Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and what better way to mark the occasion than watching a film about motherhood? From comedy fun to sit back and watch with your mum like Freaky Friday or intriguing psychological dramas like The Last Daughter, we’ve picked some of the best mother-centric movies to celebrate what it means to be a parent.

Lady Bird

Lady Bird

Barbie rocked the globe last year, but before that, Greta Gerwig directed this excellent coming-of-age film, starring Saoirse Ronan in an Oscar-nominated performance. It’s set in the throwback period of the early 2000s and follows teenage Christine (Ronan), navigating her senior year in a California Catholic high school. She nicknames herself “Lady Bird” as a way of expressing herself and her individuality and to distance herself from her parents.

Her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) is a nurse who is constantly clashing with Christine, who’s sick of what she sees as her mother’s nagging attitude and passive-aggressiveness. It’s a tale of a teenager on the cusp of adulthood, but the mum-daughter relationship is the emotional core. Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, and Timothee Chalamet also star.

Watch on: Amazon Prime

The Lost Daughter

Lost daughter

Oscar-nominated The Lost Daughter is one of the best films from 2021, and sees Olivia Colman play, Leda, an English teacher who takes herself on holiday to one of the islands of Greece. She longs to sit on the beach, watching the sea and immersing herself in books and notetaking- which she promptly does. But her time in the sun is disrupted when a family arrives at the beach and makes things a noisy nightmare.

But when Nina’s (Dakota Johnson) daughter vanishes, the family flies into a panic and Leda immediately helps search for her. Internally, Leda is experiencing an unsettling Deja-vu, as we see flashbacks of her younger self (played by Jessie Buckley), looking for her own daughter at a different beach sometime in the past. The psychological drama is the directorial debut of actress Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Watch on: Netflix

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Last year’s Best Picture winner, Everything Everywhere All At Once was lauded for its fun multiverse storyline, Asian American representation, and performances from Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Jamie Lee Curtis and Key Huy Quan. But it’s also a great movie to sit back to watch for Mother’s Day, with central character Evelyn Quan Wang (Yeoh) not always approving of her daughter Joy (Hsu), particularly the fact that she has a lesbian relationship with a non-Chinese girl.

The mother and daughter find themselves strained, especially as Evelyn’s laundromat which she runs has been audited and investigated by the IRS. Everlyn will later discover how to explore the wider multiverse (or parallel universes), alongside Waymond (Huy Quan), and the absurdist, funny, and emotional deforce that follows is hard not to love.

Watch on: Amazon

A Thousand and One

A Thousand and One

A single mother drama released last year, A Thousand and One flew under the radar despite being tapped as one of the best indies of 2023. Singer and actress Teyana Taylor stars as Inez, a hairdresser who goes back to Brooklyn after being incarcerated for theft and staying in the Rikers Island prison. She finds her son Terry, living in a foster home, whose only memory of his mother is from the day she abandoned him. The film moves across several years, beginning in 1994 and continuing into the 2000s, as it follows Inez and Terry’s evolving relationship. Terry is played by three different actors at different ages, including Aaron Kingsley Adetola, Aven Courtney, and Josiah Cross, while Will Catlett plays Inez’s ex-boyfriend Lucky. A Thousand and One also touches on the various mayors of New York City and their promises to improve things, and how it affects the characters.

Watch on: Apple TV

Room

Room

The film that catapulted Brie Larson to stardom, Room is one of those under-appreciated films everyone should see- though it deals with some tough subject matter. A young woman, Joy (Larson), lives with her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) in a bleak and traumatic existence in captivity of a man they call “Uncle Jack”, who took Joy prisoner seven years ago and subjected her to awful abuse. They live only in the tiny “room”, which to Jack is the only world that exists, except for things he sees on TV. But eventually, Joy and Jack escape, and Jack will experience the rest of the world for himself. Larson won the Oscar for Best Actress, and the central mother-son journey makes it worth a heart-tugging watch.

Watch on: Netflix

Parallel Mothers

Parallel Mothers

Hugely acclaimed on release, Parallel Mothers is a Spanish drama starring Penélope Cruz about two women in a hospital just about to give birth. They discover similarities between them- they both had accidental pregnancies and are both single. Cruz plays Janis, a photographer, who’s excited to be going through childbirth, while Milena Smit plays Ana, a teenager who’s nervous and feels unprepared to be a mother.

Both women start to bond and keep in touch post-birth, but things take an interesting turn when Janis begins to suspect that the baby she’s brought home may not be hers. Was it swapped with Ana’s? You’ll have to watch yourself to see the whole story, but you’ll find a riveting and highly original film about motherhood and raising a child.

Watch on: BBC player

Freaky Friday

Freaky Friday

The ultimate body swap movie, Freaky Friday sees the lives of Anna (Lindsay Lohan) and Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis) flip following reading their fortune in a pair of fortune cookies at a Chinese restaurant. When they wake up the next morning, they’ve both switched bodies, and Tess has to go to Anna’s school and Anna has to go to work at Tess’s job as a psychiatrist. Of course, comedy hijinks follow, as the mum and daughter begin to understand each other’s problems and why they often clash.

What’s more, their relationship is key to being able to swap their bodies back and bring everything back to normal. It’s a riotous fun ride for Mother’s Day, and a sequel with both Lohan and Curtis is on the cards for the future, so it’s worth a revisit.

Watch on: Disney+

20th Century Women

20th Century Women

Annette Bening, who’s currently nominated for the sports biopic Nyad and is about to star in the mystery drama Apples Never Fall, leads this great coming-of-age dramedy. 20th Century Women is set at the end of the 70s in California’s Santa Barbara, as single mother Doretha (Bening) tries to raise her teen son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) while he’s at his most rebellious. She turns to two women closer to his age for help: the smart and savvy Julie (Elle Fanning) who’s Jamie’s best friend, and the free-spirited Abbie (Greta Gerwig), currently dealing with cervical cancer treatment. Along with Doretha’s tenant William (Billy Crudup), this makeshift group gives guidance and advice to Jamie, but it’s unquestionably Dorothea’s story as a mother that takes centre stage.

Watch on: Amazon Prime

Terms of Endearment

Terms of Endearment

Something of a film classic, 1983’s Terms of Endearment swept the Oscars for that year, and if you’re looking for great films about mothers, then this is the one to pick. Aurora (Shirley MacLaine) is a widow, who’s approached often by a series of suitors, but is instead most concerned with her relationship with her daughter Emma (Debra Winger), and it’s this connection that forms the crux of our film.

Much like many of the entries on this list, Emma and Aurora’s relationship is not a perfect one, with Emma wanting to escape her mother’s influence and marry Flap Horton (Jeff Daniels), a college professor and someone whom her mother strongly disapproves of. It’s worth watching if only for its amazing supporting cast, including Daniels alongside Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito and John Lithgow.

Watch on: Paramount Plus

Eve’s Bayou

Eves Bayou

For a more unnerving, thriller-y pick for Mother’s Day. Eve’s Bayou is described as being in the “Southern Gothic” subgenre, marrying horror-influenced gothic elements with stories of the American South. Jurnee Smollett plays Eve Batiste, a young girl living in Louisiana who witnesses her father cheating on her mother, threatening the stability of her family. Eve isn’t entirely sure how she remembers the incident, especially when her older sister Cisley (Meagan Good) convinces her that she didn’t see what she thought she saw. Lynn Whitfield plays her mother Roz, who is the lynchpin of their family, and attempts to keep them together as the Batiste family starts to fracture.

A creepy murder mystery follows, with Samuel L. Jackson playing the seemingly perfect successful dad who has a sinister side. The acclaimed drama is directed by Harriet and Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody director Kasi Lemmons.

Watch on: Amazon Prime

Private Life

Private Life

Private Life was released by Netflix a few years ago and is rather underrated. Kathryn Hahn, star of Glass Onion and Tiny Beautiful Things, plays Rachel, while Paul Giamatti, currently receiving acclaim for his turn in The Holdovers, plays Richard, her partner. The middle-aged couple have been becoming more and more desperate in their pursuit of having a child, and their options are running out. It’s a film about infertility and the difficulties couples who want a child but can’t easily have one face- IVF, adoption, and the rest. The desire to become parents and experience mother/fatherhood is what drives the narrative, especially since Rachel and Richard are otherwise successful and happy, and seem to pretty much have an idyllic life. Often emotional, and always absorbing, Private Life explores themes, and a side to life isn’t always talked about in a very frank way.

Watch on: Netflix


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