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‘Daddy Issues’ at the Oscars with Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson


The Oscars are March 27th and, for this episode of Tell Me About Your Father’s pop culture review show ‘Daddy Issues,’ we’ve asked Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair’s chief critic and co-host of the podcast Little Gold Men, to join us for a second year and counting to discuss fatherly presence in this year’s nominations and to make his predictions.


Will Smith in King Richard


Fathers were a source of tender support in several of this year’s nominated films’— as opposed to last year when they were tragically slipping away to Alzheimer's, drunk, or learning from an octopus. And who can forget Mamaw?


Nominated films like CODA, King Richard, Dune, Flee, Raya and the Dragon, Encanto, Mitchells vs. the Machines, and Luca all feature fathers of characters who are classic outliers. There’s a lot less bullying and emotional infancy among these characters and a lot more kind-hearted helping of those who deserve a voice.



"These muscle magazines do NOT belong to Bronco Henry"


It was also a big year for female directors contemplating gender norms. Maggie Gyllenhall’s film adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novel The Lost Daughter explores an ambivalent mother who leaves her family in pursuit of her own academic career in a narrative that is traditionally attached to fathers. Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, set in the 1920s American West, explores repressed rage and desire, internalized homophobia, particularly femme phobia, the complexities of mentorship, and history repeating itself. It’s also the most nominated film of the year, which really sticks in noted bitch Sam Elliott’s craw.



Emilia Smith and Troy Kotsur in Coda.

And though West Side Story actually has no fathers in it at all, Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner’s musical adaptation has several instances of paternal influence floating around it, and the film itself is dedicated to Spielberg’s late father, Arnold, who died in 2020 at the age of 103.


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