David O. Russell burst onto the scene with a challenging and controversial film about an introverted college student and the incestuous disaster of a summer that follows his freshman year. In the film, Ray Aibelli (Jeremy Davies) returns home for what is supposed to be a short visit with his family, but his plans are quickly scuttled when his dad strong-arms him into caring for his depressed mother (Alberta Watson) while she recovers from torn ligaments in her leg. Things get worse as Ray and his mother develop an increasingly fuzzy relationship. Russell both scripted and directed this critically acclaimed debut, which courted controversy by following the mother-son relationship into uncomfortably frank and off-limits territory. “Spanking the Monkey” was quite the coming out party for Russell and we loved it, which is why we are airing it tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET. Pro tip: Don’t watch it with your mother.
Since “Spanking the Monkey,” Russell’s career has skyrocketed. Here are five David O. Russell movies we love, but if that “The Beautiful and the Damned” remake he was working on for his “Gossip Girl” cameo ever comes to fruition, we’ll be sure to re-assess our list.
4. “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” (executive producer)
“Spanking the Monkey” airs at 10:30 p.m. ET