Nine Words That Sum Up 2010

This has been the newsiest year that I can remember. So many major events were going on all over the world, it was often exhausting just to keep track of them. Horrible tragedies, heart-warming triumphs, political roller coasters, shocking secrets - 2010 had it all. "May you live in interesting times," goes the curse. Part of me hopes that 2011… read more!

Elvis Presley joins the Army, 1958

Nine Moments When Great Showbiz Careers Started Going Downhill

I'm going to dispense with a lengthy opening paragraph, as the title and entries speak for themselves. George Lucas divorces, 1983. For many entries in this list, the "moment" when things went south was preceded by a number of unfortunate events. Lucas's troubles began in 1980, when he split with his Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back producer Gary Kurtz. (As Kurtz… read more!

The QWERTY keyboard

Nine Obsolete Things That Refuse to Die

Over the last couple of decades, we have effectively laid to rest such now-outdated contraptions as the VCR, the audio cassette, and so forth. Hey, when you have something that works better, you use it... right? Well, yes, unless it's the following nine things, which we just can't seem to part with. The QWERTY keyboard. The arbitrary layout of today's… read more!

German title: “The Sky Over Berlin”

Nine Foreign Films That Were Given More Effective English Titles

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!

Angelyne, who else?

Nine People Who Are Only Famous in Los Angeles

You can be famous in New York yet be famous nowhere else, and it doesn't matter. New York is an insular, exclusive place. But if you're famous in Los Angeles - the world's epicenter of popular culture - but you're an unknown outside the city, then there must be something wrong with you. Or so the logic goes. Your band… read more!

The Brown Bunny

Nine Movies That Were Far More Discussed Than Actually Seen

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!

Mark Zuckerberg, surely one of the nine types

Nine Types of Facebook Users

In the year 2000, I wrote a list called Nine Types of Emailers, in which I categorized the more annoying trends in online communication. Well, here we are in 2010, and hardly anybody ever sends a proper email anymore. Part of this is thanks to Facebook taking over the world. With the imminent arrival of the film The Social Network,… read more!

Giulietta Masina, Nights of Cabiria

My Nine Favorite Performances By Women in Film

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!

Dan Aykroyd in “The Oscar Bid”

The Nine Stages of a Typical Movie Star’s Career

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!

The Outsiders

Nine Films That Launched the Careers of Several Stars at Once

It's always fun to watch an older movie and spot the then-unknown who would later become a star. "He's so young! She's so cute! Why, they're babies!" Once in a while, a film comes out with several fresh faces that go on to have long-lasting Hollywood careers. This is a tribute to those films. (However, let's not presume that the… read more!

Franz Kafka

Nine Writers for Whom Success Came Posthumously

You know the story of Vincent Van Gogh, and how he only sold one painting during his lifetime. So too will you recognize most of the names on this list, authors and poets whose fame arrived only after they shuffled off this mortal coil. (Note: while it may be argued that any writer can sell more books in the centuries… read more!

Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers

Nine Movie Stars Who Have Played Identical Twins

It must be lots of fun for an actor to play twins. Sure, there are technical challenges, and you don't get to play off another actor... but it's all you! If I had to list every performer who ever portrayed multiple characters in a movie or TV show, it would take hours. Nearly half the cast of The Brady Bunch… read more!

Only in New Orleans

Nine “Only In…” American Cities

A couple of weeks ago, I went for a walk around my neighborhood. Over the course of thirty minutes, I passed an elderly Mickey Rooney (yes, the Mickey Rooney) being helped out of a building and into a black SUV, then went to a park where a Mexican teenager and her family were posing for her quinceaƱera photos, not far… read more!

The sequel to “The Twist”, obviously

Nine Songs That Had Sequels

Summer 2010 at the movies is shaping up to be another season packed with unwanted sequels: the ho-hum box office of the latest Shrek and Sex and the City installments serves as a reminder that vapid followups to successful movies aren't guaranteed winners. The same often goes for sequels to hit pop songs, rare though they may be. Here are… read more!

Glenn Close

Nine Famous Women With Men’s Names

Sorry, faithful readers, but after writing my last List of 9 I went to Spain for ten days, only to come home to a large (and certainly welcome) freelance writing gig that is taking up all my time this month. So I only have a moment to add a new list, a follow-up to my list of Nine Famous Men… read more!

My 40th birthday dinner, with the wife

Nine Things I Have Learned About People, Now That I Am Forty

Years ago, I read an essay by humorist Dave Barry - not someone I particularly admire, but whatever - in which he reflected on all the things he learned by his fiftieth birthday. I only remember one of them, but I remember it vividly: A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice… read more!

Evelyn Waugh

Nine Famous Men With Women’s Names

The Johnny Cash hit "A Boy Named Sue" was written by author/poet/cartoonist Shel Silverstein. "Shel" is ambiguous enough as it is, but his song was inspired by his friend Jean Shepherd, the author of A Christmas Story, who was teased as a boy because of his feminine name. There are some unisex names out there: Jesse, Jamie, Tracy, Jackie, Kelly,… read more!

Sofia Coppola in The Godfather Part III

Nine Potentially Great Movies Tarnished By One Bad Performance

The history of cinema is rife with cringe-worthy examples of miscasting, from John Wayne playing Genghis Khan in The Conqueror to the across-the-board insanity of The Bonfire of the Vanities. But usually the poor casting is just one of a bad film's many problems. The films in this list would have all been substantially improved had they not been sullied,… read more!

Douglas Trumbull

Nine Stunted Film Directing Careers

As I approach 40, I have been thinking about my mortality. More specifically, I find myself wondering if I will ever get to direct a third feature film. If I never do, I will find myself in the company of the following nine individuals who, for various reasons, never had the opportunity to helm many features, talented though they may… read more!

Maya Rudolph in Away We Go

Nine Oscar Nominations That Should Have Been

Last week the Oscar nominations for 2009 films were announced. Despite the Academy's decision to widen the Best Picture pack to ten movies (for the first time since they narrowed it down to five in 1944), there were few surprises in that and in any other category. As usual. I am happy to see the less populist films like The… read more!