Friday, November 4, 2016

Top 10 Looks of Parental Pride

I was recently having a conversation with someone about movies that make us cry. I mentioned my never-fail cry films (which I’ve written about here), but as we kept talking, we started wondering what exactly in movies makes us cry. I realized something that routinely makes me emotional is a parent looking at their child with the utmost sense of pride. And although I’ve written about some of these moments before, I thought it’d be an inspiring post all the same. Please advise that spoilers of the listed films lurk within.

Honorable Mention
Searching for Bobby Fisher (1993)
This isn’t so much a look of pride as it is a declaration of support. Fred’s (Joe Mantegna) son, Josh, is a chess genius, and when Josh’s teacher (Laura Linney) belittles Josh’s talents, Fred goes in on her. Fred’s words are essential in the film. For the first time, we see Josh’s dad really stick up for Josh’s talent. Fred isn’t speaking to hear his own voice; he’s speaking so that his son can hear him. That’s what gives the scene weight.

10. Cool Runnings (1993)
Yeah, it’s a corny Disney flick, and yeah, it probably didn’t go down this way in real life, but what can I say… I’m a product of ‘90s pop culture and the end of Cool Runnings gets me. And when Junior’s cantankerous old man opens his jacket to reveal his Jamaican bobsled shirt underneath, I’m as surprised and delighted as Junior himself. “The Look” at 2:27

9. Friday Night Lights (2004)
Charles Billingsley (Tim McGraw) is a drunk loser who endlessly berates his son, Don (Garrett Hedlund), for not being as good of a football player as Charles was. But when Don’s team barely loses the Texas State Championship, father and son meet midfield, and Charles gives Don his old state championship ring, as well as his approval. It’s an well-earned moment that both actors emotionally seize. “The Look” begins at 2:21

8. The Karate Kid (1984)
A bit of a surrogate cheat, but a damn fine one. As Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) assumes the crane stance during his final match of a karate tournament, the film cuts to Daniel’s teacher, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), who quickly nods in affirmation of what Daniel is about to do. And from then on, the audience knows the only outcome is victory. “The Look” at 1:31

Related Honorable Mention: Charles S. Dutton’sexpression of anxious determination as Rudy makes his final play of the game. And that goddamn air punch Dutton throws as he walks away.

7. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
As Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) move into the third act of their dance routine, skillfully waltzing and tapping to Leonard Bernstein’s “Maria,” the camera quickly pushes in on Pat’s mother (Jacki Weaver), who is crying and beaming with pride as she watches her troubled son finally apply himself. I’m often distracted by David O. Russell’s ceaseless camera moves, but this is a great example of Russell’s style working, and working well. “The Look” at 1:41

6. Somewhere (2010)
The moment Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) watches his daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning), ice stake in Somewhere is the moment Johnny’s vanity slowly begins to fade. At first, Johnny is completely unengaged, scrolling aimlessly on his BlackBerry. But as Cleo finds her grove, Johnny takes notice in the best, most paternal, most prideful way possible. There’s a lot going on in Johnny as he watches this. He’s proud and impressed, but also a bit ashamed and determined. Ashamed that he’s missed out on his daughter’s life, and determined to change that right away. “The Look” begins at 2:20

5. October Sky (1998)
First, there’s Homer Hickam Sr. (Chris Cooper) showing up to his son’s final rocket launch, which itself melts my heart. But when poppa slowly rests his hand on his son’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) shoulder, the emotional payoff of October Sky is finally realized. “The Look” at 1:59

4. Black Swan (2010)
The White Swan ascends to her grand moment of glory. She looks out to the astonished ground. She zeros in on a face. A stunned and prideful and tear-stained face. The White Swan smiles, as if finally content with what she has accomplished. “The Look” begins at 1:04

3. Warrior (2011)
The conclusion of Gavin O’Connor’s Warrior never fails to move me. This is thanks largely to Nick Nolte’s emotive contribution to it. As Paddy (Nolte) watches his two sons (Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy) finally connect in a positive, emotional way, a calm realization comes over Paddy’s face. He’s sad that the turmoil he caused within his family has come to this, but he’s happy that he was able to bring his boys together, even if it means he won’t be a part of their lives. A few tears, a proud smile, a little flick of the hat, and Paddy is on his way. Alone, for now, but content all the same. “The Look” begins at 5:33

2. Temple Grandin (2010)
At the very end of HBO’s Temple Grandin, the titular character (played by Claire Danes) addresses a frustrated group of parents at an autism convention. During her impromptu speech, Temple acknowledges how important her upbringing was to her health. The kicker is that Temple says all of this in front of her own mother (Julia Ormond), who is overcome with emotion as she hears her autistic daughter say this for the first time. It’s such an honest, human moment, one that helped Danes and Ormond win Emmys, and, most importantly, makes Temple Grandin a film worth revisiting again and again. “The Look” begins at 2:01

1. Whiplash (2014)
Paul Reiser’s final shot in Whiplash is one of my favorite reaction shots ever captured on film, even if it isn’t so much a look of pride as one of complete astonishment. As Andrew (Miles Teller) plays the set of his life, the camera swiftly cuts his dad (Paul Reiser) who is silently observing through a barely cracked door just off stage. The camera stays on Reiser’s face for a good 10 seconds, and in that time, we’re given a wide range of emotion. At first, Reiser is concerned, if not confounded. His face settles, gently morphing into one of utter amazement. For the first time, dad gets it. He gets his son’s obsession. The long hours, the pain, the blood. “Oh my god,” he’s thinking. “That’s my son. And look at him fucking go.” “The Look” at 2:04


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23 comments:

  1. That moment in Friday Night Lights took me by surprise and still effects my heart...I was a sobbing mess in the theater. PERFECT choice.

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    1. Thanks! It's such a well-earned moment. Makes me wish McGraw acted more, actually.

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    2. For real! He was tremendous in Friday Night Lights and actually showed promise in some of his later roles (he's effective in Blind Side and Country Strong).

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  2. Great list! love that you featured Temple Grandin, I don't think a lot of people saw it but it's so good and that scene you highlighted is just unforgettable largely because of Ormond's acting. It also brought another excellent HBO production to my mind - Mildred Pierce - and the moment where Kate Winslet hears Vera sing on the radio and is astonished.

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    1. Thanks! I definitely wish more people watched Temple Grandin. It was marketed as a corny movie-of-the-week, but it's much more emotional than that. Ormond is so good in that scene.

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  3. Oh, that list is perfect. Kudos for mentioning Temple Grandin as that is a great scene as it not only showed how far that character has gone as well as acknowledging her own mother. She also gives these parents a sense of hope for their children.

    It's a good thing you chose this subject considering what has happened in Chicago as I'm sure there are many fathers, grandfathers, uncles, great-uncles, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, brothers, sisters, and cousins who aren't around physically now seeing their own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren pay tribute to them as the Cubs finally won the big one. While I'm Atlanta all the way in terms of sport teams but the Cubs are my 2nd favorite baseball team. That game Wednesday is truly one of the best I had ever seen and to hear the stories of what people did such as that man who drove from North Carolina to Indiana to his father's grave so he can fulfill that pact they had to listen to the Cubs play the World Series. How can you not be touched by that?

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    1. Thanks man! I love what you said about Chicago. Very poignant words. It was a hell of a game, and it is very sad to think of the people who can't share it with their loved ones.

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  4. I'd move Searching for Bobby Fisher into the list. I'd forgotten just how good that film really is and just how good Joe Mantegna is in it. It's such a powerful statement to say what he says at the end of that clip.

    As the parent of a child who is months away from starting life as a professional performing artist, having watched 13 years of her struggle and blossoming into a real artist, I get it. That's a moment that so hits home for me.

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    1. It's such a great moment. Not included in the list only because I was concentrating on looks, rather than speeches.

      Best of luck to your daughter. Ain't no easy thing, chasing after dreams.

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  5. Great list! I love that Whiplash was at the top. I loved the shot of Andrew's dad in that scene. The last 15 minutes of that movie are pure cinematic gold.

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    1. Thanks! That ending is such a doozy. Reiser's face does so much in those 10 seconds. Such a powerful moment.

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  6. So great all of these, man! So nice to hear mention of Cool Runnings, Friday Night Lights, and October Sky, three movies very near and dear to me. Whiplash is a brilliant top pick! The real winner here for me is Temple Grandin, though. That movie blew me away. I just sort of caught it on HBO when it was on, and it just sucked me in. And that scene! So powerful. I re-watched it here. I cried. Excellent list!

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    1. Thanks Kevin! So glad you like the picks. And I'm thrilled that you've seen Temple Grandin and it had such an impact. More people need to see that one.

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  7. Interesting list. I'm afraid I've only seen one of these movies. Have you considered a list of your favorite movie trailers?

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    1. That's an interesting thought. It'd be fun to research and narrow them down. Most would be older ones, because they never gave away anything. Finding new trailers I like is very, very difficult. Though the teaser for Jackie is aces.

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  8. Awesome list! I love seeing a shout-out to October Sky. And the final scene in Whiplash is insane.

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    1. Thanks! It is insane, right? I love how it just ends. Less secure filmmakers would have a scene or two after to wrap everything up nicely. Better to just BAM and cut out.

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  9. This is a really endearing and touching list. While reading it I thought about the idea and my favorite scene of parental pride has to be this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=989pUycUqAg The ending of Billy Elliot. No matter how much times I watch that scene, Gary Lewis' gasp always makes me cry.

    I didn't even know of Temple Grandin and October Sky. I'm a big fan of the actresses/actors on them so I'd watch them asap. Then there is Whiplash which is still on my "to watch" list. From the ones I've already seen I think the Friday Night Lights moment is my favorite. I started watching that film one night on TV and I wasn't expecting much from it and then I loved it. Warrior is a beautiful one too, Barbara Hershey is amazing in Black Swan, and the scene from Somewhere was really sweet.

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    1. Thanks! I'm so happy you like the list. And wow, that scene from Billy Elliot slipped my mind. That is a great, great call there.

      Those moments in Temple Grandin and October Sky are so well earned. And Whiplash is such an expertly made movie. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that one!

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  10. good list, the look of the father in Billy Elliot at the ending is great too.

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    1. Thanks! It is indeed. Had I remembered it, I probably would've included it. Slip of the brain there.

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  11. Hi Alex! What a great idea for a list AND a great selections too! Speaking of films that made me cry, WARRIOR certainly did it for me. I saw October Sky ages ago, but I remember the great father/son relationship in that one. I hadn't heard of Temple Grandin but now I'm curious!

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    1. Hey Ruth! Warrior gets me everytime. Taps right into me. There's so much raw emotion packed into that thing. I really wish Nolte had won the Oscar.

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