Movies My Mother Taught Me

Here are 71 movies my mom, Claudia Menaugh Gall, passed on to me in one way or another before she passed away from cancer in 2019. I’m 28 now and these films still bring back so many memories of her and what she shared with me. These weren’t necessarily her favorites, but ones I was either shown, watched together or discovered later in life knowing they meant something to her.

Mother’s Day has been hard for the past 4 years now. Was going to share this one on the 8th, been thinking about this list for awhile, but I just kept thinking of more and wanted to take the time to get it right. So many that I’ll probably have to do a Part 2.

‘Songs My Brother Taught Me’ by Chloe Zhao was clearly the inspiration for the title, though it wasn’t one my mother actually introduced to me. These films either were an introduction to a certain actor or director, a genre, a piece of history, or about myself or even my mom. Feel like she still teaches me everyday.

This list is mostly for me, my memories & for hers to live on, so if anyone benefits from a movie or two from this list then that’s great, but I’m not expecting everyone to like all of these films. These just have had a personal connection in one way or another to my mom and I didn’t want to forget them. Let me know in the comments if you have any favorites or memories with these films :)

Anna and the King (1999)

PG-13, 2h 28m, US

Drama, History, Romance

Director: Andy Tennant

Starring: Jodie Foster, Chow Yun-Fat, Bai Ling, Tom Felton, Randall Duk Kim

The story of the romance between the King of Siam and widowed British schoolteacher, Anna Leonowens, during the 1860s.


As Good As It Gets (1997)

PG-13, 2h 19m, US

Comedy, Drama, Romance

Director: James L. Brooks

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear, Cuba Gooding Jr.

A single mother and waitress, a misanthropic author, and a gay artist form an unlikely friendship after the artist is assaulted in a robbery.


The Blues Brothers (1980)

R, 2h 13m, US

Action, Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Music/Musical

Director: John Landis

Starring: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Cab Calloway, John Candy, James Brown, Ray Charles, Carrie Fisher, Aretha Franklin, Henry Gibson

Jake Blues rejoins with his brother Elwood after being released from prison, but the duo has just days to reunite their old R&B band and save the Catholic home where the two were raised, outrunning the police as they tear through Chicago.


Big (1988)

PG, 1h 44m, US

Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Romance

Director: Penny Marshall

Starring: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia, John Heard, Jared Rushton, David Moscow, Jon Lovitz

After wishing to be made big, a teenage boy wakes the next morning to find himself mysteriously in the body of an adult.


The Big Chill (1983)

R, 1h 45m, US

Comedy, Drama

Director: Lawrence Kasdan

Starring: Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly

A group of seven former college friends gather for a weekend reunion at a South Carolina vacation home after the funeral of another of their college friends.


The Birdcage (1996)

R, 1h 57m, US


Director: Mike Nichols

Starring: Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman, Dianne West

A gay cabaret owner and his drag queen companion agree to put up a false straight front so that their son can introduce them to his fiancée's right-wing moralistic parents.


Bridget Jones Diary (2001)

R, 1h 37m, UK/France/US

Comedy, Drama, Romance

Director: Sharon Maguire

Starring: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Gemma Jones

Bridget Jones is determined to improve herself while she looks for love in a year in which she keeps a personal diary.


Boyz n the Hood (1991)

R, 1h 52m, US

Crime, Drama

Director: John Singleton

Starring: Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Morris Chestnut, Angela Bassett

Follows the lives of three young males living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles, dissecting questions of race, relationships, violence, and future prospects.


The Breakfast Club (1985)

R, 1h 37m, US

Comedy, Drama

Director: John Hughes

Starring: Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, John Kapelos

Five high school students meet in Saturday detention and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought.


Charlie's Angels (2000)

PG-13, 1h 38m, US/Germany

Action, Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Thriller

Director: McG

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bill Murray, Sam Rockwell, Kelly Lynch, Tim Curry, Crispin Glover, Matt LeBlanc, LL Cool J

Three women, detectives with a mysterious boss, retrieve stolen voice-ID software, using martial arts, tech skills, and sex appeal.


Chasing Amy (1997)

R, 1h 53m, US

Comedy, Drama, Romance

Director: Kevin Smith

Starring: Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith

Holden and Banky are comic book artists. Everything's going good for them until they meet Alyssa, also a comic book artist. Holden falls for her, but his hopes are crushed when he finds out she's a lesbian.


Chicago (2002)

PG-13, 1h 53m, US/Germany/Canada/UK

Comedy, Crime, Musical

Director: Rob Marshall

Starring: Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Taye Diggs, John C. Reilly

Two death-row murderesses develop a fierce rivalry while competing for publicity, celebrity, and a sleazy lawyer's attention.


Crash (2004)

R, 1h 52m, US/Germany/Australia

Crime, Drama, Thriller

Director: Paul Haggis

Starring: Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Thandiwe Newton, Karina Arroyave, Brendan Frasier, Ludacris, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito

Los Angeles citizens with vastly separate lives collide in interweaving stories of race, loss and redemption.


Coming to America (1988)

R, 1h 57m, US

Comedy, Romance

Director: John Landis

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Paul Bates, Garcelle Beauvais, James Earl Jones, Madge Sinclair, Shiela Johnson, Arsenio Hall

An extremely pampered African prince travels to Queens, New York, and goes undercover to find a wife that he can respect for her intelligence and strong will.


Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)

PG-13, 2h, Taiwan/Hong Kong/US/China

Action, Adventure, Drama, Romance

Director: Ang Lee

Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang, Chang Chen, Pei-Pei Cheng, Sihung Lung

A young Chinese warrior steals a sword from a famed swordsman and then escapes into a world of romantic adventure with a mysterious man in the frontier of the nation.