Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

They portray the iconic big-screen mothers

Jonathan Blum

Today, women are an essential central point in the global film industry. There are increasingly more female characters playing the leading roles in different movies screened in thousands of world theaters.

Plenty of Hollywood stories have brought heroines to life. In some cases, actresses play superwomen who save the world from several villains. In other cases, actresses do not play characters with supernatural skills but everyday heroines by portraying very courageous and valuable women, who work little miracles such as raising children in dysfunctional families; creating fantastic universes to preserve their children’s innocence; or donating an organ to prolong the life of the underdog.

Films have launched plenty of actresses into stardom through the creation of iconic characters that have set cultural and social trends.

There are plenty of Hollywood films with great performances by actresses playing the roles of mothers, whose performances have been praised the critics and sometimes won Academy awards.

Following are the most memorable films:

Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich


Erin Brockovich is a divorced mother of three children, deep into debt. Her convincing and stubborn personality leads her to find evidence in one of the most significant cases favoring the environment, and thus becoming an activist without that being her intention.

With no legal training, or recognition within certain social circles, this character breaks paradigms by entering environments she would have never reached without the determination and conviction of doing good.

Julia Roberts won an Oscar for best actress in this film in 2000.

Uma Thurman as Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill 


Uma Thurman played a role different from the stereotype of the “good mother” generally screened in movies. This leading role focuses on portraying a mother who loses her newborn baby after an attack during her wedding rehearsal by her Deadly Viper Assassination Squad partners.

When superficially observing this character portrayed by Thurman, it may be defined as an antihero contributing no values to the audience but a social anti-value: revenge. However, this shatters the myth of men fighting their enemies to preserve their personal and family honor. In this case, Quentin Tarantino gives power and personality to Beatrix Kiddo to “settle scores” through fights and martial arts.

Sally Field as Mrs. Gump in Forrest Gump


Sally Field as Mrs. Gump portrays hundreds of mothers who protect their children from the rough world they live in. When she tells Forrest that life is like a box of chocolate, “you never know what you’re gonna get”, she sets herself as a translator of real world events by adapting them to her child’s thinking.

Field shows us what a mother is capable of doing as long as her child receives normal education, even if Forrest does not meet the school requirements. She also makes sure her son never feels stupid and encourages him to follow any new project he may think of: studying, enlisting in the army, or whatever he may think he should do with his life.

Patricia Arquette as Olivia Evans in Boyhood


Patricia Arquette gives us an inside look –almost in “real time”– at the human aging process, while she uses her best reasonable efforts to raise her children. This character grows up and matures along with the film.

Boyhood revolutionized the film industry as it was filmed during 12 years, showing the real transformation of all of its characters: an unprecedented event.

Patricia Arquette won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in 2014.

Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side


This movie led Sandra Bullock to winning an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for her performance. This film tells the story of Michael Oher, a homeless youth who is taken in by Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock), a mother of two children, a wife and a successful woman. What starts as a simple gesture of kindness will soon become a more meaningful bond: a mother-son relationship that encourages Michael to successfully face the challenges life holds in store for him.

Ellen Page as Juno MacGuff in Juno


In this film –praised by critics and winner of an Academy Award for best original screenplay– Ellen Page portrays Juno, a Minnesota teenager who, after sleeping with her friend Bleeker, has to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Since she does not have the guts to have an abortion, she decides to find a couple willing to adopt her child and provide a suitable home.

Brie Larson as Joy Newsome in The Room


Room tells the story of a mother who was abducted and is captive for several years with her child, a boy for whom the boundaries of the room they are captive in are the boundaries of his world.

For this performance, Larson won an Oscar for best actress in the past Academy Awards ceremony.