We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
A wise man once said, "I love my mama."
Hollywood has seen moms of all types. We’ve been shown awful moms, defensive moms, murderous moms, and most importantly, awesome moms. I’m not sure which category yo momma falls under, but my mama certainly inhabits the latter. So in honor of her, and the millions of other kick-ass maternal cooperators on the planet, I’ve decided to assemble a list of the best performances that have brought to life mamas of all different motivations, flaws or perfections. Happy Mother's Day!
Recap: Last year’s film about a young African-American girl trying to find her worth in the world caused a stir with its scenes of abuse, as followed through by one of the worst moms ever, played by Mo’nique. Reason: Just last year, the “Terrible Mom” subgenre of this list got a very strong new addition. Brought to life ferociously by Mo’nique, this is very close to Mommie Dearest-level evil parenting. Mary is so cold it’s a wonder if she has any loving bone in her body. She is the darkness at the core of the film Precious, and a difficult example of people that should never, ever, ever have children of their own.
6. Kathy Bates as Mama Boucher - The Waterboy (1998)
Recap: This comedy about a waterboy who becomes a college football team’s star player is hilarious, especially because of Kathy Bates’ performance as the overly-protective mother of the athlete. Reason: Okay, so some mothers can be a bit much. Kathy Bates' performance of Mama Boucher is an example of the maternal defensive nature, with her control over her son that is rivaled by someone like Norman Bates. But as this loving dictator, Bates is quite funny, especially with philosophies like, "Benjamin Franklin didn't invent the light bulb, I did. Benjamin Franklin is the devil!" Her relationship with her son Bobby is incredibly strong, especially since she is the number one woman in his life. Isn't that what all moms want?
Recap: The very first movie of the Jason Voorhees saga didn’t even have the hockey-mask wearing killer in it. “What?” Yeah, that’s right – it was his mama who was slicing up those horny camp counselors (including Kevin Bacon). Reason: It goes without saying that one of the best murderous mamas ever is Mrs. Voorhees. Slaughtering those horny hooligans in a style that her son would only try to duplicate in numerous other following pictures, she basically set the ground for all of those other slashers that followed suit. Even the thought of Mrs. Voorhees would always have an influence over Jason. Though the motivation can sometimes be lost, he would always be killin' in honor of his mama.
4. Diane Keaton as Anna - The Good Mother (1988)
Recap: This motherly role is more than just the title. Keaton plays a recent divorcee whose progressive ways of teaching her young daughter about how natural sexuality are questioned by her ex-husband. With her boyfriend played by Liam Neeson, they fight for custody of the girl in this film directed by Dr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy). Reason: Diane Keaton has played motherly roles throughout her career (Shoot the Moon is a good call also) but this role is a great moment for female actresses that don’t subscribe to “acting their age” even when playing mothers. She’s extremely youthful here, especially when flirting/making love with a young looking Liam Neeson. Keaton brings home the bacon with a few incredibly emotional scenes that discuss the absolute devotion she has to her child. She’s a unique version of “mother,” but an unforgettable one.
3. Sally Field as Mrs Gump - Forrest Gump (1994)
Recap: Robert Zemeckis' Oscar-winning film earned Tom Hanks an Oscar for his performance as the title character, and Sally Field didn't even get a nomination for being the center of that man's life - his mama. Though I don't have any belated Oscar to offer, her praise for this role is certainly overdue. Reason: Forrest Gump is one of the greatest Americans who ever (or technically, never) lived. However, he owes so much of this, as we owe so much of ourselves, to the mother in the background. Sally Field has played strong single mothers before, (Norma Rae and even in Mrs. Doubtfire) but the delicacy of this performance is a rare gem. We come to love Field's take on Mama Gump as if we were her own children, and that is thanks to her warm portrayal of a mom would do anything.
Recap: A cult-classic, this movie is inspired by a book written by the abused daughter of Joan Crawford. What follows is a terrifying tale of an essentially psychopathic matriarchy and lack of wire-hangers. Reason: It doesn’t matter if you think Mommie Dearest is campy fun, or, if you’re someone like me, a terrifying movie. Faye Dunaway is pure evil in this movie, and plays the devious side of Joan Crawford at maximum capacity for the entire movie. As she stalks around her lonely mansion while trying to create her own legacy as an acclaimed actress, she has one of the worst relationships on-screen with her daughter. In every instance, the anger is so intense it seems possible she’ll just kill her daughter. Legitimate or not to Crawford’s actual life, this movie has the worst mom ever, which makes it also one of the best motherly performances ever.
1. Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor - Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Recap: James Cameron’s classic sci-fi that would begin a franchise later associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger and not the original protagonist, a woman named Sarah Connor. While she played a crucial part in the first film, the sequel allowed her and Schwarzenegger to really show off their potential as action heroes. Reason: The Grade-A Ass Kicking Moms of the world have their leader – Sarah Connor. Not only is she an inspired fighter, but she’s also a dedicated mom, both to her son and in a sense, the stepmother of the entire human race. Linda Hamilton bulks up for this role and has the kind of gigante cojones most men could only dream of having. Props to Cameron for providing the world with a woman we can all admire, and for providing one of the best examples of single moms taking charge.