Move over Meryl. There's a new hot mama in town and her name is Annette Bening.
The real-life mother of four will demonstrate her maniacal mom chops again as the mother of Kristen Wiig in "Imogene." The "Bridesmaid" star will play another precarious single woman after batting it out of the park as the jealous friend in this summer's bizarre spin on wedding-themed chick flicks. In "Imogene" producer Wiig cast herself as a recently dumped New York playwright who hatches the brilliant plot of staging a fake suicide to get her boyfriend back. The plan backfires, natch, and instead Wiig is ordered by a judge to live with her gambling addict mother played by Bening.
Since emerging as the thinking man's sexy actress in movies like "The Grifters" and "Bugsy," the pixie-faced actress has had four children and even her formerly bed-hopping husband, Warren Beatty, is well past Social Security age. It is not surprising that the four-time Oscar nominee is now cast as the mother in most movies rather than the love interest, especially since in Hollyworld only men over 50 can still be romantic leads. (Meryl Streep's "It's Complicated" was a rare and refreshing exception.)
Most recently, the "Being Julia" star played the role of Nic, a lesbian mother, for which she narrowly lost the 2010 "Best Actress" Oscar to Natalie Portman. As Julianne Moore's wife, her frazzled physician character is overly fond of red wine; less so of men. For instance, in one scene, her children's sperm donor, played by Mark Ruffalo, says, "Just making an observation" and she replies, " Yeah? Well I need your observations like I need a d*** in my ass!"
In "Running With Scissors," the twinkle-eyed talent played Deirdre Burroughs, a legend in her own mind, who is actually a floundering unpublished poet. In the movie, Burroughs tells her son, "Don't try and compete with me, Augusten. If you move back in with me, I won't allow it. You'll only get hurt. When I become a very famous woman, they'll write that I had a son who was a writer too, who doesn't compare to my brilliance. I want more for you than that" to which Augusten wryly replies, "Did you mix your pills again?"
And who can forget an aggressive Annette as the career driven real estate queen mom in "American Beauty," a shallow shrew who emasculates her husband and has a sordid affair in a motel. Her character Carolyn Burnham is such a perfectionist that she is inevitably disappointed in herself and her flawed family, which ironically makes her far from the perfect mother. In one scene, she enters her daughter's room to apologize to her and ends up slapping her in the face.
At 53, the Kansas native who was raised in sunny San Diego is one of the few A-list actresses who seems at peace with her laugh lines and is not on a first name basis with any plastic surgeons. In fact, Lisa Cholodenko, the writer-director of "The Kids Are All Right," told a reporter her "authentic face" is one reason she chose Bening for the role of Nic. "I wanted to cast an actor who looked her age," she said.
Even if the self-assured celebrity decides to do a Joan Rivers, chances are good she will continue to be cast as mentally unstable maternal figures in the future. And with her deliciously edgy spin, who knows? Who better than Annette Bening to play Norman Bates "Psycho" mom in a remake of the flashback sequel?
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