18 Totally Iconic Photos of Our Favorite Movie Moms Through the Years

18 Totally Iconic Photos of Our Favorite Movie Moms Through the Years

With Mother’s Day around the corner, we can’t help but think about letting mom relax this year with some of her favorite movie moms. Whether it’s a tear jerker like Steel Magnolias or a literal hero in Breaking In, the mothers you’ll see here show that they’ll move heaven and Earth to protect their kids — at any cost. Some of these films also show how complicated the role between mother and child can be.

Ready to add these films to your watch list? Consider setting up a movie night with online streaming services (or virtual one, if you’d prefer). You can have fun with it and plan some themed drinks and snacks. Whether you watch one movie or cruise through our whole list, we’re hopeful that these classic movie moms put a smile on your face. Although that might come after a major cry: I’m thinking of you, Jackie, in Stepmom. And if Mamma Mia! makes your list, make sure you get off the couch when Dancing Queen comes on!

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Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music

Maria started looking after the von Trapp kids when their mother died from scarlet fever. Even though she wanted to be a nun, Maria married Captain von Trapp because she loved the children. Over time, she learned to love him and they had three more children together.

(Bettmann - Getty Images)
Susan Sarandon, Sharon Stone, Courteney Cox and Mira Sorvino in Mothers and Daughters

Selma Blair, a photographer, captures the relationships between several mothers and daughters in this 2016 indie film. The stories are interwoven through the ensemble cast.

Angela Bassett in Akeelah and the Bee

A young Keke Palmer shines in this 2006 story of a young girl participating in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. But equally powerful is her widowed mother, Tanya, portrayed by Angela Bassett.

Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side

Based on a true story, Bullock shines as Leigh Anne Tuohy, a mother who takes in "Big Mike" Oher and supports him on his journey from foster care to NFL athlete.

Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia!

As Donna Sheridan-Carmichael, Meryl Streep supports her daughter Sophie, played by Amanda Seyfried. Sophie, the bride to be, invites three of Donna's love interests to her wedding. Despite a disagreement before the wedding, the two are as close as ever when it's time to walk down the aisle.

Spring Byington in Little Women

Spring Byington shines as Marmee March, the matriarch of the four sisters. Throughout the film, Marmee supports her children's dreams, all while waiting for her husband to return and then supporting his illness.

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Susan Sarandon in Stepmom

Sarandon plays Jackie, a divorced mother silently battling cancer. As her illness deteriorates, she is challenged by her ex-husband's new girlfriend, Isabel, played by Julia Roberts. Jackie eventually puts her feelings aside to make sure that Isabel is prepared to care for her children when she passes.

(Columbia Pictures)
Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment

The widowed Aurora Greenway is overprotective, somewhat controlling, over her daughter, Emma. But despite their tenuous relationship, there's no question how much Aurora would do for her daughter. Just think of the hospital scene where she screams, "Give my daughter the shot!"

(Archive Photos - Getty Images)
Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire

Renee Zellweger plays Dorothy, single mom to an adorable Ray (portrayed by a young Jonathan Lipnicki). Although it's Jerry relationship with Ray that stole the show, Dorothy showcased her mama bear instincts throughout the entire film.

Cicely Tyson in Sounder

As Rebecca, Cicely Tyson portrays a Louisiana sharecropper raising a family (and dog). When her husband is arrested, Rebecca doesn't miss a beat in doing everything she can to keep her family afloat. The role earned Tyson an Oscar.

(Bettmann - Getty Images)
Diane Keaton in Because I Said So

Despite having an overbearing streak, Daphne can't help but panic about her single, unmarried daughter Milly, played by Mandy Moore. Daphne takes this into her own hands and tries to set up a date, but her scheming backfires. Milly eventually finds love, and Daphne's blessing.

Jennifer Aniston and Kate Hudson in Mother’s Day

In this ensemble cast, relationships between mothers and their children play center stage. Sandy, played by Jennifer Aniston, is a divorced mother of two boys, and is also dealing with her ex-husband’s new wife. Meanwhile Jesse, played by Kate Hudson, is a mother who also encourages her friend to search for her birth mother.

Melissa McCarthy in Life of the Party

In the 2018 film, Melissa McCarthy shows that being Deanna, a mom, can be a hilarious ride. Going through a divorce, Deanna decides to visit her daughter at college and enroll there as well. Not only does she grow a bond with her daughter, but she wins over the students.

Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn in Bad Moms

It's fun to be bad, and these three moms show the light and real side of motherhood. The three navigate school, society and family pressures and realize that they can learn a lot by letting loose. Not only do their lives improve, but their relationships with their children benefit, as well.

Cher in Mask

As Florence, Cher plays the mother to Rocky, a young man who has craniodiaphyseal dysplasia. She's always fighting to make sure that Rocky's life is as normal as possible. The role earned Cher a Golden Globe nomination.

Kieu Chinh, Tsai Chin, France Nuyen and Lisa Lu of The Joy Luck Club

This film, based on a novel, explores the relationships between four adult Chinese-American women and their immigrant mothers. The mothers all get together to play mahjong and share their experiences. The relationship between each mother and daughter is unique and especially memorable.

Sally Field in Steel Magnolias

As M'Lynn, Sally Field shines in her role as social worker, mother and grandmother. While the movie focuses on M'Lynn preparing for her daughter Shelby's wedding and the challenges the two face navigating Shelby's diabetes, pregnancy and kidney failure. Despite M'Lynn donating her kidney, Shelby eventually passes. M'Lynn steps up to help raise her grandson.

Gabrielle Union in Breaking In

Don't mess with Shaun Russell. The mom of two faces burglars and a hostage crisis head on. After a tense shoot out, Shaun thinks fast and eventually outsmarts her attackers, showing that she'll do anything to keep her kids safe.


The nurturing and inspiring moms in these blockbuster films give us all the feels.