Happy Father’s Day – Top 10 favorite cinematic father figures

10favefatherfigures

Now, I’ve done a couple of father’s day list before (here and here), but this year I thought I’d pay homage to non-biological fathers who have made a big impact in the lives of their *adopted* kids. Since I grew up without a father myself, I often wish I had a father figure whom I could look up to as a kid. With that in mind, I’m going to leave out these three wonderful characters I’ve mentioned before, but they remain my all time favorites:


Whether it takes place over the course of a lifetime or just a short period of time, these father figures certainly left a big mark in the kids’ lives… and some change their lives forever. Here they are, in random order because you can’t really rank these things:

Alan Grant – Jurassic Park

Fathers_JurassicPark

What makes the first (and still the best) Jurassic Park so great isn’t just the special effects. It’s the wonderful characters, such as paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (the always wonderful Sam Neill) who just isn’t a kids person. I can totally relate as I’m not huge with kids either. Heck, Dr. Grant would rather spend time with a Triceratops’ manure all day than even 10 minutes with these kids. Yet the kids just flock to him and he ended up bonding with them through the scary ordeal being chased all over the park by angry dinos. I LOVE the scene at the end when the kids fall asleep on his shoulder. His expression, and that of his wife Ellie, is priceless!

Alfredo – Cinema Paradiso

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Alfredo and Toto… one of my all time favorite cinematic duo from Giuseppe Tornatore’s Italian drama. From the time he was six years old, projectionist Alfredo’s taken Toto under his wings and became the father he never had. All the way through Toto’s teenage years, Alfredo’s always been his wise confidant. In fact, if it weren’t for Alfredo, Toto might not have been the successful filmmaker he later became. This movie boasts one of the most moving finale ever, it’ll make you cry as well as puts a smile on your face as you recall the significance of that scene. Alec Guinness obviously made the character iconic.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Star Wars

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Well this one is a no brainer. Clearly we know Luke’s real dad has um, issues. Obi-Wan has always looked after the ‘chosen one’ since even before he was born. On top of introducing the ways of the Jedi, Obi-Wan is much more than a wise mentor. Heck, even when he can’t be physically present, Obi-Wan still nurtures and encourages Luke throughout his life. Just like a real dad would do out of love for his child, Obi-Wan shelters Luke from certain truth which in turn proves to be hurtful to him. But you can’t doubt how much Obi-Wan does love Luke as if he were his own.

Joe – Great Expectations (1998)

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This one isn’t the most obvious pick and this Alfonso Cuarón’s adaptation of Dickens’ classic is problematic. But Joe the fisherman is one that leaves a big impression on me. He’s Finn’s sister’s boyfriend who ends up taking care of the young boy when she runs off. I love Chris Cooper and he’s got such effortless warmth and kindness in this role. The scene when he’s reunited with Finn (Ethan Hawke) at an art gallery is quite heartbreaking.

Will Freeman – About A Boy (2002)

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Having just seen it recently, in fact the same weekend as Great Expectations, it’s still fresh in my mind. The ultimate coming-of-age story as it’s the adult who needs to grow up and 12-year-old Marcus is the one who helped 38-year-old Will do just that. I guess Will is more of a friend than a dad to Marcus, but still I think over time he’s become a positive father figure that’s been absent from the boy’s life.

Stacker Pentecost – Pacific Rim (2013)

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From the first time I saw this, I’ve always loved the Stacker Pentecost-Mako story. When the little Mako looked up at Stacker as he arises from the Jaeger, she was in awe of her savior. It’s an unconventional father/daughter relationship, and Stacker becomes a strict and protective father. As most real fathers with their daughters, they’re afraid she’d get hurt, and that’s why he forbids her from piloting a Jaeger. But that moment when he gave her the red shoe, I always get emotional. Yes it’s a movie about big robots, but one can’t overlook the small touches of humanity in this big-hearted action flick.

Sirius Black – Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

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There are plenty of father figures in the Harry Potter films. I was debating whether I should include Dumbledore on here, but the more I think about it, I think I love Sirius Black (played by the venerable Gary Oldman) more despite not being in as many scenes as Dumbledore. This site lists all five father figures in HP movies, and makes an excellent argument as to why Sirius comes at #1. I agree that Sirius loved Harry so much he’s risked his life many times before he finally sacrificed himself for his godson, and he’s certainly instilled words of wisdom that we all take learn from, “…the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

Walt Kowalski – Gran Torino (2008)

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I saw this film quite a while ago and one of the main draw for me besides Clint Eastwood is that it had some Hmong actors from St. Paul Minnesota! This is a father/son pairing that’s as unlikely as they get, given that Clint’s Walt Kowalski is a bitter Korean War veteran and the two met when the Hmong teen Thao tried to steal Kowalski’s prized possession, a 1972 Gran Torino. But Walt ends up becoming Thao’s friend and mentor, and Thao in turn helps Walt overcome his own anger and prejudices. The interactions between the two are quite amusing given their background, cultural and age differences. Some critics have issues w/ the ‘white savior’ theme of the film, but I’d say Thao (and his family) have *saved* Walt and help him find redemption.

Uncle Ben – Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002)

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The man whose iconic words of wisdom “Remember, with great power. comes great responsibility.” is a father we all wish we had. I especially love Cliff Robertson’s Uncle Ben in the Raimi’s versions and his demise is surely one of the most emotional moments of all Marvel movies. The character of Peter Parker is pretty much shaped by the upbringing of his uncle and aunt May. It ranks up there with DC’s ultimate father figures Jonathan Kent and Alfred Pennyworth, even if that’s not reflected in the character’s screen time.

Athos – The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

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Ok, this movie is one of my guilty pleasures and it’s immensely watchable thanks to three of supporting actors: Gabriel Byrne‘s D’Artagnan, Jeremy Irons‘ Aramis, and John Malkovich‘s Athos. I especially love the relationship between Athos and Philippe (the oddly-cast Leo DiCaprio). The scene when Athos is teaching Philippe the way of the king is quite moving, as Athos is still haunted by the memory of his lost son. It’s perhaps one of the most gentle role I’ve seen Malkovich does and it makes it all the more memorable.


What do you think of this list? Who’s YOUR favorite cinematic father figures?

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A Pictorial Tribute to 15 Favorite Movie Dads

PictorialTributeMovieDads

June 15 is Father’s Day here in America, but we can always celebrate dads and fatherhood anywhere in the world. As I mentioned in my special Father’s Day post a couple of years ago, though I didn’t grow up with a father, it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate them in the movies. This is a follow-up to my first list, so I’m not going to include those already on that list, such as Marlin from Finding Nemo, Paul from Hotel Rwanda and of course, the ultimate movie dad ever, Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird. I also included my favorite father figure ever, Alfred from Nolan’s Batman Trilogy.

The fathers on this list may not always do the right thing, but despite their flaws or questionable decisions, they love for their child/children with all their heart. Interesting to see how many single fathers are on this list. I didn’t realize that until I picked them but I think the fact that they’re raising their kid(s) on their own just make me respect them more.

So here are 15 [additional] unforgettable fathers I wish I had.

Frank_Frequency

Stoick

HenryJones_Indy3

TedKramervsKramer

GuidoLifeIsBeautiful

MufasaLionKing

ElrondLOTR

DanielLoveActually

VincentTheMachine

JorEl_JonKentManOfSteel

MrBennetPrideandPrejudice
MichaelSullivanRoadToPerdition

Graham_SIGNS
3MenandABaby

MartinSheenTheWay


So to all fathers or father figures out there …
Happy Father’s Day!


Thoughts on these pics? Feel free to share your own favorite movie dads!

Father’s Day Special: 10 Movie Dads/Father Figures I LOVE

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.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  • 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)?