This is common knowledge that parenthood is very different for a man and a woman. “While a woman becomes a mother when she becomes pregnant, a man becomes a father when he looks at his child for the first time.” Though it is said that parents love their children equally, a lot of people will agree that fathers usually favor their daughters. Even if there is no favoritism, fathers are very influential figures in their daughters’ lives in many cases. The complexity of their relationships may arise due to the polarity in their personalities. There is love, and sometimes, there is resentment, too! In any case, one cannot deny that the nature of this relationship is always strong. With such a complex relationship comes good subject matter. Films have used this theme to create some powerful stories, and the following top the list.
20. Train to Busan (2016)
One of the best zombie movies ever made, ‘Train to Busan’ is a South Korean film that transcends the genre by becoming a film that showcases a dad-daughter relationship that is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Directed by Yeon Sang-ho, the story takes place in the middle of a zombie outbreak in South Korea. In the middle of the outbreak are stuck divorced father, Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo), and his little daughter, Soo-Ahn (Kim Su-an), who are on a Busan-bound bullet train to meet Soo-ahn’s mom. As one by one, all the passengers get affected, the threat to life rises for the dad-daughter duo. Will Sok-woo be able to protect his daughter Soo-ahn? The only way to find out is to watch the film. You can do so right here.
19. Miracle in Cell No. 7 (2013)
Directed by Lee Hwan-kyung, ‘Miracle in Cell No. 7’ is a South Korean comedy drama that stars Ryu Seung-ryong, Kal So-won, Park Shin-hye and Kim Jung-tae. It tells the story of a developmentally disabled father, Yong-gu, who is wrongfully sent to prison for the rape and murder of a commissioner’s daughter. How he wins the hearts of the inmates and how they smuggle his daughter Ye-sung into the prison to meet him is what follows. We also witness Yong-gu’s trial 16 years later, and whether he is found not guilty and the case is fought by Ye-sung who is all grown up now and is a lawyer. To find out whether Yong-gu is set free, you can stream ‘Miracle in Cell No. 7’ here.
18. On the Rocks (2020)
‘On the Rocks’ is Sofia Coppola’s second directorial venture on our list. Starring Rashida Jones, Bill Murray, Jenny Slate, and Barbara Bain, the movie centers on young mother Laura, who thinks that her husband is cheating on her despite having no strong proof to support her doubts. While she struggles to co-relate her husband’s absent-mindedness from his duties as a husband and father with her claim, in comes her alcoholic, unprincipled, and emotionally distant father, Felix, to help her cope and find the truth. But is a person like him even up for something as serious as that? You can find the answer by streaming the film here.
17. Southpaw (2015)
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, ‘Southpaw’ stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker and Naomie Harris. It centers on undisputed light-heavyweight boxing champion Billy Hope, who has the perfect life anyone can dream of. But disaster soon strikes when Billy’s wife is shot to death during a brawl between him and a rival boxer. The events that follow leave him suspended from boxing, in debt, and even his daughter is taken away by Child Protective Services. How he regains his stance, and his reputation as both a father and a fighter is what we see in the film. You can stream it here.
16. The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005)
This film might not be an ideal example of how a father-daughter relationship should be. However, it does show how a father influences his daughter’s actions. Jack Slavin lives with his daughter Rose on an isolated island. Jack’s sole reasons for giving up the city life are his heart condition and his environmentalism. He is there for nature but wants to be in contact with other people. His daughter, however, has now gotten used to living alone and doesn’t want anyone else to enter their lives. Things take a complicated turn when Jack invites his girlfriend and her two sons to live with them. You can watch the movie here.
15. Sun Belt Express (2014)
Professor Allen King has hit rock bottom. He has plagiarised his students’ work, which means the death of his professional life. To pay for his ex-wife’s expenses, he has to find something that can bring him the money. So, he decides to shuttle illegal Mexican immigrants. Sailing goes smoothly for a while until one certain trip threatens to make things worse for him. He is traveling with his teenage daughter, has four illegal Mexicans in his car, and is being chased by US Border Patrol officers.
14. Like Father (2018)
Rachel Hamilton has a very successful career, mainly because this is the only thing that she is wholly dedicated to. Somehow, she juggles a relationship and is engaged. But, when her fiancée leaves her at the altar, she is forced to take a step back and think about her life. To gain control of herself, she decides to go on the honeymoon that they had planned. And her estranged father unexpectedly becomes a part of this trip. Feel free to check out the movie here.
13. The Descendants (2011)
Matthew King is a trustee of a very valuable piece of land that his cousins want to sell. In addition to facing the pressure from his cousins, Matthew also has to deal with a very complex situation at home. After meeting with an accident, his wife has been rendered comatose, and her affair with another man has recently come to light. Now, Matthew is left with his two daughters, who are dysfunctional in their own way. The three of them travel together to settle with his wife’s past before they pull the plug on her. You can check out the film here.
12. I Am Sam (2001)
This film tells the story of a man with an intellectual disability who tries hard to raise his daughter when his wife abandons them both. As his daughter grows up, she realizes that her father has a condition and is teased by other kids for it. When his parenting abilities are questioned, Sam gets embroiled in a legal process, and his daughter is put in a foster home. Sam tries to get his daughter back with the help of a lawyer and his friends. You can watch ‘I Am Sam’ here.
11. Father of the Bride (1950)
If there is one thing that troubles/bothers/worries a father, it is the day of his daughter’s wedding. While most fathers look forward to this day, they do struggle with the idea of sending off their daughters to a new life without them. And then there are a few who just can’t deal with the idea! Stanley Banks faces a similar situation in this film when his daughter, Katherine, tells him about the man she has decided to marry. While he seemingly supports his daughter, on the inside, he still needs to come to terms with the wedding and the additional baggage that comes with it. You may watch the film here.
10. On Golden Pond (1981)
Starring the real-life father-daughter duo of Henry and Jane Fonda, this film shows an old father attempting to repair a strained relationship with his daughter. His daughter considers him overbearing and wants to cut down his influence on her life. However, when she discovers that her father is nearing his deathbed, suffering from mild dementia and other problems, she decides to keep these matters aside and tries to heal their relationship. You may watch ‘On Golden Pond’ here.
9. Interstellar (2014)
One of my favorite films, ‘Interstellar,’ juggles many themes at once. It has been propagated as a science film, and for the most part, it is one. However, the soul of this film remains in the love of a father for his daughter. The drive of this story remains the promise of a father to return to his daughter. There are a lot of chilling scenes in this film, and the most impactful of them is the one where Cooper cries after he watches Murph in a message received from Earth. With the hauntingly beautiful music of Hans Zimmer in the background, if that scene doesn’t sum up the love of a father for his daughter, then what does? You can stream the film here.
8. Toni Erdmann (2016)
This German-Austrian film focuses on the relationship between a prankster father and his estranged daughter. Ines Conradi has a very busy life. She is immersed in her career and rarely has time to spend with her family. Her father, on the other hand, has a very eccentric personality. He dresses up to fool people and likes to make jokes and play pranks. One day, he shows up out of nowhere at Ines’ workplace, and she has to make things work with him. The time spent with her father makes her question her way of life. You can stream ‘Toni Erdmann’ here.
7. Hearts Beat Loud (2018)
Frank Fisher’s business is failing. His vinyl shop isn’t attracting customers. His daughter Sam is ready to leave for college at the end of the summer. Frank tries to convince his daughter to stay with him and create music, which they both are very good at. When Frank secretly uploads one of their songs on the Internet, people take notice of them. However, Sam has made up her mind about going to college and studying medicine. Frank has to find a way to her by the end of the summer. You can stream the movie here.
6. Leave No Trace (2018)
There are a lot of issues at the heart of this film, but the one thing that captures its soul is the relationship between a father and daughter. Will is an Iraq War veteran who lives with PTSD. As a response to his mental health condition, he decides to become reclusive and goes to live in a nature reserve away from society. He takes his 13-year-old daughter with him, and the two live in isolation for some time. One day, they are discovered, and life takes an erratic turn for them. You can check out the movie here.
5. King Richard (2021)
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, ‘King Richard’ is the real story of Richard Williams (Will Smith), father of world tennis champions Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena Williams (Demi Singleton). It shows how Richard, with a 78-page plan and immense support from his wife Oracene “Brandy” Price (Aunjanue Ellis), overcame racial prejudices, societal pressures, and other whatnot odds to ensure that his daughters become the greatest tennis players the world has ever seen. His dedication and attitude that he instilled in his daughters are showcased brilliantly in the film. You can experience it right here.
4. Somewhere (2010)
Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, ‘Somewhere’ stars Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, and Michelle Monaghan. It tells the story of a recently divorced Hollywood actor named Johnny Marco, who spends his life that is only present in between the gaps of his career via drinking, driving, and sleeping with women. As he pretends to be accustomed to this lifestyle, his estranged 11-year-old daughter Cleo turns up at his doorstep. The time he spends with her before she leaves for summer camp brings about a change in him that he never thought was possible. He grows fond of her and wants to be with her. Is that possible? To know, you can watch the film here.
3. Paper Moon (1973)
Featuring the real-life father-daughter pair of Ryan O’Neal and Tatum O’Neal, this film tells the story of a con man who tries to dupe people by pretending to be the father of a recently orphaned girl. However, the girl realizes his plan of conning people for their money and demands to be part of it. Then, the man and the girl embark on a journey, going from one place to another using tricks and tactics to get money from people. You can watch the movie here.
2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)
Set in 1912 Brooklyn, this film tells the story of the Nolans, an Irish-American family struggling to make ends meet. While Katie works hard, her husband is a rather irresponsible man. However, he is greatly idolized by his daughter Francie, with whom he has a very loving relationship. Francie is a talented child and wants to go to a better school and have a better life. Since his parents can’t do this directly, they resort to alternative methods. This film is a classic example of the way a father’s position influences his children’s lives and how parents can go to great lengths for the happiness of their children.
1. To Kill a Mocking Bird (1962)
Based on Harper Lee’s famous novel of the same name, this film tells the story of the Finch family. Set in the Depression Era, it is set in the fictional town of Maycomb, where Atticus Finch lives with his two children, Jem and Scout. When a black man is falsely accused of murder, Atticus decides to defend him in court. While there are a lot of things that make ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ a classic, one of the best things about it is the relationship between Atticus and Scout. This is one of the most accurate portrayals of the father-daughter relationship that I have ever seen, and Atticus Finch is the best father figure ever. You can check out the film here.
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