It’s hard to put what motherhood is into words. Poets have tried, songwriters have penned tunes, but perhaps the best medium that depicts motherhood accurately is film. All the more reason to settle in with one of these 23 best Mother’s Day movies.
Full of heart and humor, these flicks
personify the mother experience, from its frustrations to its epiphanies, failures to wins. Who can’t relate to Shelley Long’s hilarious mom determination as a Troop Beverly Hills Wilderness Girls leader committed to helping her feckless scouts win the Jamboree? Or the heartache of a mom losing her daughter in Steel Magnolias? Or the plight of Maya Rudolph’s character in Away We Go as she and her husband (played by John Krasinski)search to find a home to raise their new baby?
Each movie hones in on a specific yet universal part of motherhood familiar to mamas the world over — from the surprises of a new baby to the challenges of raising an angsty tween — then mines it for laughs and poignant pauses. And if watching something like that doesn’t sound incredibly therapeutic this Mother’s Day, what does?
So pop some popcorn, grab some Junior Mints, and snuggle in for a little screen time that’s all about the all too familiar #momlife.
1 Lady Bird
Whether you can relate to Lady Bird herself (Saoirse Ronan) or her frustrated mother (played by Lauren Metcalf), there’s plenty to appreciate in this touching coming of age tale from writer and director Greta Gerwig. Like did you ever fall out of the car as your mom was driving because you were so annoyed by her? No? But can you empathize, right? Thought so.
Available to stream on Netflix, Prime Video, Google Play, Youtube, and Apple TV. 2 Freaky Friday
This remake of a 1976 classic asks what would happen if somehow you and your mom woke up to find that had switched bodies? Would you take advantage of your newfound form or better appreciate walking in each other’s shoes? That’s what Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis must find out.
Available to stream on Disney+, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV, and Vudu. 3 Mother’s Day
If this movie sounds on the nose for this list, you’re right. In this star-studded film (see: Jason Sudeikis, Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, and Jennifer Aniston) a series of parents find themselves navigating a host of issues that all come to a head on, naturally, Mother’s Day.
Available to stream on YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV, Vudu, and Amazon Prime. 4 Juno
A tale of two mothers is interwoven in this quirky classic as young Juno must reveal to her parents that she’s pregnant. How her own mother reacts and how she navigates the pregnancy as a high schooler is as touching as it is devastatingly poignant.
Available to stream on Starz, Hulu, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, Philo Premium, and YouTube. 5 Steel Magnolias
Few movies are closer to Southerners' hearts than
Steel Magnolias and for good reason. In this ensemble film, a group of Southern women, whose lives revolve around a local beauty parlor, help one another handle the trials and tribulations of parenting with a healthy dose of snark and support. Available to stream on Hulu, Sling TV, Starz, Amazon Prime, Philo, and Vudu. 6 Stepmom
What some like to call an “ugly cry” movie,
Stepmom remains a worthy inclusion for its touching depiction of motherhood and stepmotherhood and all the blessings and baggage that come with both. Available on Hulu, Sling TV, Starz, Amazon Prime, Philo, and Vudu. 7 Parent Trap (1961)
You can’t include a list about motherhood without the 1961 classic
Parent Trap. Starring a young Hayley Mills, this beloved movie is about what happens when two twins, separated at birth, find each other and plot to bring their divorced parents back together. Available to stream on Disney+, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV, and Vudu. 8 Parent Trap (1998)
Naturally, it wouldn’t be fair to include the original
Parent Trap without mentioning the 1998 remake starring Lindsay Lohan. Cast as both twins, Lohan’s megawatt charm is in full force in this darling reboot. Available to stream on Disney+, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV, and Vudu. 9 Sound of Music
As much as a musical as it is a story of surrogate motherhood, the iconic
Sound of Music is always a great Mother’s Day movie. Try not to sing along. Just try. Impossible. Available to stream on Disney+, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime. 10 Otherhood
Kids grow up. There’s no two ways about it. And when that happens what’s a mom to do? That’s what this comedy starring Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette, and Felicity Huffman must contend with when three best friends try to regain the appreciation and affection of their grown-up sons.
Available to stream on Netflix. 11 The Blindside
Based on the true story of how a Texas mom became the legal guardian of a young man and future football star, this movie stars Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, and Quinton Aaron and is a touching look at what it means to become an adoptive parent.
Available to stream on Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, and iTunes. 12 Secret Life of Bees
Based on Sue Monk Kidd’s novel of the same name,
Secret Life of Bees is all about what happens when a 14-year-old motherless child is taken in by the Boatwright sisters (Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo), who love her and teach her all about beekeeping. Available to stream on Hulu, Cinemax, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, and Apple TV. 13 Baby Boom
This classic ‘80s movie is the ultimate working mom flick all about how a New York City exec handles the sudden arrival of a baby in her life and manages to find business and motherhood success in the midst of it all.
Available to stream on YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Apple TV, Vudu, and Amazon Prime. 14 My Big Fat Greek Wedding
A runaway hit when it was released in 2002,
My Big Fat Greek Wedding holds up nearly 20 years later thanks to its hilarious script written by its star Nia Vardalos and its honest look at the quirks of a tight knit family planning a cross nationality wedding. Available to stream on Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, and Vudu. 15 Dumplin’
When mothers and daughters are different, it can cause challenges and that’s the case in this comedy. Dumplin’, as her mother calls her, was not made in the mold of her beauty pageant mother. But when her mom decides to put on a pageant in their small town, Dumplin’ decides to show her she can be a queen too.
Available to stream on Netflix. 16 Real Women Have Curves
America Ferrera became a household name thanks to this compelling film all about an 18-year-old balancing the demands of her domineering mother who wants her to get married and have babies and her dreams of going to college.
Available to stream on HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, and Google Play. 17 Mamma Mia!
Love Abba? Then you’re already likely familiar with this send up to the pop group starring Meryl Streep. If not,
Mamma Mia! is still worth your time. Come for the love triangle, stay for the choreographed dance numbers. Available to stream on Peacock, Hulu, Sling TV, fuboTV, Amazon Prime, and Cinemax. 18 Troop Beverly Hills
Shelley Long does not get enough credit for her power moves in this classic movie. A rich, spoiled Beverly Hills mom, she takes up the call to lead a troop of Wilderness Girls (fictional Girl Scouts) and without a clue of how to operate beyond Rodeo Drive, proves that with determination and humility, you can overcome your own shortcomings. How’s that for real mom talk?
Available to stream on Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, and Apple TV. 19 Mermaids
Cher, Winona Ryder, and a very young Christina Ricci are an oddball household of women trying to understand each other in this charming 1990 film. But when an older man becomes the object of both mother and older daughter’s affection, the true strength of their bond is tested.
Available to stream on YouTube, Pluto TV, Tubi, and Vudu. 20 Away We Go
How do you pick where to raise your children? That’s what the couple (Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski) in
Away We Go wrestle with as they drive across the country trying to find the right home for their forthcoming baby. What mom can’t relate to that? Available to stream on Peacock, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Apple TV, and Vudu. 21 Akeelah and the Bee
When a little girl in South Los Angeles becomes determined to make it to the National Spelling Bee, in spite of her mother’s objections, she fights to prove to everyone that she has what it takes. Whether you relate to speller extraordinaire Akeelah or her cautious mom, this movie has a lot to say about the ways children and their parents can help or hinder each other’s dreams.
Available to stream on YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Apple TV, Vudu, and Amazon Prime. 22 Little Women
Little Women is author Louisa May Alcott’s enduring novel about a family of four girls and their mother living in America during and after the Civil War. A coming of age tale, it has romance, heartbreak, and plenty of sibling rivalry that, as you might have guessed, has to be managed by the March sisters’ patient mother. Available to stream on Hulu, Starz, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, Philo, and YouTube. 23 Grey Gardens
Motherhood doesn’t end when a child is grown and flown. It’s a permanent occupation well into old age. And that’s what’s seen here in this documentary all about Edie Bouvier Beale and her mother, Edith — Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ aging cousins — who live an eccentric existence in a dilapidated mansion on Long Island. Are they the victims of a lost fortune or a case for marching to the beat of your own drummer (your mama by your side)? You’ll have to be the judge.
Available to stream on HBO Max, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, and iTunes.
Ready to cue up one of these Mother’s Day masterpieces? Pick one or a few and settle in for a little mama drama therapy.