Leigh Paatsch runs you through the memorable movie matriarchs that make it Mother’s Day every other day of the year.
Leigh Paatsch runs you through the memorable movie matriarchs that make it Mother’s Day every other day of the year.

The toughest and craziest mums in films

TOUGHEST MOVIE MOTHER OF ALL TIME

Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) in Kill Bill: Volume 1 & 2

"It's mercy, compassion and forgiveness I lack. Not rationality."

Uma Thurman packed a punch as a tough mum in Kill Bill.
Uma Thurman packed a punch as a tough mum in Kill Bill.

 

Ms Kiddo's wedding day and her rosy future as a doting mother were both rudely interrupted by a bullet to the head. With nothing left to live for but to square the ledger, she begins an epically brutal culling of the group who nixed those nuptials (and her husband and child). While she bowls us over with sheer physical fury, we never forget the purity of her intent. Or the undisputed potency of her legendary "Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Trick". Never, ever try this at home.

See also : Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) in Gravity

 

 

THE MOST INSTINCTIVELY MATERNAL MOVIE MOTHER OF ALL-TIME

 

Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Aliens

"Get away from her, you bitch!"

 

Ripley fought to protect Newt in the 1980s classic, Aliens.
Ripley fought to protect Newt in the 1980s classic, Aliens.

 

Mid-1980s audiences cheered the house down when Ripley delivered her immortal ultimatum to the evil extraterrestrial known as the Xenomorph Queen. While Ripley was not the biological parent of Newt - the little girl discovered all alone on the faraway human colony exomoon of LV-426 - the urge to protect this timid, devastated child was fiercely, furiously motherly.

See also : Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) in Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

 

 

THE SCARIEST MOVIE MOTHER OF ALL-TIME

Norma Bates (the voice of Virginia Gregg) in Psycho

"It's sad when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son."

 

Mrs Bates in Psycho terrified audiences at the time. Picture: Supplied
Mrs Bates in Psycho terrified audiences at the time. Picture: Supplied

 

We don't get to properly meet the matronly motel owner until the last minutes of the movie. However, as we all now know, she makes one hell of a first impression. Just as it is not unfair to state that Mrs Bates could have made some improvements to her beauty regimen - that is one problematic complexion - she could also have sought better advice as to how to raise her delightful, if delicate only son, Norman.

 

See also : Annie Graham (Toni Collette) in Hereditary

 

 

THE NAUGHTIEST MOVIE MOTHER OF ALL-TIME

Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) in The Graduate.

"Benjamin, I am not trying to seduce you."

 

Anne Bancroft in bed with Dustin Hoffman in a scene from the film, The Graduate. Picture: Getty
Anne Bancroft in bed with Dustin Hoffman in a scene from the film, The Graduate. Picture: Getty

 

Always ready to light up a fag, gulp down a cocktail or misplace several items of clothing at a time, the notorious Mrs R was already the ultimate cougar, even though the term would not be coined for another three decades. Once this middle-aged mulcher of men had zeroed in on her prey - and warned them to stay away from her pretty daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross) - 21-year-old goofs like Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) just didn't stand a chance.

 

See also : Erin Grant (Demi Moore) in Striptease

 

 

THE NICEST MOVIE MOTHER OF ALL-TIME

 

Marmee March (Laura Dern) in Little Women.

"I'm angry nearly every day of my life ... but with nearly forty years of effort, I have learned to not let it get the better of me."

 

Laura Dern played an enviable mother in Little Women.
Laura Dern played an enviable mother in Little Women.

 

With her husband gone for a seeming eternity while playing his part in the US Civil War, the raising of their four very headstrong, very different and very bright daughters fell to the indefatigably sweet and kind Marmee. While definitely equipped to dispense unconditional love at an immeasurable level - Dern plays her as the human equivalent of a warm, reassuring hug - there was also a shrewdness, patience and wisdom to Marmee that could troubleshoot any life-and-death decision on the fly.

 

See also : Rusty (Cher) in Mask; Sue (Nicole Kidman) in Lion.

 

 

THE NASTIEST MOVIE MOTHER OF ALL-TIME

 

Smurf Cody (Jacki Weaver) in Animal Kingdom

"Just because we don't wanna do something, doesn't mean it can't be done."

 

Actors Sullivan Stapleton and Jacki Weaver in a scene from the 2010 film Animal Kingdom.
Actors Sullivan Stapleton and Jacki Weaver in a scene from the 2010 film Animal Kingdom.

 

If this unremittingly cruel crime matriarch has not already thought of the unthinkable and gone right ahead and done it, then you can bet your bottom dollar she has persuaded one of her three terrifying sons to finish the job. Scene by scene, the sunnily disposed features of Weaver darken into something ominous and threatening. You only have to take one look at Smurf to be hoping like hell she isn't looking at you.

 

See also : Momma (Anne Ramsey) in Throw Momma from the Train

 

 

 

THE MADDEST MOVIE MOTHER OF ALL-TIME

 

Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) in Mommie Dearest

 "I told you : no wire hangers. EVER!!!"

 

Joan Crawford played the demented Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest.
Joan Crawford played the demented Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest.

 

According to Hollywood icon Joan Crawford's adopted daughter Christina - from whose book this camp classic was adapted - the only reason she was hauled out of the orphanage was for PR purposes. When the photographers were gone, the hyper-demented Joan would enforce her bonkers brand of discipline on a daily basis. Which could be anything from getting locked in the pool house, receiving a surprise haircut, or enduring a witherin' whippin' with a wire coat hanger.

 

See also : Violet Weston (Meryl Streep) in August: Osage County

 

 

THE SADDEST MOVIE MOTHER OF ALL-TIME

 

Bambi's Mother in Bambi

"Faster! Faster, Bambi! Don't look back! Keep running! Keep running!"

 

Bambi and her mother in happier times.
Bambi and her mother in happier times.

 

We only had a mere handful of minutes to get to know Bambi's lovely, nurturing mother. However, deep, deep down, we all have to admit we still miss her. For many, many millions of children across the generations, witnessing the tragic passing of a mother not giving a second thought to making the ultimate sacrifice was a traumatising, yet truly formative experience.

 

See also : Sophie Zawistowski (Meryl Streep) in Sophie's Choice

 

 

THE MOST AUSTRALIAN MOTHER OF ALL-TIME

 

Sal Kerrigan (Ann Tenney) in The Castle.

"Everybody cooks rissoles, darl."

 

The Kerrigan’s quickly became Australia’s favourite family.
The Kerrigan’s quickly became Australia’s favourite family.

 

The humble Mrs Kerrigan of 3 Highview Crescent, Coollaroo reigns supreme when it comes to embodying this great nation's everymum. A hard worker, a happy hobbyist and a helluva cook - no-one sprinkles seasoning quite like her - Sal is the unsung heroine of The Castle. If you don't know a Sal personally, there is bound to be someone just like her a few doors away, you can bank on it.

 

See also : Betty Heslop (Jeanie Drynan) in Muriel's Wedding

 

 

THE ULTIMATE GOURMET

 

Mrs DeVito (Catherine Scorsese) in GoodFellas

"Come on, why don't you get yourself a nice girl?"

 

Catherine Scorcese in GoodFellas never let the boys leave the table hungry.. Picture: Supplied
Catherine Scorcese in GoodFellas never let the boys leave the table hungry.. Picture: Supplied

 

Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) knows he is the luckiest son in the world. And so does his stomach. As evidenced by his beloved ma whipping up a sumptuous midnight feast of mouth-watering Italian cuisine for he and his pals out of thin air. And because her guests had a body to dispose of later, she was even kind enough to lend 'em her best butcher's knife. (And yes, Mrs DeVito is played by filmmaker Martin Scorsese's own mother!)

 

See also : Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche) in Chocolat

 

 

THE ULTIMATE MULTI-TASKER

Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) in Fargo

"Sir, you have no reason to get snippy with me. I'm just doing my job here."

 

USA actor Frances McDormand in scene from film Fargo.
USA actor Frances McDormand in scene from film Fargo.

 

Just you try and crack a dangerous quadruple-homicide case. In a very small town. At the height of a very cold winter. While your husband stays home and dabs away at an art project, and your fellow police officers stand around and scratch their heads. Oh, and you're seven months pregnant. Go on then. Not that easy, is it?

 

See also : Samantha aka Charly (Geena Davis) in The Long Kiss Goodnight

 

 

THE ULTIMATE SINGLE MOTHER

 

Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in The Terminator series

"You don't know what it's like to create a life, to feel it growing inside you. All you know how to create is death and destruction."

 

 

Linda Hamilton played one fierce mother in Terminator 2. Picture: Supplied
Linda Hamilton played one fierce mother in Terminator 2. Picture: Supplied

 

Bringing up a child alone is a tough gig at the best of times. But what about when that kid is destined to grow up to be the saviour of all mankind? And bad dudes from the future keep sending robot assassins to erase both mother and son from the history books? Sarah had no choice but to step up, and no opportunity to ever stand back. The machines were no match for motherhood at its most fiercest and defiant.

 

See also : Ma (Brie Larson) in Room

 

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THE MOVIE MOTHER HALL OF SHAME

 

Kate McCallister (Catherine O'Hara) in Home Alone 1 and 2.

Overlooks whereabouts of offspring for days at a time. Then does it again.

 

Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) in Mother!

Falls pregnant to pretentious poet. Falls asleep after bearing child. Infant vanishes.

 

Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone) in Casino

Ties her kid to the bedposts so she can hook-up with a dodgy mobster. Nice.

 

Pamela Voorhees in Friday the 13th

Please blame Jason's mum for him becoming a hockey-masked hacker of humans.

 

Rosemary (Mia Farrow) in Rosemary's Baby.

Not her fault she birthed a bubba to Satan. But not a good look all the same.

 

 

 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

 

Best Musical Mother : Donna Sheridan-Carmichael (Meryl Streep) in Mamma Mia!

Best Musical Stepmother : Maria von Trapp (Julie Andrews) in The Sound of Music

Best Sporting Mother : Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) in The Blind Side

Best Resourceful Mother : Mrs Gump (Sally Field) in Forrest Gump

Best Surrogate Mother : Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) in Juno

Funniest Surrogate Mother : Angie (Amy Poehler) in Baby Mama

Originally published as The toughest and craziest mums in films



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