Mother’s Day: Mothers in Film We Can’t Help But Love

With Mother’s Day giving us all a chance to focus on some very special people in our lives, these films prove that there’s nothing a mother won’t do for her offspring; they demonstrate the incredible willpower and love that mothers possess. With these mothers standing fiercely behind us, there’s nothing in the world that can’t be accomplished.

Warning: may contain spoilers. If you haven’t already seen these great films and series, go watch them right now!

Jessica Huang, “Fresh off the Boat”

Constance Wu plays this tough, no-nonsense mom who just wants the best for her kids. She’s focused on keeping them in touch with their Taiwanese heritage despite living in Florida. But while she’s a strict disciplinarian at home and at the family’s Western-themed steakhouse, she’ll do anything for her kids — even go to a rap concert with her hip-hop-obsessed son Eddie, the narrator of the show. Through Eddie’s eyes, Jessica is a strict but caring parent who is puzzled but yet accepting of her son’s love for African-American culture.

Leigh Ann Tuohy, “The Blind Side”

Based on a true story, this strong-willed and caring mother adopts 17-year-old Michael Oher, a homeless high school student with a drug-addicted mother and incredible football potential. Although she already has two children, Leigh Ann takes in Michael as one of her own and encourages him to pursue a career in professional football with the NFL. Michael’s future hangs precariously in the balance between a life on the streets and a college football future, but due in part to Leigh Ann’s motivation and belief in his skills, he chooses the college route at Ole Miss. Michael later went on to play in the NFL and was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2009. Sandra Bullock won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Leigh Ann Tuohy.

Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, “Modern Family”

There’s a reason “Modern Family” has won 21 Primetime Emmy Awards, 5 Writers Guild Awards, 2 SAG Awards, and 1 Golden Globe: it’s an incredibly well-executed show. Within that amazing environment, Sofia Vergara has been singled out for her own impressive list of award nominations for her portrayal of Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, a wife and mother who is passionate about her modern family. Vergara herself has won the People’s Choice Award for playing Gloria, and received a nomination for each season of her work for Best Actress in a Comedic Series at both the Golden Globes and the Emmy Awards.

M’Lynn, “Steel Magnolias”

There’s nothing this fierce Southern mom won’t do for her young — including giving her a kidney. Portrayed by Sally Field, M’Lynn is the epitome of caring; she’s a social worker who is devoted to her family, especially her daughter Shelby and Shelby’s young son Jack. Fiery, passionate, and deeply rooted in her Louisiana heritage, M’Lynn is another mother we can’t help but love.

Dr. Rainbow “Bow” Johnson, “Black-ish”

This accomplished mother wears many hats: she’s an anesthesiologist, a mom of four, and a black parent navigating the upper-middle-class world. Played with gusto by Tracee Ellis Ross, who received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, Bow must shepherd her family through complex issues facing black families. While the show doesn’t hesitate to deal with police brutality, loss of culture, and LGBT issues, it’s Bow’s love and devotion to her family that anchors “Black-ish” and cements its high standing in the world of sitcoms.

Sarah Connor, “The Terminator”

This science fiction action film stars Linda Hamilton as a woman who becomes both a mother and a warrior. Her son will one day save mankind from the onslaught of machines — that is, if she doesn’t get killed first by a time-traveling mercenary known as the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger). A muscular and toned Linda Hamilton played Connor in the franchise’s earlier movies, easily slinging around high-powered assault rifles in order to save both her son and the future of humanity. Sarah Connor shows us that mothers can totally bad-ass.

Miss Honey, “Matilda”

Let’s face it: after watching Matilda, everyone wanted Miss Honey as a mother! Played by Embeth Davidtz in the 1996 film, Miss Honey is a serene and nurturing presence who truly believes in young Matilda Wormwood’s brilliance. Meanwhile, Matilda’s biological mother is cold, uncaring, and more concerned with her hair color and her husband’s used-car scam than her daughter’s incredible abilities. Miss Honey eventually adopts Matilda in the end as the FBI raids her parents’ house and the Wormwoods prepare to flee to Guam.

Mrs. Gump, “Forrest Gump”

While the film focuses primarily on Forrest’s lucky chances, Mrs. Gump (also played by Sally Field) is a caring figure and the foundation of Forrest’s life, telling her special-needs son that he can do anything. Although his father has abandoned the family and Mrs. Gump runs a bed and breakfast on her own, she is a fiercely independent woman who encourages her son to overcome obstacles and follow his dreams.

Happy Mother’s Day! Who are your favorite film mothers? Let us know in the comments below!


8 Essential Book-To-Screen Adaptations Every Screenwriter Should Watch

When in screenwriting school, you’ll likely at some point discuss the process of adapting fiction for the screen, which we’ve talked about at length in this space. This time, we’re going to look at some of cinema’s best examples of big screen fiction adaptations.

There are, of course, more incredible book-to-screen adaptations than we could possible hope to list here, so for the sake of brevity we’ve excluded the blockbuster franchises we all know and love—namely, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. We’ve also excluded adaptations from the works of Philip K. Dick and Steven King, which could fill lists all on their own!

So, without further ado…

8 Essential Book-To-Screen Adaptations Every Screenwriter Should Watch

No Country For Old Men (2007)

Book: Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name (2005)
RT Film Score: 86%

One of two entries on this list based on a Cormac McCarthy novel (See The Road) and the first of two hat-tips to The Coen Brothers (True Grit), No Country For Old Men is a powerhouse in terms of both the performances therein and the moody, grim vibe spun carefully throughout. A modern day Western par excellence.

Life of Pi (2012)

Book: Yann Martel’s Life of Pi (2001)
RT Film Score: 87%

After languishing for a decade in development hell, Ang Lee finally did justice to the superb Booker Prize-winning book of the same name (and we can’t imagine anyone else who could have done quite the same job.) If you get the opportunity to watch it in 3D, do so. As well as being a great example of a book—not least one that was widely considered ‘unfilmable’—but it’s also a better example of the third dimension used to great effect.

The 39 Steps (1935)

Book: The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (1915)
RT Film Score: 98%

While only loosely based on the source material, The 39 Steps is not only one of the finest thrillers ever made but also helped cement a lot of ‘Hitchcockian’ elements which would come to define the director’s career and put him on the world stage. Numerous further adaptations have followed over the decades, including a hit Broadway play.

Matilda (1996)

Book: Matilda by Roald Dahl (1988)
RT Film Score: 90%

There are a number of Roald Dahl adaptations we could have included here (the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, for one) but Matilda was the surprising hit that is worthy of a special mention. For everyone wondering what happened to the adorable child star Mara Wilson (who also did an amazing job in Mrs. Doubtfire and Miracle on 34th Street), she quit acting shortly after Matilda and is now focusing on writing fiction herself…and thus, the circle is closed.

Forrest Gump (1994)

Book: Winston Groom’s Forrest Gump (1986)
RT Film Score: 72%

So great was the success of the Forrest Gump movie that it has almost eclipsed the fact that its origins lay in literature. Forrest Gump is a uniquely charming cinematic gem and one of the best movies of the 1990s. To say this endures as one of Tom Hanks’ finest performance in a filmography as impressive as his is a high accolade indeed.

The Road (2009)

Book: The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)
RT Film Score: 75%

In amongst a slew of post-apocolyptic movies released around the same time, The Road snuck in on limited release but ended up becoming an essential watch. Stripping back the usual high-budget flair of the genre, this Cormac McCarthy adaptation concerns itself solely with how the unspecified ‘event’ has ravaged the emotions of the two protagonists. The result is a very grim and highly charged movie, which doesn’t pull its punches.

True Grit (1969 & 2010)

Book: True Grit by Charles Portis (1968)
RT Film Score: Original 90%, Remake 96%

A superb book that went on to produce not just one, but two excellent slices of Western cinema. Both the original (which earned John Wayne his only Academy Award) and the 2010 Coen Brothers’ remake featuring a great performance by Jeff Bridges are well worth watching, regardless of whether or not you think you like Westerns.

Babe (1995)

Book: Dick King-Smith’s The Sheep-Pig (1985)
RT Film Score: 97%

A cutesy family movie with talking animals and an oversaturated color palette? On paper, it should have been absolutely atrocious, but thanks to its pitch-perfect handling and the amount of heart poured into it from every department working on that movie, it ended up being an unadulterated delight…

… the sequel, not so much.

Got any personal favorite book-to-screen adaptations that we haven’t mentioned here? There’s certainly many more that we could have covered here—drop your suggestion down in the comments below!