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Beyond 'Baby': Moms in the movies

Five films to watch as (or with) a mother.

IF YOU (or your mom) love scary movies, there are plenty of mother-centric ones you can watch together this weekend, starting, of course, with "Psycho."

But wuss that I am, I'd prefer:

* "Fargo." Frances McDormand's character, pregnant sheriff Marge Gunderson, isn't part of FX's splendid reboot of the Coen brothers' 1996 film, but she remains a beacon to working moms-to-be, a no-nonsense woman going about her job amid all that blood-spattered snow just as if she weren't growing an actual human being under her uniform. And if that sounds too tame, there's always the scene with the wood-chipper.

* "The Promise." Caught this recently on Netflix and it's as deliciously cheesy now as it was in 1979. Beatrice Straight is so evil as the rich and ambitious mother who goes to absurd lengths to separate her son (Stephen Collins) from his fiancee (Kathleen Quinlan) that the rest of us can't help but feel better about ourselves.

* "Carrie." Accept no substitutes for the 1976 version of the Stephen King story, with Sissy Spacek as Carrie and Piper Laurie as the mother from hell.

* "Mommie Dearest." How much worse might Joan Crawford have had it if her kids had been born in the age of smartphones and video cameras? Or was this 1981 film a hatchet job? And is an aversion to wire hangers really so awful? Discuss!

* "Terms of Endearment." Shirley MacLaine as the mother of all interfering mothers and Jack Nicholson as the retired astronaut who occasionally distracts her, make this totally worth the box of tissues you'll go through when the one thing that all mothers fear occurs. And don't think knowing it's coming will help.

- Ellen Gray