by Steven Cohen
With Mother's Day just around the corner, many of us will soon be scrambling to find the perfect gift to fully express our great love and appreciation. This can be an extremely daunting task, so we here at High-Def Digest thought we'd make your life a little easier with this handy Mother's Day Gift Guide!
Filled with movies for (and in some cases actually about) mothers of all types, this list will make shopping for mom a breeze. And in addition to Blu-ray recommendations, we're also throwing in some great gear suggestions. From tablets to digital cameras, there are plenty of expensive and budget gadgets for tech savvy and tech clueless moms to enjoy.
And as a very special added bonus, this list is officially "Mother Approved." That's right, my very own mom actually had a hand in selecting the titles below, and will even be providing some very motherly commentary on all the included flicks! So, without further ado, here's our Blu-ray disc and gear suggestions for Mother's Day 2013:
'Love Actually' - The go-to film for all females in your life, there really is no going wrong with this one. Academy Award nominated screenwriter Richard Curtis' directorial debut just might be the most popular romantic comedy of the past decade. With an extremely likeable ensemble cast, sweet story, and genuine laughs, the movie defies the often soulless and clichéd tropes that plague most similar Hollywood efforts, making it a guilt-free purchase for your mom that everybody can enjoy.
Mom Says: "This movie makes me laugh, cry and just feel happy. I love the various storylines all depicting different types and perspectives of love."
'Modern Family: The Complete First Season' - Among TV's most successful and top rated shows, this is one of those rare series that actually earns every inch of its massive popularity. A multifaceted and hilarious look at contemporary family life, the show is filled with many easily relatable mishaps, dilemmas, and heartwarming resolutions that are sure to ring true to any mother. If you already have season one, seasons two and three make great gifts as well!
Mom Says: "This show always puts me in a great mood. It makes me laugh and I love the relationships among all the family members. I never miss an episode."
'Les Misérables (2012)' - We both actually haven't seen this one yet, but we've been looking forward to it. I mean, it's an acclaimed adaptation of a celebrated Broadway musical that features Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway singing their hearts out -- what more could a mother want?!
Mom Says: "The music is so beautiful and I love Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway!"
'When Harry Met Sally' - Rob Reiner's 1989 classic really hasn't aged a day, and it's still one of the most entertaining and enlightening films about the precarious divide between men and women. With a comically perceptive script written by the late Nora Ephron, and iconic performances from Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan (who share effortlessly natural chemistry), this is easily among the most enjoyable romcoms out there, and would make a great gift for any movie-loving mother.
Mom Says: "I love how the film shows the two characters growing throughout the years, and how their close friendship slowly evolves and changes into romance. And it's so funny!"
'The Impossible' - Not just a truly harrowing story of survival, this movie also features one of the most affecting displays of motherhood ever put to screen. Naomi Watts really is incredible here, and even as her body nearly breaks apart, she never once loses the drive to take care of her children, or the determination to reunite her family -- even in the face of total devastation.
Mom Says: "This is one of the most intense movies I've seen in a very long time. It's such a powerful and inspirational story about family bonds and survival."
'Brave' - Through bursts of magic and fantasy, Pixar's 'Brave' perfectly distills the changing dynamics that eventually rattle every mother/daughter relationship. While it might not be among the studio's very best efforts, it's still home to all their trademark wit and sincerity, and the animation is simply breathtaking.
Mom Says: "This was really clever and cute. The growing conflict between mother and daughter rings true, and the resolution is very sweet. And the little bear cub kids are adorable!"
'Parenthood' - Ron Howard's ensemble comedy is filled with universally relatable horrors and triumphs dealing with family. Inspired by the filmmakers' real life experiences in parenthood, the film is sure to make any experienced or burgeoning mother laugh and cry. Also, this gets bonus points for featuring a young Joaquin Phoenix who was still calling himself Leaf at the time. Yes, Leaf.
Mom Says: "What a great movie that really shows the wild roller coaster ride of being a parent. Enjoy it while you hang on tight!"
'Rosemary's Baby' - Yes, mothers like horror too! A classic example of psychologically driven supernatural terror, the film remains a true benchmark of its genre. Polanski's command of mood and tone makes for an exceedingly creepy experience that slowly builds as the runtime goes on, often drawing scares from what's not shown. Mia Farrow's turn as the increasingly tormented expectant mother is perfect, and the film's final shots might actually offer the most telling and enlightening depiction of true motherhood found in any of the films on this list.
Mom Says: "I just remember this being so creepy and scary, and Mia Farrow's performance as the unsuspecting mother-to-be remains frighteningly compelling to watch."
'The Tree of Life' - For the more cinematically adventurous mothers, Terrence Malick's poetic masterpiece, 'The Tree of Life,' is a beautiful examination of family, love, and the history of the universe. Through its examination of the dueling forces of nature and grace, the film keys in on how parents can shape their children's lives, leaving a very lasting impression. As Mrs. O'Brien, Jessica Chastain comes to represent the very essence of compassion, tenderness, and motherly love. Its avant garde flourishes make it the least accessible title on this list, but this would make the perfect gift for any big cinephile mothers out there.
Mom Says: "Through a stirring visual poem, the film juxtaposes a mother's gentle protection and nurturance, against the practical, tough upbringings of a father.
'Crazy Stupid Love' - AKA "that movie my mother has been continuously trying to get me to watch for the last two years." Seriously, every time we're together and there's an opportunity to watch something, this is always the first suggestion that jumps out of her mouth. In fact, I'm kind of shocked that I've somehow managed to go so long without seeing it. And it's not like I'm actively avoiding it. I mean, the cast is great, the trailers made it look solid, and the flick received many positive reviews. Hmm, I have a feeling I know exactly what I'll be watching this Mother's Day…
Mom Says: "You still haven't seen this?! This is one of my favorites. I love the marriage bump in the road and its consequences while everyone discovers what loves really means to them. How have you not seen this?!"
Tablets - Portable, convenient, versatile, practical, and a whole lot of fun, tablets make the perfect gift for mothers, letting them browse the internet, watch movies, listen to music, or play games comfortably from anywhere in the house or even on the go.
The iPad remains the reigning champion when it comes to overall performance, available apps, and additional features, and the latest 4th Generation iteration ranges from 16GB all the way up to 128GB, with the former starting out at $499.
Of course, Apple isn't the only game in town, and Samsung and even Amazon all have very solid tablets that should more than meet most mother's needs. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 are both strong bets for those open to Android devices or adverse to Apple. The former features a 10.1 inch screen and the latter has an 8 inch screen, and they start out at $499 and $399 respectively for their 16GB models. While it doesn't boast the same feature set, performance, or robust app store as the other options, The Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9" also makes for a great, cheaper media centric tablet, and starts out at $269 for its 16GB version.
Really, whether you go with Apple, Samsung, Amazon, or any other reliable brand, the basic internet and entertainment functions are all relatively similar, and if your mom is anything like my mom, they're all just "iPads" anyway. My own mother recently got the Samsung Galaxy Tab2 10.1 (MSRP $349), and it has more than met all her needs (which basically means she gets to play Angry Birds).
E-book Readers - Don't have the cash for a full-blown tablet, but still want to give mom the option to easily read books on the go within one convenient device? Well then, a standalone e-book reader sounds like the perfect gift.
The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is one of the best readers available, and offers users a built-in light, adjustable font styles and sizes (an option my mother loves), great battery life, and enough space to hold up to 1,100 titles. The Kindle Paperwhite starts out at $119, and an ad-free version is available for $139. If a built-in light and touch screen aren't high on your mother's priorities, the cheaper standard Kindle is available for $69 or $89 for the ad-free version.
Barnes and Noble also offers a solid assortment of readers, headlined by the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, and while the screen isn't as nice as Amazon's, it's still a comparatively priced, ad-free alternative with similar features.
Noise Cancelling Headphones - Now that she's got her brand new tablet, how is mom supposed to enjoy her music, audio books, movies, and games with all that constant noise going on in the house? The solution: a pair of noise canceling headphones.
The Bose Quiet Comfort 15 is a good choice for those looking for great sound quality and comfort. They're on the pricier side ($299), but they'll effectively cut out all the noise, and are rated for about 35 hours of battery life.
On the cheaper side (MSRP $129.95 but currently available on Amazon for about $80), the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC1 QuietPoint is also a solid product. Though not as comfortable or sturdily built as the Bose headphones, this option is more compact and, unlike the former, these headphones can be used with or without the noise cancelling feature.
Digital Cameras - Yes, it might be the most annoying part of family gatherings, but there's no denying that mothers love to take pictures, and there are plenty of great, simple point-and-shoot options that will help make the experience a little less painful.
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS is an affordable (MSRP is $229 but Amazon currently has it for about $165), high quality, ultra thin, compact camera with a 12 megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor. Perfect for taking pictures conveniently on the go with the auto setting, a camera like this will ensure that mom can always capture those special family moments whenever or wherever they strike -- and as quickly as possible.
For a comparatively less compact alternative, the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is another highly rated point-and-shoot option that offers more robust controls and an ultra zoom lens (25-500mm). MSRP is $349.99 but it can be found for as low as $215 on Amazon.
Well, there you have it. Those are our Mother's Day gift suggestions for 2013. No matter what you end up buying for your mom, just make sure it comes from the heart… and with a receipt. I mean, who are we kidding, gift guide or no gift guide, mom's are still really hard to please! Of course, they’re more than worth the effort. We hope you all have a great Mother's Day!