Movies about orphans or children who are between two fires after their parents’ divorce are an interesting topic that always triggers many opinions and is often a good starting point for a debate. Those movies are emotional, heartwarming, and heartbreaking and make us ponder on other people’s destinies and the way they try to deal with these complex issues. In this list, we will write about the top 10 movies about guardianship and legal guardians, including custody battles.
What it’s about: Chris Evans plays Frank Adler, who is taking care of and raising his prodigal niece Mary in a coastal town in Florida. He wants a normal life and education for her, but when his mother’s plans for Mary threaten to divide the two, Frank will have to start fighting if he wants to stay with Mary and provide her with a normal childhood.
Why you should watch it: This movie will make you laugh and cry but ultimately make you feel good. The cast is brilliant, including Octavia Spencer, Chris Evans, and the miraculous McKenna Grace, who plays Mary.
Win Win (2011)
What it’s about: Mike Flaherty is an attorney who works as a high school wrestling coach and stumbles upon a young talented athlete who finally becomes a silver lining in his otherwise pretty miserable life. He finally sees some opportunity to win more money until the boy’s mother appears from rehab broke and completely changes Mike’s plans.
Why you should watch it: This is an interesting drama that shows the hidden and seen part of a man approaching a midlife crisis, combined with money problems. It is a very well-written movie with excellent performances and a story that deals with many interesting issues.
The Blind Side (2009)
What it’s about: Sandra Bullock plays Leigh Anne Tuohy, a talkative, loud, and determined Southern woman who takes in a homeless African American teenager, Michael Oher, and together with her family and friends, takes charge of giving him every opportunity to succeed.
Why you should watch it: This biographical sports drama is one of Bullock’s most acclaimed movies and the only one that brought her an Oscar for a leading role. Even though it is not directly addressing the problem of guardianship and custody battle, it deals with the issue at some point and is worth mentioning here.
What it’s about: This drama deals with three women whose lives connect when they cross paths at a New York Family Court. We will learn much about the US Family Law Court and its employees and how families are treated there.
Why you should watch it: This is a movie which we can learn a lot from through the numerous story elements introduced. It has a great score and deals with important social issues, and the performances by Viola Davis and Hayden Panettiere are brilliant.
What it’s about: Antoine Besson seems to be a perfect man, a good colleague and friend, and a devoted father. But his ex-wife and two children have a completely different vision of him due to his actions in the past. When Antoine decides to be transferred to the city to be closer to his 11-year-old son Julien who doesn’t want to be near him, the stories from their history start emerging.
Why you should watch it: This is a slow-paced drama that slowly builds up and leads us to its unforgettable ending. It is an interesting and detailed study of a relationship between a boy and his estranged father and many hurtful memories that can’t be forgotten.
What it’s about: Pierce Brosnan plays the leading role of Desmond Doyle in this drama inspired by a true event about the Doyle family in 1950s Ireland. He is abandoned by his wife, left with three small children, and soon taken to court since the state believes he can’t raise his children properly without a mother. But he is determined to fight for them, especially after the first blow of losing in court.
Why you should watch it: This is a beautiful story that shows a father’s love towards his children and deals with the hypocrisy and insensitivity towards a man who was left alone to fight for the ones he loves most. The performances are brilliant, and the story’s overall tone and message are unforgettable.
I Am Sam (2001)
What it’s about: Sam is a mentally handicapped man who takes care of his little daughter after her homeless mother abandoned them both. After his difficulties become problematic for him and his performance, his daughter is taken away from him, so he hires a pro bono lawyer to help him get her back.
Why you should watch it: This is one of those movies that will make you devastated and emotionally drained but also one you will return to more than once. Heartbreaking and sad but wonderful simultaneously, with one of Sean Penn’s best performances.
Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979)
What it’s about: This is the story of a separated couple who find themselves in the middle of a custody battle for their young son. Dustin Hoffman plays Ted Kramer, an ambitious Manhattan advertising executive who is left by Joanna, played by Meryl Street, who is tired of his neglecting behavior. During the custody battle, we will learn more about the background behind the separation, the wounds it opened up, and its consequences on all of them.
Why you should watch it: This is one of the classics among family dramas, a very emotionally strong movie full of symbolism. It is brilliantly delivered by Hoffman and Streep and is a great study of the human psyche.
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
What it’s about: Daniel Hillard is an actor who has just gotten out of a bitter divorce with his ex-wife Miranda and is allowed to see his three kids only once a week. He can’t come to terms with this decision, so he decides to dress up as an elderly Scottish woman and apply as his children’s nanny.
Why you should watch it: This is probably one of Williams’ most iconic characters, where he gives a brilliant performance as this strict but loving elderly lady and a desperate father who just wants to spend time with his children.
Marriage Story (2019)
What it’s about: This is a heartbreaking drama written and directed by Noah Baumbach, with Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson playing the leading roles. They are Charlie and Nicole Barber, a respected director and his actress wife, who find themselves in the middle of an affair that is threatening to destroy their marriage.
Why you should watch it: This movie stands out thanks to the brilliant performance of the two main actors, as well as their supporting actors, such as Julia Greer and Alan Alda. It is a compassionate look at the problem of marital affairs and its consequences, and it is highly engaging, making the viewers difficult to choose whose side to be on.