I’m a dad, and these are my 7 favorite movies to watch for Father’s Day

Sean Connery and Harrison Ford are tied up in a fiery room in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
(Image credit: Allstar Picture Library Limited. / Alamy Stock Photo)

While there’s a good chance that I’ll be outside doing yardwork on Father’s Day, it’s also a day where I can hopefully kick back and relax. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, I might try and sneak away to watch a movie. 

The “dad movie” genre is a big one, usually encompassing political thrillers, sports films, crime, and ones with some sort of nautical theme. They’re the kind of movie that you can start watching mid-afternoon, doze off during the middle section, but wake up for the important bits. And, you can probably quote multiple lines from each of these movies — if not recite the entire thing line by line.

Some of the movies have father/son dynamics at play, and all definitely share some aspect of male bonding. So if you have some free time on your hands this weekend, here are seven of my favorite dad movies to check out.

'Field of Dreams'

Field of Dreams Official Trailer #1 - (1989) HD - YouTube Field of Dreams Official Trailer #1 - (1989) HD - YouTube
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The first of three Kevin Costner baseball movies — and perhaps the best of the bunch — has his character build a baseball field in the middle of his Iowa cornfield, then go on a cross-country trip to collect lost souls and bring them back to his ballpark, all because he heard a voice. The movie has a murderer's row of talent, including James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, and Burt Lancaster in his final role. And while the movie revolves around baseball, at its heart it’s a film about fathers and sons, missed opportunities, and second chances at redemption. I dare you not to cry at the end. 

Watch on Apple TV Plus

'Shawshank Redemption'

The Shawshank Redemption | Trailer | Warner Bros. Entertainment - YouTube The Shawshank Redemption | Trailer | Warner Bros. Entertainment - YouTube
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Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover — or did he? — and set to the notorious Shawshank prison, where he befriends Red (Morgan Freeman). He also makes himself useful to the corrupt warden (Bob Gunton), who uses Andy’s skills as a banker to run a money-laundering racket out of the prison. As he gets to know the other inmates during his 19-year sentence, he shows them that you can still have hope even if you’re locked behind bars. Of course, it also helps to have a rock hammer and a passing knowledge of geology. That and a big goddamn poster. 

Rent/buy on Amazon or Apple

'Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World'

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers - YouTube Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers - YouTube
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“Oceans are now battlefields.” This Peter Weir epic gives a stunningly accurate look at life aboard a British warship during the Napoleonic era. The movie revolves around a cat-and-mouse chase between the HMS Surprise and a French frigate through the South Atlantic and up to the Galapagos Islands, but it’s more about the camaraderie and dynamics when you have hundreds of men packed tightly together amidst the heaving oceans. 

Russell Crowe stars as Captain Jack Aubrey, with Paul Bettany as the ship’s doctor and his best friend. The movie is adapted from a series of novels by Patrick O’Brian, which I liken to Jane Austen with cannons, and succeeds both in the large battles as well as the quieter moments among the crew.

Watch on Apple TV Plus

'The Departed'

The Departed | 4K Ultra HD Official Trailer | Warner Bros. Entertainment - YouTube The Departed | 4K Ultra HD Official Trailer | Warner Bros. Entertainment - YouTube
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While it was tempting to save this spot for “The Godfather” (hello, “Barbie!”), I’m going for Martin Scorcese’s mobster flick based on “Infernal Affairs.” Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) are both members of the Massachusetts State Police, but Colin is secretly working for Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson, hamming it up), while Billy goes undercover as a part of Costello’s crew. The tension heightens as Billy and Colin try to sniff out the rats and come closer and closer to discovering each other’s true identity. This movie also treats you to some fine acting — and some wicked awesome Boston accents — from Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, and Mark Wahlberg. Both Sheen’s and Nicholson’s characters also act as surrogate fathers to Damon and DiCaprio, who will go to every length to prove their worth. 

Watch on Apple TV Plus

'The Hunt for Red October'

The Hunt for Red October (1990) ORIGINAL TRAILER [HD 1080p] - YouTube The Hunt for Red October (1990) ORIGINAL TRAILER [HD 1080p] - YouTube
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Who hasn’t imitated Sean Connery’s brogue when quoting “Be careful what you shoot at Ryan — most things in here don’t react too well to bullets”? Based on the Tom Clancy novel, Jack Ryan (a dashing young Alec Baldwin) is a CIA analyst who’s roped into helping Captain Ramius (Connery) defect with his crew — and a Soviet ballistic missile submarine, all without the USSR knowing. This taut thriller directed by John McTiernan (“Die Hard”) also stars James Earl Jones, Stellan Skarsgard, Sam Neil, Scott Glenn, Tim Curry, and Fred Thompson, all of whom chew scenery like they were starving. 

Watch on Max

'Gladiator'

Gladiator (2000) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers - YouTube Gladiator (2000) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers - YouTube
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Have you thought about the Roman Empire today? Ridley Scott’s epic stars Russel Crowe as Maximus, a Roman general who’s appointed by the dying emperor (Richard Harris) to ensure that Rome is restored to a republic. However, Maximus is betrayed by the emperor’s own son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), who kills the emperor and Maximus’ family, sells him as a slave, and forces him into the gladiatorial arena. 

As Maximus cuts and hacks his way from the outer reaches of the empire to the Colosseum itself, he plots his revenge against Commodus, leading to a final duel in the arena. The fight scenes are all excellent, with great attention to period detail. But, you would expect no less from Scott, who’s directed some real bangers over the years, from “Blade Runner” to “Thelma and Louise.” But credit to Crowe, who really carries the movie with gravitas. 

Watch on Paramount Plus and Peacock

'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers - YouTube Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers - YouTube
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Father Henry Jones St. (Sean Connery) and son Henry Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford) team up for one last adventure to find the Holy Grail — and reconcile their differences along the way. The second-best Indiana Jones movie sees the pair travel from Austria to the Middle East in search of the cup of Christ, and trying to stay one step ahead of the Nazis. The prologue — featuring River Phoenix as a young Indy — also treats us to some great backstory on how he got his chin scar and his fear of snakes. 

Watch on Disney Plus

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Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.