Marmie – Little Women
My love of Little Women is well known. Marmie has four daughters, all very different and in need of their own type of comfort. Marmie handles this with care, fortitude and without her husband who is off at war. I think anyone who has taken a big leap in their life can use the sound advice Marmie gives Jo: You have so many extraordinary gifts; how can you expect to lead an ordinary life? You’re ready to go out and – and find a good use for your talent.
Maria Von Trappe – Sound of Music
Talk about an unconventional family! Maria starts out as a governess for the large family; facing tricks and pranks from the restless children. Along the way, she found her voice, helped the family find theirs, fell in love with the Captain and helped the family escape authoritarianism. Plus, that bob was spectacular!
Elastigirl – The Incredibles
A mom who is the superhero matriarch of a family of superheroes? Sign me up, please! Helen Parr (aka Elastigirl) is funny, fierce and manages to keep the family in check while fighting crime, even on her wedding day. Holly Hunter voices the character and her warm but no-nonsense voice is a perfect match for this mom who sometimes has to save the world as well as her family.
Mother Parker – A Christmas Story
Not necessarily a controversial choice but one that I think gets left out of a lot of best of lists. The matriarch of this family may have been quieter, but she was always the one pulling the strings behind the scene. Covering for Ralphie after his unexpected fight, getting Randy to finally eat his meal, plus her epic win in the battle of the leg lamp.
Elaine Miller – Almost Famous
How do you support your kids’ dreams when it means letting them go earlier than you think they’re ready? I’m not sure but Frances McDormand does a pretty great job conveying how difficult it can be. Very protective but knowing that her son, based on the real life of Cameron Crowe, has an amazing opportunity to be a renowned journalist she offers support as well as some good life lessons, and the perfect dose of embarrassing parenting we all love to dole out.
Momma – Forrest Gump
Oof, get the tissues ready on this one. The most famous line of this movie is “Momma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get'”, how could we leave her off the list with sage advice like that? She’s funny, smart and tough as nails. And that’s a goodbye scene for the ages.
Grace Cooley – Scrooged
A great, if occasionally bleak, modern interpretation of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” maybe has the strongest change in casting the incomparable Alfre Woodard as Grace Cooley the stand-in for the overworked, underappreciated Bob Crachit. She brings so much humor and joy to the role of a put upon mother desperate for her son to recover from a traumatic incident, while also going head to head with her unpleasant boss played by Bill Murray.
Rose Castorini – Moonstruck
I worship at the temple of Olivia Dukakis and I’m pretty sure this movie is why. This woman has gravitas to spare. During a tumultuous time in her families life, she still takes the time to listen to her daughter’s love woes, stand up to her husband and teach another aging lothario the importance of family. Plus if there is a better motto than “Because I know who I am”, I’d like to hear it.
Queen Ramonda – Black Panther
Okay, I change my statement. I worship at the joint temples of Olivia Dukakis and Angela Bassett. And in this movie she is so stately it’s shocking that she isn’t actually a queen in real life. She fights on behalf of her children, her country, and her principals. She makes difficult decisions while having to balance her own grief with the good of her country and humanity as a whole.
Phyllis Nefler – Troop Beverly Hills
The whipped cream at the top of this multi-tiered cake. While she is often overlooked as a feminist hero, I stand in strong opposition to that idea. She takes over her daughters Girl Scoutesque troop, moving into a more domestic role than she had previously been comfortable with. She makes the role her own while growing as a person, helping the girls in her troop, and changing who is considered a “real Wilderness Girl”. Plus, I mean, the fashion is unstoppable.