7 movies to watch with mom on Mother's Day - and 7 you absolutely shouldn't
You've made the breakfast in bed. You've given the flowers, cards and gifts. And now ... you've run out of ideas to help celebrate Mother's Day, and there's still 10 hours left.
Luckily, there's a whole world of movies about moms to watch. Many of them are good! Many of them, however, are not good for a day toasting the person who gave you life and raised you. So to help, here are seven Mother's Day picks to help you win child of the year, as well as seven picks to make your mom wonder if the family should've stopped at your older sister.
"Terms of Endearment"
Of course. You don't get to make a list of movies about moms and leave off this star-studded, award-winner, which came away with five Oscars back in 1984.
Like most of the movies on this list, "Terms of Endearment" pulls off that tricky mix of honest humor and heartbreak – in part thanks to James L. Brooks working at his peak and thanks to the incredible cast of Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson and Debra Winger. It's easy to want to resist a movie so eagerly plucking on the heartstrings, but when all of the elements work so well together, bah, let the waterworks flow. "Terms of Endearment" is evidence that tearjerker doesn't have to be a dirty word.
Last year, two mother-related movies were in theaters – "Mother's Day" and Lorene Scafaria's "The Meddler" – in time for Dia de Las Madres. The miserable "Mother's Day" – a movie so committed to paying tribute to moms that a dad gets one of the major subplots – earned more money at the box office, but "The Meddler" was the one worthy of your love, a sweet and honest dramedy starring Rose Byrne as a struggling L.A. writer and a pitch perfect Susan Sarandon as her pestering widowed mother.
The plot may sound sitcom-ready, but besides one brief bit about Sarandon sampling some weed, "The Meddler" is such a touchingly sincere movie about the relationship between a mother and her children and about the dedication one always feels – despite the kid's protesting and despite one's own flaws. I cried when I saw it in theaters and called my mom immediately after. ow that it's on DVD, you can rent it on Mother's Day with your madre, watch it with her and save yourself a call.
"Lion" may have lost Best Picture, but it definitely won the award for Best Movie To Watch And Then Immediately Call Your Mother Afterwards Sobbing.
This based-on-a-true-story adoption drama, of a young Indian man searching for the family he lost when he was five-years-old, is pure tearjerking Oscar bait, but boy does it work – from the heartfelt performances (most notably adorable Sunny Pawar as young Saroo and Dev Patel's gorgeous mane of hair) to the gorgeous cinematography and moving story, told over the course of many years and multiple Google Earth searches. It may be a tearjerker, but it doesn't quite overplay its hand, being emotionally honest while still leaving you in a teary puddle – most certainly by the time the end credits hit.
"Lion" may not have been an Oscar winner, but if you pick this one to watch with mom, you'll be a winner.
"Postcards from the Edge"
When Carrie Fisher tragically died late last year, we lost much more than just Princess Leia. We lost a terrific writer, as evidenced in her deliciously honest memoir "Wishful Drinking" and both the book and film versions of "Postcards from the Edge," detailing her testy young relationship with her fellow showbiz mother.
The Oscar-nominated '90s film features all of the sharp wit and honesty we grew to love about Fisher over the years – about Hollywood, about substance abuse, about growing up in the spotlight and about mother-daughter relationships – packaged with a cast of all-timers. I mean, come on; it's a movie where Meryl Streep lives with Shirley MacLaine, directed by the great Mike Nichols. Cinematic combinations don't get much better than that – whether you're watching on Mother's Day or any day.
After you're done watching that and sobbing a bit, you can then flip over to the real deal with "Bright Lights," HBO's unfortunately all-too-timely documentary about life with Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. The movie pops around in time, documenting their individual journeys and struggles through Hollywood and through their personal lives, but the real treat in "Bright Lights" is the sweet modern-day showbiz "Grey Gardens" hangout footage of the two just living door-to-door, helping each other out through their careers' unfortunately final chapters.
Even with the added weight of their tragic deaths, "Bright Lights" is more pep than pain – a fitting tribute to Fisher and Reynolds.
"20th Century Women"
As the title might suggest, there are a lot of important women in "20th Century Women," Mike Mills' terrific semi-autobiographical drama about being raised as a teen by several ladies in his life. There's Abbie, the punky photographer tenant who's got her own issues to cope with, and Julie, his platonic best friend (maybe). Each are performed beautifully – by Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning, respectively – and each given full lives outside of just helping a little snotty teenage boy learn how to be a decent man.
But the star of this show is the mom, played with incredible heart by Annette Bening. In a just world, Bening would've accepted awards for her turn here as a mom trying to raise her son right in a different world from where she came from. Hell, she deserved awards for just one sequence alone, a montage of a trip to the hospital where she runs through every emotional possible – fear, anger, relief, happiness, confusion, self-assurance – without overselling a single note.
If there's one thing "20th Century Women" is about, it's realizing the impact, the interweaving ripples throughout time, others make on our lives without knowing it. So maybe it's right the Oscars didn't notice Bening and this film last year. They will eventually – and so should you.
What if your mom is an action movie fan and would rather some literal explosions on her special day rather than some emotional fireworks? Luckily, two of the greatest sequels – and greatest action movies, period – also happen to feature two of the most badass action movie moms in existence: "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and "Aliens."
Linda Hamilton's intense turn in "Judgment Day" is hard to pick against, but "Aliens" is a movie all about growing into motherhood, even coming down to a sci-fi brawl between two moms. Then again, it's also a movie about acid-spewing aliens the phallic heads and face-huggers that look like vagina spiders and bloody chest explosions. So maybe take the temperature of the room before popping this intergalactic mom battle into the Blu-Ray player.
There's loving your mom – and then there's keeping your mom's mummified corpse in your basement, role playing as her throughout the house and murdering people in showers and stairwells to satisfy her. That's quite a commitment to Mother's Day, Norman Bates – though most mom's are content with a cute card and breakfast in bed.
"The Manchurian Candidate"
It's never a good idea to bring up politics around the holidays, so "The Manchurian Candidate" – both the classic 1962 paranoid thriller and the 2004 Jonathan Demme remake about brainwashed political pawns climbing their way through the ranks – is already not an optimal choice for Mother's Day. To make matters worse, in both films, the main villains – whether its Angela Lansbury or Meryl Streep – are power-hungry moms. At best, your mom will be mildly taken aback; at worst, she might get some ideas about how to get you to call more often.
What's the deal with horror movies and moms? First "Psycho" and its Oedipus Complex, and now "Carrie," which features one of the creepiest and craziest moms ever put on screen. Yeah, the bullies – featuring baby John Travolta – ruin Carrie's prom and douse her in pig's blood, but anyone who's seen the movie knows Piper Laurie's insane religious fanatic mother is the real villain, making poor Carrie's every basic teenage feeling a sin against god and humanity. It's OK, though; telekinetic Carrie finally rebels and crucifies her at the end. Uh ... happy Mother's Day!
But seriously, what's the deal with horror movies and moms? If you want a fresher horror movie to terrify your mom with, how about "The Babadook," an indie chiller about a mom coping with having THE WORST CHILD EVER. Yes, they're haunted by a creepy spirit dressed in black with spindly hands and a terrifying voice that keeps puttering around the house, prank-calling and making you murder pets and vomit black ooze, but the real menace is the freaking nightmare spawn. Even Rosemary from "Rosemary's Baby" or the family from "The Omen" would be looking at a child swap.
Anyways, if you want to treat your mom to a horror movie about the violent frustrations of parenting, "The Babadook" is your pick. Another good Mother's Day option? Literally anything else.
"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"
"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" is a bad movie on many, many levels. But it's most notorious for resolving its epic titular battle with its two heroes (technically, but Superman's such a whiner about it and Batman kills people now) by having the two realize their moms have the same name. Like two kindergarteners. "You have a Martha too?! DID WE JUST BECOME BEST FRIENDS!? MARTHA BUDDIES!" Then the two skip off to save Martha Kent from being tortured to death by, wait, is this another horror movie? What the heck is happening here?
On one hand, it's cute the two strongest, manliest, Crossfit-iest superheroes put on screen can stop slapping each other through buildings because they both love their moms so much. On the other hand, it's so goofy and cheaply melodramatic that even your mom would roll her eyes.
Indeed, the mother of all bad mother movies, "Mommie Dearest" has earned its place in the camp hall of fame for Faye Dunaway's unhinged, unrestrained performance as the abusive, wire-hanger-hating Joan Crawford. You know how "Postcards from the Edge" captured the troubles of a showbiz mother-daughter relationship, both with humor and honesty? This is the opposite of that – though I suppose there's plenty of humor. Psychologically traumatizing a child: what a lark!
BUT SERIOUSLY, what is the deal with horror movies and moms?! We didn't even put "Rosemary's Baby" on this list! Are there this many horror movies about the terrors of fatherhood? I guess we'll find out on Father's Day next month.
Anyways, "Inside" is a French horror movie about a very pregnant woman who's menaced by a mysterious woman trying to get inside her house and adopt her baby – forcefully and surgically. And let me tell you: She's not a good doctor! Long story short: The house's walls get a shiny new coat of red, our lead fights back impressively for one doing the defending for two and pregnancy somehow gets even more intense.
Like most of the other movies on this list, it's a very good movie for literally any of the other 364 days of the year.
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