50 Best Mom Movies to Watch on Mother’s Day
Time to make some popcorn and curl up with your family! These mom movies will make you laugh, cry and celebrate your undeniably special relationship.
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Mom movies you’ll both love
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’s Day poem, dedicating a special song to her or honoring her with a motherhood quote. But you can also do something together on or around the special day—and what better way to bond than by watching one of the best mom movies around?
As a longtime entertainment writer, I have seen my fair share of films. While I’m partial to comedies and dramas, the movies I love most are always the ones I can enjoy with my family, whether it’s with my own mom (who loves a good musical or murder-mystery) or my husband and two sons. It’s the perfect excuse to cuddle together on the couch, have a deep conversation or just spend time together—and yep, it can be an amazing Mother’s Day activity!
Below are some of my favorite movies (including a few Disney films where the mother doesn’t meet an untimely demise) that tell heartwarming stories and meaningful tales of motherhood. Some are laugh-out-loud funny, while others will make you ugly-cry, but they’ll all stay with you long after the final credits roll. Choose the ones best suited to your family, and enjoy the perfect Mother’s Day movie marathon!
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Memorable quote: “My girlfriend is American, but she is desperate for our child to have a British accent. That’s all she wants. … All the other kids are watching Sesame Street. Our baby is sat down in front of Downton Abbey.”
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 and feel-good movie, Mother’s Day is one of the late, great Garry Marshall’s holiday ensemble films (which include Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve). It stars A-listers Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson and Jennifer Aniston in a series of vignettes as they explore different aspects of being a mom. While the critics weren’t fans of this film when it came out, you’ll still love watching the relatable, heartwarming and funny moments throughout.
Terms of Endearment
Memorable quote: “Grown women are prepared for life’s little emergencies.”
You have the quintessential mother-daughter movie in this early-’80s drama 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 mother’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.
Memorable quote: “When you feel discontented, think over your blessings, and be grateful.”
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 book-to-movie adaptation based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic, Laura Dern’s Marmee is the rock that holds the family together while her husband is off at war. Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Eliza Scanlen round out the cast of this Greta Gerwig–directed film. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll feel grateful for your relationships with the women in your life, including your mom.
Postcards from the Edge
Memorable quote: “I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.”
This mom movie is based on a real-life story. Written by Carrie Fisher and starring acting legends Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep as mother and daughter, Postcards from the Edge was based on Fisher’s novel of the same name, which drew 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 squeaky-clean image that causes Streep’s character to resent her. Despite the very specific circumstances of their characters’ lives, you’ll understand the mother-daughter tension and ultimately cheer for the way they end up supporting each other.
Memorable quote: “That’s the worst part about being a mom. You don’t know whether or not you’re doing a good job until they’re fully grown.”
Fanatics of mom movies and self-proclaimed “bad 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 laughfest a huge hit, because it felt so relatable while at the same time being totally hilarious.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
Memorable quote: “Here’s something about Mom: she’s bad with annoyances, but great in a crisis. If a waiter doesn’t refill her water after she’s asked three times, or she forgets her dark glasses when the sun comes out, look out! But when it comes to something truly bad happening, Mom plugs into this supreme calm.”
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? tells the tale of a woman who doesn’t let motherhood define her. Bernadette Fox, played to perfection by Cate Blanchett, is a former star architect with plenty of opinions and plenty of quirks. She’s the polar opposite of a PTA bake-sale mom, but to her 15-year-old daughter, Bee, she’s an inspiration and her hero. When Bernadette suddenly goes missing, it’s up to Bee to follow the clues of her mother’s life and find out where she went, and more important, why she felt she had to leave to rediscover herself. If you’re looking for a post-movie activity, devise the perfect Mother’s Day celebration based on your mom’s zodiac sign.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Memorable quote: “Of all the places I could be, I just want to be here with you.”
The dramedy that swept this year’s Oscars might appear to be a sci-fi flick on the surface, but underneath the googly eyes and hot-dog fingers, Everything Everywhere All at Once just may be the perfect mom movie. It stars Michelle Yeoh as an overwhelmed mom working to save her family business but instead gets caught up with saving the world after discovering an interdimensional rupture. At the heart of the story, though, is the complex relationship between Yeoh and her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu). Despite discovering versions of herself in universes that are far more impressive than being a laundromat owner (think: kung-fu master and movie star), Evelyn ultimately wants to stay in her current life, alongside her beloved daughter.
Memorable quote: “For 18 years, your mother is the most important person to you in your entire life. And then … and then … one day, poof! You’re gone. And then what are you supposed to do—like, just adjust? Just like that?”
What could be more bonding than a mother and daughter trying to escape a kidnapping plot gone wrong? Not much! Snatched stars Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn as a mom and daughter on vacation in Ecuador. Things take a nosedive after they’re abducted for ransom, but the two women (accidentally!) keep managing to escape their kidnappers, and after Schumer’s character is rescued, she goes right back to Ecuador to find her mom. It’s a laugh-out-loud comedy packed with funny quotes, but the duo also discover an inner strength they never knew they had—and they come out more bonded than ever.
Because I Said So
Memorable quote: “God couldn’t be everywhere, so that is why he invented mothers.”
This romantic comedy stars a young Mandy Moore, well before her This Is Us days, alongside film veteran Diane Keaton. Milly (Moore) is the youngest and only single daughter of Daphne (Keaton), and the overbearing but loving mom is determined to do something about that. Of course, matchmaking by mom does not go according to plan. Along the way, Daphne inadvertently finds an unexpected relationship of her own … and finally realizes her daughter can make decisions for herself. And you’ll find yourself chuckling at the film’s name, whether you’re the one who’s uttered those words or heard them uttered a million times.
Memorable quote: “She doesn’t have to choose. She can have us both. Love us both. And she will be a better person because of me and because of you. I have their past. And you can have their future.”
In this late-’90s movie, 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 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.
Troop Beverly Hills
Memorable quote: “My troop and I were busy describing fall fashions to the blind.”
This ’80s comedy classic, starring Shelley Long, isn’t just good for easy laughs—Troop Beverly Hills also shows the lengths mothers will go for their daughters’ happiness. Long’s character, a rich L.A. socialite, agrees to become a Wilderness Girl troop leader, in charge of other Beverly Hills kids, to appease her daughter. Though the odds are stacked against the spoiled gang (their idea of camping is sleeping on the floor of a suite at the Four Seasons), the troop manages to earn all their badges and discover that friendship and family are more important than money.
Crazy Rich Asians
Memorable quote: “Finish everything on your plate, girls! Don’t you know there are children starving in America?”
Based on the novel by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians follows the wild and lavish lifestyles of some of the wealthiest people in the world. But at its heart, the movie is really about the things mothers will do to protect their children, no matter how much money they have. When Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) gets engaged to Nick Young (Henry Golding), she soon discovers he’s from one of the richest families in Singapore. Nick’s mother (Michelle Yeoh) doesn’t approve of her son marrying a middle-class “American” Asian and tries to put a stop to their relationship, while Rachel’s mother does everything she can to protect her daughter, including going toe-to-toe with Nick’s mom.
Memorable quote: Vanessa: “Your parents are probably wondering where you are.” Juno: “I’m already pregnant. What other shenanigans could I get into?”
Juno is a coming-of-age film that follows a small-town teenager named Juno, who gets pregnant by her friend and decides to give the baby up for adoption. The love and support she receives from her father (J.K. Simmons) almost makes this a perfect Father’s Day movie, but if you look closer, it’s more about the bond that forms between Juno and Vanessa Loring, played by Jennifer Garner. Vanessa’s deep longing to become a mother inspires Juno to choose her as her baby’s mother in a closed adoption. Despite some hiccups, Juno realizes her child doesn’t need a nuclear family in order to have the perfect life, just the kind of mom who will be there no matter what.
Memorable quote: “Some people are like, ‘Be careful. Honoring your parents sounds great, but if you take it too far, well, you might forget to honor yourself.’ Luckily, I don’t have that problem.”
This unconventional animated film tells the tale of a 13-year-old going through some major changes. Up until now, Mei Lee had done everything to make her strict Chinese-immigrant parents proud, including acing school and hiding her crushes on boys. But when she discovers she turns into a large red panda when her emotions run high, her mother ends up being the only one who can help her navigate the family secret. Like all teenage girls going through puberty, there are plenty of misunderstandings and fights between mom and daughter in Turning Red, but Mei Lee and her mother eventually learn to embrace their differences and repair their relationship.
Memorable quote: “Being a grudge holder makes you fat.”
Meryl Streep singing and dancing to ABBA tunes on a gorgeous Greek island while you sing along? You know you are so there! This super-fun musical follows Streep’s character, Donna, as she prepares for her daughter Sophie’s wedding. But Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) wants her dad to be there too … only she isn’t exactly sure who he is. So she invites the three possibilities—all suitors from her mom’s past—to try to get to the bottom of it. Enter Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Stellan Skarsgård—and they’re all singing too. What more do you need? After you watch this flick, stream the sequel, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, for more ABBA-themed fun.
The Kids Are All Right
Memorable quote: “Sometimes you hurt the ones you love the most. I don’t know why. … You know, if I read more Russian novels …”
Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are the mom couple at the center of this story about family and adoption. When their teenaged 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 in this critically lauded LGBTQ film turns in great performances that capture the stress, angst and love at the center of families. But The Kids Are All Right is mostly a testament to the power and strength of moms, anchored by Bening’s much-acclaimed and much-nominated performance.
Memorable quote: “The longing of Black men must have respect. Which means a man and a woman are human, and must be treated that way.”
This moving drama garnered lead actress Cicely Tyson a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Based on the acclaimed novel set during the Depression, Sounder looks at a family of sharecroppers who endure untold injustices. Tyson displays palpable strength in her performance as a mom holding things together after her husband receives a brutally harsh sentence for a petty crime. This timeless film celebrates the courage of a Black family and the love and fortitude of the woman at its center, and it’s an absolute must-watch.
Memorable quote: “I don’t need pity—I need a paycheck. And I’ve looked. But when you’ve spent the past six years raising babies, it’s real hard to find somebody who pays worth a damn. Are ya getting every word of this down, honey, or am I talking too fast?”
Julia Roberts delivers an Oscar-winning performance in Erin Brockovich as 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 terrific performance as Erin’s grumpy boss, and Aaron Eckhart plays her kind-hearted, motorcycle-riding boyfriend. But neither man is a match for this hardworking supermom who has no problem investigating corruption in high heels with a baby on her hip.
Memorable quote: “I can’t believe you. You’re ruining my life!”
You know the story of this mom movie even if you haven’t actually seen Freaky Friday: A mother and a daughter who don’t understand each other and constantly butt heads magically switch bodies and must navigate each other’s lives while they find a way to switch back. Of course, these events happen right before mom is set to get married and daughter needs to play a big gig (complete with electric guitar) at a local club. If you haven’t seen the Jamie Lee Curtis/Lindsay Lohan version since its 2003 release, curl up in front of the TV with this funny family movie, the kids and some popcorn for a giggly good time.
Memorable quote: “Money is not life’s report card.”
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 “renamed” 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.
Memorable quote: “See that woman right there? That’s my mother, and when I grow up … I want to be just like yours.”
In Mermaids, Cher plays the single mother of two teens, Charlotte and Kate (Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci, respectively). Cher’s character, Mrs. Flax, has an unconventional parenting style, to say the least, and it alienates her daughters. They eventually land in a small Massachusetts town and end up living right next to a convent. The town and the convent change mother and daughters in different ways: Charlotte starts fretting over her sexuality and believes everything is a sin, while her mother leans into being the rule-breaker she was born to be. Eventually all parties meet in the middle, which makes for a much more harmonious existence.
Akeelah and the Bee
Memorable quote: “You know that feeling where everything feels right? Where you don’t have to worry about tomorrow or yesterday, where you feel safe and know you’re doing the best you can? There’s a word for that—it’s called love.”
In this movie 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, as well as a tough choice that leads to an empathetic decision well beyond her years. Superstar Angela Bassett plays her mother, who (spoiler alert) eventually gets on board.
Memorable quote: “When I was small, I only knew small things. But now I’m 5—I know EVERYTHING!”
Brie Larson’s Oscar-winning turn in this powerful drama will stay with you long after the final credits roll. In Room, 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 5, 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.
The Guilt Trip
Memorable quote: “I have tried to live my life with no regrets. Because regrets will become guilt in some cases, and guilt eats away at your sanity.”
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 his mother’s long-lost love and has the idea to reunite them, he invites her to join him. Of course, a road trip between this mother and son is … a trip. Streisand’s Joyce keeps things interesting as she constantly comments on and intervenes in her son’s life in the way only a concerned mom can.
Away We Go
Memorable quote: “Do you promise to let our daughter be fat or skinny or any weight at all? Because we want her to be happy, no matter what. Being obsessed with weight is just too cliché for our daughter.”
Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski are a comedy dream team in Away We Go, a film that shows how parents start trying to make the perfect life for their child before it’s even born. When Verona (Rudolph) gets pregnant, she and her boyfriend Burt (Krasinski), who were already struggling, decide they need to set down roots in the perfect place. Along the way, they face external pressures to parent in a certain way while also dealing with disappointments from their own families.
The Joy Luck Club
Memorable quote: “Isn’t hate merely the result of wounded love?”
Based on Amy Tan’s groundbreaking 1989 novel, The Joy Luck Club 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. The first Asian-led film in Hollywood, it was a must-watch then and remains one now. Plus, how many other mom movies can say they were inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”?
Memorable quote: Kate: “I brought you some organic food. I thought you might want to start eating healthier food.” Angie: “Eh, that crap is for rich people who hate themselves.”
Baby Mama stars the always-hilarious Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, with Fey playing an uptight workaholic who decides to have a child with the help of a surrogate, an immature, bawdy-mouthed woman. What starts as a scam turns into a miracle for both women, and a lifelong friendship is formed. It’s a laugh-out-loud film that proves anyone can be a good mother, no matter how prepared they are … or aren’t, as the case may be.
Bend It Like Beckham
Memorable quote: “Anyone can cook aloo gobi, but who can bend a ball like Beckham?”
Bend It Like Beckham is a heartwarming teen movie that highlights the cultural differences between mother and daughter that can occur between first- and second-generation immigrants. Jess Bhamra (Parminder Nagra) is the British daughter of Indian Sikhs, and despite her natural skills at soccer, her mother forbids her from joining the local girls team. Her mother eventually comes to terms with her daughter’s desires, realizing that her child’s happiness is more important than sticking to cultural norms. And hey, isn’t “bending” the rules what family is about?
Memorable quote: “One finger won’t make an impact, but you ball all those fingers into a fist, and you can strike a mighty blow. Now, this family has got to be that fist.”
Soul Food 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 to work toward healing—knowing it’s what their mother would want.
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Memorable quote: “Weird. Very weird. He’s even weird for Tucson, and Tucson is the weird capital of the world.”
Martin Scorsese directed this 1970s 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 a young Jodie Foster as the precocious pal of Burstyn’s son.
Memorable quote: “We’re in the ’90s, mother. It’s fancy-jam time.”
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. Yes, it’s as funny as it sounds, but it’s also touching and heartwarming. You may also want to check out these mother-son quotes while this mom movie is on your mind.
Imitation of Life
Rated: Not Rated
Memorable quote: “It’s only because of my ambition that you’ve had the best of everything. And that’s a solid achievement that any mother can be proud of.”
Lana Turner and Sandra Dee play a melodramatic mother-daughter team in this dazzling classic directed by the campy and caustic Douglas Sirk. Lora (Turner) is an aspiring Broadway actress who can’t quite help her narcissism, and Annie (Juanita Moore) is her long-suffering friend, a Black maid who ends up taking care of Lora’s daughter, Suzie (Dee), alongside her own. Imitation of Life 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.
Anywhere but Here
Memorable quote: “Be optimistic. Don’t be so grumpy. When the road gets bumpy, just smile, smile, smile.”
This mother-daughter flick stars Susan Sarandon and a young Natalie Portman. In a bit of a role reversal, the mom is freewheeling and carefree, while the daughter is a down-to-earth planner. As a result, tensions flare when the pair navigates a spontaneous move to Beverly Hills and have to deal with their diverging dreams. While Adele (Sarandon) hopes her beautiful daughter becomes a famous actress, Ann (Portman) instead wants to go to Brown University. It’s a film about sacrifice, about mothers putting their own dreams on hold so their children can be happy and, most of all, about bonds so deep that nothing can break them.
20th Century Women
Memorable quote: “Whatever you think your life is going to be like, remember—it’s not going to be anything like that.”
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 solicits advice from her 20-something tenant (Greta Gerwig) and her son’s best friend (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.
Memorable quote: Rachel: “You don’t look evil.” Georgia: “Makeup helps.”
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 a small town in Idaho. The performances from Jane Fonda, Felicity Huffman and Lindsay Lohan are stunning: Lohan shines as an out-of-control teenager with a terrible secret, and Huffman is perfect as the mother who can’t figure out what’s wrong with her daughter. As the family uncovers the issue that Lohan’s character has been hiding, the women realize they must not only always believe one another but also always stick together.
Memorable quote: “Although having kids is the best thing that ever happened to us, ‘no’ became the new ‘yes.'”
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, which also stars Jenna Ortega of Wednesday fame, will have you laughing in no time—but be careful, because it may give your kids ideas about their own “yes day.”
Memorable quote: “If you’re willing to love these kids, who need a mom and dad, and somebody has a problem with that, you just ask them how many goddamn kids they’ve adopted.”
Instant Family is a mom movie that proves you don’t have to be blood to be family. It focuses on a couple (Rose Byrne and Mark Wahlberg) adjusting to life after agreeing to foster three siblings whose parents have died. Both the kids and the foster parents have a difficult time getting used to their new life at first. It isn’t always easy, and it certainly wasn’t always “the plan,” for anyone involved, but the heartwarming flick will make you laugh, possibly shed a few tears and definitely reflect on what it truly means to be a family.
Memorable quote: “Honey, time marches on, and eventually you realize it’s marchin’ across your face.”
If you’re looking for a movie about mother-daughter relationships and female friendship, Steel Magnolias is the one to watch. 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 fan favorite.
The Parent Trap
Memorable quote: “I’m sorry, but I’ve never seen you and I’ve dreamt of meeting you my whole life, and Annie felt the exact same way about Dad … so, so we sort of just switched lives. I hope you’re not mad because I love you so much, and I just hope that one day you could love me as me, and not as Annie.”
You may have seen this one the first time around, when it starred Hayley Mills as twins who were separated as infants after their parents’ divorce. In this modern reboot of The Parent Trap, Lindsay Lohan takes on the double role, playing twins Annie and Hallie, who meet for the first time at summer camp, nearly 12 years after they were split up. When they realize the situation they’re in, they swap places to get to know the parent they’ve missed—and hopefully reunite mom and dad. The whole family will be entertained by the hijinks that ensue as the girls scheme to make their parents fall in love again, if only because once they’ve found each other, they, too, want to be together forever.
Memorable quote: “We wanted the two of you in our lives. That’s what we chose. Because we both felt as if the world has enough people in it. Have a child, couldn’t guarantee it will make anything better. But to take a child that’s suffering like you boys were. Give you a chance in the world. That’s something.”
Based on the incredible true story of Saroo Brierley’s quest to find his biological family 25 years after accidentally being separated from them in India when he was 5 years old, Lion will send you on a roller coaster of emotions. Dev Patel stars as grown-up Saroo, who navigates life with his adoptive Australian parents (Nicole Kidman plays his mom) and his desire to understand what happened to him. The performances are pitch-perfect, the fact that this really happened will draw you in even more, and you’ll remember that unconditional love is what family is all about.
Memorable quote: “Loyalty means apologizing when you’re wrong, because of the trust you’ve built over 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—but they both end up surprised by the results and each other.
Real Women Have Curves
Memorable quote: “Pretty dresses aren’t just for skinny girls.”
Not all great movies about mother and daughter relationships end with them magically repairing the rift. In this coming-of-age dramedy, which is also one of our favorite Hispanic movies, 18-year-old Ana (America Ferrera) clashes with her mother about her future. Mom wants her to get married, have babies and work at the family’s small textile factory, while Ana dreams of college. Despite the fractured family, the underlying message is one of body positivity and acceptance of what it means to be a woman—stretch marks, cellulite and all—which is definitely a topic any pair of women can bond over.
Memorable quote: “I’m gonna make sure she’s something that we ain’t.”
In Miss Juneteenth, a former beauty queen (Nicole Beharie) is trying to make the best of her life after an early pregnancy derailed her full ride to college. She hopes her 15-year-old daughter, Kai (Alexis Chikaeze), will also win the Miss Juneteenth pageant and follow the dreams she never had the chance to see through. Things don’t work out exactly the way she planned, but the film serves as a good reminder that when one door closes, another opens—and that life usually has a way of working out, even if it wasn’t the original plan.
Memorable quote: “You know why God made farts smell? So deaf people could enjoy them too.”
This tearjerker, which earned a Best Picture Oscar in 2022, tells the story of a mostly deaf family running a fishing business and whose speaking daughter has to interpret for them. When the daughter discovers she has a talent for singing, she’s torn between pursuing a future at the Berklee School of Music and staying with her family. Prepare to do some serious sobbing while watching Coda—this is a beautiful tale about tough choices and the strength of a family’s love.
Rated: Not Rated
Memorable quote: “You think just because you made a little money you can get a new hairdo and some expensive clothes and turn yourself into a lady. But you can’t, because you’ll never be anything but a common frump whose father lived over a grocery store and whose mother took in washing.”
Joan Crawford stars in this 1945 film 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, she follows her ambitions and soon establishes 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.
Memorable quote: “There are those who say fate is something beyond our command. Our destiny is not our own, but I know better. Our fate lives within us. You only have to be brave enough to see it.”
Get ready to fall in love with the ultimate feminist princess movie—and one of our favorite Disney movies. When Merida, a princess in the Scottish highlands (who’s a whiz with a bow and arrow), is set to wed at age 16, she defies everyone’s expectations and instead runs away to the forest, where she asks a witch to “change” her stubborn mother. Unfortunately, it’s not a great change, and Merida realizes she will do whatever it takes to get her mom back. Brave is a story most mothers are familiar with: Teenage girls can be stubborn and defiant, but the love they feel deep down for their moms can never truly be broken.
Memorable quote: “Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either, but love doesn’t make things nice, it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die.”
The point of having a mother is being able to tell her everything, right? Whether she approves or not? In Moonstruck, Cher plays Loretta, a widowed Italian-American living with her family in Brooklyn … who accidentally falls in love with her deceased husband’s brother, even though she’s engaged to someone else. Oops! Her mother, Rose (Olympia Dukakis), does not approve of the new arrangement but also knows that her daughter’s happiness is all that matters. Moms, they have your back!
Little Man Tate
Memorable quote: “[Mom] says I don’t have a dad. She says I’m the immaculate conception. That’s a pretty big responsibility for a little kid.”
Jodie Foster directed and starred in this film about a working-class mother raising an extremely intelligent child prodigy. Dede (Foster) grapples with sending young Fred to a school for gifted children versus trying to give him a “normal” upbringing, but she eventually decides to send him to a special school. When Tate collapses under the pressure and runs away, only his mother truly understands him and his needs, despite the fact that he’s infinitely “smarter” than she is. The film may be about a mother and her son, but daughters will also get the message it conveys: Moms instinctively know their kids almost better than they even know themselves.
Memorable quote: “I can’t have a baby because I have a 12:30 lunch meeting.”
Sometimes accidental motherhood is the best kind of motherhood. In this ’80s comedy, Diane Keaton stars as a busy, childless businesswoman who finds herself in charge of an infant after a distant cousin dies. She’s ill-prepared and ill-equipped—and her boyfriend leaves her over the arrangement—but she finds herself attached to the baby. Eventually, she leaves her old life behind and starts an entirely new venture that provides stability and happiness for both mama and child. Sure, there may be some outdated and sexist references in this mom movie, but its underlying theme is timeless: Women can do anything, especially when they’re moms.
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Memorable quote: Sidda: “Me not loving Momma was never the problem.” Caro: “Her not loving you was never the problem either.”
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood explores the more complicated side of mothers and their daughters. This movie, based on the bestselling novel of the same name, tells the story of a playwright named Siddalee Walker (Sandra Bullock), who claims in a magazine interview that she had an abusive and horrible childhood. Her mother (Ellen Burstyn) is so upset that she cuts her daughter out of her will and her life. With the help of her mom’s childhood friends, Sidda comes to understand the events of her life that shaped her. The two reconcile and embark on a future that’s built on love and trust. It’s a classic book and a classic movie, and it has a classic message: Moms and daughters can only truly understand each other when they take the time to get to know each other. Now that these mom movies have reminded you of that, don’t forget to send Mom a card with the perfect Mother’s Day message!
Additional reporting by Meghan Jones, Kelly Kuehn and Molly Pennington.