Terms of Endearment (1983) The Oscar-winning picture is a three-hanky weeper that traces the difficult relationship between a mother and a daugher over the years. Shirley MacLaine and Deborah Winger star in a movie that stands up to repeat viewing. Buy it here.
Once upon a time, according to this empowering documentary, older women were so revered that even the terms “crone” and “hag” were positive. So what happened? Growing older became taboo, “like everybody’s supposed to be artificial flowers,” as a Buddhist monk comments in Get Real! WiseWomen Speak. Chiming in with random thoughts and precise observations, an impressive panel of women (Jane Fonda, Della Reese and Nikki Giovanni among them) offer encouragement (“Your body is a suitcase. It’s what’s inside that’s important”) and humor (a 50-year marriage? That shows “lack of imagination,” scoffs one).
Get Real! Wise Women Speak (DVD), $19.95. For purchase information, click here.
Little Women (1994) Okay, we love the Hepburn version, too, but Susan Sarandon shines as the matriarch Marmie in this more modern take on Louisa May Alcott’s beloved book tale of a family of females coping while Father is away at war. Buy it here.
For fans of Downton Abbey, here's a quick between-seasons fix: A tour of five of the grandest English houses, including Blenheim Palace, built by Queen Anne for Winston Churchill's ancestor, the first Duke of Marlborough, in gratitude for his victory over the French. British journalist Selina Scott is an engaging guide on this ultimate house tour, which also incorporates Burghley House, Chatsworth, Hokham Hall and Boughton House ("the English Versailles").
Treasure Houses of Britain, 2-Vol. Boxed Set, $49.99. Buy it here.
It might not have the production values of HBO's Rome—think of it more like a filmed play— but this 1976 BBC production based on Robert Graves' novels is still the best series ever about that ancient empire. One big reason: Derek Jacobi as the stuttering, underestimated Claudius, through whose eyes we watch all the others rise and fall. This 35th Anniversary Edition includes all episodes, plus a new interview with Jacobi and two documentaries.
I, Claudius 35th Anniversary Edition, 5-Disc Set, $27.49. Buy it here.
This 1989 blockbuster based on the play follows the lives of several women in a small Louisiana town. Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis and Shirley MacLaine provide tears and laughs—and some of film's most memorable dialogue. Buy it here.
Got a mom with a dark sense of humor? In this 1994 John Waters movie, Kathleen Turner gives a hilarious performance as an-oh-so-proper suburban mother who literally kills the neighbors for doing things like not separating their recycling. Buy it here.
The 1962 adaptation of Harper Lee’s book, about the importance of tolerance and responsibility, is just as moving—and relevant—today. Gregory Peck heads a perfect cast in this 50th Anniversary Edition on DVD and Blu-ray. Buy it here.
Cher deservedly won the Oscar for her pitch-perfect portrayal of a Brooklyn widow who’s cheating on her fiancé with his hotter younger brother (played by Nicolas Cage, who was never better). This quirky 1987 comedy is just as delightful today. Buy it here.