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15+ Movies About Motherhood to Watch Now

Written by

Flora Tsapovsky

Photography by

Photo Via Roma

From the days of Mommy Dearest, the topic of motherhood has fascinated filmmakers, and why shouldn’t it? Unlike your average romantic comedy, motherhood has no single recipe, with enough drama and plot lines to feed a whole gang of screenwriters. A film about mothers can be a mirror and a practice of self-reflection. Or, it could be a welcome distraction from your own screaming toddlers or sulky teens. From the silly comedies to the thought-provoking foreign dramas, here are a dozen of great reasons to call it a night and spend the evening in the company of movie moms. 

Cher! Winona Ryder! Tiny Christina Ricci! Mermaids is a nineties classic for a reason, built on a powerful script and solid acting, alongside some unforgettable musical numbers. The plot almost needs no introduction: a quirky mom and a conservative daughter can’t agree on a single thing, until they finally see eye to eye. A great reminder how much of a national treasure Cher is, but also of how complicated motherhood gets.
Watch it on: Hulu

The Second Mother
Brazil’s class and social status nuances are the pillars of this delicate drama. Val, a loyal live-in maid, had raised her employers’ children as her own. When her actual daughter is coming for a visit and refusing to abide the delicate power structure at the household, Val’s life begins to crumble under pressure. Gloriously acted by veteran Regina Case and other Brazilian powerhouses, this is a film to watch when you crave a new perspective and, perhaps, a dose of gratitude.
Watch it on: Hulu

Fun Mom Dinner
Name your night out/mom film cliché, and chances are Fun Mom Dinner has it; unicorn onesies? Check. Poop flying across the car before drop-off? You bet. And yet, this heartfelt comedy hits the spot, best watched on a night when all seems hopeless. With a brilliant cast comprised of Tony Colette, Molly Shannon, Katie Aselton, and the utterly hilarious Bridget Everett, the comedy is ultimately about cutting yourself some slack and finding real “mom friends”—and who doesn’t like the notion of that?
Watch it on: Netflix

Mothers and Daughters
Get the tissues, here comes the mother of all tear-jerkers. With a star-studded cast (including Sharon Stone, Courteney Cox, and real-life mother and daughter duo Susan Sarandon and Eva Amurri Martino), this layered tale showcases different adult mother-daughter relationships, with no shortage of regret, resentment, and deep love. No story is the same, and each one is bittersweet in its own way. Watch, then pick up the phone and call your mother (or a therapist).
Watch it on: Netflix

Joy Luck Club
Based on a bestselling novel by Amy Tan, this is a film both epic and humble, retelling the story of four Chinese mother-daughter duos. Tradition vs. modernity, future and past, sacrifice and gratitude, immigrant and first-generation struggles, all intertwine in the film, surrounded by the some of  best 90s-era dramatic acting you’ll ever see.
Watch it on: Amazon

Charlize Theron’s acting chops are front in center here, equipped with leaky boobs, sweaty curves, and a mindless gaze. Tully, the third part of Diablo Cody’s unofficial growing up trilogy (after Juno and Young Adult, also with Theron), starts as a tale of a woman sinking, scary enough to talk anyone out of having three children. But soon things get interesting, when an angelic night nurse appears. If transformations and gut-punching endings are your idea of a fun night in, definitely queue Tully this weekend.
Watch it on: Amazon

Private Life
This film from 2018 follows Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) and Richard (Paul Giamatti), both 40-something writers living in New York, as they tumble through the cyclical process of hope and heartbreak trying to grow their family. The specifics of their struggles with infertility are shown up close and in emotionally wrenching detail, from rounds of unsuccessful IVF to a sudden (and expensive) surgery to treat a sperm blockage to dashed adoption prospects. But the real story is the scars the process leaves on their marriage, as well as the way the people around them react to this couple in crisis.
Watch it on: Netflix

Soul Food
Serving up a deliciously powerful cast (Vivica Fox, Vanessa Williams, and Nia Long to name a few), this feel-good classic is all about the magic of the matriarch. The premise is rather simple; a mother trying to make her daughters and their spouses get along through cooking soulful food—but the result is a heartwarming, layered, and mouth watering drama ideal for a quiet evening at home (order take-out: this movie will make you hungry).
Watch it on: Amazon. 

Alysia Reiner plays a self-important artist having a child via surrogate as part of an elaborate art project. Her former art-school friend, played by Christina Hendricks, has taken up a more traditional suburban existence, and is blissfully pregnant herself. The movie follows the dramatic reunion of the two expecting women over a single drawn-out dinner party, and touches on the pressures, assumptions, and judgements that nearly all modern mothers have at some point experienced.
Watch it on: Amazon

Far from saccharine and predictable, this French-Canadian drama was a Cannes festival hit in 2014. In it, an eccentric single mom brings home her violent son, after a stint at a juvenile facility, determined to put him back on the right track. What happens next is a rollercoaster of emotions, as a “good” neighbor moves next door and gets recruited towards the rehabilitation process. As mom-centric films often deal with the mother-daughter relationship, this is a nice departure.
Watch it on: Amazon

This Oscar-winning film directed by Alfonso Cuarón is set in the early 1970s, and is a semi-autobiographical take on Cuarón’s own upbringing in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. The story focuses on an affluent family and their live-in maid, Cleo, and while themes of marital infidelity, political unrest, and class differences give richness to the story, it is the actions and decisions made by the matriarchal female leads that define the film.
Watch it on: Netflix

Lovely and Amazing
Motherhood isn’t just about babies and tantrums. This delicate and quirky film by the acclaimed  Nicole Holofcener portrays a relationship of two sisters (Emily Mortimer and Catherine Keener, making tiny furniture before Tiny Furniture was a Lena Dunham thing), with their beauty-obsessed mother, played by English legend Brenda Blethyn. Body image, identity, and trying to fit in are the main subjects, making this the perfect film to watch with a teenager. The rest of the cast (young Jake Gyllenhaal and Dermot Mulroney, to name a few) is all shades of sexy.
Watch it on: Amazon

Real Women Have Curves
A Sundance Festival hit, Patricia Cardoso’s powerful film is set in East L.A.; Anna (young America Ferrera in a star-turning role), has big dreams and a traditional mother who had made an entirely different plan for her. The push-and-pull between ambition and family obligations makes this an important one to watch, providing insight into the relationships of first generation female Latino immigrants with their strong, well-meaning mothers.
Watch it on: Amazon

One More Shot
Maya is young, attractive, married, and yearning to be a mother. She is also a filmmaker. After more than two years of struggling with infertility, she and her husband decided to turn the cameras on themselves. The resulting documentary captures three years of pain, disappointment, potential joy, and thousands upon thousands of dollars spent in pursuit of motherhood. Their own story is complimented by varying stories of other families on the same high-stakes journey.
Watch it on: Netflix

Up for an eyebrow-raising, juicy flick about moms who also happen to be blonde, uber-fit and emotionally distraught? Then this Australian-French film is for you. Robin Wright and Naomi Watts join forces in a very politically-incorrect drama about two middle-aged mothers who fall for each other’s gorgeous young sons. Unravelling at a picturesque Australian surfing town, the film is based on a Doris Lessing novel. Watch with your bestie to ensure the most uncomfortable film discussion in your friendship’s history.
Watch it on: Amazon

A Simple Favor
While juicy drama and plot twists are what make this Paul Feig flick such a pleasurable watch, it’s also a poignant commentary on the cult of motherhood, the lies we tell in the name of it, and the sacrifices we make for it. Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively are both great in the film, playing two very different women who come together thanks to their kids’ friendship. The wardrobes are to die for, and so is the soundtrack, which pairs wonderfully with some bubbly. 
Watch it on: Amazon

For more parental-themed entertainment suggestions, check out these 10+ must-watch documentaries about parenting, as well as the best movies, shows, and books about infertility.

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  1. Jessica says...

    You also missed out on step-mothers and movies about them. :(

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