11 Best Movies That Celebrate Moms for Mother’s Day
Curl up with popcorn and chocolate (and don't forget tissues!) to watch these great movies that celebrate moms!
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.) This romantic comedy stars Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, and Jennifer Aniston, confronting different aspects of being a mom. The characters each face conflicts with their kids and with their own moms. Margo Martindale turns in a terrific performance as an overbearing mother who needs to face the truth about her daughter’s life. Watch women grapple with accepting stepmoms and coping with adoption in this lighthearted celebration of life as a mom. Read about New Year’s Eve and other great movies here.
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. In fact, Winger’s character says that she never thinks of the two as fighting even though her mom can’t see it any other way. MacLaine won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance as the grieving and passionate matriarch who can’t let her daughter go. And though the actresses famously fought on set, Winger is devastating and moving as the free spirit who just wants her mom’s approval. The perfect film to celebrate the love between moms and daughters. Check out these other tearjerker flicks for when you need an emotional release.
Barbara Stanwyck is a vision in this 1930s weepie about the sacrifices that mothers make for the good of their children. Shot in shimmering black and white, the dramatic story is about a woman determined to climb the social ladder so her daughter can have a better place in society. Stanwyck turns in a winning, moving performance as a woman who can’t quite shed her low-class background. This drama is a searing look at class dynamics and the always fraught problem of marrying up. It’s one of the movies from the Hollywood classic era that modern audiences still enjoy.
Imitation of Life
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 it explores the love between moms and their daughters. The costumes glitter, the performances sizzle, and the film still packs an emotional wallop. Keep your tissues handy for the tearjerking ending. (These are the movies to watch just for the clothes!)
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Martin Scorsese directed this melodrama about a single mom played by Ellen Burstyn. She’s a woman who tries to make it on her own with her young and smart-alecky son in tow. She ends up waiting tables at Mel’s Diner. The movie inspired the sitcom “Alice” set in the same restaurant. Kris Krostofferson shows up as a rugged musician who offers a second chance at love. Burstyn won the Best Actress Oscar for her natural turn as a woman transcending struggle. Look for Jodie Foster, still a child, playing the precocious pal of Burnstyn’s little boy.
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 Hayn 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 being at the same time, totally hilarious. If you’re in the mood to keep laughing, these are the top 100 funniest movies of all time.
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 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 with its lush natural surrounding. But bring your box of tissues for when the movie takes a heartrending turn that you may not expect. Celebrate strong independent women characters with these must-watch flicks.
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 and since she doesn’t quite know who he is, she invites three possibilities, suitors from her mom’s past. Enter Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, and Stellan Skarsgård. And they’re all singing. What more do you need? (Here are more fantastic movie musicals to get you singing your heart out.)
The Kids Are All Right
Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are the coupled-up moms at the center of this story about family and adoption. When their grown kids (played by Mia Washikowska 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 a testament to the power and strength of moms, anchored by Bening’s acclaimed and much-nominated performance.
This moving drama was released in 1972 and 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 injustice. 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 an African-American 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 complete with ponytail and a Harley get-up. Neither man is a match for this hard-working, superwoman of a mother who has no problem investigating corruption in high heels with a baby on her hip. She’s an inspiration to moms everywhere!