If you're lucky enough to be spending time with your mother this Sunday and want nothing more than to watch some great films together, then Indiewire has you covered. Here are 10 mommy-centric indies sure to deepen your bond this Mother's Day.
"All About My Mother," dir. Pedro Almodovar (1999)
Maybe not a film you’d exactly call heartwarming, "All About My Mother" is still an important movie to watch this Mother’s Day. Director Pedro Almodovar had the following to say about the film, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. His dedication was, "To all actresses who have played actresses, to all women who act, to men who act and become women, to all the people who want to be mothers. To my mother." The film stars Manuela, a nurse who loses her son in a car accident. Following his death she goes to Barcelona to seek the boy's father, a transvestite who goes by Lola. She encounters a strange group of characters, each screwed up, but caring in their ways. Yes, "All About My Mother" could be read as a deep film about AIDS, death and homosexuality, but more than anything else it’s a poignant piece about a loving mother and the relationships she creates.
"Frozen River," dir. Courtney Hunt (2008)
The children occupy less than a third of the screen time, yet Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning "Frozen River" manages to speak volumes about motherhood without really talking about it. Melissa Leo, in the performance that put her on the map and earned her an Oscar nom, is a single mother in survival mode. She’s cripplingly poor; she can barely afford Cheetos and Tang for family dinner and struggles to keep her children in school. Out of sheer desperation, she and another single mother agree to smuggle illegal immigrants across a precarious frozen river that serves as an unchecked border between the US and Canada. It’s fast cash, but at a cost. The mothers risk their lives, freedom, and sanity daily to assist in the operation. Yet much like Jennifer Lawrence’s character in "Winter’s Bone," Leo’s character, Ray, isn’t self-pitying. She doesn’t have the time or energy for sentimentality. Her needs are boiled down to pure survival, and she operates with a calculated practicality and resourcefulness of a mother who will do literally anything for her children. Courtney Hunt, the film's director, discussed the fact that the prevalent theme of the film is a mother’s love for her children. Hunt also stated that the most important moment in her life was the birth of her daughter; like Ray, this event changed her priorities. Everything else simply became less important.
"Grey Gardens," dir. Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer (1975)
Mrs. Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie are among two of the most memorable subjects ever profiled in the documentary form. They’re also made for each other. In the landmark 1975 documentary "Grey Gardens," filmmakers David and Albert Maysles, Elen Hovde and Muffie Meyer track the lives of the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, in the decaying 28-room East Hampton mansion the two women call home. Over the course of the documentary, Edith and Edie bicker and rant, but their bond and love for one another is undeniable. In the end, it’s what defines them.
"Juno," dir. Jason Reitman (2007)
Reitman’s film put the spunky Ellen Page on the map. When 16-year-old Juno MacGuff learns that she’s pregnant, she decides to find a worthy couple (played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) in her local penny saver and give her spawn up for adoption. Screenwriter Diablo Cody’s quirky, witty script had Juno talking on a hamburger phone in quippy one-liners and trying to survive being the pregnant teen in high school. Though Juno is not the ideal mother, and Page’s best relationship with her dad (J.K. Simmons) appears better than the one she has with her step-mom (Allison Janney), it’s really Jennifer Garner’s emotional journey to becoming a mom that tugs at the heartstrings in this comedy.
"The Kids Are All Right," dir. Lisa Cholodenko (2010)
Because sometimes two moms are better than one. This movie ate the words "American family comedy" and spit them out in the form of Mark Ruffalo's motorcycle. It was about time for a "mainstream" film to explore gay parenthood in a manner that wasn't satirized, and "The Kids Are All Right" managed to pack an interesting philosophical dilemma into a comedy to boot. Unsurprisingly, what's striking about the film is that everyone can relate to it -- gay, straight, two moms, five dads -- as the characters grapple with very human issues like communication problems, trust, and loyalty. Hopefully some audiences walked away from the experience less afraid of the changing dynamics of the American family. Motherhood, after all, is universal.