"Tully," a movie about the highs and lows of motherhood, hits theaters on May 4, 2018. To celebrate the release of the Jason Reitman film starring Charlize Theron, Wonderwall.com is revisiting some of our favorite movies about moms. Keep reading to get started…
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The 1993 film "The Joy Luck Club" tells the story of not one but four mothers who all travel from China to the States where they navigate relationships with their Chinese-American daughters. The movie — which is based on Amy Tan's novel of the same name — was an instant success that received rave reviews and grossed more than $32 million worldwide.
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"Baby Mama" is an especially unique film because it showcases the humor and complexity of untraditional motherhood. The 2008 movie starring "Saturday Night Live" alums (and real-life best friends) Tina Fey and Amy Poehler is about a woman who decides to have a baby through surrogacy and all the hilarious ups and downs that happen on her journey to motherhood. The laugh-out-loud-funny flick was loved by audiences and critics alike and grossed over $64 million at the box office.
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"Brave" is a Disney movie inspired by director/creator Brenda Chapman's relationship with her own daughter. The 2012 animated film tells the story of Princess Merida and her mother, Queen Elinor (pictured). The two disagree on Merida's betrothal and have to learn to understand each other after an ill-intentioned spell transforms Elinor into a bear. "Brave" was a global success — it won the Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award for best animated feature film — and a huge money-maker with more than $540 million in worldwide box-office receipts.
"Eve's Bayou" is a movie that shows just how powerful the love of a mother can be. The 1997 film starring Lynn Whitfield and Jurnee Smollett is about a young Louisiana girl who gets a witch to put a voodoo curse on her father after witnessing him cheating on her mother and hurting her sister. The moving and mysterious film earned critical acclaim and grossed more than $14 million worldwide.
"Steel Magnolias" is a Julia Roberts classic that showcases the beauty of mother-daughter relationships. Julia plays Shelby Eatenton Latcherie, a woman who suffers from type 1 diabetes, and Sally Field plays her loving mother, Mary Lynn Eatenton. Today, the 1989 movie is considered a beloved classic that solidified Julia's status as a superstar (she was nominated for her first Oscar for the performance). The movie earned more than $95 million worldwide and received rave reviews.
"The Kids Are All Right" is an acclaimed film that shows how diverse and nuanced motherhood can be. The 2010 flick follows a married same-sex couple (played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) raising two teenagers who reach out to their sperm donor father to build a relationship. The movie was beloved by critics, who applauded its originality and flawless acting. The indie earned over $34 million worldwide. "The Kids Are All Right" was awarded the Golden Globe for best musical or comedy film and Annette won a best actress Golden Globe. The film also received four Academy Award nominations, including one for best picture!
Like many of the films on our list, "Juno" highlights and celebrates an untraditional path to motherhood. The 2007 coming-of-age movie tells the story of Juno, a teen who gets pregnant unexpectedly and decides to put her baby up for adoption. The critically acclaimed indie directed by Jason Reitman — which stars Ellen Page as Juno and Jennifer Garner as adoptive mother Vanessa Loring — was considered one of the best films of the year and enjoyed huge box-office success, grossing $231 million on a $6 million budget!
The 2004 flick "Spanglish" starring Paz Vega tells the story of a poor single mother who has to navigate her relationship with her daughter and the influence of the rich family she works for. The movie, which grossed $55 million, has been praised for its original storyline, thoughtfulness, cultural significance and strong acting.
"Lady Bird" is the definition of an amazing motherhood and coming-of-age film. The 2018 flick starring Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf focuses on a high school senior and her turbulent relationship with her mom. "Lady Bird" was an instant success that received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. The film earned five Academy Award nominations — for best picture, best actress for Saoirse, best supporting actress for Laurie and best original screenplay and best director for Greta Gerwig — and won Golden Globes for best musical or comedy motion picture and best actress. The movie was also a strong moneymaker that earned $72 million worldwide.
"Soul Food" shows just how important mothers are and how many families can fall apart when their matriarch is no longer with them. The 1997 movie is told through the eyes of 11-year-old Ahmad, who details how his family is struggling after the sickness and death of his grandmother, Josephine. "Soul Food" — which earned over $43 million — proved to be so popular that it led to a Showtime TV series based on the film as well as an upcoming sequel.
"Mildred Pierce" truly the set the bar high for motherhood movies. The film noir was released in 1945 and shows just how much a mother will sacrifice for her children. The movie was a career comeback for Joan Crawford, who won an Academy Award for best actress for her performance as Mildred. "Mildred Pierce" was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1996.
"Secrets & Lies" is a movie that shows how love can cross racial, cultural and family divides. Marianne Jean-Baptiste stars as Hortense, a young black woman who decides to look for her birth mother (Brenda Blethyn) and is surprised to learn that she is white. The pair eventually develop a friendship and a mother-daughter bond. The 1996 British film received five Academy Award nominations and Brenda won a best actress Golden Globe Award for her work in the project.
"The Piano" is a critically acclaimed motherhood movie that made Anna Paquin the second-youngest Academy Award winner ever at age 11! The 1993 movie tells the story of a mute piano player (Holly Hunter), her quest to get her piano back and her relationship with her daughter (Anna), who serves as her interpreter. "The Piano" was a critical and commercial success, earning $140 million worldwide against a $7 million budget. The movie also earned three Academy Awards out of eight total nominations including best actress for Holly, best supporting actress for Anna and best original screenplay for Jane Campion.
"Postcards from the Edge" stars acting phenom Meryl Streep as an up-and-coming star who has to return home to her mother, played by Shirley MacLaine, due to her drug addiction. The 1990 film is not only about a mother-daughter relationship but is based on a real-life one as well: The movie was written by the late Carrie Fisher and is loosely based on her own relationship with her mother, the late Debbie Reynolds. "Postcards from the Edge" earned critical acclaim thanks to Meryl's comedic performance as well as its entertaining plot.
"Mermaids" is a classic 1980s movie that stars Cher, Winona Ryder (who was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for best supporting actress for her performance) and Christina Ricci in her first film role. Cher plays the glamorous yet eccentric Rachel Flax, a mom who has an unconventional relationship with daughters Charlotte (Winona) and Kate (Christina). Critics enjoyed the movie for its comedy and unique look at growing up, and audiences agreed: "Mermaids" grossed over $35 million worldwide.
"Terms of Endearment" set the standard for motherhood movies that few have been able to match or replicate. The 1983 flick stars Debra Winger and Shirley MacLaine as a mother and daughter who are looking for love. The movie covers a 30-year time span and highlights all the complexities of a mother-daughter relationship. "Terms of Endearment" was a critical and commercial success that earned 11 Academy Award nominations and won five Oscars including best picture, best director and adapted screenplay for James L. Brooks, best actress for Shirley and best supporting actor for Jack Nicholson. The movie was also a huge box-office hit, grossing over $100 million on an $8 million budget.
"Rambling Rose" is another flawless motherhood movie that features a real-life mother and daughter. The 1991 film stars Laura Dern as Rose, a sexually liberated young woman who comes to work for the Hillyer family, and Laura's real-life mother, Diane Ladd, as Mrs. Hillyer. In the movie, which is set in 1935, Rose becomes very close to Mrs. Hillyer as she tries to help and influence her. Diane and Laura both earned Oscar nominations for their performances, making them the first mother-daughter pair to be nominated for Academy Awards for the same movie — and nominated in the same year!
"Grey Gardens" stars two acclaimed actresses, Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore, as a devoted, eccentric mother-daughter duo who live together. The 2009 HBO movie is centered on real-life socialite Edith Bouvier Beale/"Little Edie" and her mother, Edith Ewing Bouvier/"Big Edie." The film flashes back and forth between various events and dates in their lives, including the filming and premiere of the original "Grey Gardens" 1975 documentary. The flick was a huge hit and was nominated for 17 Primetime Emmys. It won for best made-for-television movie, best actress in a miniseries or movie (Jessica) and best supporting actor in a miniseries or movie (Ken Howard). It was also nominated for three Golden Globe Awards and took home the best made-for-TV movie as well as best actress in a made-for-TV movie (Drew) Globes.
"Stepmom" defies the stereotype of the "evil stepmother" and shows how families can come together to embrace both moms and stepmoms. The 1998 movie starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon tugs at your heartstrings and will surely have you in tears by the end of the film. "Stepmom" was a box-office hit that earned over $159 million on a $50 million budget.
Meryl Streep returned to the big screen in 2015 in another motherhood movie, this time as the mom and not the daughter. In "Ricki and the Flash," she stars as Ricki, a woman who leaves her family to become a rock star and later gets a chance to make amends. The film is especially unique because it also stars Meryl's real-life daughter Mamie Gummer as Ricki's daughter. The movie received mixed reviews from critics.