Here’s to the women who raised us — in, and out of, the movie theater.
In no particular order, these are the lessons we’ve learned from the moms of A24. Happy Mother's Day.
1. Annie from Hereditary
Open communication, Radical honesty
You don’t have to be mourning your daughter’s untimely decapitation to empathize with Annie Graham. Who among us hasn’t popped off at her nearest and dearest over chicken and dressed greens at least once in her life? And yet, rage rarely finds such perfect distillation as in the moment when Toni Collette bursts forward to shout, “And all I get is that face on your face.” The temptation to laugh — Face on your face? Come again? — is because you KNOW what she means.
Most of us lack the boldness to communicate so directly, but Annie is no stranger to confrontation — even if it means accidentally telling your son you “never wanted to be his mother.” What can we say, isn’t honesty the best policy?
2. Halley from The Florida Project
Halley may not be winning parenting awards for her grace and civility, but boy does she love her daughter. From swing-dancing in the rain to mowing down unlimited hotel breakfast buffets, Halley does her best to make life magical for Moonee, even as their shared life in The Magic Castle becomes more untenable by the hour.
Even without a job — not for lack of trying, as she’s applied to every walkable job on the strip — she keeps waffles in bellies, prioritizes spending quality time, and tries to teach her daughter table manners (Moonee will never wipe her pizza-grease fingers on the bed sheets again). Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, unless said opinion is anything other than affirming that Halley is a loving mom just hustling to make it work in a world that’s stacked against her.
3. Marion from Lady Bird
Pragmatism, Living within your means
The recent scandal involving everyone’s favorite Aunty Becky grifting her daughter’s way into college was a collective gut punch. It also made us appreciate Marion’s take no prisoners approach to Lady Bird’s college admissions process (“City college, then jail”). If Marion comes off brusque, it’s because she literally doesn’t have time to mince words — reminder that she works double shifts near constantly to afford Catholic school.
Marion is a paragon of pragmatism; of spending one’s resources — in terms of time, money, and emotion — only where it counts. She set the gold standard for working class movie moms everywhere, even if a certain awards body with a preference for showy performances and a fake clip-on bird suggests otherwise.
4. Anna from Killing of a Sacred Deer
What’s a mother to do when both her children are suddenly and inexplicably struck with full-body paralysis? She does whatever the hell she has to, of course.
Saddled with a husband who’s prioritizing the fate of his children alongside the side dish he’d like with dinner — “Our two children are dying in the other room, but yes, I can make you mashed potatoes,” replies Anna, an icon — the burden of uncovering what’s really killing the Murphy kids rests on Anna’s shoulders alone.
Through trials, tribulations, and dry handjobs as dispensed from the passenger seat of a family SUV, Anna uncovers the truth about the curse afflicting her family. Namely, that it won’t end with the death of her children, but will, in fact, come for her next. True to her ruthlessly effective disposition, Anna fixes her resolve on convincing her husband Steven to mercy-kill one of their kids because, direct quote, “we can always have another.” True!
5. Paula from Moonlight
God bless Paula for showing the world that even if it takes a lifetime, it’s never too late to learn from your mistakes. As Little grew into Chiron grew into Black, and layer after glorious layer of rippling muscle formed to cover a softly broken heart that no amount of strength-training could heal, so too did Paula undergo her own journey.
From harried single mother and nurse, to an emotionally-abusive addict, to, finally, a person in recovery trying to right a history of wrongs — Paula’s transformation revealed an enormous amount of strength. Not the kind evidenced in Black's gloriously defined pecs, but instead the type of strength that manifests into something (arguably) even more impressive: humility.
By the third act, Paula finally takes responsibility for the pain she caused her son and, with a shaky puff of her cigarette, apologizes. The single tear rolling down Black’s literally flawless cheekbone reminds us that a mother’s love never loses its power.
6. The Mom from Climax
Setting boundaries, Importance of personal space
Confronted by a troupe of murderous, quadruple-jointed dancers tripping their goddamn faces off, the mom from Climax made the hard choice that any good parent would — she got her son Tito the fuck out of there.
So what if, in a remote and seemingly abandoned asylum surrounded by nothing but the unforgiving plains of winter, that meant locking him in an electrical closet. Ideal? No. But what would you have had her do? Keep him by her side, for her own sense of peace and comfort? Sorry, but that’s what many a trustworthy pop-psychologist would call “helicopter parenting.”
Emmanuelle knows better; if you love a person, especially your child, then you need to give him his own space. Especially when beautiful, sinewy women in sparkly dresses start horse-kicking the shit out of people in your immediate vicinity.
7. Ma from Room
Turning 100 square feet into the entire world, complete with makeshift birthday cakes, daily yoga sequences, and hand-shadow puppetry, Ma proves the power of resilience despite unbearable odds. There's not much to say here. Ma is the best Ma of the A24 canon. (And the only one to win an Oscar.)