Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Tues Top Ten: Pregnancies

In honor of Penélope Cruz's recently announced pregnancy and the DVD release of Lindsay Lohan's latest Labor Pains (don't everybody rush out to snatch it up at once. I promise you they'll have enough copies) in which she fakes a pregnancy to keep a job, I thought a top ten list celebrating the miracle of childbirth -- or future childbirth rather -- was called for.

But first a bit more about Ms. Lohan. Rich at fourfour collected the Labor Pain lines that were more applicable to Lindsay the celebrity than the character she happens to be playing.



...not that Lindsay plays characters these days. The Actress wrapped things up with Mean Girls, only The Celebrity lives on.
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Ten Best Pregnant Movie Characters

10 Juno in Juno (2007)
The general three act journey of zeitgeist movies goes like so... Act I: instant hype, audience love and acclaim births a new pop culture babe; Act II: media overkill curdles that hype, attempts to beat holdout audience members into submission spurring rebellions. Backlash turns pop culture darling into punching bag; Act III: Everything settles down until the darling/punching bag is just a movie again, neither the greatest nor the worst ever made. Are we in act three yet with Juno? I hope so because for all the swipes at its forced quirk and too widely adopted quotables, it's a good movie and Juno the character as written, and especially as performed by Ellen Page, should be appreciated as a pretty swell(ing) movie character, hamburger phones be damned.

But how do you think her baby turned out?

09 Demi Moore in...
Vanity Fair Magazine: The Movie. Don't even argue that that wasn't her best role.

08 Holly in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
That's a spoiler if you haven't seen Woody Allen's Oscar nominated classic. I love that Holly begins the movie as a bundle of cocaine snorting sister-dependent directionless neurosis and ends the movie aglow with the promise of new life and yet you never think to worry that she'll be a terrible mother. You're too in love with Holly to be anything but happy for her. Credit Dianne Wiest who is one of the most endearing actresses that the cinema has ever known.


07 Sarah Connor in The Terminator (1984)
If you give birth to the future savior of mankind you deserve a place on the list. I chose Sarah over Mary from any Jesus movie or Kee from Children of Men because I don't think they would have survived a robot apocalypse (too demure and too shell shocked, respectively). More on The Terminator and Sarah Connor herself.

06 Dawn Lagarto aka 'Bloody Mama' in Series 7: The Contenders (2001)
It's strange to me that Daniel Minahan's Series 7 never got its due as a prescient satire of the barbaric leanings of reality television and celebrity culture's fame fixation. In the movie, random citizens are selected to star in a show wherein they have to kill the other contestants before they're killed themselves. The final girl (or boy) is the winner. Did the black comedy arrive a year or two too early? Is it not quite as sharp as I remember it being? Either way, Brooke Smith's reluctant but efficient pregnant murderess still lingers in the memory with her big belly, flop sweat and bloody hands.

Is Brooke Smith cursed? Whenever you think her career is going to take off either the film doesn't (Series 7) or she's overshadowed by brilliant co-stars even though she's totally working it too (Vanya on 42nd Street and Silence of the Lambs) or she gets written out of the picture series (Grey's Anatomy, Weeds). If anyone in Hollywood had actually seen Series 7 maybe they wouldn't be so quick to write her off as a contender. Given the right opportunities, she's killer.

05 Ashley in Junebug (2005)
Cuter than a meercat. [Related post: Amy Adams interview]

04 Ruth in Citizen Ruth (1996)
If you've never seen Alexander Payne's satire of America's eternal war between the pro-choice and pro-life forces, you should. The ever brilliant Laura Dern (in one of the best performances of 1996) plays the druggy dimwitted and frequently pregnant Ruth and both sides of the abortion divide seek to co opt her for their cause. It's worth seeing for Dern's amoral comedy alone but the political satire has real bite, too. Here I'll help you. Rent it from Netflix or Blockbuster.

[Related post: Signatures: Laura Dern]

03 Marge Gunderson in Fargo (1996)
Frances McDormand's Oscar win for her seven months pregnant police chief is one of the greatest atypical Oscar moments of all time. A memorably comedic portrayal of a truly original character wins? There is a god. That's as hopeful as Marge's innate goodness, which provides the wintry brutality of Fargo's comedy with its sole warmth.
And for what? For a little bit of money. There's more to life than a little money, you know. Don'cha know that?

And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day. Well, I just don't understand it.
Marge is a great cop. You know she's going to be an awesome mom in just "two more months. two more months."

02 Trudy Kockenlocker in The Miracle at Morgan's Creek (1944)
This Preston Sturges comedy about a girl who gets knocked up on a one night stand with the troops should be mandatory viewing in film schools. It's not that it's the greatest comedy of all time or anything that hyperbolic. It's that it does two things superbly that Hollywood has forgotten how to do well at all. First, briskly paced comedic storytelling and second, an endearing good time gal lead who doesn't feel like she's been assembled from pull down menus in a screenwriting program. Betty Hutton is a total dream as Trudy: funny, sexy, radiant and supremely silly. She's just wondrously fruity. And her loins are unexpectedly fruitful, too.

01 Rosemary in Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Roman Polanski's enduring chiller is among my personal holy trinity of horror: the father mother (Psycho), the son (Rosemary's Baby), and the unholy ghost (Carrie). Most horror movies play with our loudly admitted phobias: fear of the dark, monsters, death. Rosemary's Baby plays a more masterful game, exposing primal fears about things we're not supposed to admit we're scared of. Fears such as pregnancy, childbirth, unknowable offspring and the dread of identities subsumed by our children's. Mia Farrow's brilliant star turn channels these anxieties which are especially pronounced in new mothers, whether or not they've been knocked up by the devil.

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Here's the part where you horrify me by telling me who I've forgotten...

30 comments:

Brooke Cloudbuster said...

The first thing I thought when reading this is that Meryl Streep hasn't been pregnant in a movie.

At least not from memory, which might be slipping.

James Colon said...

Does the Bride from KILL BILL count?

NATHANIEL R said...

Brooke... i think she's pregnant for a good portion of HEARTBURN.

and for awhile she was alwayss pregnant at the Oscars ;)

james -- i say no given she was only pregnant for a split second

whitney said...

The whole time I was watching Lake of Fire I was thinking about Citizen Ruth. That is the only movie on this list in which I didn't get super super anxious about pregnancy. (for more info on my neuroses you can read Dear Jesus :)

PS I'm glad we're facebook friends now!

Anonymous said...

Streep was pregnant in A Cry in the Dark....Another brillant performance...

Wayne B. said...

I got big time affection for Shug (Taraji) from Hustle & Flow and Rebecca (Julianne) from Nine Months. The scene where Shug talks about her dreams with DJay gets me everytime.

Anonymous said...

Penelope Cruz got pregnant!

Juno101 said...

I watched Juno after all the hype and still loved it(to death). I think a lot people got mad that it didn't focus on the pregnancy more or the storyline wasn't epic which it never tries to be. I think when it goes to tv people who never cared to go see it will watch it and like it. I think there's still a lot of fans for the movie so im still happy.

NicksFlickPicks said...

Your list is your list, baby! You don't need to be horrified by anybody else's suggestions. My own list would have to include Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of Grace, Christina Ricci in The Opposite of Sex, a bunch of people whom it would be spoilerish to mention, and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Junior.

Okay, one of those is a joke. And it isn't Ricci.

Derreck said...

i'm sure it doesn't count, but in my head, i'll include Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) from Fatal Attraction. She got pregnant (maybe) and used it as a means to ensnare Dan (Michael Douglas) in her grasp. It just added to her overall creepiness and scared the hell out of most future adulterers.

But i'll add Katherine Heigl's character in Knocked Up. She's not overwhelmingly sympathetic all the time, but she was a fairly realistic representation of the whole process.

and Kirstie Alley (Mollie) from the Look Who's Talking movies. But that's more of a sentimental choice. I still can remember being shocked when i was a child that John Travolta and Kirstie Alley weren't married in real life.

and Rebecca (Julianne Moore) is also a great choice as someone else above me mentioned.

Anonymous said...

I know that it is extremely recent, but I would also include Verona in Away We Go. Also, while I hate Juno's screenplay (for the most part), I love it as a well-acted ensemble piece, but there is one thing that you missed in the criticisms. Unfortunately, I am surrounded by some extreme "feminists" (I put that in quotes, because they're not real feminists) and they hate Juno because Juno doesn't get an abortion and any film where a pregnant woman doesn't get an abortion is automatically sexist.

Sijmen said...

Weird. I always thought that final scene in Hannah and her Sisters was a dream sequence. Isn't it?

Not only has it dreamy cinematography, but Woody's character says earlier in the film that he physically isn't capable of having children...

Was I wrong?

Sijmen said...

Miracle on Morgan's Creek is one of my all time favorites, by the way!

Seisgrados said...

According to Pedro Almodóvar, Penélope is NOT pregnant. He would know, he said on TV last night. She just gained some weight.

kel said...

Yes. Rosemary's Baby, hands down.

Reading your blurb on Juno reminds me of Slumdog Milliionaire. The same applies.

Anonymous said...

Penelope Cruz in All About My Mother has to be top three for me.

Urey said...

Hmmm. I would have had Ellen Page higher (come on, she's freakin' Juno), taken out Demi Moore, and added either a combination of Katherine Heigl, Claie Hope-Ashitey, Taraji P. Henson, or Rachel Weisz (how people forget). Mia Farrow kind of had to be number 1 though, didn't she?

javi75 said...

The Lindsay Lohan movie has been released in movie theaters in Europe.

NoNo said...

I can't think of movies but an honorable mention from me goes to Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy...

Fernando Moss said...

Jude (M. Gyllenhaal) from Happy Endings would have made my list... Otherwise it's a pretty good one...

Hayden said...

No Julianne Moore for Nine Months OR The Hours?

Billy D said...

Penelope is a LOCK for a nomination now with the pregnancy...if the timing is off by a few months, then she could theoretically be pregnant for the ceremony. She learned a thing or two from Mrs. Zeta-Jones Douglas.

Nat, you should do some feature on how many actresses have been pregnant when nominated. It seems there are always a few.

Anonymous said...

I Will give my vote to Laura Brown (julianne moore)in The Hours.

Kenneth Walsh said...

Pregnancy and movies DO NOT go together in my mind. So your No. 8 selection is perfect -- it only lasts 30 seconds!

(P.S. What I would give for a Tower Records in Manhattan again!)

Deborah said...

I love pretty much all your picks. I was blown away by Series 7.

Iggy said...

The issue of Cruz's possible pregnancy is getting insanity levels.

There's been this rumor all summer long, based only on some paparazzi photos where she appeared to have gained some weight. The highest peak was Broken Embraces London premiere where she showed up wearing lose pants. So much so that Almodóvar himself told the journalists that she wasn't pregnant, that she had gained some pounds and he warned the journalists that she'd probably be pissed if asked about it.

To stop the rumors her next public apperance was in a tight green dress (in Germany?), but by then some American media had started with what Spanish media seemed to have given up. Now, there's the rumor again because now some Spanish gossip Tv shows quote the American media that mention it (and that probably do it reflecting what the same Spanish media had previously said, so getting to an amusing and endless vicious circle, lol).

Anonymous said...

Keri Russell in waitress!
Jenna Malone in Saved!

darkthirty said...

Sandy Dennis in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Less Lee Moore said...

I'm going to throw in Sarah from "À l'intérieur" - I just saw it and I still can't get it out of my head.

Vertigo's Psycho said...

Peggy Cass as Agnes "I'm a bride!" Gooch in Auntie Mame is the first one who popped into my head, as Agnes certainly pops up and way out there in the movie.