Content Warning: The following article contains discussions of suicide, depression, racism and rape.Many people remark that a daughter’s first love is her father; although, of course, this isn’t always the case, it actually tends to happen a lot. As a child, having a healthy bond with your parents is crucial; it promotes mental, emotional, and linguistic development and is ultimately one of the most powerful connections two people can share. It’s always heartwarming to witness these strong relationships translated into film, especially when a movie highlights how safe and secure a child feels with her caregiver.
Throughout the years, many touching movies have successfully depicted beautiful father-daughter relationships, showing how inspiring, unconditional, and encouraging a father’s love can be. To celebrate Charlotte Wells‘ incredible directorial debut Aftersun, which came out in October and took home this year’s British Independent Film Award for Best Film, audiences may want to check out similar great movies that feature strong dynamics.
A wonderfully crafted film, Aftersun explores Sophie’s (mostly played by Frankie Corio, although Celia Rowlson-Hall also plays her adult version for a bit) relationship with her father, Calum, who was wonderfully played by Paul Mescal. Throughout the film, Sophie looks back fondly on a beautiful Turkish holiday she took with her father twenty years earlier, reflecting on whether she really knew her father, including what he was going through at the time.
With beautiful visuals throughout and stunning cinematography to match (as well as an incredible score), Wells’ indie film beams with meaning as it reflects on melancholic moments that can never be replayed — only in camera footage or in the back of our heads as nostalgic memories. A wonderful story about a dad’s bond with his pre-teen, the achingly beautiful Aftersun explores Calum’s relationship with Sophie as he tries really hard to be there for his daughter and make the most of his time with her.
‘Train to Busan’ (2016)
Train to Busan is perhaps one of the most well-known South Korean movies, and it absolutely excels in the horror category. Arguably the best zombie film out there, it follows passengers who struggle to survive on the train from Seoul to Busan after a virus breaks out in South Korea. This Sang-ho Yeon flick is a highly innovative and captivating film, so much so that an American remake is reportedly in the works.
Gong Yoo‘s Seok-woo is a single parent who fully transforms post his amazing character development — he goes from a self-absorbed dad who doesn’t give his daughter Soo-an (Su-an Kim) half of the attention she deserves, to one of the best, most selflessness and caring fictional fathers out there, often putting his life at risk to guarantee his daughter’s safety in a beautiful redemption arc.
In one of the best Marvel movies out there, the mutant community has shrunk thanks to genetically modified plants designed with the intent to reduce mutant powers. Logan follows the significantly older titular character (Hugh Jackman) who does his best to lead a quiet life away from trouble as he takes care of Professor X (Patrick Stewart), who has also aged significantly and is living with Alzheimer’s disease. When a mutant child named Laura (Dafne Keen) comes to Logan for help, his once-peaceful life takes a big turn.
Logan makes it hard for the viewer to stay indifferent to the themes it tackles as its protagonist goes from unbothered and distrusting to a caring dad in this engaging modern Western. His relationship with Laura grows all throughout, and a beautiful father-daughter, highly protective relationship flourishes.
‘King Richard’ (2021)
Will Smith steps into the shoes of Richard Williams, the father and coach of famed tennis players Venus and Serena Williams (played by Demi Singleton and Saniyya Sidney), in this critically-acclaimed film that landed Smith his Best Actor Academy Award during the 2021 ceremony. The biography follows Williams as he brings willpower and determination to another level, carving his daughters’ names into history.
There is no doubt that the highly praised film features heartwarming daughter-father bonds. As it navigates through the Williams’ lives, King Richard showcases the close relationship the family shares, highlighting how big of a role Williams played in the girls’ lives, both on and off the court.
2017’s Gifted is set in Florida and focuses on Frank Adler (Chris Evans), a single man who is responsible for raising his highly intelligent child niece Mary (Mckenna Grace). When the mathematical abilities of prodigy 7-year-old Mary catch the attention of Frank’s mother, Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), a wild turn of events takes place.
Deeply moving, this Marc Webb film touches on very sensitive topics, including suicide and parental abandonment, even if it mostly revolves around a second-grader. Nevertheless, Gifted showcases the importance of standing up for others all while translating a beautifully written and complex daughter-father relationship to the screen.
Set in a dystopian future where humanity is striving to survive, Christopher Nolan‘s remarkable space movie revolves around Cooper’s (Matthew McConaughey in one of his finest performances), an ex-NASA pilot, intense journey through a wormhole near Saturn in search of a new habitable home for mankind before the human race to goes extinct.
Although this epic science fiction film doesn’t focus solely on Cooper and Murph’s (played by three different generations of actors – Mackenzie Foy, Jessica Chastain, and Ellen Burstyn) strong bond, it surely plays a huge part in the plot. With their family’s connection at the film’s heart, Interstellar invites viewers on a deeply emotional ride.
‘Eight Grade’ (2018)
Bo Burnham‘s film feature directorial debut Eight Grade is a very Gen-Z type of coming-of-age film that explores an anxious teen girl, Kayla (Elsie Fisher), as she faces the last week of a terrible year of middle school and resorts to YouTube to express herself, making advice blogs in which she pretends to be confident and unbothered.
Apart from shining a positive light on the kids who feel left out, Eight Grade also depicts a strong father-daughter bond between Kayla and her father Mark (Josh Hamilton). Although the two aren’t very talkative around each other but rather quiet instead, viewers can tell that Mark actively makes an effort to be present and involved in his daughter’s life. This heartwarming film pinpoints the unique, unconventional ways some dads out there have of showing how much they care about their children.
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (1968)
Based on the Pulitzer Prize Winner classic novel of the same name by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird is a powerful tale of justice and prejudice starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Mary Badham as his daughter Scout. Peck plays a widowed layer with two children who is currently defending Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), a Black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman.
There is nothing but good things to say about Robert Mulligan‘s thought-provoking film. A social classic, it deals with many relevant subjects in a graceful way all while exploring Finch’s relationship with his children. Scout and Atticus share a very strong father-daughter connection — he is always there to help her understand the world better and values her opinion as if both were equals, just as he does with Jem (Phillip Alford).
‘Paper Moon’ (1973)
Featuring Ryan O’Neal and the youngest person ever to win an Academy Award (his real-life child Tatum, who earned the Oscar at age 10 for her performance in this film), Paper Moon is a Peter Bogdanovich 1973 American road comedy-drama set during the Great Depression that focuses on an unlikely father-daughter relationship between a con-man and a child whose mother has just passed.
There are so many great things about Moses and Addie’s relationship in the 1973 film, and part of what makes it so genuine and authentic is the fact that the incredible duo are actually father and daughter in real life. The most acclaimed father-daughter film out there, Paper Moon is an amazing watch.
‘Miracle in Cell No. 7’ (2013)
Serving as an inspiration to the Turkish film of the same name released in 2019, Miracle in Cell No. 7 (South-Korean: 7-beon-bang-ui seon-mul) is a comedy-drama that follows a father living with intellectual disability, Yong-Goo (Seung-ryong Ryu), and his sweet daughter Ye-Seung (Kal So-won). Yong-Goo is wrongly accused of murder and locked up. He then slowly builds everlasting friendships with the criminals in the meantime, and in return, they smuggle his daughter into prison and help him see her again.
Frankly, there are very few on-screen relationships as touching as the one these two characters share. Radiating comfort amidst troubling and dark times, Yong-Goo and Ye-Seung’s bond is incredibly touching and is guaranteed to make any viewer’s heart melt.