuratively (and sometimes literally) tear each other apart. Bianca wants for nothing more than to fit in and be popular and she’s always embarrassed by her prickly, antisocial big sister, Kat. Kat, on her end, is annoyed by how shallow Bianca acts. By the end of the film, however, the sisters find a way to accept and love each other despite themselves. Kat even beams with pride at one point that her little sis knows how to throw a right hook: “Sorry ‘bout your nose, model boy.”
6. Gamora & Nebula in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (2014)
At first blush, there’s no saving or fixing the rivalry between sisters Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). But we can’t blame them; their animosity stems from their “dad” Thanos, who kidnapped them and often forced them to battle each other to prove themselves. Not helping matters was the painful modifications Nebula was forced to endure, per the Titan’s wishes, when she was often bested by Gamora.
No one’s coming out of that relationship with at least seven different types of resentment. And despite years of animosity, of feeling second-rate, their messy and painful story found some resolution in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. After a generous round of punching and Gamora unloading an oversized space gun on her sister (naturally) and Nebula unloading a lifetime’s worth of brutal resentment, Thanos’ adopted daughters located their love for one another under all their hate. One that would bring them together and sorely be tested by the Mad Titan’s obsession with hunting down Infinity Stones.
7. Sally & Gillian In ‘Practical Magic’ (1998)
Practical Magic has been movie comfort food to me for most of my life. Sisters Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) couldn’t be more different in both their personalities and their ideals, but the two must come together when Gillian’s ex stirs up considerable trouble. The drama he creates helps the two endearing characters wrap up a unique story about magic, acceptance, and true love.
On their own, each one of these women is a force to be reckoned with. Together? They can build a community, rescue a kingdom, make history, break a nose, save the world, and learn to love.