Mother’s Day:
Memorable Cinematic Matriarchs

Faye Dunaway - Mommie Dearest

I love mothers; you love mothers. Perhaps not as much as Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake, but certainly enough to celebrate all the moms out there by assembling a list of some of the most memorable matriarchs in film history

Mommie Dearest
An obvious choice. Faye Dunaway portrays the real life Joan Crawford, who evidently was insanely disturbed. The source material was taken from Crawford’s adopted daughter Christina; a frequent victim of her mother’s abuse, such as having her hair hacked off while being laughed at maniacally.

Not the 1996 film starring Albert Brooks and Debbie Reynolds; instead check out the 2009 Korean title of the same name about a mom who must solve the murder of a young girl after her son is indicted for the crime. Kim Hye-ja, a veteran Korean actress, plays the part to perfection.

El Orfanato (The Orphanage)
An amazing, eerie Spanish film from producer Guillermo del Toro. Laura (Belén Rueda) returns to her childhood home — an orphanage — where she has plans to refurbish it into a center for disabled children. Her adopted child Simón makes friends with Tomás – a super creepy kid who wears a burlap sack mask. Soon Simón goes missing which sets off a mystery that delves into Laura’s past. Very chilling and adept performances across the board, especially from Rueda. Also, if you wanna see what a mouth looks like after it’s been hit by a bus, you’ve come to the right movie.


The 1960 Hitchcock classic that’s more thriller than horror; Psycho made you think differently about birds and staying in hotels. Many remember the shower slaying, but fail to recall how Marion Crane embezzled money from her boss. So, merciless killing, or justifed retribution?

Normally not the greatest Julia Roberts fan, but she gets the nod here due to an honest story and Susan Sarandon, who I just saw on the street last week. Bonus points go to co-star Jena Malone who at the age of fourteen sued for emancipation from her mother who was draining her savings. (On a completely unrelated note: how spectacular is the narrator’s voice in the below trailer? It belonged to the iconic Don LaFontaine, who sadly passed away in 2008. Good thing we still have Hal Douglas.)

Raising Arizona
Holly Hunter and Nicolas “Yes, I really won an Academy Award” Cage play a set of wannabe parents who kidnap a baby, then get into a showdown with a crazed biker (A lot more things happen in between.) The second feature from the Coen Brothers initially received very mixed reviews, but like The Big Lebowski, Arizona has found a loyal cult following. A fun fact for you: babies were actually fired from the set for walking instead of crawling.

Rosemary’s Baby
A truly chilling adaptation from the controversial Roman Polanski. While trying to conceive, Mia Farrow’s Rosemary falls prey to an evil chocolate mousse and a sexual assault from the devil himself.


Serial Mom
I miss Kathleen Turner. The woman from Romancing the Stone and V.I. Warshawski, who somehow made an animated rabbit lover sexy, has since been regulated to television cameos and failed Broadway productions. Let’s all remember her from 1994 when she murdered people over stolen parking spaces, and littering. Ricki Lake (yes, that Ricki Lake) and Sam Waterston join the fun in the John Waters directed film.

Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
Winner of the Golden Raspberry award for worst actor (Sylvester Stallone), actress (Estelle Getty), and screenplay. Also has the distinction of a 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But it’s still awesome.

Throw Momma from the Train
A comedy about murdering ex-wives and mothers, starring Danny DeVito and Billy Crystal. Crystal’s films have always been enjoyable, but personally, I miss him as the Oscar host. What the hell’s he doing nowadays anyway?

You can read more of Adam’s film musings over at his blog: Cinema High.