The Fifth Estate

Nine “Oscar Bait” Films from 2013 That Bombed

Behold: The Prestige Picture. Take an A-list director, cast A-list stars in challenging roles, center your story around a serious topic, and bring on the Academy Awards! But what happens when critical acclaim, audience adoration, and "Oscar buzz" fail to materialize? Ask these nine films from 2013, all of which must have sounded like frontrunners during production, but lost the… read more!

My own 2009 Christmas card

Nine Tips for Good Christmas Card Etiquette

It's December, and many of us are about to embark upon the annual task of sending out Christmas cards to our friends and loved ones. It's pretty much the only personal snail mail we deal with anymore, so allow me to horn in on your holiday plans with my unsolicited advice. If you receive a card from someone, send them… read more!

Mad Love

Nine Chillers from the 1930s Worth Seeing

The 1930s were a sort of Golden Age of weird, spooky, offbeat Hollywood productions. But it's hard to call these "horror flicks"; while they may have elicited a few screams from grandma, their actual content was obviously far less gory or terrifying than horror films today. Thus I'll call them "chillers" instead. Note that most were made after the concept… read more!

The Pink Floyd

Nine Things That Got Rid of the “The”

I've always liked that game where you add the word "the" to the beginning of famous movie titles in order to make them sound stupid: The Psycho, The Grease, The Snatch, etc. Amusingly, some real-life movie sequels have actually employed this tactic (e.g., The Wolverine, The Final Destination). And then there's that Los Angeles tradition of sticking the word "the"… read more!

Yazoo/Yaz

Nine British Bands That Had to Change Their Names for the US Audience

Our ever-litigious society has contributed to innumerable stories of ridiculous legal demands. Like when a band from the United Kingdom is forced to change its name in the United States because an (almost invariably obscure) American band who happened to snag the name first sues them over the rights. Rather than fight these Yank musicians and their lawyers, most Brits… read more!

Jessica Lange

Nine Famous Finnish Americans

The Finns are kind of an obscure people. And I know, because I'm one of them. (My father hails from Norway, but the family name Tapio is definitely Finnish in origin: Tapio was the god of the forest in old Finnish folklore, and is a common first name in Finland today.) There are a few internationally known citizens of Finland,… read more!

First Hollywood feature in color: The Toll of the Sea

Nine Unheralded Firsts in Film

Surprisingly, not many people know much about milestones in the evolution of cinema. Sure, you could probably name 1927's The Jazz Singer as the world's first "talkie" (meaning the first feature film with synchronized sound taken from live recorded audio). And if you're a real movie trivia buff, you might remember that 1952's Bwana Devil was the first color 3-D… read more!

Meet your Krankenschwester

Nine Wunderbar German Compound Words

I studied German for four years. Today that only means I can utter a few outdated expressions that make my German friends laugh drily and/or correct me. But it's still an evocative language, and much of its charm comes from its wonderfully literal compound words. Here are some of my favorites: Selbstmord. An old German word for suicide, this one… read more!

Freebie and the Bean

Nine Movies from My Childhood With a Pair of Silly Character Names in the Title

Sorry for the mouthful that is this list's title. I was originally going to isolate this group to '70s films, but there were a couple of humdingers from 1981 that I couldn't neglect. In any event, I've been in a nostalgic mood since my previous list of nine "Le" brands, many of which were introduced when I was a kid,… read more!

Le Clic

Nine “Le” Brands

Having grown up in the '70s and '80s, I've long noted that several products from the era had an ersatz French "Le" in the brand name. It was an amusingly kitschy trend that I now look back on nostalgically. So here's a little tribute to those products, in a list that's as "misc." as you can get. LeSportsac. Like most… read more!

Privilege

Nine Landmark Mockumentaries

For the purposes of this list, I'll define a "mockumentary" simply as a fiction film that is made to look like non-fiction. It could be a parody, it could be a pastiche, it could be a put-on. And like it or not, we seem to be stuck with it. Though the approach has settled in over the past decade, with… read more!

Me and the old man, circa 1975

Nine Great Quotes from My Father

This list is a little late for Father's Day, but nevertheless, it's a tribute to my Norwegian-born dad and his occasionally eccentric way of putting things, either because English is his second language or because, well, he just sees the world in a unique way. Over the years, these nine phrases are among the ones I remember the most: "Eat… read more!

South Pacific

Nine Not-So-Classic Classic Musicals

Ah, the movie musical. From The Jazz Singer to Les Misérables, the genre has seen a lot of changes over the years. But for this list, I'm focusing on the "Golden Age" of the Technicolor musical, from the 1940s through the 1960s. For a long time, I was rather uneducated about these films, so recently I took it upon myself… read more!

Kirk Douglas, 96 as of this writing

Nine Movie Stars Who Are Over 95 and Still Alive

This is one of those lists I can't put off writing, as time is of the essence for these nine actors. While many film and TV stars are in the 95+ club right now, none are as well-known as this crowd. From youngest to oldest: Joan Fontaine, 95. Ms. Fontaine, who will turn 96 this October, was a genuine A-lister… read more!

Nate Ruess, of fun.

Nine Celebrities I’ve Been Told I Look Like

Over the years I have been told that I bear a resemblance to various famous men. In some cases I have literally been mistaken for these famous men. Why this happens to me more than other people, I don't know. In any event, although I was tempted to provide you with side-by-side photos comparing me with each of these guys,… read more!

Purple People Eater

Nine Feature Films That Were Based on Songs

These days, movies are adapted from everything: books, stage plays, video games, comics, even trading cards (Mars Attacks!). But then there is this peculiar subgenre of adaptations, a sample of which pops here and there over the years: films that are based on songs. I'm not talking about movies that merely borrow the titles of hit records (e.g., Pretty Woman,… read more!

The Los Angeles Theatre (see: Last Remaining Seats)

The Nine Best Places to See a Movie in Los Angeles

If you're coming to Los Angeles, the movie capital of the world, then you really should see a movie. And whether you're a tourist or a local, you'd do well to spend an evening or two at every one of these venues. As you will soon read, each one promises much more than just a movie. The Academy. You know… read more!

The 12 Monkeys website

The Nine Creative Projects I’m Proudest Of

Like you, I've worked on some great projects, some projects that didn't live up to their potential, and some projects that were, shall we say, doomed. Of all the creative endeavors that I've been involved with over the years, here are nine that fill me with the most pride. This "pride" is based on the following criteria: 1) they were… read more!

Al Pacino and friend. Not my photo, but it’s what I saw

Nine Celebrities I Have Walked Past in Los Angeles

Who says nobody walks in LA? I walk around this city all the time. And this list is proof that I'm not alone. Even multi-millionaires have times when they need to tumble out of their limousines and stretch their legs. And lo, here are nine famous Angelenos who, as I can personally attest, have actually placed their feet upon a… read more!

Driverless taxis

Nine Inventions I Believe We’ll Actually Be Using in the Future

Making predictions is a fool's errand. Think of all the past prognosticators who swore we'd have flying cars by now, while utterly failing to dream up something like Facebook. That said, it is fun to look back and see who was right on the money with their future visions - for example, the "PADD" devices unveiled on Star Trek: the Next Generation in 1987, and quite similar to today's iPads. And so I offer… read more!