There are many ways to celebrate Mother’s Day, but how about sitting back and watching a movie about how amazing moms can be?
Here are eight films starring very unusual mothers that move us, inspire us, and maybe even make us laugh or cry. These films, most of which are available in theaters or streaming services, span a range of tones and content, but you might even find one on the list that you and your mom can watch together, especially if she’s a guy herself.
A Quiet Place (2018, PG13, In Theaters)
A QUIET PLACE, EMILY BLUNT
In a world filled with monsters that hunt with noise, Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) is raising two children and is about to die and birth another into the world Imagine: birth in a place where the slightest noise could very well turn it into a monstrous, messy snack. But for Evelyn, this life growing inside her is immeasurably valuable, as are the two children she is already raising, and she will do whatever it takes to protect them all, despite the terrible risks involved. As she tells her husband Lee,”Who are we if we can’t protect her?” I’ve written about this compelling and oddly moving suspense tale before here, but Evelyn is worth mentioning here: You’ll struggle to find a depiction of motherhood that is paradoxically so gentle and wild.
The Arrival (2016, PG13, Free on Amazon Prime)
AMY ADAMS, THE ARRIVAL
In the opening moments of this amazing sci-fi film, we meet Louise Banks (Amy Adams), the mother. In a short montage, we see her raise her daughter (Hannah) through the typical joys and frustrations of motherhood and then experience the unimaginable pain of watching her die. The rest of the film focuses on Louise Banks, the linguist trying to communicate with a strange, perhaps dangerous, alien species. But the film never loses sight of mother Louise, and that is where the film finds its true power. If you haven’t seen it, it would be too much to say more. But in the end, Arrival tells us that no matter the trials or heartaches, it pays to love as only mothers do.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011, PG13, Netflix)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, SANDRA BULLOCK
Warner Bros.Entertainment Inc.
Eleven-year-old New Yorker Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) loved, no, loved, his father. He was, Oskar thought, the only person who understood him. But now he’s dead, killed in the September 11 attacks. It’s just him and his mother, Linda (Sandra Bullock), and she doesn’t get it at all.” I wish you were in his place in the building,” says Oskar one day despite everything. “Me too,” Linda says in a whisper. But when Oskar embarks on what he believes to be a treasure hunt, the that his father designed for him before he died, Linda sets out too, secretly following him around town and making connections with Oskar’s contacts even before he does die. “Did you sniff me?” asks Oscar.”I’ve been looking for you,” Linda tells him. She thinks so too. Oskar finds them equally important and realizes they share more than he ever imagined.
FENCES (2016, PG13, Free on Amazon Prime)
FENCES, VIOLA DAVIS
Rose Maxson (Viola Davis) has been following in her domineering husband’s wake for years. Her world falls apart when she learns that Troy (Denzel Washington) was having an affair. But then, one fateful night, Rose learns that Troy’s lover died in childbirth. The baby survived and needs a mother. Would Rose be that mother? It is an almost unthinkable favor that Troy is asking, unthinkable in his desperation and cruelty. But Rose – loving, caring, maternal Rose – accepts the task and shifts her allegiance from Troy to this child, who will remind her of her betrayal. But she agrees to love the girl anyway. “From now on, this child has a mother,” he tells Troy. “But you are a man without a woman.”
Lion (2016, PG13, Netflix)
LION, NICOLE KIDMAN
Long Way Home Productions
Saroo (Dev Patel) was only 5 years old when he was accidentally kidnapped from home and his family. Adopted by Australians John and Sue Brierley, he slips into a new life until a traditional Indian dinner reminds him of the old one. He begins an obsessive search for his birth mother, which, however, separates him from his adoptive mother. Saroo mistakenly assumes he was adopted because the Brierleys (as Saroo puts it) “couldn’t have children of their own”. Sue (Nicole Kidman) is shocked. “We wanted both of you,” he says of himself and his brother. “We wanted that. We wanted you both in our lives. That’s what we chose.” And Saroo suddenly understands: Sue may not have given birth to him, but she is still his mother, as loving and giving as a mother can be. Lion offers a powerful message about the beauty of adoption and beyond that, you don’t have to give birth to a child to be a wonderful mother
Room (2015, R, Netflix)
ROOM, BRIE LARSON
Photo by George Kraychyk
The room is the only place Jack (Jacob Tremblay) has ever known Has. He was born there and spent his five years there. For Jack, his whole world is just him, Ma (Brie Larson), and Room. But in its way, kid, it’s a wonderful world, thanks to Ma. Make no mistake: Rated Room may be an extraordinarily difficult film, but it’s one of the most moving films of the decade and an incredible portrayal of motherhood, even in the most desperate of circumstances.
Wonder (2017, PG, available to rent or stream on YouTube and Google Play for $4.99)
WONDER, JULIA ROBERTS
Auggie Pullman (Tremblay again) doesn’t look like other kids. Born with crushing deformities and having undergone dozens of surgeries to help him look a little more normal, he will never “fit in”. Now she goes to high school, a place where all that matters is fitting in. “Why do I have to be so ugly?” he asks his mother. But Isabel (Julia Roberts), whose life revolves around the little boy, tells him he’s not ugly: she shows him the lines and wrinkles on her face and tells him she remembers where she got them from Has. “This,” he says, pointing to his heart, “this is the map that shows us where we’re going.” Then he points to her face. “This is the map that shows us where we’ve been. And it’s never, ever ugly. Wonder is not only Auggie’s story, but Isabel’s story, and the love and devotion she unfailingly, if imperfectly, gives to her children.