• Film

Maternal Movies: Recommended Films to Watch on Mother’s Day

Stories of motherhood and family are popular and wide-ranging. In honoring of Mother’s Day, below is an overview of some movies on the theme from the dramatic to the heartwarming to the utterly comedically outrageous.


Mildred Pierce (1945)

This is a genuine classic and a performance which earned silver screen legend Joan Crawford her Academy Award, along the way reviving her career back then. Crawford stars in the titular role of the murder mystery as a mother, whose husband leaves her for another woman, left to raise two adolescent daughters, the eldest a bratty spoiled social climber. Crawford’s own maternal woes are depicted in 1981’s infamous Mommy Dearest, a psychological drama biopic based on daughter Christina’s salacious memoir and starring Faye Dunaway as a ruthless and over the top Crawford.



Steel Magnolias (1989)

An adaption of Alabama born writer Robert Harling’s 1987 off-Broadway play, and originally a short story written after the death of his younger sister due to diabetes, the film is often described as a love letter to the strong yet graceful Southern women in America as they juggle life’s winding roads of joy and sorrow. Led by a remarkable ensemble which includes Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine and Olympia Dukakis, it was a breakout role for young ingénue Julia Roberts, who won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture, a year before ascending to international stardom in Pretty Woman.

In 2012, the Lifetime Network debuted a new television movie remake with an all-African American cast, including Queen Latifah and Phylicia Rashād.



The Joy Luck Club (1993)

Another triumphant ensemble film celebrating motherhood with cultural sensitivity is this film by director Wayne Wang, based on Amy Tan’s 1989 novel of the same name. The plot follows four sets of Chinese immigrant mothers and their American born daughters, as both reflect on personal histories that weigh into current dynamics, in a heartwarmingly satisfying drama. The film, which in 2020 was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, features Hollywood Foreign Press Association members, Lisa Lu, who most recently appeared in yet another important cinematic victory for the Asian community, the 2018 box office smash, Crazy Rich Asians.



Serial Mom (1994)

If you’re craving a bit of camp and fancy an unlikely viewing choice for Mother’s Day, look no further than flamboyant filmmaker John Waters’ 1994 Black comedy starring Kathleen Turner as a seemingly perfect suburban mom from Baltimore, who in fact is secretly a menace to society – let alone anyone who goes up against her family. The film takes a turn to the outrageous very early on and Turner is spearheading this wild ride in a very unconventional and delicious role for the acclaimed actress. Over the years the film gained cult classic status, and also marks a third collaboration between Waters and Ricki Lake, whom he discovered and cast in the lead role of Tracy Turnblad in the beloved musical Hairspray from 1988.



The Kids Are All Right (2010)

A wonderful contemporary look at 21st century motherhood is this 2010 Golden Globe winner for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, starring Julianne Moore and Annette Bening, who also picked up a Golden Globe for her role, as a same-sex couple raising two teenagers, in one of the first mainstream movies to highlight LGBTQ parenting. Directed by the Emmy winning Lisa Cholodenko, the film was praised by audiences and critics alike for its depiction of a modern family unit and navigating through real life issues in an unassuming and relatable way, and proving once again that love is love.




Parallel Mothers (2021)

A list of great movies about mothers would be incomplete without renowned Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar, whose work throughout the years is a true celebrating of women, especially what some regard as his ‘pièce de résistance’, 1999’s Golden Globe and Academy Award winner All About My Mother. And while all of Almodóvar’s repertoire is mandatory viewing for cinephiles, we chose to include his latest film, starring one of his all-time muses Penélope Cruz, in a devastating emotional drama that will keep you glued to your seat, and leave you wanting another delectable Almodóvar film.



A Thousand and One (2023)

A Thousand and One is a recent release and the reigning winner fresh off the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, where it took home the coveted Grand Jury Prize. It marks the feature film directorial debut by A.V. Rockwell, and starring singer-actress Teyana Taylor in a career defining role as an ex-convict fighting to raise a son in 1990’s New York against all odds, under the radar and with a deep secret that threatens to ruin their relationship and home. A thought-provoking movie that will stay with you long after you watch it.