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A Cinematic Exploration of Fatherhood

With Father’s Day just around the corner, we’ve decided to examine fatherhood through a cinematic lens. Compiling a list of our favorite patriarchs from the silver screen, we’ve discovered that cinema does a pretty good job of presenting fatherhood’s various forms. While the men on our list may not have a lot to give, they give everything they’ve got! So, here are our picks, in no particular order.

Father: John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington)
Film: John Q
Year: 2002
Synopsis: With his son in desperate need of a heart transplant and his insurance’s inability to cover it, John Quincy Archibald takes an emergency room hostage.
Why He Makes the List: John’s actions strongly exemplify a father’s love for his child. He is a man who is willing to do whatever it takes to save his son’s life, even if it means risking his own. The extent of his determination is deemed heroic by his hostages, who understand both, his desperation and his courage.

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Father: Cam Stuart (Mark Ruffalo)
Film: Infinitely Polar Bear
Year: 2014
Synopsis: While his wife completes her graduate studies at Columbia University, Cam Stuart, raises their two vibrant young daughters in Boston, as he works to manage his bipolar disorder.
Why He Makes the List: Despite his emotional challenges, Cam is determined to conquer fatherhood. Whether it’s doing hair or sewing, Cam consistently rises to the challenge. He also makes a rather impressive flamenco skirt!


Father: Chris Gardner (Will Smith)
Film: The Pursuit of Happyness
Year: 2006
Synopsis: Despite the obstacles thrown at him, Chris Gardner is determined to make a better life for himself and his son, as he works to secure a highly competitive position at a top-notch brokerage firm.
Why He Makes the List: Though short on money, the two things that Chris  abundantly possesses are love and will power. As he struggles to raise his child, Chris is determined to achieve his goal. He sees the bigger picture and understands that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

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Father: Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson)
Film: Run All Night 
Year: 2015
Synopsis: After killing his best friend’s son, hitman Jimmy Conlon and his estranged son, become the target of a mobster’s deadly revenge.
Why He Makes the List: . Though he hasn’t been much of a father, Jimmy attempts to atone for his past, over the course of one deadly night. Although murder is in his job description, Jimmy is determined never to let his son pull the trigger. Throughout the night, he attempts to prevent Mike from being on either side of the barrel.

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Father:  Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba)
Film: Pacific Rim
Year: 2013
Synopsis: As the battle wages between mankind and the monstrous Kaiju, a human resistance effort assembles the last of the Jaegers–giant robots, piloted by two captains—in the ultimate fight for survival.
Why He Makes the List: Stacker is the brains behind the mission to save mankind. Though he is not her biological father, he’s raised Jaeger pilot, Mako Mori, as his own. In true fatherly fashion, he has difficulty drawing the line between caring and overprotection.


Father: Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman)
Film: Prisoners
Year: 2013
Synopsis: After his daughter and her friend are kidnapped, Keller Dover takes matters into his own hands, in his pursuit to find them.
Why He Makes the List:  Keller cannot sit idly, waiting for the police to solve the case. After the only suspect is released, he kidnaps and tortures the man, in an effort to learn his daughter’s location. Though volatile, Keller’s reluctance demonstrates the emotional gravity of tragedy.


Father:  Carlos Galindo (Demián Bichir)
Film: A Better Life
Year: 2011
Synopsis: After his truck is stolen, a gardener in East L.A., seeks to recover it, with the help of his teenage son.
Why He Makes the List: As a single father, Carlos has his work cut out for him. Yet, in the face of adversity, he continues to maintain compassion and humility. His determination and optimism are admirable.


Father:  David Dunn (Bruce Willis)
Film: Unbreakable 
Year: 2000
Synopsis: The sole survivor of a deadly train wreck, everyday man, David Dunn, begins to discover his superhuman abilities.
Why He Makes the List: David has lived a rather ordinary life, despite his capacity for greatness. When he discovers his power, he uses it benevolently, becoming somewhat of a superhero in the eyes of his son.


Father:  Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne)
Film: Boyz N’ The Hood
Year: 1991
Synopsis: In the neighborhood of South Central, L.A., Tre witnesses death, drugs, and gang culture; however, the influence of his father and the support of his girlfriend, may provide a way out.
Why He Makes the List: In a volatile environment, raising a young man can be a difficult task. Yet, Furious’s wisdom and strength provide an anchor in a tumultuous setting. As his son, Tre, is exposed to the dangers of urban life, Furious is the proper counterbalance.

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Father:  Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)
Film: The Possession
Year: 2012
Synopsis: After his daughter is possessed by a malevolent spirit, Clyde will stop at nothing to save her soul.
Why He Makes the List: Fatherhood is a complicated task, especially after separating from your spouse. Add a dybbuk to the mix and you’ve got yourself quite a challenge—a challenge that Clyde accepts. In an attempt to banish the spirit, he enlists the help of a rabbi to perform an exorcism.

Overall, fatherhood can be summarized in three simple words: love, commitment, and perseverance. We know we’ve missed quite a few film fathers, so tell us some of your favorites!


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