Mother's Day is upon us—don't get caught in a shame spiral by failing to deliver her some flowers, a nice card, even a phone call. (We have sweeter ideas.) Having spent many hours considering the most classic movie moms of all time and ranking them, we're well aware of the ramifications of disobeying Mother. Sometimes they involve more than harsh words. So please excuse us if this list skews toward the monstrous: We love our crazy matriarchs as much as the calming ones. You'll find plenty of honest-to-goodness nurturers on the countdown, too.
50. The Blind Side (2009)
Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her portrayal of a football mom who takes in a hulking, homeless African-American teen, and turns him into a gridiron all-star. Lest you think this is just a stock nurturer role, watch for the scene where she rips into some local gangstas; this grizzly mama has claws.—DF
49. Precious (2009)
Mary Lee Johnston is everything you wouldn’t want in a legal guardian: demanding, cruel, physically and sexually abusive. Yet Mo’Nique’s furious, no-holds-barred performance in Lee Daniels’s melodrama about an inner-city teen rising above her horrible home life helps us to glimpse the pitiable person beneath the monster.—KU
48. Bloody Mama (1970)
Just because this film comes under the signature of trash king Roger Corman doesn’t mean it lacks for virtues, particularly the force-of-nature turn by Shelley Winters in the title role. Her criminal children (including a young Robert De Niro as a junkie) are a source of pride; she even bakes them cookies.—JR
47. Throw Momma from the Train (1987)
We’ve all entertained the thought, but Danny DeVito’s black-comedic twist on Strangers on a Train’s I’ll-kill-yours-if-you-kill-mine plot gives hilarious form to our matricidal urges. As the parent from hell with a target on her back, Oscar nominee Anne Ramsey is the perfect mix of spittle-inflected rancor and leery-eyed maliciousness.—KU
46. Mother (2009)
An elderly woman (the amazing Kim Hye-ja) plays amateur detective when her dimwitted son is accused of murder—and gets more than she bargained for. South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho’s thriller starts off as a mystery and slyly turns into a tragic ode to parental devotion, one in which motherhood trumps morality.—DF
45. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Even a robot boy deserves a mother’s love, but it isn’t easily won in Steven Spielberg’s heartrending sci-fi fantasy. Frances O’Connor lends many vulnerable shades to the adoptive guardian who rejects her surrogate cyborg son. The wrenching sequence where she leaves him behind in the woods is a harrowing abandonment nightmare come to life.—KU
44. “Oedipus Wrecks,” New York Stories (1989)
For the most part, Jewish mothers don’t loom so large in Woody Allen’s work. (His therapists may say otherwise.) But when Allen does go there, he goes big, with this Freudian riff about a lovably nagging mom (the peerless Mae Questel) who scolds her son—and the whole of Manhattan—from over the skyline like a whiny Godzilla.—JR
43. Freaky Friday (2003)
The 1976 original lures our nostalgic hearts, but this 2003 remake was a rare example of Hollywood improving on the source. Much of the success should be attributed to a ferociously funny Jamie Lee Curtis, underrated as a comedian, who cuts loose with snarling teenage abandon. She even got some awards buzz for her performance.—JR
42. Sounder (1972)
Forced to take care of the family solo when her husband is sent to prison, Cicely Tyson’s Depression-era sharecropper shoulders the burden with dignity and fortitude. It’s as graceful a portrayal of an African-American mother fighting the injustice of a Jim Crow–era South as cinema has ever delivered.—DF
41. Mrs. Miniver (1942)
Greer Garson was so identified with this film’s saintly WWII-era mother that she later did Miniveresque public appearances to help sell the war effort. Never mind that she eventually married Richard Ney, who played her son (!); the role forever made Garson a symbol for every Blitz-blasted British mum who kept the home front intact.—DF
Read the rest of the list here.
Welcome to Eat this tonight, a column in which we eat something, take a picture of it and tell you as soon as possible to go out and eat it, too.
In March, HotChocolate chef/owner Mindy Segal (whom David recently profiled) brought on Dennis Stover (whom Vie's Paul Virant nominated as one of TOC's 20 Chefs to Watch) to helm the savory side of her kitchen. If my meal there this week is any indication, the trucker hat–clad Stover is off to a strong start.
The highlight of the meal: a beautiful plate of giant French white asparagus, its earthy and ever-so-slightly bitter flavor complemented by pickled ramps and a chive-sprinkled, coddled hen egg cooked with the utmost gentleness. There wasn't a miss among the dishes—a homey clam stew with fregola, a fillet of barramundi accompanied by (gritty, but still tasty) creamed ramps and dandelion greens, the unchanged crab-cake sandwich, the cookie plate to destroy all other cookie plates—but the window for French white asparagus is a small one, so jump!
Labor History Walking Tour of Pilsen with Paul Durica This summer, URI-EICHEN Gallery, in partnership with the Illinois Labor History Society, is hosting a summer-long series about work, featuring art shows, neighborhood events and music. Titled "Eight Hours for Work, Eight Hours for Rest, Eight Hours for What We Will," it kicks off in May with a labor history walking tour of Pilsen led by Chicago historian Paul Durica (7–8:30pm). The evening's festivities also include a group printing and postcard campaign demanding action from the Mayor, live music by Bucky Halker, a silent auction to raise funds for organizing the archive of Illinois Labor History Society collection and more. Don't miss this chance to learn about the fascinating labor history of "The City That Works." URI-EICHEN Gallery. 6pm–10pm.
Kill Paris + Haywire OWSLA records' Kill Paris blends booming electro, slap-bass funk and the label's trademark dubstep oomph. Smart Bar. 10pm. $12, before midnight $10, advance $8
GAY & LESBIAN
Frathouse Thursdays Just try to find elbow room at this throwback to the house party days of college when beer pong, 20-ounce brews and hot boys ruled. Scarlet Bar. 9pm.
Comedians trying out for Saturday Night Live in audition showcases at iO is nothing new; Chicago comics regularly jockey for spots to get seen by Lorne Michaels at the Lakeview comedy theater. What's unusual about the next round of SNL auditions at iO is the language they'll be in.
Co-founder Charna Halpern says iO will host the first of a handful of national showcases to cast a Spanish-language edition of Saturday Night Live, geared for Mexican TV. News of the project, to be headed up by Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez and producers Fernando Rovzar and Adriana Bello, has been making the rounds in Spanish-language publications, like this March 28 report in People en Español.
The Chicago showcase is scheduled for June 5, according to a press release from iO. Another showcase will be held at iO West in Los Angeles. Halpern asks performers interested in obtaining a slot to e-mail her (email@example.com) or creative director Mike Balzer (firstname.lastname@example.org) for info.
Surprising no one, American Theater Company said today it will produce the Chicago premiere of Stephen Karam's Pulitzer Prize finalist Sons of the Prophet in early 2014. The company also announced Kelly O'Sullivan and Tyler Ravelson as new members of its ensemble.
ATC has a close relationship with Karam, a rising young playwright. Artistic director PJ Paparelli co-wrote columbinus with Karam before arriving at ATC, and made his Chicago directing debut in 2008 with Karam's Speech & Debate. ATC produced a revised and expanded version of columbinus earlier this year, which it now says will tour to Boston's ArtsEmerson in September with O'Sullivan and Ravelson in the cast. A remount of Speech & Debate is set to open at ATC next week. Sons of the Prophet, about a Lebanese-American family, will run January 31–March 9.
ATC's season will also include the perennial It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play (November 22–December 9), a subscriber-only radio-play version of The Wizard of Oz (November 8–10) and the previously announced "revised and restored" production of the musical Hair (April 25–June 9). Paparelli will direct all four shows in the season.
Teatro Vista also announced its two-show season, its first in residence at Victory Gardens. Eddie Torres will helm the world premiere of White Tie Ball by Martín Zimmerman, who joins the company as a playwright in residence. Ensemble members Marvin Quijada and Gabriel Ruiz will appear in the piece about a pair of brothers (September 6–October 13).
In a departure from Teatro Vista's tendency toward new plays, Ron OJ Parson will direct an all-Latino cast in Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge (April 11–May 18), featuring artistic director Ricardo Gutierrez as Eddie and company members Christina Nieves as Catherine and Sandra Marquez as Beatrice. Both shows will be mounted in Victory Gardens's upstairs Richard Christiansen Theater.
The producers of TBS Just for Laughs Chicago announced today another wave of acts for next month's fifth annual comedy fest. Several members of David Cross's "Super Duper Pals" have been revealed: Paul F. Tompkins, Brian Posehn, Doug Benson and Todd Glass will join the Arrested Development star in his June 13 appearance at the Chicago Theatre. Also added to the Chicago Theatre lineup: a June 12 performance by British bad boy Russell Brand. Also, Nick Swardson has added a second show June 14 at the Vic Theatre.
Several new acts have been announced for the Second City's UP Comedy Club, including three sets by You Made It Weird podcaster and future TBS late-night host Pete Holmes (two on June 11 and another June 13). On June 12, UP hosts Matt Walsh, Horatio Sanz, Brad Morris and Joe Nunez for a live performance of the Bear Down podcast, followed by a late-night Second City Alumni show featuring improv by Scott Adsit, TJ Jagodowski, Dave Pasquesi, Kevin Dorff and Jon Glaser. June 13, 14 and 15, Saturday Night Live's newest cast members Tim Robinson, Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant perform as Knuckleheads.
Just for Laughs will also play host on June 11 to a free advance screening of The Heat, the buddy-cop comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy set for a June 28 release. Director Paul Feig will appear to introduce the film at the Kerasotes ShowPlace ICON.
Unless Bullock and McCarthy also appear in person, today's announcement brings this year's Just for Laughs Chicago talent to a total of 40 men and four women. Additional lineup announcements are expected next week. Tickets for today's newly revealed slate go on sale Saturday, May 11 at 11am at TicketMaster.com for Brand, etix.com for Swardson and upcomedyclub.com for all UP shows. Tickets for The Heat screening will be available at justforlaughschicago.com.
Hearing that Gary Coleman will be the focus of a major Chicago museum exhibit this summer called to my mind the Diff'rent Strokes star's famous catchphrase of utterly adorable incredulousness: Whatchoo talkin' 'bout?!
"The Life & Times of Gary Coleman" at the Museum of Broadcast Communications will run from June 26 to September 14, "chronicling Coleman’s popularity and his impact on pop culture in the 1980s" and displaying personal ephemera donated by the late actor's parents. William and Sue Coleman also are scheduled to make an appearance during a seminar at the River North museum July 20 to discuss their adopted son, who died in 2010 at the age of 42 after suffering a brain hemorrhage.
Keith Koeneman Koeneman—a Lincoln Park–based jack-of-all-trades—discusses First Son, his biography of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, recently published by University of Chicago Press. TOC critic Jake Austen had this to say of the exhaustively researched book: "By boldly taking on an untouchable subject, it opens the door to future authors who may want to explore extremes—whether that’s criticizing the architect of Chicago’s privatization movement or praising the leader who brought the City That Works into the new millennium (with the park to prove it)." Elmhurst College. 7pm.
Comedians You Should Know This night of comedy, curated by a group of funny dudes, puts local stand-ups on your radar. Timothy O'Toole's. 9pm. $10, advance $5.