In May, Marz Daily Media celebrated Mother’s Day with a Thursday’s Top Three for favorite movie moms. The excitement for that post was such that the piece was finished weeks in advance and scheduled immediately after.
Alas, the Thursday’s Top Three for Favorite Movie Dads did not get the same forethought. In fact, basketball movies won out over movie dads because the NBA Finals had heated up. And since basketball is one of my favorite things writ large (along with movies), the nod to fathers never happened.
SO, to atone for the a lapse in memory and honor, Marz Daily Media presents a special weekend edition of Thursday’s Top Three, rolled out to a top ten! So to all of the father’s out there who’ve felt shortchanged by the Internet: your big piece of e-chicken has arrived.
The Old Man
Played by Darren McGavin in “A Christmas Story” (1983)
How can you not appreciate a dad who wants to put a leg lamp in his front window, kill his neighbors’ dogs and buy his son a gun?
But seriously, The Old Man is an iconic figure in American cinema mostly because TBS airs “A Christmas Story” for 24 hours on Christmas Day. He’s quotable, he’s angry, but after all, he really just cares about his family…Darren McGavin’s passing was definitely a downer to my friends and self alike.
Played by Pierce Brosnan in “Evelyn” (2002)
The photo really does tell the story. Desmond Doyle loves his children.
Brosnan has never played a more humbled character than Desmond. A father of three, whose wife abandons him and his children the day after Christmas, Desmond has to fight the Catholic Church and courts to keep his children out of the orphanage system. You can’t get a more uphill battle against The Man than that. And you’d have to be made of sand on the inside to not be touched by Desmond’s struggle.
Played by Paul Dooley in “Breaking Away” (1979)
Most people remember him as Samantha Baker’s father in “Sixteen Candles,” but Dooley’s portrayal of Ray Stoller trumps it easily.
Ray Stoller, stonecutter-turned-used car salesman, doesn’t understand his son. But how could he understand a son who’s obsessed with Italians bicyclists? Mr. Stoller is your typical workingman in a college town that he built with his bare hands. And although his efforts are completely taken for granted by the students of Indiana University, he still has hope that his son will reap the benefits of the oft-alienating world that he helped create. And he does all this while making an audience laugh. Love that guy.
Played by Al Pacino in “Author! Author!” (1982)
Critics were not kind to Al Pacino during the early 80s, so you probably don’t know anything about Ivan Travalian.
Armenian playwright Ivan Travalian lives in a townhouse in New York City with his son and four stepchildren. In “Author! Author!” he deals with raising children, enduring marital struggles and producing a Broadway play all at the same time. Even if you don’t think that being a playwright is a hard job, you’d have to admit after watching this cute, light-hearted movie that juggling it along with the home life Ivan has deserves some respect.
Played by Liam Neeson in “Love Actually” (2003)
Liam Neeson has been through a lot recently…and he’s also in “The A-Team.” Fortunately, he has the role of Daniel to his credit to help us forget his revival of Hannibal Smith.
In “Love Actually,” Daniel, copes with being newly widowed (eerie) while helping his stepson navigate young love of his own. Daniel’s untainted belief in love’s greatness despite the pain of losing it has to give even the most jaded people hope.
Played by Laurence Fishburne in “Boyz N The Hood” (1991)
The dearth of positive black male role models in film cannot be denied. But in 1991, director John Singleton made sure that he made his mark to change that with Furious Styles.
A single father in South Central Los Angeles, Furious sees the failures of single parents in his neighborhood and does everything he can to steer his son, Tre, in the right direction. Ultimately, Tre continues on the path that Furious starts him on, and Furious builds a reputation as the father that the neighborhood kids respect…and that the single mothers wish they could have.
Played by Steve Martin in “Parenthood” (1989)
Put simply, one could probably do worse than Steve Martin if they could choose a dad. A comedy pedigree like that would be in high demand if it could be bottled and sold. Steve Martin has channeled that talent into father roles more than once, but Gil Buckman definitely stands out more than others.
Hypothetically, if you were turning eight years old, and all of your friends were over for a party, but the live performer who was supposed to come canceled out of the blue, would your dad pretend to be that performer to save your birthday party? Successfully? Probably not, right? Well in “Parenthood,” that scenario makes a touching moment in a touching movie that would make you wish your father was a wild and crazy guy.
Played by Delroy Lindo in “Crooklyn” (1994)
Spike Lee’s semi-autobiographical tale about a family of seven living in Brooklyn, New York has crossover appeal unlike other movies of its kind. And as one of the parental anchors of “Crooklyn,” Delroy Lindo’s portrayal of Woody should not go unnoticed.
Woody’s a struggling jazz musician raising four boys and a girl in a brownstone in Bed-Stuy with his schoolteacher wife (Alfre Woodard). Deviating from the stereotype of irresponsible and unfaithful musician, Woody tries to keep his dreams alive while trying to keep the electricity on. But ultimately, the emotional support he provides his family, especially his daughter Troy (Zelda Harris), proves to be the most important skill he has.
Played by Dustin Hoffman in “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979)
This is a “Duh” pick that goes without saying for many, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t add it to the list.
Ted’s an advertising copywriter going through a nasty divorce and custody battle with his wife Joanna (Meryl Streep), whose plum lost her G D mind. Deserted, Ted is forced to step up as primary caretaker, a role completely new to him. He and his son Billy (Justin Henry) take care of each other in Joanna’s absence, and that relationship makes for the most heartwarming scenes in the film.
Played by James Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)
The most distinction on this list has to go to good ol’ Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey. Every Christmas, families gather around television sets to watch the story about a man who isn’t just a great father to his children, but to the entire town of Bedford Falls.
After a life of sacrifice, it would only be natural to hit a wall when all of your best efforts to do right by people have disastrous results. Of course, George rediscovers hope in the face of adversity in time to save all the people who depend on him. But the most enduring element of the story might be the interplay between George and his daughter Zuzu (Karolyn Grimes). And if you’re wondering how much their relationship has resonated through the decades, google “Zuzu’s Petals” and see how many different hits display.