Confession: I don’t usually celebrate Father’s Day. Y’see, I’ve actually never lived with my dad or any kind of father figure my entire life. My parents split up when I was only three and so I grew up with my mom and my grandma. So I guess my granny is sort of my father figure as she was a successful businesswoman, ahah.
Watching movies with great dads in it is no doubt a bit bittersweet for me, but of course it’s delightful to see great examples of the kind of dad I wish I had. And so this year, I thought why not celebrate them? Now, just like real life, some of us perhaps have adopted dads that we cherish, be that a step dad or someone who ends up being a father figure to you.
So here are ten favorite movie dads/father figures I love:
10. Sam – Sleepless in Seattle
One of my all time favorite Tom Hanks roles, I adore this film largely for the sweet but realistic relationship between widower Sam and his young son Jonah. Y’all surely know the story by now, but the moment the kid phoned a radio station saying that his dad needs a new wife, Sam’s life was never the same again. That scene of them being reunited at the top of the Empire State before Meg Ryan’s Annie shows up is as touching as ever.
9. The Stranger – Dear Frankie
Ok, so Gerry Butler’s character doesn’t even have a name. He’s only known as The Stranger, as he’s just a dad-for-a-day that Frankie’s mom hired in a moment of desperation. But he’s done more in the two days he spent with Frankie than his real dad had done in his entire life. That experience changed Frankie and by the time The Stranger leaves, it has a profound effect on him, too. Beautifully filmed, this is a small Scottish film with a huge heart.
8. Matt – The Descendants
For someone who isn’t a dad himself, Clooney certainly knows how to play one convincingly. Matt King got a wake up call of his life when his wife suddenly falls into a coma, and the revelation his daughter shares with him is like being punched when you’re down. Yet he somehow manage to bring his family back together, even patching his rocky relationship with his teenage daughter that he thought was beyond repair. There’s something so earthy and realistic about his relationship with his daughter that don’t seem put on at all, thanks to a great script and great acting.
7. Joe – The Boys Are Back
When I saw this film, I had only seen Clive Owen in tough-guy roles, those Bondian BMW commercials, Sin City, the awful Shoot ‘Em Up, etc., but I wish he’d do more roles like this one. He shines as a sports reporter who suddenly finds himself having to care for his two young sons following his wife’s death. Like Matt in The Descendants, he also had a rocky relationship with his older son, so the film followed the journey of the three as a family. It’s a touching film based on a true story, definitely recommended for any fan of this fine British actor.
6. Marlin – Finding Nemo
Who doesn’t adore Marlin… voiced by Albert Brooks, he may be so overprotective that he drives Nemo crazy, but he sure loves his son. When Nemo goes missing, the faint-hearted clown fish does whatever it takes to bring him back. He meets a ton of interesting characters in his journey, but never loses his focus, even when dealing with Dory, the blue tang suffering from short-term memory loss. Such a sweet movie, easily my top five Pixar flicks that’s as touching as any movie about human relationship.
5. Odin – Thor
Mr. Odin is the picture of a wise father who understand the wisdom of tough love. When his son Thor disobeys him, with a heavy heart he banishes him to earth to learn his lessons. It may seem drastic but considering the great responsibility that lies before Thor, he knows Asgaard can’t have a ruler who’s a spoiled brat and war-hungry. He also raises his adopted son Loki as his own and loves him with all his heart, which makes the scene of Odin being confronted by him so heartbreaking.
4. Daniel – Mrs. Doubtfire
Ok now I’m not saying I want a dad who’s a cross-dresser or anything like that, ahah. What I adore about Daniel, aka Mrs. Doubtfire, is how much he loves his kids, so much so that he’s willing to go THIS far just to spend time with them. It makes for a bunch of hilarious scenarios of course, but at the core of this film is the love of a father and the importance of family. It’s easily one of my favorite Robin Williams’ roles, crazy for sure but with a huge heart.
3. Paul – Hotel Rwanda
In the midst of a brutal civil war between the the Hutu and Tutsi people of Rwanda, one man ends up saving the lives of over a thousand helpless refugees by offering them shelter in the hotel he manages. But before he becomes an unlikely hero, Paul Rusesabagina initially only cares about saving his own family. But it’s that love that inspires him to offer his help to those around him. This movie is ultimately a love story between a father, a husband and also his love for humanity. A triumph anchored by Don Cheadle’s powerful performance portraying a real-life character.
2. Alfred – Batman Begins/The Dark Knight
I tell you, there probably wouldn’t be Batman without Alfred. Following his parents death, nobody cares more for Bruce Wayne than his elderly butler. Michael Caine plays the role of the wise, witty and kindhearted Alfred flawlessly, plus he’s got such a wonderful chemistry with Christian Bale. The elder Mr. Wayne was a picture of a wise father as well, so it’s the combination of his legacy and Alfred’s support that I think largely contributes to Bruce’s success in his mission as the dark knight. Him saying ‘Why do we fall… so we can learn to pick ourselves up.’ is words of wisdom we all can live by.
1. Atticus – To Kill A Mockingbird
One can’t possibly have a ‘best movie dad’ list without this man. You don’t even have to be a Gregory Peck fan to realize what a phenomenal father Atticus Finch is. He’s first and foremost a hero to his two kids, Jem and Scout, before he takes on a heroic stance against racial prejudice. His relationship between him and Scout are so indelible, and it’s wonderful to hear Mary Badham reveal in many interviews that Peck was also a real-life father-figure to her as she too lost her own father early in life. Atticus is a picture of the best of fatherhood, whose strong conviction, patience, gentleness and especially humility is what all fathers should strive for. The best part is, he shows those virtues by example, something we can always learn from, no matter what era we live in.
- Guido – Life is Beautiful
- Mr. Bennett – Pride & Prejudice
- Big Daddy – Kick-Ass
- Professor X – X-Men
- Henry Jones – Indiana Jones
This post is also dedicated to my fellow bloggers who are dads, so Happy Father’s Day to you all!
So that’s my list. Who’s YOUR favorite movie dad(s)?