As we curl up in the warm glow of Oscar season, you may find the occasional list that bemoans some famous filmmakers never winning an Academy Award (e.g., the oft-nominated Alfred Hitchcock). Then there are the oddballs who haven't won an Oscar for directing, but at least were nominated for something, like Terry Gilliam (best screenplay), Tim Burton (best animated… read more!
Lists of Nine with Keyword "movies" (most recent at top)
I confess that I'm continuing my trend of seeing fewer and fewer new movies with each passing year. This is not because I am growing older or less interested - on the contrary, I'm as passionate about film as ever - but because the output really has gotten stinkier. That said, even though I've seen fewer than fifty 2012 releases,… read more!
I cannot believe that I have been writing these Lists of 9 for almost fifteen years now - fifteen years! - and yet I have never written the simplest and most obvious list that a filmmaker could write. So I'm writing it now. My nine favorite feature films, more or less in order. (Which is to say, the order is… read more!
I've been slacking in the site updates this summer, thanks to my Lynda.com screenwriting course (taping has now been completed!) and various jobs and travels. So this is a quicky. In short: lately I have noticed a surprisingly large number of major Hollywood pictures having their release dates bumped back a year. Why? The given reasons are numerous, though usually… read more!
The most surprising thing about this list (which required far more research than you'd imagine) is that for all the goofy palindromes we grew up with - classics like "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama" and "Madam, I'm Adam" as well as more prosaic entries like "Dammit, I'm mad!" and "Dog doo? Good God!" - palindromes simply aren't used… read more!
It may not surprise you to learn that, since 1995, I have written down every film that I have gone to see in a theater. In retrospect, I probably should have logged where I saw each film and who I was with. But for now my memory is still strong enough to recall most of these details. Of course, over… read more!
This Friday, a comedic interpretation of the Snow White story will be released in theaters. It's called Mirror Mirror. Whenever I see a title like this, I think of the Goodfellas character Jimmy Two Times, who was gonna go get the papers, get the papers. Here are nine other examples, other examples. Win Win. Well-received 2011 indie starring Paul Giamatti… read more!
This list is in honor of Pixar's Andrew Stanton, the latest animation director (Finding Nemo, WALL-E) to try his hand at live action (the heavily motion-captured sci fi epic John Carter, which opened this weekend to dismal box office). Now, I myself was trained as an animator. I got into it in high school; when I was accepted into CalArts'… read more!
A funny thing happens whenever I tell someone I'm a filmmaker. Just about everybody asks me, "What kind of films do you make?" I think it's an odd question, as most directors tackle all kinds of genres. That said, there are filmmakers who strictly focus on one genre - especially in documentaries, horror movies, and porn. And once upon a… read more!
A long-standing Hollywood tradition is the "And Introducing" credit. Such a credit is designed to showcase an actor in a key role who had never appeared in a movie before, as if to say, "Look at our brilliant discovery. When this person's an A-lister, he or she will have us to thank." Producers (and agents) interpret this rule rather liberally,… read more!
Whether you hail from a small town in the Midwest or a small town in central China, the lure of Hollywood is always there for filmmakers who exhibit prowess and ambition. Some of the best directors in American cinema were immigrants: Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Ang Lee and so forth. The following nine were not so lucky. Though note: the… read more!
When you think about it, a feature film director is a very, very rare animal. Out of over 10 billion souls who have lived and died on this planet since the dawn of cinema, it's likely that no more than 100,000 of them have ever helmed a feature - and I'm including all those who made no-budget, unreleased indies that… read more!
Celebrities have appeared "as themselves" in feature films since the silent era, typically in brief, jokey cameos. But whereas real actors have been known to play themselves in leading roles - from autobiographical ego-fests (as Joan Rivers and Shirley Maclaine have done in TV movies) to intentionally fictionalized versions of their lives (John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich, Neil Patrick… read more!
Although I've fraternized with dozens of would-be filmmakers over the last two decades, an astonishingly small number of them ever went on to actually direct a feature. Having done so twice myself, I can tell you that it's not that hard to do, if you really want it. So what I'm saying is that few aspiring directors really want it.… read more!
Most Best Picture winners are "typical" Oscar winners in some way: war movies (The Best Years of Our Lives, Platoon, Schindler's List), sweeping epics (Gone With the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, Titanic), gritty suspensers (The French Connection, Silence of the Lambs, No Country for Old Men), "important" contemporary dramas (The Lost Weekend, Midnight Cowboy, American Beauty), glossy musicals (Gigi, Oliver!,… read more!
This list does not contain the countless - and usually lame - cinematic "re-imaginings" of classic TV programs (e.g., Bewitched, The Flintstones, The Brady Bunch, Starsky and Hutch). Nor does it include any of the various Saturday Night Live skits that were stretched out to feature length, as I already wrote a list about them years ago. Finally, it does… read more!
One of the funnier aspects of foreign distribution is when distributors in one country change a movie's title in order to make it more appealing to the locals. An infamous example is the Jack Nicholson comedy As Good As It Gets, which was retitled Mr. Cat Poop for the Hong Kong market. There are times, however, when creative American marketing… read more!
Hype. Buzz. Controversy. Publicity. All things that make you think about a film, talk about a film, and - the distributors hope - eventually go out and see the film. Every once in a while, though, that last bit doesn't happen, and the world is left with a movie that everybody knows about but has no interest in watching. Such… read more!
I recently wrote the script for one of those 48 Hour Film Project competitions. (We won the Audience Award, hooray.) At the beginning of those crazy weekends, each filmmaking team picks a genre out of a hat: comedy, horror, science fiction, etc. The genre we chose this year was "Film de Femme", which isn't a genre as much as it… read more!
This list is just for fun. (Like the others aren't?) Of course many movie stars owe their fame to the opportunities afforded to them from having show biz parents (Kiefer Sutherland, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Jake & Maggie Gyllenhaal, etc.). Others get a break by being cast in a major role by a director seeking an unknown (Jennifer Lopez, Tom… read more!