It’s almost Mother’s Day! Looking for a movie to watch with your mom (in person or virtually) or want to celebrate your mom or being a mom (or the opposite!)? Here’s a list of Mother’s Day recommendations and notes from your Sidewalk programmers.

ADORABLE OPTIONS

FREAKY FRIDAY

1976 – Dir. Gary Nelson
2003 – Dir. Mark Waters
What better way to understand your mom (or your daughter) than full-on switching bodies with her? But which FREAKY FRIDAY should you choose, assuming you don’t have the tolerance for a body-switching double feature – 1976 vs. 2003? We think you can’t go wrong either way. Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris or Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis. Both films do a great time-capsule level job at catching their era, so perhaps base your decision on whether you want to travel back to the 1970’s or 1990’s.
Where to watch: YouTube, iTunes, Disney+, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Vudu

 

MERMAIDS (1990)

Dir. Richard Benjamin
We had you at Cher. Plus Winona Ryder and a very small Christina Ricci. A small-town “unconventional” mom (I mean it’s Cher, come on, what did you expect) navigates life’s challenges as a single parent in the early 1960s.
Where to watch: Tubi, Vudu, Sling TV

 

MASK (1985)

Dir. Peter Bogdanovich
If small-town unconventional Cher-mom isn’t your favorite Cher-mom then perhaps you’ll be interested in biker Cher-mom. Considering that Cher was at the height of her mom repping in the late 1980’s/early 90’s, perhaps a MASK/MERMAIDS double feature? Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, MASK is based on the true story of Roy L. “Rocky” Dennis who, along-side his mother, faced many challenges due to craniodiaphyseal dysplasia. MASK focuses on Rocky’s relationship with his tenacious mom, as well as an extended untraditional biker family. Look at this cast: Eric Stoltz, Estelle Getty, Laura Dern, Sam Elliott and, of course, Cher. Rocky was a huge Springsteen fan in real life and, unfortunately, at the time of the film’s production, Universal Pictures and Columbia Records were not able to agree on terms and the film’s songs were replaced with the music of Bob Seger. However, with the 2004 DVD, the director’s cut, the Springsteen songs were restored.
Where to watch: This one is hard to find, check your non-digital library, copies of the aforementioned DVD can be found on eBay for around $12 or it’s $9.99 via Booksamillion.com

BABY BOOM (1987)

Dir. Charles Shyer
If you haven’t seen it – or haven’t seen in it a while, BABY BOOM is more fun than you might think/remember. Just listen to this premise: “The life of super-yuppie J.C. is thrown into turmoil when she inherits a baby from a distant relative.” Need we say more? Okay: what do you do when you’re an NYC super-yuppie and have a baby land on your doorstep? You at first try to pawn that baby off and then have an existential crisis and realize that you really want a baby and then you move to the country and start a baby food company and have a romance with Sam Shepard. Diane Keaton’s mom vibes!
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

SOUL FOOD (1997)

Dir. George Tillman Jr.
Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Mekhi Phifer, and Nia Long and produced by Babyface! Told through the eyes of an 11-year-old, a close-knit extended family navigates changing traditions.
Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play

THE INCREDIBLES (2004)

Dir. Brad Bird
Need something to watch with folks of all ages? The beloved animated classic, “A family of undercover superheroes, while trying to live the quiet suburban life, are forced into action to save the world.”
Where to watch: Disney+, Amazon Prime, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play

LADY BIRD (2017)

Dir. Greta Gerwig
Of course, of course… LADY BIRD is the 2017 smash hit – Lady Bird McPherson (Greta Gerwig), an “artistically inclined” seventeen-year-old, comes of age in Sacramento, California, making terms with her relationship with her hometown and her mother, Marion, played by the amazing Laurie Metcalf. Greta Gerwig is a Sidewalk Film Festival alum.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play

WARNING YOU WILL CRY:

Sally Field and Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias.

STEEL MAGNOLIAS (1989)

Dir. Herbert Ross
Once again, of course! M’Lynn Eatenton (Sally Field) is like the best mom ever (well except for our own moms). We would like to point out that STEEL MAGNOLIAS is PG and, considering some of its more memorable scenes, is a great springtime selection. It’s rumored that director Herbert Ross was a tyrant on the set of STEEL MAGNOLIAS, our favorite hearsay: after a supposed bad take, Ross scolded Dolly Parton and asked her if she could even act, she replied: “No, but it’s your job to make me look like I can!” All hail Dolly!
Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

THE FAREWELL (2019)

Dir. Lulu Wang
A Sidewalk Cinema favorite. Funny, moving, kind, thoughtful, and a female writer-director. A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (1983)

Dir. James L. Brooks
Yet another of course! Based on a Larry McMurtry novel, TERMS OF ENDEARMENT is an epic powerhouse of a film. Afterall: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels and John Lithgow star. If you haven’t seen it, the film covers 30 years of the relationship between Aurora Greenway (MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Winger). The majority of the film was shot in Houston, Texas and Lincoln, Nebraska, making for a very interesting cinematic landscape. We think this bit of trivia makes the film more fun to watch: Jack Nicholson supposedly improvised most of his scenes and would sometimes show up “practically naked”.
Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

RAMBLING ROSE (1991)

Dir. Martha Coolidge
Another female-directed Mother’s Day appropriate film, RAMBLING ROSE features real-life mother-daughter Laura Dern and the amazing Diane Ladd and we think that’s enough of a reason to make the film a terrific Mom Day choice. We’ll double down: Diane Ladd was born in Meridian, Mississippi, and represents a perfect Southern mom/grandmom archetype, take a look at her IMDB page and the incredible resume and praise her. Laura Dern and Diane Ladd were both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for RAMBLING ROSE – the first-ever mother-daughter duo to be nominated for an Oscar for the same film and the first-ever mother-daughter duo to be nominated in the same year. Taking place during the Great Depression, RAMBLING ROSE is the story of Rose (Laura Dern) and her experience living as a domestic assistant with a well-to-do Southern family.
Where to watch: This one is hard to find, check your non-digital library. You can purchase the DVD on Amazon or eBay for between $7 and $10, it’s $9.99 via Booksamillion.com

FOR AN EDGIER MOTHER’S DAY FILM:

TINY FURNITURE  (2010)

Dir. Lena Dunham
Written and directed by pre-GIRLS Lena Dunham, TINY FURNITURE focuses on recent college graduate, Aura (Lena Dunham), who has returned home to try and figure things out. Semi-autobiographical in more ways than one, Dunham’s own mother, artist Laurie Simmons, plays Aura’s mother and her sibling, Grace, plays Aura’s on-screen sister. TINY FURNITURE laid the groundwork for the series GIRLS and was a 2010 film festival hit.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

TULLY (2018)

Dir. Jason Reitman
TULLY isn’t the film that you think it is. A struggling mother of three forms an unexpected bond with the night nanny hired to help with her newborn baby.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play

A SIMPLE FAVOR (2018)

Dir. Paul Feig
We love this film! Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is an over-achieving mom and her new bestie, Emily Nelson (Blake Lively)… well she is not. As suggested, Stephanie and Emily are fast friends and when Emily suddenly goes missing Steph takes it upon herself to solve the mystery. It’s over-the-top whimsy, super fun and not exactly what you think it’s going to be, we appreciate all that. Also, no mom has ever looked so good in a tuxedo as Black Lively… actually, no one has ever looked so good in a tuxedo.
Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play

MOTHER (2009)

Dir. Bong Joon Ho
Not to be confused with Aronofsky’s MOTHER! (see below), from PARASITE director, Bong Joon Ho, MOTHER is the story of a desperate mom searching for the killer who framed her son for a horrific murder.
Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu

MOTHER’S DAY (1980)

Dir. Charles Kaufman
B-Movie Mother’s Day horror from the one and only Charlie Kaufman. Also, please note, this is not the 2016 Garry Marshall trash fire of the same name – that MOTHER’S DAY is filled with way more horror than Kaufman’s classic slasher, including Julia Roberts terrible wig (the exact same wig from NOTTING HILL, yikes). Back to the real MOTHER’S DAY, two brothers kidnap and brutalize three women for the pleasure of their demented mother. Yep.
For fun read this article about Julia Roberts’ wig in that unspeakable MOTHER’S DAY: Link
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

ROOM (2015)

Dir. Lenny Abrahamson
Starring Captain Marvel, Brie Larson, held captive for 7 years in an enclosed space, a mom and her young son finally gain their freedom, allowing the boy to experience the outside world for the first time.
Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

MOTHER! (2017)

Dir. Darren Aronofsky
Just kidding, we don’t rec this film, well, actually Corey (Craft) kind of does, but Rachel (Morgan) strongly does not. We mention it only because it would make for a very specially traumatic Mother’s Day and, you know, ’tis the season.
Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play

NOT THE MOST OBVIOUS CHOICE:

PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED (1986)

Dir. Francis Ford Coppola
After wishing “if I knew then what I know now” at her 25th high school reunion, Peggy Sue faints and wakes up to find herself back in high school. If you can get past the fact that the very same Kathleen Turner that is in her late 30’s is also 17-year-old high school Kathleen Turner, that Helen Hunt, who plays Peggy Sue’s daughter, is only nine years younger than Kathleen Turner, occasional sound stage mania and the super strange acting choices made by Nicholas Cage (including a very odd accent), you’ll appreciate a viewing (or reviewing) of PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED. Actually, why get past such, we think it makes the film even more fun to watch. Plus, despite all that, somehow PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED might get to you – kindly punching you in the face with nostalgia. The grandmother on the phone scene is haunting and heart-wrenching and, in general, the film is a lovely pondering on regret and the appreciation for life. Also, this is fun: a very young Sofia Coppola plays Peggy Sue’s little sister.
Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

MEAN GIRLS, Ana Gasteyer, Lindsay Lohan, 2004.©Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

MEAN GIRLS (2004)

Dir Mark Waters
MEAN GIRLS makes for a terrific mother-daughter screening. What a great, mostly female cast: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, and Lizzy Caplan to name a few. Written by Tina Fey, homeschooled teenage Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) adjusts to early 2000’s public school life and all that such entails. Fey’s cautionary focus on the dangers of women being consistently pitted against one another is at the heart of the film and part of what allows it to stand the test of time.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

IMITATION OF LIFE (1959)

Dir Douglas Sirk
Legendary director Douglas Sirk’s influential, complicated, heartbreaking and cinematically gorgeous classic. Lora Meredith (Lana Turner), a white single mother and aspiring actress, meets Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore), an African American widow. As Lora pursues a stage career, Annie takes on the role of caretaker to Lora’s daughter, Suzie (Sandra Dee). Both Lora and Annie navigate the difficulties of motherhood.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

EVE’S BAYOU (1997)

Dir. Kasi Lemmons
HARRIET director, Kasi Lemmons, first feature film, which she also wrote. After a daughter witnesses her father having an affair, she begins a chain reaction that could tear her family apart. A great Mother’s Day double feature with HARRIET.
Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

WHO TOOK JOHNNY (2014)

Dir. David Beilinson, Michael Galinsky, Suki Hawley
A rare documentary on the list, WHO TOOK JOHNNY is an examination into the cold case of Johnny Gosch, who disappeared on his paper route over 30 years ago in 1982. Gosch’s picture was among one of the first to be featured on milk cartons in nationwide campaign efforts to locate missing children. The dedication of Johnny Gosch’s mother, Noreen Gosch, to uncover the truth is truly incredible. A Sidewalk Film Festival and Sidewalk Screentalk selection.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Kanopy or rent via the filmmaker’s site: Link

A QUIET PLACE (2018)

Dir. John Krasinski
Mom power! And a PG-13 selection. In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing. Supermom Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) tries her damndest to protect her kids during a beyond-horrific worldwide crisis (to say the least), we thought some folks might find this relatable.
Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (2017)

Dir. Martin McDonagh
Speaking of supermoms, Mildred (Frances McDormand) is a straight-up determined superhero, uniform and all. A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder when they fail to catch the culprit.
Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play

RAISING ARIZONA (1987)

Dir. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
And speaking of Frances McDormand, she’s in this one too. You know it – going to all extremes to be a mom, Ed (Holly Hunter) sets out with husband, H.I. (Nicolas Cage) to steal just one of a much wealthier family’s quintuplets. Coen brother antics!  Again speaking of Frances McDormand, she and Holly Hunter were roommates at the Yale School of Drama in the early 1980’s… to be a fly on the wall of that dorm room!
Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

ROMA (2018)

Dir. Alfonso Cuarón
ROMA follows the life of a live-in housekeeper of a middle-class family in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. The film is based heavily on director Alfonso Cuarón’s childhood and real-life nanny, Liboria “Libo” Rodriguez and celebrates her lifelong contributions. Libo has made cameos in several of Cuarón’s previous films.
Where to watch: Netflix
 

YOU THOUGHT YOUR MOM WAS BAD

THE GRIFTERS (1990)

Dir. Stephen Frears
Anjelica Huston. Damn. Small-time grifter Roy (John Cusack) attempts to make his way while navigating relationships with his mafia-tied and all-around badass mom, Lily (Anjelica Huston), and pushy, aspiring big-time grifter girlfriend, Myra (Annette Bening). Mom vibes: After a dangerous run-in, Lily tells a paramedic that, should her son die, she’ll have him killed – mom of the year? Warning: things get real, real messed up. THE GRIFTERS is packed with Freudian subtext and self-aware neo-noirness. Big time recommendation.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play

MOMMIE DEAREST (1981)

Dir. Frank Perry
We know, super on the nose, but, we had to! If you haven’t seen it in a while (or haven’t seen it before) we’d bet that Faye Dunaway’s performance is by far more grand, strange and intense than you remember/can imagine. MOMMIE DEAREST is, of course, the story of Christina Crawford’s often disturbing upbringing by the one and only Joan Crawford. Our favorite trivia: apparently in her 1971 book My Way of Life, Joan Crawford stated: “Of all the actresses, to me, only Faye Dunaway has the talent and the class and the courage it takes to make a real star.” Whoops.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play

POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE (1990)

Dir. Mike Nichols
Mom and daughter duo! Based on the novel of the same name, POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE is the semi-autobiographical story of Carrie Fisher’s own life and battle with “fame, family and addiction”, most notably the film explores her relationship with mother, Debbie Reynolds. Meryl Streep portrays Carrie Fisher and Shirley MacLaine once again brings the mom!
Where to watch:  Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play

SERIAL MOM (1994)

Dir. John Waters
Well actually she’s pretty great, but you know, a murderer. This John Waters camp classic is the ultimate mom-kills-for-kids (and other stuff) cult feature, especially considering Kathleen Turner is mom and Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard are the kids. SERIAL MOM is a super fun, strange, quick, bright one, but isn’t for everybody. Our favorite piece of trivia: Kathleen Turner asked John Waters if she could bring her friend Sandra Day O’Connor to set during the shoot. Waters enthusiastically agreed and O’Connor spent the entire day on location.
Where to watch:  Amazon Prime, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube

CARRIE (1976)

Dir. Brian De Palma
What do you do when your overwhelmingly domineering mom controls your every move and consistently smothers you with her dangerous religious dogma… Spoiler alert – you unleash your pesky telekinetic powers on the high school prom. Is Margaret White the worst of all these bad moms? You decide. Want another Mother’s Day relevant excuse to watch CARRIE: Sue Snell and her mother are played by real-life daughter and mother Amy Irving and Priscilla Pointer.
Where to watch:  Hulu, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube

BAD MOMS (2016)

Dir. Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
It’s not a great film, we know, but it’s decent level fun and a perfect fit for the “holiday”. When three overworked and under-appreciated moms are pushed beyond their limits, they ditch their conventional responsibilities for a jolt of long overdue freedom, fun and comedic self-indulgence. Need some more excuses: The six main actresses are all real-life mothers. Nancy Priddy is Christina Applegate’s real-life mother. The end credits feature interviews with the female stars with their moms. Plus super mom Martha Stewart makes an appearance.
Where to watch:  Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play

THE LODGE (2019)

Dir. Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
We’re not saying to do this… Actually Corey (Craft) says don’t do it. It is, by far, the darkest suggestion we’ve made and, you know, CARRIE is on this list, so proceed with caution. A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place. A Sidewalk Cinema selection.
Where to watch:  Amazon Prime

YOU THOUGHT YOUR KID WAS BAD

PSYCHO (1960)

Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
This could easily fit under the “You Thought Your Mom Was Bad” heading as well. The classic “mother” horror film. Talk about Fruedian subtext! What can we possibly say about PSYCHO that hasn’t been said? A Phoenix secretary embezzles forty thousand dollars from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.
Where to watch:  Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu

THE BABADOOK (2014)

Dir. Jennifer Kent
A deep exploration of grief and the boundaries (or lack thereof) of motherly love, THE BABADOOK is the story of a single, widowed mother and her son, Samuel, who fall into a deep well of paranoia and isolation when a creepy children’s book titled “Mister Babadook” manifests in their home. Intense, unsettling, and dark as night, but, silver lining, you’re not currently stuck in a car with nightmarish brat child Samuel.
Where to watch:  Hulu, Kanopy, Amazon Prime, Vudu, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (2011)

Dir. Lynne Ramsay
We just outdid ourselves. This was our messed-up Mother’s Day selection for the Sidewalk Cinema, had it not been for Rona – we expected hate mail. Talk about counting blessings, be glad that your kid (or sibling or cousin) isn’t Kevin Khatchadourian. A mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly dangerous things he says and does as he grows up. There is a lot to unpack here. Looking for something upbeat? – this is not that. Warning there’s a diaper scene that you will never forget. If you’re pondering parenthood this one will definitely point you in a particular direction.
Where to watch: Hulu, Kanopy, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Crackle

GOODNIGHT MOMMY (2014)

Dir. Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Further proving that directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz might have some major mom issues, GOODNIGHT MOMMY is a bonkers Mothers Day freak show. Twin boys move to a new home with their mother after she has face changing cosmetic surgery, but under her bandages is someone the children don’t recognize. Once again, all kinds of stuff to unpack. It’s a pretty wild ride. Fun fact: The actors were not given the script, and the movie was filmed chronologically – Eeeek.
Where to watch:  Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play

August 22-28, 2022

Sidewalk Film Festival

More info