Here are five movies to watch this Mother’s Day featuring mothers of all types — from self-sacrificial and courageous to playful and fun-loving.

Text: Jedd Jong Images: © 2023 CURIOSA FILMS - MOANA FILMS - FORUM FILMS (BRAID) INC. - INDIGO FILM - SND – FRANCE 2 CINEMA - PANACHE PRODUCTIONS & LA COMPAGNIE CINEMATOGRAPHIQUE, © 2008 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved., ©2016 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved., ©2004 Disney/Pixar

Meryl Streep (left)

Donna (Meryl Streep) in Mamma Mia!

Who knew that one song by iconic Swedish band ABBA would become a full-on cultural phenomenon? “Mamma Mia”, from ABBA’s 1975 self-titled album, was so beloved that it spawned the jukebox musical Mamma Mia!, which debuted in 1999 and is still running on the West End. And then, there’s the movie adaptation of that musical from 2008, which was itself followed by a film sequel.

In both movies, Meryl Streep stars as Donna Sheridan, a spirited single mother who runs a hotel on an idyllic Greek island. When her daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is about to get married, she invites the three men who could be her father: Irish-American architect Sam Carmichael (Pierce Brosnan), Swedish travel writer Bill Anderson (Stellan Skarsgård), and British banker Harry Bright (Colin Firth).

Streep seems perhaps a little overqualified for the role, but she jumped at the chance to play Donna. “My agent said, ‘You probably won’t want to do this….’ And I was like, ‘Say yes!’” she tells Good Housekeeping. Streep attributes the stage musical’s success to it being “a reminder about where the joy of living is — singing and dancing and being in love”.

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Mamma Mia!

A hotel owner on an idyllic Greek isle is preparing to host her daughter's wedding. The guests include not only her dearest friends, but also three men from her past.

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Celie (Fantasia Barrino) in The Color Purple

The Color Purple is, like Mamma Mia!, a film adapted from a stage musical. The story follows Celie (Fantasia Barrino), a young Black woman from Georgia in the early 1900s and 1910s. She has two children from being sexually assaulted by her father Alfonso (Deon Cole) and is forced to marry Albert ‘Mister’ Johnson (Colman Domingo), who has three children of his own and abuses her too. Celie tries to protect her sister Nettie (Halle Bailey/Ciara) and befriends a vibrant jazz singer named Shug (Taraji P Henson).

Barrino has a history with the role, having first played Celie in the 2009 touring production of the show. In an interview with IndieWire, she zeroes in on Celie’s strength: “She took care of Mister and children that didn’t even belong to her. She cooked. She cleaned. She grew crops. She was far from weak.” Barrino drew inspiration from her own family, saying her grandmother was “our real-life Celie”. Look out for her performance of the movie’s climactic number “I’m Here”.

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The Color Purple

Torn apart from her sister Nettie and her children, Celie faces many hardships in her life. Celie ultimately finds strength in the unbreakable bonds of a new kind of sisterhood.

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Mila Kunis (middle)

Amy (Mila Kunis) in Bad Moms

Sometimes, the pressure of being a mum can be a little too much, and you need to cut loose. In Bad Moms, Mila Kunis plays Amy, a mum on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She works at a coffee co-op and ferries her kids Jane (Oona Laurence) and Dylan (Emjay Anthony) to and from school and various co-curricular activities, while her husband Mike (David Walton) just isn’t pulling his weight around the house. Amy befriends fellow mums at her kids’ school, the brash Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and the shy, awkward Kiki (Kristen Bell), and together they decide to rebel against established standards and be ‘bad mums’ for once. While Bad Moms traffics in over-the-top crass humour, it also has its sweet moments — stick around for some emotional surprise appearances during the end credits.

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Bad Moms

Amy has a seemingly perfect life — a great marriage, over-achieving kids, a beautiful home and a career. However, she's overworked and exhausted to the point that she's about to snap.

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Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) in The Incredibles

It’s often said that mums are superheroines, and in the animated movie The Incredibles, that is literally true. Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) can shapeshift and stretch her body, and she marries fellow superhero Bob/Mr Incredible (Craig T Nelson), who has super-strength. They have three children: Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Spencer Fox), and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile/Maeve Andrews). The family must stick together when they are threatened by a spectre from Mr Incredible’s past. Helen might be a supermum, but Hunter says that regardless of special abilities, all mums are amazing. “It’s an act of heroism to raise children,” Hunter tells Yahoo Movies. The sequel Incredibles 2 places more focus on Elastigirl, and she also appears as a 16-metre-long figure stretching to reach Jack-Jack on the Incredicoaster ride at Disney’s California Adventure theme park.

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The Incredibles

From the creative minds behind the Toy Story films comes this hilarious, action-packed animated adventure about a seemingly ordinary family with an incredible secret.

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Smita (Mia Maelzer) in The Braid

The ambitious French movie tells the story of three very different women and how they face their respective struggles. Adapted from director Laetitia Colombani’s own best-selling novel of the same name, the movie’s central characters are the Canadian Sarah (Kim Raver), Italian Giulia (Fotinì Peluso), and Indian Smita (Mia Maelzer). The lattermost is arguably the film’s most compelling character, a Dalit (‘untouchable’) woman who wants a better life for her daughter Lalita (Sajda Pathan), embarking on a treacherous journey to the city. “The challenge was to look determined and yet not a victim, even though so much was happening in the story with her. She is a mother, after all,” Maelzer tells “I didn’t want her to be misunderstood as a weak woman just because she is poor or untouchable,” she adds.

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The Braid

Three lives, three women, three continents. Three battles to fight. Although they don't know each other, Smita, Giulia and Sarah are unknowingly linked by their most intimate bond.

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Watch these films on KrisWorld.
Check out Mother Figures for more memorable onscreen mums.
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