Top Mothers of Film and Television

Happy Mother's Day from the Awards Circuit!

Mothers, the backbone of many children’s lives.  They protect, provide, and encourage many individuals to be the best person they can be.  Quick shout out to my mom and wife who are the best two women I know.  But we’re a film site…we can’t possibly wish a Happy Mother’s Day without talking about mom’s in our cinema and television screens.  Here I present, the Top Ten Film and Television Moms of the Last Twenty Years!

There will be much debate but that’s what we do here.  We present, discuss, and respect.  Check out the moms after the jump.

Top Ten Movie Moms

1. Sally Field in “Forrest Gump”

As ‘Mrs. Gump,’ Field delivered one of her finest performances of her career.  Mrs. Gump stands by Forrest through the toughest of times.  From getting leg braces, to sleeping with the principal, to explaining the meaning of life, she encourages Forrest to find his place in a world that calls him different.

Scene That Proves It: On her death bed: “Life is a box of chocolates Forrest, you never know what you’re gonna get.

2. Toni Collette in “The Sixth Sense”

Besides passing on a gene that enables her son to see dead people, Lynn Sear attempts time and time again during M. Night Shymalan’s directorial debut to understand the demon that’s been weighing on his soul.

Scene That Proves It: “Do…Do I make her proud?

3. Susan Sarandon in “Stepmom”

Dealing with the divorce of her husband and the entrance of his new girlfriend into her life, Jackie Harrison’s diagnosis with cancer doesn’t stop her from giving the best life advice and the most tear-jerking holiday goodbye’s seen on film.

Scene That Proves It: “You have made my life, so wonderful!

4. Jessica Chastain in “The Tree of Life”

Living under the iron hand of a tyrant husband and providing moments of playful and loving affection for her boys, Mrs. O’Brien’s mother nature wraps Terrence Malick’s film under the warm embrace of a maternal blanket.

Scene That Proves It: “Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive.”

5. Frances McDormand in “Almost Famous”

As Elaine Miller, McDormand shatters the screen of overbearing mother expectations and turns Elaine into a warm, caring, and understanding woman who lets the balloon of worry follow her in Cameron Crowe’s Oscar winning memoir to a decade of music.

Scene That Proves It: “I can’t believe you wanna be Atticus Finch. Oh, that makes me feel so good.”

6. Julia Roberts in “Erin Brockovich”

As the title character, Roberts not only fights hand and foot for a roof over her children’s heads but takes on the maternal figure of a town destroyed by the corporate evil that threatens its future.  Erin fights to rebuild.  Soderbergh accents Erin’s feisty persona with Roberts’ natural and beautiful charisma.

Scene That Proves It: “I don’t need pity, I need a paycheck. And I’ve looked. But when you’ve spent the past six years raising babies its real hard to find somebody who pays worth a damn, are ya getting every word of this down honey or am I talking too fast?

7. Meryl Streep in “It’s Complicated”

Affair and pot smoking aside, the entire scenes taken at her son’s graduation party nearly is a Kodak moment for family of the year.  Jane rebuilds her life after divorce, creates a business, and raises three very well kept children all taking the best things that life has to offer.  Nancy Meyers constructs Jane from the ground up and makes her a woman, any lady in the world to identify with.

Scene That Proves It: “Now, I’m lying.”

8. Holly Hunter in “The Incredibles”

Mrs. Incredible balances home life, keeping track of her less than enthused husband, and is smart enough to save her entire family and world from world domination.

Scene That Proves It: “IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!

9. Melissa Leo in “Frozen River”

As Ray Eddy, Leo shows determination in a way not seen in years.  Writer/Director Courtney Hunt illuminates Ray’s motivation for her children who are left without a father and in desperate need of a new home.  No matter what the cost.

Scene That Proves It: “I think we need to talk about this Troy… come on out. Troy? [shoots gun]”

10. Annette Bening & Julianne Moore in “The Kids Are All Right”

Lisa Cholodenko gives Nic and Jules an authentic antithesis of tradition yet links the love for each other and their children through affairs, work, and possible alcoholism.  There’s something more than what’s eluded to as Bening and Moore deliver one of the best performances of 2010.

Scene that Proves It: [massage in the bathtub]

Top Ten TV Moms

1. Phylicia Rashad in “The Cosby Show”

Could possibly be the mom of the century and just makes the cut given “The Cosby Show” ended in 1992.  Claire raised children, kept her husband in check, and showcased some of the finest moments in television history.

2. Catherine Hicks in “7th Heaven”

Dealing with drug addiction, robbery, and attempting desperately to keep her family together, Annie showed tremendous growth and strength throughout the series’ run.  Catherine Hicks was arguably the strongest cast member of the entire show.

3. Julie Bowen in “Modern Family”

Recent Emmy winner Bowen has “reinvented the TV mom” as she stated during her “Inside the Actors Studio” segment and boy, has she done it well.  Claire is a stay-at-home Mom constantly picking up after her three unique children and over zealous husband Phil.  Claire nails every episode with precision and comedic brilliance.

4. Sofia Vergara in “Modern Family”

I’m pulling for Sofia this year to win a long overdue Emmy award for her stunning portrayal of Gloria.  As Gloria keeps her son Manny close to heart and constantly shows love to her husband Jay, Gloria even reaches out to her “granddaughter” Lily and becomes a positive maternal influence in her life.

5. Patricia Heaton in “Everybody Loves Raymond”

The epitome of the mother that suffers at the hand of the in-laws.  Debra dodges insult bullets from Mom-in-law Marie, idiotic conclusions from Robert, and picks up whatever pieces are leftover from her husband Ray.

6. JoMarie Peyton in “Family Matters”

Harriet worked two jobs at one point to keep their beautiful home intact.  Showing the right way for Laura and Eddie, even Judy (when she was on the show),  Harriet is the glue that keeps the Winslows together in the greater Chicago area and even manages to take in her sister, sister’s son, neighbor Steve Urkel, mother-in-law Estelle, and little 3J.  Did you know this was a spin-off from “Perfect Strangers?”  I didn’t.

7. Jennifer Aniston in “Friends”

This is an arguable choice given that daughter Emma seems like she’s never around after she’s born, but when she is Rachel Green doesn’t stop holding Emma up to impossible standards and producing great birthdays and sing “Baby Got Back” to make her laugh.

8. Patricia Richardson in “Home Improvement”

Her husband Tim is in constant talks and within arms length of destroying her home and besides that, dealing with three boys, one of which could possibly have cancer, Jill still holds it together for the sake of the family.

9. Roseanne Barr in “Roseanne”

The first few seasons are questionable but in the latter, we see Roseanne dealing with the death of her husband and giving guidance to her daughters Darlene and Becky as they choose less than impressive boyfriends and husbands.

10. Eliza Schneider in “South Park”

Perhaps a joke, but a big part of me is serious, Sharon Marsh deals with Randy, Stan’s Dady like a pro even when she has a love affair with a Shake Weight or decides to stop Randy from creating a Food Network show called “Cafeteria Fraiche.”

What are your top moms on film and television?  Happy Mother’s Day!



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Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He also founded the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, the first Latino-based critics’ organization in the United States. He’s also an active member of the African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times,, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.