35 Best Mother’s Day Movies to Watch with Mom
Curl up with some popcorn and chocolate (and don't forget the tissues) to watch the best movies that pay tribute to marvelous matriarchs.
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Stream these mom movies for a sweet Mother’s Day movie marathon
There are lots of great ways to celebrate mom for Mother’s Day, like getting her a Mother’s Day gift she’ll love, sending her a meaningful Mother’ Day poem, dedicating a special song to her, or honoring her with one of these motherhood quotes. But you can also do something together on or around the special day—and what better way to bond than by laughing, crying, or even singing along to a great movie about moms and motherhood (or at the very least, a movie featuring an awesome/relatable mom)? Here are some of our favorite mom movies that tell heartwarming stories and meaningful tales of motherhood.
Yes, this might be a little on the nose for Mother’s Day movies, but maybe that’s just what you want. A romantic comedy, Mother’s Day is another one of the late great Garry Marshall’s holiday ensemble films (which include Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve), starring Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, and Jennifer Aniston confronting different aspects of being a mom. Stream it now, or buy it on DVD and include it in your gift to mom.
Terms of Endearment
You have the quintessential mother-daughter movie in this 1980s dramedy starring Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger as the two ever-bickering leading ladies who love each other like crazy. MacLaine won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance as the grieving and passionate matriarch who can’t let her daughter go. Winger is devastating and moving as the free spirit who just wants her mom’s approval. It’s the perfect film to celebrate the sometimes complicated but intense love between moms and daughters. Heads up: Have tissues handy, because this one’s a tearjerker.
Little Women is the story of four very different sisters learning to make their way during the Civil War era. In this star-studded 2019 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel, Laura Dern’s Marmee is the rock that holds the family together while her husband is off at war. You’ll laugh, you’ll tear up, and you’ll feel grateful for your relationships with the women in your life, including mom.
Rated: Not Rated
Barbara Stanwyck is a vision in this powerful 1930s drama about the sacrifices mothers make for their children. Stanwyck delivers a striking performance as a woman determined to secure her daughter a better place in society, despite being unable to shed her own lower-class upbringing. Modern audiences will enjoy this Hollywood classic’s searing look at rigid class dynamics and the fraught issues that accompany marrying into a higher social class. Grab your girl, your mom, your grandma—things have improved, but everyone will relate to some aspect of this timeless tale.
Imitation of Life
Rated: Not Rated
Lana Turner and Sandra Dee play a melodramatic mother-daughter team in this dazzling drama directed by the campy and caustic Douglas Sirk. Turner plays an actress who can’t quite help her narcissism, and Juanita Moore is her long-suffering best friend and maid. The film takes a searing look at race relations and the social role of independent, single women while also exploring the love between moms and their daughters. The costumes glitter, the performances sizzle, and the film still packs an emotional wallop.
Postcards from the Edge
A dramedy written by Carrie Fisher and starring two acting legends—Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep—as mother and daughter? Sign us up. Fisher wrote this screenplay based on her novel of the same name, drawing inspiration from her own experiences growing up with superstar Debbie Reynolds as her mom. Streep’s character, an actress struggling with drug addiction, reluctantly moves in with her mother—also an actress, but with a much squeakier-clean image that causes Streep’s character to resent her. You’ll cheer for the way they end up supporting each other. Don’t forget to bookmark these sweet Mother’s Day messages to dedicate to your mom.
Albert Brooks co-wrote and stars in this mother-son dramedy that also stars Debbie Reynolds (in her first big-time role in more than 20 years!). Brooks plays a writer who, after getting divorced for the second time, starts wondering if he has some mommy issues going on. He moves back in with his mother to find out where it all went wrong.
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Martin Scorsese directed this melodrama about a single mom (played by Ellen Burstyn) trying to make it on her own with a young smart-alecky son in tow. She ends up waiting tables at Mel’s Diner (which inspired the sitcom Alice, set in the same restaurant), where Kris Kristofferson shows up as a rugged musician offering a second chance at love. Burstyn won a Best Actress Oscar for her natural turn as a woman transcending her struggles. Look for Jodie Foster as the precocious pal of Burnstyn’s son.
This film celebrates the power of family traditions—and the challenge for a family trying to move forward after losing their matriarch. Three sisters living in Chicago have gathered for dinner with their mom every Sunday, but after Mother Joe passes, family tensions bubble to the surface. As the sisters and their significant others navigate romantic tensions and local injustices, Mother Joe’s young grandson comes up with a plan to get them all working toward healing—knowing it’s what their mother would want. (There’s also a sequel in the works!)
Moms fell in love with this ode to rebellious parenthood. Grab your group of mom besties and settle in for some raucous comedy about the stress of PTA meetings and packing school lunches. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn each shine as moms struggling to hold it together in the face of everyday mom madness—and at least one cheating husband. Audiences made this women-centered laugh-fest a huge hit, because it felt so relatable while at the same time being totally hilarious.
OK, maybe another one that’s on-the-nose. Uma Thurman stars as a new mom in the West Village who confronts the seemingly simple task of planning her two-year-old’s birthday party. This slice-of-life film takes place over the course of a single day. P.S. Check out these last-minute Mother’s Day gifts she’ll absolutely adore.
Because I Said So
This rom-com stars a young Mandy Moore with film veteran Diane Keaton. Moore is Keaton’s youngest, and only single, daughter, and Mom is determined to do something about it. As is to be expected, matchmaking by Mom does not go according to plan.
Susan Sarandon plays Ed Harris’s ex-wife and the mother of his two kids. Then Julia Roberts turns up as the titular “stepmom,” a much younger woman. This moving film shows the conflict between the two women, but ultimately it illustrates a gorgeous example of women working together and supporting each other for the sake of family. Much of the film takes place at Sarandon’s character’s gorgeous country house amid lush natural surroundings—but bring your box of tissues for when it takes a heartrending turn you may not expect.
The Joy Luck Club
Based on the groundbreaking 1989 novel, this film follows a group of older Chinese immigrant women living in San Francisco, all with adult daughters navigating their identities and the pull between two cultures. How many other Mother’s Day movies can say they were inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”?
Meryl Streep singing and dancing to ABBA tunes on a gorgeous Greek island? You know you are so there! This enchanting musical follows Streep’s character as she prepares for daughter Amanda Seyfried’s wedding. But her daughter wants her dad to be there too. And since she doesn’t quite know who he is, she invites three possibilities, all suitors from her mom’s past. Enter Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, and Stellan Skarsgård—and they’re all singing. What more do you need? After you watch this musical flick, stream its sequel Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again for more ABBA-themed fun.
Rated: Not Rated
Joan Crawford stars as the original career woman, Mildred Pierce. She supports her unemployed husband with her awesome kitchen skills, but he can’t handle her independence, so they separate. Soon, Mildred is balancing single motherhood and running her own business. After her marriage ends, instead of sulking, she follows her ambitions and soon has a successful chain of restaurants. And oh yeah, since this is a classic film noir, she’s also being investigated for murder! It’s truly a story about the tenacity of an independent woman. Looking for more films about strong women? You’ll love our list of movies to watch during Women’s History Month—or any day of the year.
The Kids Are All Right
Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are the mom couple at the center of this story about family and adoption. When their grown kids (played by Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) want to find out about their sperm-donor dad (Mark Ruffalo), things get a little crazy. Everyone turns in great performances that capture the stress, angst, and love at the center of families. But the film is mostly a testament to the power and strength of moms, anchored by Bening’s much-acclaimed and much-nominated performance.
This moving drama garnered lead actress Cicely Tyson a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Based on the acclaimed novel set during the Depression, the story looks at a family of sharecroppers who endure untold injustices. Tyson displays strength and fortitude in her strong performance as a mom holding things together after her husband receives a brutally harsh sentence for a petty crime. This film celebrates the courage of a Black family and the love and fortitude of the woman at its center.
Julia Roberts plays the ultimate no-nonsense mother of three while proving that you should never underestimate the strength of single moms. She plays real-life legal activist Erin Brockovich, who famously helped win a civil suit for citizens harmed by a corporation in an environmental disaster. Albert Finney gives a great performance as Erin’s grumpy boss, and Aaron Eckhart plays her kind-hearted motorcycle-riding boyfriend. Neither man is a match for this hardworking superwoman of a mother who has no problem investigating corruption in high heels with a baby on her hip.
This Greta Gerwig film broke Rotten Tomatoes score records upon its release. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf turn in powerhouse performances as a daughter and mother in early-2000s California. It’s a coming-of-age story, as Ronan’s Christine—who’s “re-named” herself Lady Bird—figures out who she is and what she wants during her senior year of high school, but her turbulent, funny, and relatable relationship with her mother forms the core of the story. Have tissues handy.
Cher plays the single mother of kids Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci in this dramedy. Cher’s character’s unconventional, to say the least, parenting style alienates her daughters and eventually brings them all to a small Massachusetts town right next to a convent. The town changes mother and daughters in different ways, and Ryder and Ricci both won awards for their performances.
Akeelah and the Bee
In this family-friendly film about the power of mother-daughter relationships and community, Keke Palmer’s Akeelah realizes her talent at spelling and tries to qualify for the National Spelling Bee—against her mother’s wishes. During the competition, she’s confronted by both massive pressures on her to succeed and harmful prejudices. Oh, and superstar Angela Bassett plays her mother (who, spoiler alert, eventually gets on board).
You know the story: A mother and a daughter who barely speak magically switch bodies and must navigate each other’s lives while they find a way to switch back. If you haven’t seen the Jamie Lee Curtis/Lindsay Lohan version since its 2003 release, curl up in front of the TV with Mom and some popcorn for a giggly good time.
In this Netflix film set to the music of Dolly Parton, Willowdean Dickson is a plus-size Dolly Parton–loving teen who has a difficult relationship with her beauty-queen mom, played by Jennifer Aniston. (It’s her mom who gave her the nickname “Dumplin.'”) Will signs up for a beauty pageant in an act of protest, further driving a wedge between her and her mom—and they both end up surprised by the results and each other.
Anywhere but Here
This mother-daughter flick stars Susan Sarandon and a young Natalie Portman. In a bit of a role reversal, the mother is free-wheeling and carefree while the daughter is a down-to-earth planner as the pair navigates a spontaneous move to Beverly Hills and diverging dreams.
If you haven’t yet seen Brie Larson’s Oscar-winning turn in this powerful drama/thriller, you should check it out to understand why it’s a staple of mom movies. Larson’s Joy has been kidnapped and held captive in a single room, where she gave birth to a son (Jacob Tremblay in his breakout performance). Now five, her son has no knowledge of the world outside the room. After Joy enacts a plan to get them both to freedom, she struggles to acquaint her son, and reacquaint herself, with a world that feels strange and unusual to them both—while also dealing with her own parents’ conflicted reaction to her child.
20th Century Women
In this generation-spanning slice-of-life film, Annette Bening is a single mother struggling to connect with her teenage son in 1979 California. When she reaches out for advice and help to her 20-something tenant, played by Greta Gerwig, and her son’s best friend, played by Elle Fanning, she ends up getting more than she bargained for. The Golden Globe–nominated film explores romance, society’s perceptions of women, and—you guessed it—motherhood.
The Guilt Trip
If you missed this quirky comedy starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen, add it to your list of mom movies to watch on Mother’s Day. Rogen’s science-savvy entrepreneur prepares to embark on a cross-country road trip, and when he learns about the lost love of his mother’s life, he invites her to join him. Streisand’s Joyce keeps things interesting as she constantly comments on and intervenes in her son’s life choices in the way only a concerned mom can.
Away We Go
Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski are a comedy dream team in this film that shows how parents start trying to make the perfect life for their child before it’s even born. When Verona (Rudolph) becomes pregnant, she and her boyfriend Burt (Krasinski), who were already struggling, decide they need to set down roots and set about finding the perfect place. They then face external pressures to parent a certain way while also dealing with disappointments from their own families.
Georgia Rule is one of those mom movies grandma will enjoy too. The multi-generational dramedy is about a woman who sends her wild-child daughter to live with her strict—but fair and good-natured—mother in small-town Idaho. The stunning performances from Jane Fonda, Felicity Huffman, and Lindsay Lohan mean you shouldn’t be surprised if this one becomes a streaming staple in your household.
Moms understand that telling their kids “no” comes with the job. But what if there was a day where you said “yes” to everything they asked? That fun (and admittedly semi-terrifying) scenario is explored in Yes Day, starring Jennifer Garner and Édgar Ramírez as parents who, for 24 hours, have to say “yes” to their kids’ requests. This funny family movie on Netflix will have you laughing in no time—but be careful, because it may give your kids ideas about their own “yes day.” And if you’re looking for some more humor, try out some of these mom jokes.
When it comes to mom movies, Instant Family is one that proves you don’t have to be blood to be family. It’s about a couple (Rose Byrne and Mark Wahlberg) adjusting to life after fostering three siblings. The heartwarming flick will make you laugh, possibly shed a tear, and reflect on what it truly means to be a family.
If you’re looking for a movie about mother-daughter relationships and female friendship too, Steel Magnolias is the film to stream. It’s about a tight-knit group of women in small-town Louisiana navigating life’s trials and tribulations together. Sally Field and Julia Roberts play the mother and daughter of the group, giving us insight into a relationship that’s equally sweet and heartbreaking. Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine, and Daryl Hannah also provide excellent performances in this hit.
The Parent Trap
Lindsay Lohan stars in a double role in The Parent Trap, playing separated twins Annie and Hallie, who meet for the first time at summer camp. They swap places to get to know the parent they’ve missed—and hopefully reunite them. Kids and moms alike will be entertained from start to finish.
Based on the incredible true story of Saroo Brierley’s quest to find his biological family 25 years after accidentally separating from them in India, Lion stars Dev Patel in a beautiful performance. It’s an unforgettable story that will send you on a rollercoaster of emotions sure to stick with you long after the final scene concludes.
Written with additional contribution from Kelly Kuehn and Molly Pennington, PhD