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    A Comprehensive Guide To Movies With Complicated Father/Child Relationships

    "So when Darth told you he was your father, how did that make you feel?"

    Oh, so you've got a complicated relationship with your dad? Join the club.

    Lucas Films / Via

    Because let's be honest, even a lot of the best father/child relationships have their ups and downs.

    20th Century Fox / Via

    Every dad has impersonated an elderly babysitter at least once, right? Or is that just me? 

    So here are 33 movies about complicated father/child relationships that will make you feel better about yours.

    Apple TV+ / Via

    Sometimes whistling together helps too.

    1. About a Boy (2002)

    Nicholas Hoult and Hugh Grant sit outside in front of a sculpture
    Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

    A complicated aspect of fatherhood is often the people we think of as our "fathers" are not actually our biological predecessors. Such is the case in this Hugh Grant film based on a Nick Hornby novel. Grant plays Will, a bachelor who pretends to be a single father in order to meet women in a single parents group. It's there he meets Fiona (should-be Oscar winner Toni Collette) and her son Marcus (a pre-stardom Nicholas Hoult), and begins a sloppy but ultimately loving relationship with the pair. Fiona has severe depression, and so Marcus forces Will to stick around to help him. Will uses Marcus to help him woo another woman. All three fall in and out of friendship with one another, but ultimately they are the family that one another need. 

    Watch it on Peacock

    2. Ad Astra (2019)

    Brad Pitt stands in an astronaut uniform
    Francois Duhamel/Twentieth Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection

    As it turns out, outer space is full of fathers and their children with all kinds of messed-up relationships. Dads abandon their kids to float around with meteorites for years, and the kids are obviously MESSED UP about it. Thus is the case with Brad Pitt's Roy, who is known throughout the military for basically having no emotions or physical response to stress because he has repressed his relationship with his dad (Tommy Lee Jones) so much. My therapist would have a FIELD DAY. When Roy realizes his father, who went on a mission to find intelligent life and was believed dead, is perhaps alive, he decides to fling himself into space to discover why he left. Being on different planets is not a great way to establish that father/son bond unfortunately. 

    Rent it on Apple TV

    3. The Beach Bum (2019)

    Matthew McConaughey hugs Stefania LaVie Owen as Snoop Dogg officiates her wedding

    I went into The Beach Bum fully expecting to despise it. Matthew McConaughey dressed as hippie Guy Fieri running around Florida smoking weed with Snoop Dogg just didn't get me excited at all. But the beauty of this stoner flick is the relationship McConaughey's Moondog shares with his daughter Heather (Stefania LaVie Owen). The film begins with Moondog arriving late to Heather's wedding, and shortly thereafter the pair must navigate the death of Heather's mom. Moondog is obviously not your stereotypical parent, and yet the way that he manages to express his love for Heather anyway and her ability to accept his eccentric affection is oddly moving. This weird little film has heart thanks to this weird little father/daughter pairing.  

    Watch it on Hulu

    4. Beautiful Boy (2018)

    Timothee Chalamet and Steve Carell sit next to an ivy wall
    Francois Duhamel/Amazon Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

    If there's one thing that will complicate just about any relationship, it is crystal meth. The insidiously addictive drug can easily wreak havoc on even the most stable relationships, as is evident in the lives of David and Nic Sheff, the father and son behind the memoir and film Beautiful Boy. In the film, David (Steve Carell) struggles to understand how to be the best father he can be for his son Nic (Timothée Chalamet), who is an addict without putting the rest of his family in the crosshairs. Through NA meetings, rehab, and countless rebounds and relapses, David proves that he will do whatever it takes to help his son find healing, even if the road is long and often full of pain. 

    Watch it on Amazon Prime Video

    5. Beginners (2010)

    Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor look at records together
    Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

    It's a real curve ball when your father comes out of the closet at the age of 75, and despite what the girls on The White Lotus may have to say, embracing your father's newly expressed sexuality can take some time. Christopher Plummer, in an Academy Award-winning turn, plays Hal, who coming out after the death of his wife begins a whole new life only to find out he's dying of cancer. Oliver (Ewan McGregor), his son, then must not only process his father's new life choices, including a relationship with a much younger man, but also care for him in his final days. The film questions how well any of us truly know our parents, and also asks how we would react if we were suddenly given a fuller picture of their lives. 

    Rent it on Amazon Prime Video

    6. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)

    Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova dance together in formalwear in a ballroom
    Amazon/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Lots of people have complicated relationships with their fathers. Few, however, have fathers who attempt to gift them into slavery to Mike Pence in order to avoid execution...which is what happens to Tutar (Maria Bakalova who was Oscar-nominated for the role) who stows away on her father Borat's (Sacha Baron Cohen) trip to America, only to find out she must now be the sacrifice to save his life. But as the two make the long cross-country trek to find good ole Mike (and ultimately the terrifyingly predatory Rudy Giuliani), they begin to bond despite the fact (GASP) that Tutar is a female and thus inferior. Like The Beach Bum, this comedy blindsides you with the emotional relationship at the center, and makes you take a second thought about selling your children into slavery to Republicans. 

    Watch it on Amazon Prime Video

    7. Boy Erased (2018)

    Lucas Hedges, Russell Crowe, and Nicole Kidman have a conversation in a kitchen at night
    Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

    As a gay boy who grew up in an extremely religious community, I can tell you firsthand that the gay son/conservative religious father dynamic is fraught and thorny. That dynamic is portrayed perfectly in this film based on Garrard Conley's memoir about being sent to conversion therapy. Russell Crowe plays an Arkansas minister who decides to send his son Jared (Lucas Hedges) off to camp in order to cleanse him of his homosexuality. And of course the ending that we're looking for is one where Crowe's character sees the error of his ways and totally embraces his son, but devastatingly, in real life and in this film, that is often not the case. Instead we see what it looks like to build some kind of new relationship where you don't see eye to eye but find some kind of working civility nonetheless. 

    Watch it on Peacock

    8. Boyhood (2014)

    Ellar Coltrane looks into Ethan Hawke's eyes with a magnifying glass
    Matt Lankes/IFC/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Divorce is often an easy way to inject complications into a parent/child relationship. In Richard Linklater's Best Picture nominee, filmed over 12 years, we watch Mason Jr. and Sr.'s relationship evolve in real time. Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) spends most of his time with his mother, but occasional visits form Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) are significant, as Jr. is desperate for a positive male role model in his life. The relationship is put under stress, however, when Sr. starts a new family —  one that he spends much more time with than he has his first. Sr. was often distant and irresponsible with his first family, but now he's found Christianity and is intent that Jr. finds it as well. As Jr. grows and heads off to college, his feelings about his father continue to shift and transform as they always do when we age. Hopefully you (unlike Jr.) can avoid a patchy goatee in the process. 

    Rent it on Amazon Prime Video

    9. Brad's Status (2017)

    Austin Abrams and Ben Stiller clap in theater seats
    Jonathan Wenk/Amazon Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

    There's nothing quite like a man going through a midlife crisis who attempts to use his child to bolster his own ego. That, however, is the premise of Brad's Status, the comedy from Mike White, the writer and director behind the acclaimed White Lotus. Ben Stiller plays Brad, who realizing that all his old friends are more successful than him, joins his son Troy (Austin Abrams) on a college road trip in hopes of spurring him onto greatness in his stead. Stiller and Abrams are a fun pair to watch spar as Brad slowly unravels across college campuses and begins to realize that perhaps he needs to look within himself, and not to his son, to find true satisfaction. 

    Watch it on Amazon Prime Video

    10. Captain Fantastic (2016)

    Viggo Mortensen leads Nicholas Hamilton, Annalise Basso, Samantha Isler, and George MacKay on a run through the woods
    Erik Simkins/Bleecker Street Media/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Well if we were giving a prize away to the weirdest father/child dynamic on this list, it would have to go to Viggo Mortensen's Ben Cash and the relationship he has with his bevy of children in Captain Fantastic. Cash and his recently deceased wife raised their children in the woods away from society in a sort of isolated, leftist, anarchist, doomsday prepper commune (they celebrate Noam Chomsky's birthday instead of Christmas). When the posse enter civilization for their mother's funeral, however, the children are thrown out of equilibrium as they come face to face with the world they were taught to shun. Each of the children handles the shock differently, many confronting Cash and wanting explanations for why they were forced to stalk animals through the woods rather than going to school dances. A fascinating and ultimately heartwarming family portrait, this film also delivers a cheery cover of "Sweet Child of Mine" and the most touching film scene ever staged in an airport bathroom stall. 

    Watch it on Netflix

    11. Daddy Longlegs (2009)

    Ronald Bronstein and Frey Ranaldo look at something together
    IFC Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Perhaps more parenting manuals need chapters on not drugging your kids with sleeping pills and then leaving them alone in your apartment unconscious for days on end. Seems like an obvious no-no, but this early film from the Safdie brothers (the twisted minds behind Uncut Gems) has us watching a father do just that. Divorced movie theater projectionist Lenny (who is dating a woman named Leni) gets his son for two weeks every year. Lenny (Ronald Bronstein) is a chaotic fellow who despite loving his sons doesn't quite know how to handle them aside from fostering their wild side. The film then is a portrait of his life unraveling while they're along for the ride, as enamored by him as ever even as his choices repeatedly put them in harm's way. But if the kids have it bad, that poor salamander certainly has it worse. 

    Rent it on Amazon Prime Video

    12. Eighth Grade (2018)

    Josh Hamilton rubs Elsie Fisher's shoulder near a campfire
    Linda Kallerus/A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Ummm hey like yeah if you want to good movie or something...then like...this one's like great or whatever. That is me pretending to be an eighth-grade vlogger telling you to watch Eighth Grade because it is one of my absolute favorite films of the past few years. Kayla (the dynamite Elsie Fisher) is an awkward middle schooler who is just trying to find her way through life. Her dad just wants to help her, but he is LIKE SO ANNOYING. Their classic awkward relationship, however, is the heart and soul of the movie (even more so than it's beautiful send-up of McDonald's dipping sauces), and their final conversation near the fire will leave you BAWLING. BRB gonna watch the whole thing again before I keep writing this post. 

    Rent it on Amazon Prime Video

    13. The Father (2020)

    Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins sit across from a desk
    Sony Picture Classics/Courtesy Everett Collection

    With a title like that, it must qualify for this list, right? This Oscar heavy hitter from last year (it won Anthony Hopkins and the screenplay Oscars and earned six noms including Best Picture) focuses on the relationship between a father and daughter as the father begins to slip into dementia. Even the most solid familial relationship can become stressful as the mind gives way, and Olivia Colman and Hopkins give breathtaking, career-best performances as they struggle under the stress of it all. Told from the father's shifting, collapsing point-of-view, the film is a fascinating portrait of dementia and delivers much more than your run-of-the-mill macabre illness film. At the center, however, is a father and daughter grappling with each other. And at the center of that are Olivia Colman's stunning earcuffs

    Rent it on Amazon Prime Video

    14. Fences (2016)

    Jovan Adepo and Denzel Washinton talk together outside a brick house
    David Lee/Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

    If you're looking for a masterclass in acting, you needn't look any further than this film based on the August Wilson play, the revival of which earned both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis Tony Awards. The Best Picture nominated film version earned them both Oscar nominations as well, with Davis taking home the trophy. While the toxic relationship between Troy (Washington) and Rose (Davis) is certainly front-and-center in the film, Troy's fraying, semi-abusive relationship with his son Cory (Jovan Adepo) fights for top billing. An alcoholic and terrified of how his own past sports career didn't serve him well, Troy forbids Cory from attempting to get a football scholarship, instead making him vastly unhappy, forcing him into the military, and robbing him of a chance to make it big. Their relationship is contentious, and the film grapples with how our parental relationships can affect us even after their passings. But oof, those performances though.

    Rent it on Apple TV

    15. Interstellar (2014)

    Mackenzie Foy sits on Matthew McConaughey's lap in a board room
    Melinda Sue Gordon/Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

    OH OH OH! We got a complicated father/daughter relationship that involves...dun, dun, dun...TIME TRAVEL! Christopher Nolan's cerebral outer space epic follows the life of Murph (Jessica Chastain), the daughter of astronaut Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey). Joseph is sent off into space only to be trapped on a time-altering planet, meaning that while he remains the same age, his daughter is living her whole life. The two communicate through video messages (and bookshelves) as they cross through time, Murph searching for reasons as to why she was abandoned and Joseph just trying to return to his daughter. Not necessarily a super relatable father/daughter predicament, but one that left me weeping to the thundering Hans Zimmer score nonetheless. 

    Watch it on Paramount+

    16. The Kids Are All Right (2010)

    Josh Hutcherson films something on a camcorder while Mark Ruffalo watches along
    Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

    We've got a smorgasbord of complicated father relationships on this list, but this is certainly one of kind. It's not often you track down your long-lost sperm donor only to have him begin an affair with your queer mother that threatens to destroy your family. But such is the case in this Best Picture nominee starring Mark Ruffalo as Paul, the biological father, and Josh Hutcherson as his son, Laser (LOL). The relationship is complicated because it is new. Two adults, intimately connected, but finally meeting for the first time, and then of course you throw infidelity on top of it all. Watching the family navigate the inclusion of a new member is funny, and awkward, and ultimately touching. Although apparently not touching enough to get Annette Bening a Best Actress statue. Someday, my dear. Someday. 

    Watch it on Amazon Prime Video

    17. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

    Dustin Hoffman squats and talks to Justin Henry
    Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

    In this Hollywood classic, Dustin Hoffman's Ted Kramer is thrust from the role of background parent to single parent when his wife, Joanna (Meryl Streep), decides to leave Ted and their son. And thus begins the often comedic, sometimes heartbreaking, ultimately rewarding journey of Ted trying to learn on the fly how to fill the lead parenting shoes that he'd been relying on his wife to fill for so long. Grocery shopping. School drop-off. Laundry. (Things he quite frankly should have known more about a long time ago, but alas gender norms in the '70s were NOT GREAT.) And then there's just the basic attachment issues because Billy was of course much closer to his mother than his father. The film scored Best Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress, and Adapted Screenplay in an epic Oscar sweep as the awkward vulnerability of the Kramer's restructuring yanks at your heart even all these years later. 

    Watch it on HBO Max

    18. Laggies (2014)

    Sam Rockwell, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Kiera Knightley eat pizza at a dining room table

    Double double, toil and trouble, we've got two fraught father/daughter relationships here. Up first, we've got Megan (Kiera Knightley) who catches her father having an affair at the beginning of the film. While this relationship doesn't remain front and center, it does throw Megan off her axis to the point that she questions her own engagement, and more importantly MOVES INTO THE HOME OF A HIGH SCHOOLER SHE MEETS AT A CONVENIENCE STORE. Never has there been a more obvious cry for help IMHO. The second father/daughter combo is between said-convenience store girl Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her dad, Craig (Sam Rockwell). This relationship is further complicated by the fact that Megan starts sleeping with Craig while also buying alcohol for his underage daughter. Messy. Messy. Messy. Really a legendarily strange sequence of events you've got to watch. 

    Watch it on Amazon Prime Video

    19. Leave No Trace (2018)

    Thomasin McKenzie and Ben Foster touch their foreheads together
    Scott Green/Bleecker Street Media/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Grab the tissues, my dears. This one is a Kleenex super soaker. Thomasin McKenzie (who you may remember rapidly aging this summer in Old) plays Tom, the daughter of Ben Foster's Will, an Iraq War vet with severe PTSD. Due to his inability to remain in society, he has moved the two into the Oregonian forest wilderness where the two are largely cut off from the real world. When the duo are reported and kicked out of the park, however, they begin a long, painful journey to find a new home. While Will is desperate to remove himself from humanity again, Tom, a teenager, finds herself attracted to this new world full of possibilities. Watching these two, who desperately love each other but are learning they can't function in each other's worlds, is both gutting and powerful. The film is sitting on a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score and SHAME on every Academy voter who didn't give this movie it's due in a year where Greenbook, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Vice were eating noms like candy. 

    Watch it on Hulu

    20. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017)

    Dustin Hoffman and Ben Stiller stand listening to an off screen person
    Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Noah Baumbach's specialty as a writer-director seems to be worming his way into the complex relationships, whether that be a disintegrating marriage as he did in Marriage Story or the dynamics of an aging couple as he tackled in While We're Young. And in Meyerowitz (which is not an anthology film as I initially supposed from the name), he's tackling the long-fraying relationship between Dustin Hoffman's Harold and his children by his various wives. Harold is an artist wresting with his pending irrelevancy. Adam Sandler plays Danny, his unemployed musician son, while Ben Stiller plays Matthew, the well-off financier. The trio struggle to find themselves and establish how the others impact them in this sincere comedy. Also Dustin Hoffman's character has a penchant for just fleeing events and running down the street, leaving the others to chase. Oh to be an old neurotic New Yorker running from an art gallery. My future is set before my eyes. 

    Watch it on Netflix

    21. Minari (2020)

    Steven Yeun, Alan S. Kim, Youn Yuh-Jung, Han Yeri, and Noel Cho stand outside in a field
    Josh Ethan Johnson/A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Minari is the best film of 2020 (don't @ me, but that's the truth) and it IS the story of a father and a son. The Oscar-nominated director and screenwriter Lee Isaac Chung wrote the Best Picture nominee about growing up as a South Korean immigrant in rural Arkansas. The decision to uproot the family and leave California was that of his father, Jacob (played by Steven Yeun in an Oscar-nominated performance) and the film (often told through the lens of Chung's stand-in David, played by the criminally adorable Alan Kim) watches the repercussions of that. What happens when a family, unfamiliar with Southern culture and languages, decide to be farmers in the middle of nowhere? How does that affect the relationship between the father and the son? Minari is lyrical, beautifully shot, and sneakily hilarious. It also gave us the magical Oscar-winning performance by Youn Yuh-Jung and her playful digs at Brad Pitt

    Rent it on Apple TV

    22. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

    Matthew Lawrence, Lisa Jakub, Robbin Williams, Mara Wilson, and Sally Field walk into a pool party
    20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Is it your father? Or is it an elderly British nannie who also happens to be incredibly good at throwing fruit? When Daniel Hillard (the delightful Robin Williams) loses custody of his three children, he decides the best way to get more face time with the trio is to go undercover as their new nanny. And somehow as Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire, Daniel becomes the best version of himself as their father that he was never able to attain as himself. This movie is hysterical to the point that I was cackling in my bedroom alone watching it during the pandemic. It is neverendingly quotable. And the relationship between Mrs. D and the kids is swoony. Also don't sleep on Sally Field as a comedy icon. She holds her own with Robin Williams, who is one of the GREATS. 

    Watch it on Disney+

    23. Nebraska (2013)

    Bruce Dern and Will Forte stand in a parking lot in black and white
    Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

    To learn that your father has won a sweepstakes worth a million dollars is incredible news. To learn that he hasn't actually won and it's just a mail scam, but he has dementia and so thinks its real is less incredible news. And so begins Nebraska in which Bruce Dern's Woody is desperate to get to Lincoln, Nebraska, in order to claim his winnings despite his son David (Will Forte) trying to keep him from the disappointment that ultimately awaits. When the pair finally do decide to take the road trip, however, they end up digging up a treasure trove of knowledge regarding Woody's past even if there is no real treasure to be had. The black-and-white Best Picture nominee is stunning and is yet another look at how the parent child dynamic shifts when the child becomes the parent. 

    Rent it on Apple TV

    24. On the Rocks (2020)

    Rashida Jones and Bill Murray sit in a red convertible
    JoJo Whilden/A24/Apple TV+/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Sofia Coppola does not miss. Every single one of her films is a finely polished gem and that includes this melancholy caper starring the legendary baby-step-taking Bill Murray and the hilarious and "ethnic" Rashida Jones. Jones' Laura suspects that her husband may be having an affair, and so her father, Felix (Murray), volunteers to help her tail him around the city in his roadster. Felix of course understands how affairs work because he had multiple while being married to Laura's mother. The deeply New York film, which sees the two crisscrossing the city in his convertible and conversing in Manhattan's cozy bars, turns out to be much more a portrait of their relationship than anything concerning the husband. Shoot, now I want to go meet an old friend for a French 75 rather than finish writing this list, but alas. 

    Watch it on Apple TV+

    25. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

    Ben Stiller, Jonah Meyerson and Grant Rosenmeyer all wear matching tracksuits while they and Gwyneth Paltrow stare at Gene Hackman
    Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Let me just say this. If you have to fake a life-threatening illness in order for your family to talk to you, then you might want to rethink some of your relationships. Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) the patriarch of the unruly Tenenbaum clan does indeed fake near-death in this early Wes Anderson masterpiece. In childhood, his three children (played by Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, and Gwyneth Paltrow) are prodigies. Then he leaves the family and is now returning to find them mostly washed up and struggling to sort out their lives given the trauma he's caused. Because let me also say this. If you dress up your children to look just like you, then you got some deep psychological issues that need to be addressed. 

    Rent it on Apple TV

    26. Somewhere (2010)

    Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning lay out in the sun by the pool
    Merrick Morton/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Miss Coppola back at it again with the white Vans. She is the MASTER of the quiet relationship film, and that is readily apparent in this sly comedy about a Hollywood star forced to take care of his 11-year-old daughter when her mother has a breakdown. Johnny (Stephen Dorff) is a depressed actor struggling to find meaning in his life as he lives in the famed Chateau Marmont. Cleo (Elle Fanning) is now living at the hotel/apartment building/artists commune with her father and seems to be parenting them both. The pair, nearly strangers at the beginning of the film, slowly feel each other out, forming a delicate relationship that is not your typical father/daughter dynamic but something that seems to work for the two. 

    Watch it on Hulu

    27. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

    Darth Vader reaches out his hand to Mark Hamill who is hanging onto a pole
    20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection

    "Luke, I am your father." Hard to find a more iconic father/son duo that the pairing of Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker) and Luke Skywalker. Anakin podraced, hated sand, didn't have the higher ground, turned to the dark side, and then started force choking employees. Then his estranged son who just wanted to go to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters, finds out he's a Jedi, lightsaber duels Vader, and then learns the heavy breather is HIS DAD! (Although as Anna Kendrick pointed out in Pitch Perfect, the German audience shouldn't have been surprised). The Anakin/Luke dynamic is a timeless one. We just all want our fathers to show us they love us by throwing old, electrically charged men off balconies

    Watch it on Disney+

    28. There Will Be Blood (2007)

    Dillon Freasier stands beside Daniel Day-Lewis
    Paramount Vantage/Courtesy Everett Collection

    There Will Be Blood is a MOVIE. As much as I love No Country for Old Men, this should have won Best Picture. The number of scenes that were chiseled into my mind permanently after jut one viewing. The oil rig bursting, the church confession scene, the freaking bowling alley encounter. Never will I see a bowling pin the same way in my life. And yet making them all pale in comparison is the gut-wrenching scene between Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his adopted deaf son H.W. (Russell Harvard as an adult) in his office toward the end of the film. The dynamic between Plainview and his son (played by Dillon Freasier as a child) is at the heart of the film as we watch the pair go from rags to oil barons one step at a time. Their complicated relationship is the beating heart of the film and is what makes the ending so devastating. Also, apologies to every other film, but cinematic milkshakes start and end here

    Watch it on Netflix

    29. This Boy's Life (1993)

    Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro look at each other after finishing painting
    Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

    In one of Leonardo DiCaprio's earliest film roles he goes toe to toe with Robert De Niro, playing he abusive stepfather. Based the real life of Tobias Wolff, DiCaprio plays Toby, who moves to the tiny town of Concrete, Washington, with his mother (Ellen Barkin) when she marries Dwight (De Niro). Stranded on their own, the mother and son quickly realize that Dwight is violent, but as the mother refuses to leave, Toby is left to find a way to cope as he searches for the means for a long-term escape. n

    Rent it on Apple TV

    30. Toni Erdmann (2016)

    Peter Simoniskchek and Sandra Huller sit in the backseat of a car and look out opposite windows
    Sony Pictures Classics/Courtesy Everett Collection

    I don't know about you, but if my father started to show up to my work events wearing a wig and fake teeth and calling himself "Toni Erdmann," I would be more than a little bit annoyed. And so is Ines (Sandra Huller) in this German Oscar nominee. Her father Winfried (Peter Simonischek) is mourning the death of his dog and decides to visit his overworked daughter on a business trip. He's an eccentric prankster and loves to appear in disguises. Ines is an uptight business person in need of something to spark joy in her life. Together the father and daughter learn from each other in this hilarious, touching, strange little film about their relationship. Never before have fake teeth ended up being so moving. 

    Rent it on Apple TV

    31. Waves (2019)

    Sterling K. Brown teaches Kelvin Harrison Jr. wrestling moves
    A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

    I'm not quite sure how we made it so far down this list before getting to the overbearing dad of an athlete trope but HERE. WE. ARE. In this stress-inducing A24 family drama, Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is a high school wrestler who is being pushed to the brink by his father, Ronald (Sterling K. Brown). Tyler is mostly focused on his girlfriend, but Ronald is relentless in his pushing for Tyler to reach greatness on the mat. A secondary story here is that of the relationship between Ronald and his daughter Emily (Taylor Russell), which takes center stage in the film's second half. Sometimes parents can care just a bit too much, and we certainly see the consequences of that here. 

    Watch it on Hulu

    32. White Boy Rick (2018)

    Richie Merritt and Matthew McConaughey sit in a hotel room
    Scott Garfield/Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

    "Put some clothes on will ya? We're going for custard." THAT my friends is how you know a film is set in Michigan. White Boy Rick, which is based on a real life father/son pair of Michigan criminals, follows Rick (Matthew McConaughey) and Ricky (Richie Merritt) as the pair become increasingly entrenched in the underbelly of '80s Detroit crime. What begins as Ricky running weapons for his father devolves into him becoming an underage kingpin and FBI informant while trying to keep him an his father safe. A bonkers story. Also, it must be said that the White Boy Rick trailer is one of the best uses of music in a trailer ever. The way the Donna Summers beat is brought in and out is masterful. As we say in Michigan, "Oh, that there's just super." 

    Rent it on Apple TV

    33. Wildlife (2018)

    Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould, and Jake Gyllenhaal pose for a photo
    IFC Films

    The fact that neither Carey Mulligan NOR Jake Gyllenhaal were nominated for an Oscar for this film. MAY I SPEAK TO A MANAGER, PLEASE? (Also just the fact that neither of them have Oscars. Insane. Ludicrous. Insulting. But I digress.) This quiet family study sees Jerry (Gyllenhaal), Jeannette (Mulligan) and their son, Joe (Ed Oxenbould), move to rural Montana. Jerry quickly loses his job, but pride keeps him largely unemployed to Jeannette's anxiety. The marriage unravels while Joe is left to serve as both parent's confidante and advocate in the ensuing battle. Watching the soft, kind boy try to maneuver his parent's immaturities is both devastating and mesmerizing at the same time. BUT THOSE PERFORMANCES. My goodness. Just every scene. Every line. If I get a time travel machine the first place, I'm going is Ernst & Young in 2018. 

    Watch it on Netflix