A New Era for Moms in Cinema
For generations of cinema movements, there was one specific character that somewhat remained the same. The depiction of a good mom largely revolved around building the character of a mythical mother figure that was ever-smiling, ever-present, ever-prepared. Think Leigh Anne Tuohy from The Blind Side or Mary Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life.
Pop culture wasn’t too kind to mothers’ characters either. When they were allowed to stray from the common depiction, mothers were often portrayed as the other extreme — overbearing, cold, distant, evil even, and selfish. Think Mommie Dearest and Arrested Development — both iconic films and signature performances, but ones that send the wrong message once again.
As we are entering a new era, we’re finally beginning to see the many layers of motherhood going beyond the singular devotion to their kids, but also showing the raw reality of everyday life as a mom and as a woman. One-dimensional characters aren’t going to cut it anymore, and more and more filmmakers are beginning to see that. This renaissance for mothers in films is also due to the fact that more and more female directors are entering the spotlight.
The Many Faces of Motherhood at the 2022 Oscars
It’s an exciting time in the film industry for mothers. Filmmakers, albeit slowly, are dipping their toes into the chaotic and messy world of parenting that women occupy. From Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley’s enthralling performances in The Lost Daughter to Penelope Cruz in Parallel Mothers, it’s definitely been a year of celebration for the complicated mother at this year’s Oscars. Ann Dowd in Mass and Gabby Hoffman in C’mon, C’mon are an absolute must-see as well.
While all of these new films try to ponder the fabric of motherhood, there’s still a lot to be achieved. Filmmakers continue to focus on the image of white women, thus leaving women of color off the screen. Yet, there’s never been a more receptive time for films to offer a brutally honest and raw portrayal of what it means to be a mother in the modern world. If the 2022 Oscars are anything to go by, we’re definitely headed in the right direction.