The arrival of Mother’s Day today has sparked a passionate discussion in our forums over brilliant, Oscar-winning performances depicting motherhood on screen. What’s the best? Or your favorite? Join the chat here and answer our poll below.
There are far too many examples to choose from, so I’ve whittled down options to (relatively) positive performances. In other words, that means I had to exclude Meryl Streep‘s ice-hearted turn in “Kramer vs. Kramer” and her role in “Sophie’s Choice” that was chiefly about her doomed romance years after deciding which one of her children to sacrifice to Nazi bloodlust. And, of course, cruel mommas like Mo’Nique (“Precious”) must be nixed, but I’ve made a special allowance for Shirley MacLaine’s strident one in “Terms of Endearment.”
There’s widespread consensus that Joan Crawford must be on the list since her role in “Mildred Pierce” is a classic example of the ferocious parent who will make any sacrifice for her (ungrateful) daughter.
Below are sample comments from our forums by our readers lobbying for other picks. See more here and make your own suggestions.
Robert Pius champions Ellen Burstyn in “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” by saying, “She and the kid are so great together. I always laugh at the moment where he opens the door and she is all dressed up. She says ‘tah-dah’! And he slams the door in her face. She then enters and says something like you never get tired of that joke do you?”
He recommends Shirley MacLaine in “Terms of Endearment,” saying, “The whole GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT!!! is just riveting and then actually kind of funny in the last second. I read James L. Brooks hired MacLaine because he felt she was the only person he had met with who understood the comedy in the piece.”
Golddenny says, “Brenda Fricker as the warm-hearted but extremely strong mother in My Left Foot is certainly one of the best. She’s both, dynamite and poignant.”
Andy Macca McGaw lobbies for Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”): “Subtle but absolutely batshit brilliant, Arquette’s career defining performance that might just be the realist depiction of motherhood ever.”
Photo: Joan Crawford won the Oscar for Best Actress of 1945 for “Mildred Pierce.” Photo: Warner Bros.