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25 movies to watch on Mother’s Day that celebrate motherhood

From tear-jerkers to rom-coms, there's a movie for everyone (and every mom).
Courtesy Everett Collection/ Alamy Stock Photo

After the Mother's Day gifts have been purchased or the dinner reservations set, consider gifting the moms or mother figures in your life another kind of present: The gift of quality time.

However you celebrate Mother's Day — which in 2022 falls on Sunday, May 8 — finish the day up by curling up with a movie centered around mothers.

These wide range of movies may put you in the feels or make you laugh out loud. But most importantly, they celebrate the best and worst parts of motherhood from every angle.

TODAY picked this batch of 23 movies with every mother in mind: the empty nester, the stepmom, the overworked mom, the mom parenting rebellious teenagers and the fun mom who's taking a temporary break from her little ones for one night.

Below, find a movie about moms to watch or stream on Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, and beyond this Mother's Day.

'20th Century Women' (2017)

It's 1979 in Santa Barbara, and Dorothea (Annette Bening) is a single mom who enlists the help of two younger women, played by Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning, to give her son (Lucas Jade Zuman) an education in life. Director and screenwriter Mike Mills based the movie off of his own childhood and relationship with his mom. Prepare for one-liners that will stay with you: “Having your heart broken is a tremendous way to learn about the world.”

Where to watch '20th Century Women:' Showtime, Apple TV, Prime Video, YouTube

'Miss Virginia' (2019)

Uzo Aduba plays real-life figure Virginia Walden Ford, an education activist who fought to create a federally funded scholarship program for low-income students. In the biopic, Ford is inspired to take on the fight for her own son, a 15-year-old on the verge of dropping out of school.

Where to Watch 'Miss Virginia:' YouTube

'Mother’s Day' (2016)

"Mother's Day" sees four mothers celebrate the day their own way. This movie is perfect for moms who have foregone traditional ways of celebrating Mother’s Day and instead have made their own traditions with the simplest things.

Where to watch "Mother's Day:" Prime Video

'Yes Day' (2021)

It's so easy to say "no" when kids, filled with energy, ask for yet another thing. Jennifer Garner plays a mom in "Yes Day" who is in that exact position. But she decides to — just once — only say "yes" to her three kids for 24 hours. After making that decision, she and her husband (Edgar Ramirez) set forth on a day they'll always remember.

Where to watch "Yes Day:" Netflix

'Tully' (2018)

Not feeling bright and cheery? For a dark Mother's Day pick, look no further than the intense depiction of the postpartum experience seen in "Tully." Marlo (Charlize Theron), already overworked mom, gives birth to her third child with a husband who remains clueless about the demands motherhood puts on her work and life. For some much needed additional help, Marlo begrudgingly agrees to hire a nighttime nanny, Tully (Mackenzie Davis), and their close relationship causes Marlo to make some unexpected revelations about herself.

Where to watch "Tully:" AppleTV, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

'Freaky Friday' (2003)

In this remake of the 1976 film, Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis play a mother and daughter who simply cannot understand each other — until a sci-fi twist allows them to. After an argument, they switch bodies and literally have to walk in each other's shoes.

Where to watch "Freaky Friday:" Disney+, AppleTV, Prime Video

'The Guilt Trip' (2012)

Written by "This Is Is" creator Dan Fogelman, Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogen play a helicopter mom and a son who would like a bit more space. He gets the opposite when sitting next to his mom on a cross-country road trip to Las Vegas. Bonding, unsurprisingly, ensues.

Where to watch "The Guilt Trip:" Paramount Plus, AppleTV, Prime Video

'Miss Juneteenth' (2020)

In this 2020 drama, a former beauty pageant winner and single mom prepares her rebellious daughter for her first pageant. "Miss Juneteenth" shows the joys and sorrows of Black motherhood and girlhood in a new and refreshing way.

Where to watch "Miss Juneteenth:" AppleTV, Google Play, Prime Video, YouTube

'Brave' (2012)

This Scotland-set animated film tells the story of Merida, a teenager content on defying a patriarchal tradition her village follows, and Queen Elinor, her mother who tries at all cost to prevent Merida from achieving her goal. Even though it's a kid's movie, the mother and daughter's rocky relationship is likely to resonate with adults, too.

Where to watch "Brave:" Disney+, Google Play, Prime Video, YouTube

'Stepmom' (1998)

Watch "Stepmom" with a box of tissues. After a divorced man (Ed Harrison) remarries a significantly younger woman (Julia Roberts), his ex-wife (Susan Sarandon) and kids adjust to the change. But there's something about the situation none of them know.

Where to watch "Stepmom:" Apple TV, Prime Video, YouTube

'Mothers and Daughters' (2016)

Peer into multiple mother-daughter relationships with this 2016 drama, about a pregnant photographer capturing different different scenes of motherhood while working through her own relationship with her mom. The movie's many layers are portrayed by Selma Blair, Sharon Stone, Susan Sarandon, and more.

Where to watch "Mothers and Daughters:" Paramount Plus, Apple TV, Prime Video, YouTube

'Otherhood' (2019)

"Otherhood" was written with empty-nesters in mind. Angela Bassett, Felicity Huffman and Patricia Arquette play women whose adult children are too busy living their lives to call, visit or plan gifts for special occasions. In response, they fly across the country to make their sons — who are best friends — spend time with them. But the mothers end up enjoying a vacation of their own.

Where to watch "Otherhood:" Netflix

'Dumplin'' (2018)

Pageant stereotypes are challenged in "Dumplin'" when Willowdean (Danielle Macdonald), a plus-sized teenager, enters the pageant her former beauty queen mom (Jennifer Aniston) is spearheading in protest of the unrealistic standards pageants set. Others follow suit and together they revolutionize what pageantry means in their small town.

Where to watch 'Dumplin:'" Netflix

'The Joy Luck Club' (1993)

"The Joy Luck Club" is an exercise in empathy, as four Chinese-American women learn about their mothers, born in China, by learning about their pasts. The movie may prompt you to have your own conversations.

Where to watch "The Joy Luck Club:" Peacock, Apple TV, Prime Video

'Real Women Have Curves' (2002)

Starring America Ferrera in her feature film debut, "Real Women Have Curves" is the story Ana, a young Mexican-American woman who's up against the family norms that say she can't go to college like she wants to. As a summer job, she ends up working with her mother (Lupe Ontiveros), where they clash over Ana's future — and her present.

Where to watch "Real Women Have Curves:" HBO Max, Prime Video

'Bird Box' (2018)

This horror movie shows the lengths a guardian is willing to go to protect those she must. The Netflix hit is set in a world invaded by mysterious creatures that kill people on sight. In search of better circumstances, a mother (Sandra Bullock) and her children blindfold themselves to avoid seeing the deadly forces and make the long, difficult journey through woods to a promised sanctuary.

Where to watch "Bird Box:" Netflix

'Because I Said So' (2007)

Daphne Wilder (Diane Keaton) is tired of her youngest daughter's (Mandy Moore) poor dating decisions — so she decides to pick someone for her.

Where to watch "Because I Said So:" Starz, Apple TV, Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube

'Serial Mom' (1994)

This black comedy, written and directed by John Waters, puts a twist on suburban life. When the movie starts, Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner) is a married homemaker with two teenage boys. Her life is as normal as can be — until she runs a teacher over with her car for speaking poorly about one of her sons. The jolt of adrenaline awakens something in her, and she begins to seek out more violent acts.

Where to watch "Serial Mom:" Starz, Apple TV, Prime Video

'Stella Dallas' (1937)

And now, for a classic. Premiering in 1937, "Stella Dallas" explores topics that remain relevant: Divorce and single motherhood. Barbara Stanwyck's character, Stella Dallas, is a working class woman who marries a wealthy socialite. But after having a child, the couple's value differences become too big to ignore. Following her divorce, Stella's daughter becomes the center of her life and the focus of her decisions.

Where to watch "Stella Dallas:" Prime Video

'Baby Boom' (1987)

One day, J.C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) is a high-profile executive. The next day, she's saddled with the child of a relative following an accident. The baby's arrival upends her life and her expectations, causing her to lose her job and her boyfriend. She decides to start over in a ramshackle house in Vermont.

Where to watch "Baby Boom:" HBO Max

'Terms of Endearment' (1983)

"Terms of Endearment" characterizes the mother-daughter relationship as a long-term relationship. Playing a mother and daughter, Deborah Winger and Shirley MacLaine deal with divorces, cancer diagnoses, and everything else life throws at them. This makes for a good double feature with "Postcards From the Edge," as MacLaine plays the mom in both.

Where to watch "Terms of Endearment:" Showtime, Prime Video

'Bad Moms' (2016)

Starring Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell, "Bad Moms" is an ode to moms not being perfect but doing the very best they can. So instead of striving to be "good moms," they settle for being "bad moms," and decide to commit to the part.

Where to watch "Bad Moms:" Apple TV

'Postcards From The Edge' (1990)

Starring Meryl Streep and Shirey MacLaine, "Postcards from the Edge" is adapted from Carrie Fisher's autobiographical novel of the same name. In the film, Streep plays an actress who moves in with her mom after getting back from rehab. It's a journey through the complexities of addiction and mother-daughter relationships.

Where to watch "Postcards from the Edge:" Hulu, Google Play, Prime Video

'Troop Beverly Hills' (1989)

In this classic comedy, a pampered housewife (Shelley Long) becomes a Wilderness Girls troop leader to boost her confidence amid a rocky marriage that's falling apart. Phyllis's bougie mothering style helps her bond with the girls in the troop. Their bond is tested when the group is at risk of being disbanded.

Where to watch "Troop Beverly Hills:" Showtime, Hulu, Prime Video

'Fun Mom Dinner' (2017)

Four moms bond in their kids' preschool class. During a night out, though, things quickly go from PG to R-rated. The women — played by Katie Aselton, Toni Collette, Bridget Everett, and Molly Shannon — have way more in common than motherhood.

Where to watch "Fun Mom Dinner:" Netflix, Apple TV, Prime Video,