It happens that on the big screen motherhood is reduced to a caricature – just think of the satanic portrait of Joan Crawford played by Faye Dunaway in Dear mommy or Sally Field as the single holy mother in Forrest Gump. But when it is represented with its nuances, its eccentricities and its individual choices, the role of mother proves to be among the most interesting in cinema. Below are eight exciting, tear-jerking and thought-provoking films about parenting. All to see now.
1. American life (2009)
American Life – 2009: Maggie Gyllenhaal, John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph
© Big Beach Films / Kobal / Shutterstock
Verona (Maya Rudolph) and Burt (John Krasinski), waiting to become parents, have three months to decide where to grow their new family in this brilliant road movie by Sam Mendes. Darting from Phoenix to Tucson and Montreal to Miami, they resume contacts with friends, relatives and colleagues as they come to terms with the transition from insecure thirty-year-olds to responsible adults. It is a tender and melancholic reflection on becoming parents among the fears, frustrations and joys that this entails.
2. The boys are fine (2010)
The boys are doing well, 2010, Annette Bening, Julianne Moore
© Mandalay Vision / Kobal / Shutterstock
Two mothers are better than one in Lisa Cholodenko’s fascinating family drama. Julianne Moore and Annette Bening are Jules and Nic, a couple whose life has a shock when their children (Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska) track down their biological father (Mark Ruffalo), a sperm donor who never expected to meet them . And here are wacky dinners, absurd quarrels and the glimmers of a midlife crisis to create a refreshing and modern portrait of marriage and motherhood.
3. boyhood (2014)
© Photography Alamy
Patricia Arquette’s masterful performance in the role of divorced single mother in Richard Linklater’s saga of training – shot over 12 years – earned her an Oscar, a Golden Globe and respect for industry. Arquette plays the central role of Olivia, a woman who is raising her son Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and daughter Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) defying all odds. By making his way between adult education, economic problems and an abusive relationship, he never pretends to have all the answers but, in any case, perseveres.
4. The women of my life (2016)
The women of my life, 2016, Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig
© Photography Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
Free and evocative, Mike Mills’ semi autobiographical account of becoming an adult in the 70s is a love letter for the bohemian mother. Annette Bening is Dorothea, a fictionalized version of the director’s mother, who manages a guesthouse populated by eclectic characters: a photographer (Greta Gerwig), a free-spirited teenager (Elle Fanning) and Dorothea’s son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann ). These extraordinary women make them mothers together – forming it with their feminism and enchanting it with their contradictions.
5. Lion. The way home (2016)
Lion, 2016, Dev Patel, Priyanka Bose
© Photography Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
The true story of a five-year-old boy who gets lost in a train station in India is carefully adapted in Garth Davis’ moving drama. Saroo, played first by Sunny Pawar and then by Dev Patel, is taken to an orphanage and soon adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). Years later, he leaves to look for the biological mother and the village of origin that he has left behind. The ending is moving and brings with it the awareness that our parents are precious, whether they are adoptive or genetic.
6. Lady Bird (2017)
Lady Bird, 2017, Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf
© Photography Moviestore / Shutterstock
Between tense moments of shopping and outbursts in the car, Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) and her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf), have a restless relationship but are united by a mutual bond of love and admiration. This is the heart of Greta Gerwig’s sublime comedy, which follows the last years of Lady Bird’s superiors and is punctuated by anecdotes about the favorite activities of mother and daughter: crying listening to audiobooks, visiting houses that will never be able to afford and exploring sunny Sacramento .
7. Tully (2018)
Tully, 2018, Mackenzie Davis, Charlize Theron
© Focus Features / Kobal / Shutterstock
Sleepless nights, lonely days and postpartum syndrome become the norm for the mother of three children Marlo (Charlize Theron), until she meets Tully (Mackenzie Davis), a nanny who changes her life. Jason Reitman’s penetrating drama marks the third collaboration with writer Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult) and strikes with the pungent humor of its predecessors. He is brutally honest about the difficulties of new motherhood and knows how to dissect the social expectations with which Marlo is fighting, before overcoming them.
8. The Farewell – A good lie (2019)
The Farewell – A good lie, 2019
© Photography Alamy
Lulu Wang’s bittersweet comedy about a family in crisis rests on an excellent performance by Awkwafina. Play Billi, a writer who returns to China to see her grandmother (Zao Shuzhen) after she has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The news is hidden from the matriarch herself and an impromptu wedding will be organized as an excuse to gather the clan before her death. Full of keen observations, it will make you want to call your mother (and grandmother) as soon as possible.