Get us in your inbox

National Lampoon’s Vacation
Warner Brothers"National Lampoon’s Vacation"

The 15 best Father's Day movies to watch with your dad

Salute your pops with these exquisite portraits of fatherhood, movies that show how tough it is to do right

Joshua Rothkopf
Written by
Joshua Rothkopf
Written by
Matthew Singer
Advertising

Dads love movies. It’s a scientific fact. Give any father a remote and as if by some patriarchal miracle, something involving a submarine or Clint Eastwood will materialize on the television. But this list of the best movies to watch on Father’s Day aren’t ‘dad movies’ per se. These are movies about dads, or at least fatherhood. Some may remind you of your own pater familias, others might make you think of the father you wish you had. In any case, all of them can be enjoyed with whatever father figure you do have, preferably with a cold one in hand - may we recommend a Coors Light? 

Recommended:

🪖 The 50 best World War II movies

🤠 The 50 greatest westerns

🇺🇸 The 20 best Memorial Day movies

👨🏻The 10 most extreme movie dads

Best Father's Day movies

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  • Film
  • Drama
Gregory Peck’s mighty performance as decent attorney Atticus Finch is the anchor of this adaptation of Harper Lee’s inspiring novel. Lee herself agreed—the author and actor kept in private touch for decades. The film is also about surrogate fathers and defenders; watch for a young Robert Duvall as the mysterious Boo Radley, a ghost and a hero.
The Godfather (1972)
  • Film
  • Thrillers
As quotable and action-packed as this gangster classic is (“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”), it’s essentially a father-son movie. Marlon Brando’s Don Corleone is mortally wounded, sending his three sons into a competitive, vengeful whirlwind. Only Al Pacino’s intense Michael has the toughness to survive, but his life is not what Pop wanted for him.
Advertising
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
  • Film
One of the first Hollywood films to take a serious look at child-custody issues, the movie stacks the deck in favor of Dustin Hoffman’s harried single dad, painting runaway mom Meryl Streep as something of a feminist caricature. The father-son relationship, however, remains deeply affecting, with terrific work from Justin Henry, still the youngest actor ever nominated for an Oscar (age eight).
We Bought a Zoo (2011)
  • Film
Widowed father Matt Damon (superb) takes his two children out of noisy Los Angeles and plunks down his savings on 18 acres of sun-dappled green, also the home of a rundown zoo with tigers, birds and a highly symbolic bear. Before you frown in disbelief, know that a version of this story actually happened in the English countryside.
Advertising
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure
Sean Connery repeats his crusty-old-codger bit from The Untouchables as Indy’s dad in the immensely fun third chapter of Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones series. (Of course the boulder-chased, pit-leaping archeologist would have James Bond for a father.) The movie leans into slapstick, but their sweet, understated bond is what lingers longest.
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Sure, the runaway juvenile clownfish is the one with his name on the marquee of this Pixar classic, but it’s his anxious widowed father (voiced by Albert Brooks) doing the finding - with the help, of course, of a loopy regal blue tang named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres). It will hit home for any dads whose wife and dozens of children were murdered by a barracuda.

Advertising
Father of the Bride (1991)
Touchstone

7. Father of the Bride (1991)

A rare remake that edges out the classic original. Steve Martin steps ably into the Spencer Tracy role of a dad blindsided by his daughter’s engagement and subsequent wedding, which he must, of course, begrudgingly pay for. The real MVP, though, is Martin’s forever BFF Martin Short as flamboyant wedding planner Franck Eggelhoffer, rocking one of those vague European accents he does that’s at once annoying and inexplicably hilarious.  

Catch Me If You Can (2002)
  • Film
  • Comedy
Larcenous real-life Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) stole millions of dollars in fraudulent bank checks while living a Playboy lifestyle. Still, the movie has enormous heart and two dads: Frank’s beaten-down biological father (Christopher Walken at his vulnerable best) and the FBI man (Tom Hanks) who comes to feel parental sympathy for the kid crook.
Advertising
  • Film

We know we said we wouldn’t include any ‘dad movies’ on this list, but this supernatural-tinged sports melodrama exists right in the center of the Venn diagram of movies that are both about dads and decidedly for dads. It stars Kevin Costner - the dadliest actor to ever dad - as a dad with daddy issues of his own who lets a ghost talk him into building a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield that ends up attracting all the other dads in rural Iowa. Just be warned: if you watch with your own dad, he will definitely want to have a catch with you afterward.  

Nebraska (2013)
  • Film
  • Drama
Will Forte is a dutiful son who shepherds his sickly father (Bruce Dern) on a journey to claim a bogus lottery ticket. Alexander Payne’s black-and-white drama is a gorgeous throwback to those character-driven movies of the 1970s. Dern is magnificent, lost in a mental haze yet sharp enough to set his boy on the right course.
Advertising
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
  • Film
  • Comedy
Wes Anderson’s follow-up to the cutesy Rushmore is superior by leaps and bounds, mostly for its fine performances—especially Gene Hackman as the scrappy, urbane title character, a wayward husband and disbarred lawyer. If we knew this would be Hackman’s last major performance before his retirement, it would have gotten more praise.
Advertising
  • Film
  • Comedy

Poor Clark Griswold just wants to create a lasting memory for his ungrateful family by driving them cross-country to an amusement park. But God appears to hate him, probably because he’s played by Chevy Chase. He’s presented as a deluded narcissist, but any father who’d voluntarily get in a car with two shitty kids in the backseat deserves a medal in our book. 

L’Enfant (2005)
  • Film
Belgium’s filmmaking Dardenne brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc, took home the Cannes Palme d’Or for the second time with this celebrated drama about a young man (Dardennes regular Jérémie Renier) who sells his baby on the black market, to his regret, which leads to his eventual redemption. It’s a movie about how fatherhood creeps up you.
Advertising
Bicycle Thieves (1948)
  • Film
Like the frustrated screenwriter played by Vincent D’Onofrio in The Player, you may want to make a stab at regaining your faith in the movies by taking another look at this neorealist masterpiece. A devastated boy and his father search post-WWII Rome for a stolen bike; by film’s shocking end, the two characters have traded places.

Listen to the best Father's Day songs

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising