10 Bad Movie Mothers

Nothing seems to delight Oscar voters like a mother from hell: Monsters from Black Swan, The Fighter, and Animal Kingdom are all vying for awards this year. Stephen Farber on their evolution, from Mildred Pierce to Precious.

Barbara Hershey in Black Swan

Award-winning actress Barbara Hershey plays the role of Natalie Portman's deranged and overbearing "mommy" in Black Swan. The 62-year-old gave a "riveting" performance and made audiences shudder when, with clenched teeth, she asks Portman: "What happened to my sweet girl?" Hershey is perverse in her duties as mommy dearest—even undressing her adult daughter as a means of controlling her.

Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom

Australian actress Jacki Weaver eerily captures the role of Janine "Smurf" Cody in the new David Michôd film Animal Kingdom. The thriller follows the Cody family, a group of hardened criminals who have a leak from inside. Weaver is the matriarch within the pack of killers—and though she's dangerous, maintains her air of motherly charm. Her recent Golden Globe nomination is a testament to her performance, which has been given high praise among top movie critics. The LA Times says Weaver, a relatively unknown actress in the U.S., has " made a name for herself" with Animal Kingdom. But the 63-year-old actress is superstitious, telling the media that she is avoiding the "O-Word" to avoid jinxing a nomination.