Happy Father's Day: Our Favorite Movie Dads
In celebration of Father's Day today, the TFS Staff have selected some of their favorite movie dads from various genres, each of which would certainly make for an inspired viewing. These dads have left their collective mark on cinema, and we have come to love them and the actors who have portrayed these characters.
Ryan O'Neal as 'Moses Pray' in Paper Moon (1973)
One of the reasons why Ryan and his daughter Tatum O'Neal make such an endeared pair is because their chemistry and performances are sweetly genuine. Obviously attributed to their familial relation, but also thanks to Peter Bogdanovich's direction and Alvin Sargent's script; Paper Moon is a gently somber slice of depression era Americana with the O'Neal's scheming and conning their way through the sun-baked south captured by the incomparable cinematography of Laszlo Kovacs. Paper Moon hits that sweet spot; it's mature, artful, measured, and funny, intelligent with the superlatively charming father-daughter team, sure they bicker and argue but there's a genuine love on screen, and that's the special ingredient that makes this such a classic.
- Alex Miller
Albert Brooks as 'Marlin' in Finding Nemo (2003)
For a clownfish, Finding Nemo’s Marlin might not be very funny, but he's certainly one of the bravest dads on this list. Starting the film as overprotective to the point of suffocation, Marlin, voiced by the always delightful Albert Brooks, traverses vast oceans in order to rescue his son. Making friends along the way, the 2003 Pixar film is a grand adventure/road comedy with enough heart to fill the Pacific. Marlin’s arc from terrified father to supportive, accepting patriarch is one to behold and one of the great achievements in the Pixar canon.
- Matt Curione
Aamir Kahn as 'Mahvir Singh Phogat' in Dangal (2016)
Hindi film icon Aamir Khan stars as Mahavir Singh Phogat, a real life wrestling coach who trained his two eldest daughters (Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar) in wrestling. Both daughters Geeta (played by Fatima Sana Shaikh as an adult) and Babita (Sanya Malhotra as an adult) went on to win medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. This touching and triumphant film highlights the relationship between Mahavir and his daughters. Both Geeta and Babita resent their father for the harsh training, but they soon come to understand how he sees their potential as something other than a child bride turned housewife. The wrestling scenes are thrilling with a stunning attention to detail and Aamir Khan’s lead performance is commanding and sincere, his star power being used to great effect.
- Manish Mathur
John Saxon as 'Lt. Don Thompson' in A Nightmare on Elm Street 1 & 3 (1984, 1987)
John Saxon is one of those legendary character actors who’s always able to sell whatever crazy film he finds himself in and his role as the father in A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of his best roles. Lt. Thompson, like most movie dads starts off as protective of his daughter, but unlike most, he eventually comes to terms with the murderous, otherworldly force that he helped create; Freddy Krueger. Reluctant in the original film and a worn out old drunk in part 3, Thompson, after having an epiphany, helps to vanquish Krueger while giving his own life. Murdered by the skeleton of Freddy, Thompson’s sacrifice helps to rid Springwood, Illinois of its infamous serial killer, for the time being.
- Matt Curione
Michael Fassbender as 'David' in Prometheus & Alien: Covenant (2012, 2017)
While David isn’t a father in the traditional sense, his children are close to his fragile, synthetic heart. I admit, from the outside looking in; bloodstained corridors, rotting corpses, and sexual fluting don’t reflect kindly on David as a parent. But the single dad life suits him well, in fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a more dedicated parent. He provides for his kids, treats them with gentleness, and all he wants is for them to be the best they can be - as any father should. David is a patchwork monster who, at the feet of his creators, stared into nothingness and conjured the only meaningful thing his artificial mind could: the perfect organism. In the xenomorph, the bastard droid, at long last, finds a purpose. If you didn’t tear up when that newborn little alien reached its hands in the air for its pops, you just don’t admire its purity.
- Ryan Horner
Sean Connery as 'Professor Henry Jones' in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
While he remembers his Charlemagne and knows that only the penitent man can pass, he also named his son after the family dog, Professor Henry Jones is one of the best. A lifelong obsession with finding the Holy Grail kept him distracted from his son for years at a time but trouble with the Nazis brought them back together. One of the great Father-Son adventures in all of cinema, The Last Crusade has everything you need. Connery is brilliant here, giving one of his best performances as the crotchety but loving father and his rapport with Harrison Ford is a delight to behold.