A few weeks ago, this tweet by Alexandra Svokos (@asvokos) was posted on Twitter:
Basically, it awoke a burning need inside me. I love film dads. You hopefully love film dads as well. So, why not use my position as a writer on a well-respected film site to rank film dads and distract myself from the existential despair around me? For the sake of brevity (and so I’m not just regurgitating the beautiful tweet above), I chose to focus on 2018 film dads in a specific and simple list, ranked on a lot of different factors. I limited it down to one dad per movie, from movies I have seen and at least superficially enjoyed. There also may be spoilers for any film included on the list, so beware!
Well, girls, gays, and all other dad loving individuals – let’s get to it!
12. THANOS (THE MAD TITAN) / Avengers: Infinity War
The villain of the mega-marvel blockbuster is on a mission to wipe out half of the population in the universe, and in order to do so, he must sacrifice the one he truly loves to acquire the soul-stone. After murdering his favorite adopted daughter, Gamora, he gets his wish. Thanos is the personification of an entitled, psychotic, abusive, patriarchal figure who believes he knows whats best for everyone else in his life. As if murdering his daughters’ parents to raise them himself, or the times he forced Gamora and Nebula to tear apart each other in their childhood wasn’t enough, this should be the final sign of his wickedness. Just a nasty dude all around, with an ugly grape head and purple body to tie it all together. Thanos is pretty much the worst dad out there, period. 1/10.
11. STEVE GRAHAM / Hereditary
Steve is another bad dad, but is ultimately a symptom of his own genre. Horror movie dads, generally speaking, are the worst dads out there. The father of this haunted household is simply the most passively awful person on this entire list. There are many, many signs that his family is not well and is coming undone through dysfunctional behavior. Throughout all of it, Steve remains the cinematic equal to the “Do Y’all Hear Sumn?..” Squidward meme. He SLEEPS through life. To make matters worse, whenever his wife openly discusses issues she is going through or concerns she has, he remains oblivious to it all. His realization that he needs to protect his family comes far too late. This is the most deadbeat you can be without straight-out abandoning your family. 3/10.
10. LEE ABBOTT / A Quiet Place
It’s likely that you’re shocked Lee is so low on this list. After all, he sacrificed his own life for his kids, and on top of that, he’s really hot! Shouldn’t that make him a top-tier dad? Well, it’s true that Lee is sexy (Almost distractingly so. That dad beard!), but even before his heroic sacrifice, I’m afraid Lee is just too old-fashioned for my taste. Whether its for survival reasons, or just poor manly ignorance, Lee has formed an exhausting, patriarchal household structure in the literal apocalypse. His wife cooks and cleans, whilst he goes to search for food and supplies with his young son, denying his oldest daughter the chance to help. The inability to communicate is a theme in the film for sure, but the film doesn’t seem to be knowingly addressing the way that the Abbott home structure is damaging. Lee’s daughter blamed herself for the death of her younger brother, thinking her father hated her for more than a year. So while he does have redeeming qualities, Lee’s negligence spoils him. 5/10. An extra point awarded because John Krasinski’s face is so nice.
9. BOB PARR / Incredibles 2
Another potentially hot take? Bob Parr might be the super-strong Mr. Incredible, but his ego is far too fragile to be a top-tier dad. In the sequel to the Pixar classic, the gender roles are switched this time around. Helen Parr (Elasitigirl) gets her own mission and time to shine while Bob stays at home and takes care of the children. Soon we learn that male insecurity plagues Bob, as he is SO jealous of his wife handling her own in the field that he can’t sufficiently fill his role in the home. Ultimately he learns his lesson, but his development was frustrating to watch. Sit down and take some women’s studies classes, because the meninist like, JUMPED out! Helen deserves a lot better than a man who is threatened by her success. I know Evelyn Deavor turns out to be evil or whatever but I was almost rooting for Helen to leave Bob to do some lesbianism with her. 6/10.
8. CHRISTOPHER ROBIN / Disney’s Christopher Robin
Christopher Robin feels like an appropriate middle ground here. Let’s not get it twisted, he has his serious problems – hence why he is so low on the list. Robin struggles with poor prioritization of his work and his family. His wife is frustrated, his child is sad to see him cancel family bonding time, and he still can’t take a hint. However, everything Robin is distracted by is at least motivated by the love and the well-being of his family. He wants to be able to provide for them, which is admirable! And once his childhood furry friend comes back around to remind him of what matters, Robin becomes the lovable dad we all want him to become. Ewan McGregor’s vintage appeal doesn’t hurt either. But of course, a real top tier dad wouldn’t need a stuffed bear to help him be a parent. 6/10.
7. HENRY BROWN / Paddington 2
Henry Brown is a minor step up from Robin, which is funny because they both come from films about lovable, anthropomorphic bears. Mr. Brown is a classic, protective kind of man that is always concerned about his loved ones. But let’s face it! He can be a bit of a stick-in-the-mud sometimes. Mr. Brown always steps back and apologizes when he makes mistakes, but it’s admittedly disappointing that after spending so much time with the lovely Paddington Bear, he still has some cynicism left in him when the tension rises. However, he has actually noticeably improved and lightened up so much since the first Paddington film and even has taken on meditation as a hobby. He may need a little bit more budging than I’d prefer him to, but Mr. Brown is a lovely, reliable dad all the same. 7/10.
6. PAUL / Ideal Home
Yes, I mean the character Paul portrayed by Paul Rudd! But Paul Rudd is a top-tier dad as he is, all the same. About five people saw this film this year but Ideal Home follows Rudd and Steve Coogan playing a gay celebrity cook couple who must take care of Coogan’s grandson while his father is in prison. It’s pretty much the closest thing I’ve seen to a Lifetime gay rom-com. While it isn’t exactly the peak of LGBT+ rep and media, it does have a delightfully genuine performance in Paul. Reluctant at the idea of fathering a child, he struggles with the trauma he experienced with his own abusive dad, the fear that he may repeat the cycle, all while facing his own medical anxiety. While he doesn’t have the cleanest relationship with his partner or his child, he’s genuinely trying his best. With all the emotional baggage he’s dealing with, that really means a lot. And that beard?! HOT. 8/10.
5. JACK SPIER / Love, Simon
Jack is an idealistic, decent dad with a lot of love on this list. He and his wife were the jock/cheerleader high school sweethearts back in the day, and now raise two kids together in a traditional, American nuclear family. He might be a bit too hetero suburban middle class for my taste and was oblivious to heteronormative humor for a while, but you can tell he has a big heart! When Simon brings this to his attention, Jack starts to make a genuine effort to unlearn that behavior. The tear-jerker fatherly moment he shares with Simon after he was outed is one of the sweetest moments of the film, even if he was a bit outshined by his wife’s scene a few minutes later. Regardless, Jack is a sweetheart. 8/10.
4. FRANK FISHER / Hearts Beat Loud
Another dad from a semi-obscure film, Frank from Hearts Beat Loud is a musician, a failing record store owner, and a full-on hipster. His wife passed away recently and that left a bit of a strain on his relationship with his daughter. But, where most Dads would handle this in an overprotective way, Frank just wants to start a band with his kid and enjoy making art together. It’s sweet that he motivates her to pursue her passions in life and is also beautifully casual about her sexuality and romantic endeavors. Though sometimes Frank can be a bit too enthusiastic about his music, and occasionally gets into more trouble than its probably worth, he does it all out of love and sincerity – which is the best thing a dad can act out of. 8/10.
3. SCOTT LANG / Ant-Man and the Wasp
That’s right. TWO Paul Rudd characters! This is already a self-indulgent article as it is, so why not go all the way? But listen – Paul Rudd is charming as hell, handsome, and plays a really great film dad. He’s SO good at working with kids that it’s almost sickeningly sweet. Everything Scott does in both Ant-Man films is motivated by his love and need to take care of his daughter. He engages in petty theft, becomes the Ant-Man, literally sacrifices himself for her safety and plans to spend his time off under house arrest sharing valuable time with Cassie. Their make-believe heists and motivational chats about the greater good, as well as Cassie’s desire to be a hero like her father warm my heart. As a bonus, Scott also remains in good relations with his ex-wife and her husband. It’s so nice for Cassie to have so many parental figures in her life who are all on good terms. To quote a friend, “Scott Lang both intensified and cured my daddy issues.” There are plenty of dads in the Marvel universe, but only Scott is the ‘World’s Greatest Grandma’. 9/10.
2. HARRY, BILL AND SAM / Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
This is the only exception to the one dad per film rule and I will NOT hear any complaints about it! Harry, Bill, and Sam are ALL equally Sophie’s dads and it would be entirely unfair to exclude any of them. As we all know, Mamma Mia is one of the most joyful, pure, and good things to ever be put on this cruel earth. It’s an escape into a Greek island paradise where everyone sings ABBA, the sun shines bright, Lily James wears overalls and men are less trash. All of Sophie’s dads are dedicated to being there for her and to celebrate her achievements because of all their lost time. After Donna’s passing, Sam remains positive, while Harry and Bill show up with a crowd to support the reopening of the Inn orchestrated by Sophie. We can only wish our fathers would come to us in times of need singing (poorly, but they try their best) and dancing to “Dancing Queen” while titanic-holding one another. What’s better than one dad and even two dads? Three dads. 9/10.
1. MARK DAY / Eighth Grade
Oh good ol’ Mark. The dad to end all other dads. The ultimate, top-tier dad of 2018. You know why? Because Mark doesn’t have a single hateful cell in his lanky, single dad body. He may not fully understand Kayla’s anxieties and insecurities, but he’s ever present for her to offer help without being too intrusive (well, most of the time). He checks on Kayla every night before he goes to bed, he makes notes on his phone of what things he should remember about her, he is vocal about how proud he is of her, unafraid to compliment her work. The simple gestures mean the most – sometimes, that’s all you need to know that you’re loved. Mark isn’t a superhero or a supremely special individual – he’s just a lame old man with a goofball personality and a heart of gold. If he didn’t make me cry enough with his warm presence alone, the bonfire dad monologue definitely sold him for me. The world simply needs more Marks. Only the coolest dad in the world, for the coolest girl in the world. 10/10.