Bad mothers are everywhere, it sometimes seems. Perhaps this is because nothing is as boring as a “good mother,” with all the attendant implications of domesticity and self-sacrifice and, well, banality. But we call bullshit on that! If anything, “good mothers” are more complicated and more conflicted and more deserving of our praise and attention. Being bad is easy, but being good to the most ego-driven monsters (aka children) on earth? That’s much more difficult, which is why the women who do it and do it well deserve some praise. Here are our favorite movie moms. (Spoilers!)
Rosemary Woodhouse, Rosemary’s Baby
Despite being drugged by her husband and a cult of devil-worshippers all so that she could be raped by Satan himself in order to birth the Antichrist, Rosemary Woodhouse is still so devoted to her rather unique looking offspring. That’s love!
Beatrix Kiddo, Kill Bill Vol.1 and 2
Beatrix Kiddo will let nothing stand in the way as she tracks down the daughter who was so cruelly taken from her while she was in a coma. Yes, Kiddo leaves quite the body count in her wake on her quest to find her girl, but, you know, what mother wouldn’t?
Ed McDunnough, Raising Arizona
Sure, Ed isn’t technically a mother, so much as she is a… kidnapper. But she has a big heart and enough love to be the best mother in the world. And, of course, she proves to be a better woman than her felonious ways would have us assume by returning the stolen baby to his rightful parents.
Dumbo’s mom, Dumbo
This movie has many, shall we say, problematic scenes (let us never, ever talk of the crows and their speaking patterns). But it also has one of the most tender, tear-inducing moments in Disney film history, in which little Dumbo goes to visit his imprisoned mother. Watch it and try not to cry. It’s impossible.
Delilah, Imitation of Life (1934)
Louise Beavers is absolutely brilliant as a self-sacrificing mother to an ungrateful daughter who (obviously, but still heart-wrenchingly) only realizes what she had once it’s gone. While this movie is certainly a product of its time, Beavers’s portrayal transcends those limitations and is nuanced beyond what was written. Her deathbed scene is as tragic as any we’ve ever watched.
Peg Boggs, Edward Scissorhands
What better quality can a mother have than to be open-minded and accepting of all types of people? Even those with scissors for hands? Peg’s kind heart and loving soul are matched only by her
skill enthusiasm for makeup application. Which is also not a bad quality to have in a mother.
Wendy Torrance, The Shining
Being in a relationship with a writer is never an easy thing, but Wendy Torrance has it particularly hard, because her husband, Jack, is a psychotic alcoholic and they’re trapped with their son in a snowbound hotel. But Wendy acquits herself as best as she can, managing to save her son and herself from the evil in the Overlook Hotel.
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