Favorite Films about Yo Momma

Let’s face it, it’s still a man’s world, especially in Hollywood.  Sure, Kathryn Bigelow became the first female director to take home that little gold statue this year, but it was for directing a war film about men.  I had a sudden notion, in honor of Mother’s Day, to invite everyone to share their lists of their favorite films about mothers.  There’s no shortage of father-and-son films — hell, you could make an argument 90% of all films made are in some way thematically tied to the bond or lack thereof between fathers and sons either symbolically or literally — but I’ve been wracking my brain to name even just ten films about mothers or Mother and Child— hey, there’s a plug for that new Naomi Watts/Annette Bening film that just opened in limited release this weekend to good reviews.

Sam Jackson asks Naomi, "Hey, girl, when you gonna lemme take you for a spin down m***** f****** Mulholland Drive?"

So what did I think of?

  • The film that sunk Faye Dunaway’s career and made her a camp queen, Mommie Dearest
  • Albert Brooks’ sardonic Mother
  • Erin Brockovich
  • The Blind Side (which I haven’t even seen yet)
  • Danny DeVito’s Throw Momma from the Train
  • John Waters’ underrated Serial Mom
  • Mermaids (ah, if only Cher could be everyone’s mom)
  • Baby Boom (ah, if only Diane Keaton would adopt everyone)

And then, of course, one of my all-time favorite films, Paris, Texas is about a father and son (there we go again) who become obsessed with reuniting with mom, and who wouldn’t if that mom was Nastassja Kinski?

Nastassja made for one hot Parisian momma.

So ga’head…see if you can do it. 

List your favorite Movies about Mom.

Written by David H. Schleicher


  1. Here are 10 I can think of…

    Gypsy – Rosalind Russell is the ultimate stage mother in this musical base on the life of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.

    Mr. Mom – Stay at home dad Michael Keaton finds out what it is like to be on the other side.

    White Heat – One of the great gangster films and the scene with James Cagney sitting in his mother’s lap is worth the price of admission. “Tops of the world Ma!”

    Mother’s Boys – Jamie Lee Curtis is a true horror in the well deserved little known film

    Mildred Pierce – The real Mommie Dearest, Joan Crawford portrays a wife and mother who will do anything to give her spoiled daughter whatever she wants maybe even murder.

    The Grifters – Angelica Huston is one bad ass mother in the neo-noir based on Jim Thompson’s novel. In addition to scams and rip-offs there is an underlying sexual tension between Huston’s Lilly and her son portrayed by John Cusack

    Little Man Tate – Jodie Foster is a single mom/waitress trying to bring up her genius son.

    Big Bad Mama – Angie Dickinson is a gangster moll in this Roger Corman cheapie. She leads her two daughters into a life of crime during the great depression. Throw in some gratuitous nudity by just about the entire cast for good measure.

    Bloody Mama -Even better is this film with Shelley Winters as Ma Barker in what would turn out to be Corman’s last directed film. Winters is loud and wild and her boys include a young Robert DeNiro. When her sons start dying she really get pissed.

    John, Mother’s Boys is certianly a guilty pleasure. Little Man Tate is a good choice as well. –DHS

  2. – Antichrist
    – Blue Velvet
    – Fanatic
    – Friday the 13th
    – Hush
    – Lady Vengeance
    – Mommie Dearest
    – The Omen
    – Psycho
    – Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?

    P.S. Nice new design, man!

    Longman – love the list! Antichrist and Psycho — yowser!!!!! Thanks about the design…I’d thought it was long overdue for a new snazzier look. –DHS

  3. Bonjour! (Hello!) D.H.Schleicher,

    First of all, what a very nice…upgrade to your
    blog site.(Even though I liked your other blog site template too!)
    Secondly, Happy Mother’s Day to all the ladies in your life.

    Now, here goes some films that pay homage to mothers that I have watched and some that I plan to watch…

    …1.I Remember Mama…Starring Irene Dunne
    2.A Tree Grows in Brooklyn…with actress Dorothy McGuire as the long suffering wife and mother of actor Dunn, and actress Peggy Ann Gardner, respectively.
    3.Stella Dallas…Both versions.
    4.Terms of Endearment
    5.Steel Magnolias
    6.The Stepmom…with Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts.
    7.Freaky Friday-I like the version with actress Jamie Leigh Curtis, because I have not watched the original version with actress Jodie Foster.
    9.The Joy Luck Club
    …My favourite film of all time with mother as the theme or subject matter is…Drum roll…In Her Shoes.)

    (Even though the film focus more or less on the relationship between the sisters’ (Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette)
    Personally,I think that the relationship between their grandmother (actress Shirley Maclaine) and her (Maclaine) deceased daughter (their mother) is the driving force behind the film.

    (Thank you for asking … And I thank you for
    Merci, pour demander … Et je vous remercie, pour le partage!


    DeeDee – great list as always! I can’t believe I forgot Terms of Endearment! –DHS

    • Fantastic post, David, and you’re absolutely right about the Hollywood/ fathers/ mothers issues.

      This Is England spends a lot of time on the relationship between Shaun and his mother, but the spectre of his absent father is what really underpins everything. I would probably say the same for The Birds as well.


      Requiem For a Dream

      Hope and Glory

      Buffalo 66, although that’s probably more about parenting in general than specifically motherhood. Ditto for Don’t Look Now.

      Would it be asking too much of a conceptual leap if I included Casino Royale? Judi Dench’s M is more of a ‘concerned parent’ (with weird sexual undertones) to Daniel Craig’s Bond than to Brosnan’s, who she seems to regard as a smug piece of testosterone.

      And I would definitely be taking things too far if I dared to mention Jaws 3.

      Ah, Andrew — Hope and Glory — love it! I would put that in the same thematic league as The Grapes of Wrath (see below). And as for Jaws 3 – LMAO! –DHS

  4. Dear Readers: I can’t believe I overlooked the whole subgenre of films about “Moms driven to the edge to commit crimes.” For instance:

    Frozen River, which earned Melissa Leo a nod for her role as a drug-runnin’ momma.

    I’ve Loved You for So Long — the recent French film starring Kristin Scott Thomas, a “former” momma fresh from jail with a dark secret.

    Maria Full of Grace — the Mexican film about a teenage momma-to-be who becomes a drug mule.

    And then there are numerous great films about families where the heart of the film lies in the indomitable strength of the matriarch. Take for example:

    John Ford’s classic film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

    Mira Nair’s touching generational saga, The Namesake.

  5. Hey Dave. First off, cool new site design. I like it a lot. Second of all, here are a few off the top of my head:

    THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS – Anjelica Huston is mother to EVERYONE in that movie, in one way or another.

    THE DEEP END – only a mother would go to the lengths that Tilda Swinton’s character did to help her son.

    Woody Allen’s segment of NEW YORK STORIES – how would you like your mother hovering in the air like that?

    I’ve never seen it, but there’s also ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER, which I think is an Almodovar film.

    Chris, good choices. A lot of Almodovar’s films are all about mothers. –DHS

    • In addition to All about my mother, I’d say What Have I Done To Deserve This?, High Heels and Volver, whose main characters are mothers, often struggling with their daughters (sons too). Women are complicated. But Almodovar made it into a delight for us.

      The Darjeeling Limited is a movie in which three brothers are looking for their mother, briefly appearing (Huston again, Anderson’s maternal figure). I love how the brothers interiorized their parents’ behaviour, to a point they turned into them (Owen Wilson is the mama).

      Killertune — Hmmm…it seems like Wes Anderson often has a strong matriarch lingering in the background of his films. –DHS

  6. I re-watched Mermaids the other day. I’d forgotten how good it is. It probably isn’t as well known as it deserves. I think that would be my pick for a film about mothers, but it’s also very much a film abotu growing up.

    Katie, yes it is a nice coming-of-age piece…and one of the rare “chick-flicks” I actually enjoyed — Cher, Ryder and Ricci made for a memorable trio of dysfuntion. –DHS

  7. David, congratulations on the fabulous new design. What a feast for the eyes! I was blown away when I got clicked onto it. And it’s about time you featured your book there at that top!

    I would repeat what others have said here, and will bypass a formal list this time, but will mention two exquisitely moving films about ‘mothers’ that belong on any short list:

    Karoly Makk’s LOVE (Hungarian)
    Alexandre Sukorov’s ALEXANDRE (Russian)

    Not coincidentally, both Lili Darvas in the former, and Galina Vishnevskaya in the latter give spectacular performances that literally define the essence of their characters and of the role of the mother.

    Hey, thanks, Sam. I have not seen either of those films, so thanks for shining the light as always. –DHS

  8. I would include “JUNO” among my favorite movies about Mothers; and another little gem of a movie out of South Korea …(2002) Jibeuro (Korean Title) The Way Home (English Title) This film about a peasant Grandmother and her city-born grandson won the hearts of the Korean nation that year! I don’t think it had a wide release here in the States; but if you can get a copy, it’s well worth watching.

    Was Juno really about motherhood? It was about being accidentally pregnant and then deciding on not being a mother — but, yeah, I guess it counts in a way — as the adoption choice allowed another woman to become a mother. –DHS

    • I think Juno is a film about choices and circumstances particular to women and mothers. Circumstances we have no control over. But, we can make choices; and our choices almost always affect another person.
      Juno becomes accidentally pregnant and “by choice” decides to become a “birth mother”. Juno’s step-mother “chooses” to support her decision; she is in fact a very loving and supportive mother towards Juno. And then we have the adoptive mother. She makes the “choice” to adopt Juno’s baby, even though her own personal circumstances change (her husband leaves her). The adoptive mother experiences the full range of motherhood (pregnancy, expectancy & birth) thru Juno. All three women experience an aspect of motherhood because of Juno’s “choice”.

  9. I just recently saw The Blind Side… incredible movie. Truly inspiring and it moved me deeply. I highly recommend it.

    Also, another movie about yo mamma is Stepmom, another INCREDIBLE movie. It’s Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon at their best. A chick flick, yes, but a beautiful story about love and acceptance when families fall apart.

    Jess – oh, Stepmom, good call. But, ugh, not my cup of tea. –DHS

    • Yeah, even I sometimes can’t take those kind of movies… I need to be in the right mood. If not, I usually just stick with Fight Club or Memento or something else that actually makes me think while I’m watching, ya know?

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