Dry Soda

Nine Brand Names I Swear By

I've never been big on brands. I haven't worn a shirt with a logo on it since high school, and can't understand why any self-respecting adult would do so today. (You are literally paying these corporations to be their walking advertisement.) However, in the spirit of the Christmas shopping season, there are some companies whose products I truly believe in… read more!

Mexico’s Gael García Bernal and Denmark’s Kim Bodnia play Iranians

Nine Non-Iranian Actors Who Have Played Iranians

Comedian/TV show host Jon Stewart recently made his directorial debut with Rosewater, based on the memoir by Maziar Bahari. So who did he cast to play the two main Iranian players in this Tehran-set drama? Non-Iranians. He's not alone: although there are a few Iran-born actors working in Hollywood – House of Sand and Fog's Shohreh Aghdashloo and Iron Man's Shaun Toub… read more!

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, written by Dr. Seuss

Nine Famous Authors Who Only Wrote One Screenplay

The recently-released Gone Girl, as you may know, has a screenplay written by Gillian Flynn, author of the novel on which the film is based. It is Flynn's first produced screenplay; time will tell if it is her last. If so, she will join the illustrious ranks of these other great writers who each wrote exactly one script that became… read more!

Gene Hackman in Welcome to Mooseport

Nine Movie Stars Who Retired After the Wrong Movie

It's been a recent fad for Hollywood actors to publicly declare that they're going to retire: Shia LaBeouf, Alec Baldwin, Brad Pitt, and Jessica Lange have all made such threats in recent years. But to actually engineer a proper last film? Well, it's harder than it looks. After all, so much can go wrong between start and finish – how… read more!

The Arclight is to blame for a lot of this.

Nine Reasons Why I Don’t See as Many Movies as I Used to

Ever since the mid-'90s, I've kept tabs on the number of new releases that I catch in movie theaters. Between 1999 and 2004, I saw an average of 70-80 each year. Recently, however, that number has dwindled to about 40, sometimes less. What happened? I found at least nine reasons for the change. Although this list is based on my… read more!

Written for The Man Who Knew Too Much

Nine Popular Songs That You Didn’t Know Were Written for Movies

Many of today's longest-lasting jazz/pop standards were originally written for movies in the 1930s and 1940s. So many, in fact, that it's futile to list them. (A few standouts: "Cheek to Cheek", "Jeepers Creepers", "Lullaby of Broadway", "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B", "Chattanooga Choo Choo"... and those were just the ones nominated for Oscars!) But here are nine… read more!

Emma Thompson: 36 but playing 19.

Nine Actors Over 30 Who Played Teenagers on Film

I have to confess something. The Internet has, relatively recently, seen an explosion of "professional" list makers, because pop culture lists generate lots of page views and thus lots of ad views. As a result, it's becoming increasingly difficult for me to write about something that hasn't already been covered by someone else. Take this particular subject: there are at… read more!

The Night of the Hunter

Nine Movies in Which Shelley Winters Dies in the Middle

There are not many Hollywood actresses who became bona fide stars by playing plain and/or obnoxious characters. Two-time Oscar winner Shelley Winters was one of them. (Oh, go ahead and say "she was beautiful in her own way," but let's be honest.) Unfortunately, being a plain and/or obnoxious female character can get you killed, as far as those old movies… read more!

Hit the airport ATM as soon as you land

Nine Tips for Spending Money Overseas

I'm not Mr. Adventure, but I do travel abroad more often than the average American. I've been doing it long enough to remember when American Express traveler's cheques were almost your only option for obtaining currency abroad. Today, of course, you can use your credit and ATM cards as freely as you can in the US – at least in… read more!

Blame It on the Bellboy

Nine Things We Should Blame It On

I just got back from vacation and am fighting jet lag, so this pop culture quickie should be self-explanatory. The boogie. In 1978, when the Jackson 5 were simply "The Jacksons" and Michael was just a year away from Off the Wall, the brothers released an album called Destiny. Its hits: "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" and "Blame… read more!

Paul Thomas Anderson

Nine Major Film Directors Who Are Younger Than I Am

In less than a week, I shall turn 44. Funny, I don't feel that old. In fact, it always seems as though I am just at the beginning of my career. But as I'm sure everybody half my age will happily remind me, 44 is getting up there. There are people my age who are grandparents. Teddy Roosevelt was President… read more!

The top contenders: Gravity and 12 Years a Slave

The Last Nine Months’ Best Picture Oscar Predictions

Why try to handicap the 2013 Academy Awards as early as June, when most of the likely Oscar hopefuls haven't even been completed, much less seen? Because predicting things is fun! And because I thought it would be interesting to keep a record of how expectations for cinema's highest honor can change over time, based on hype, critical reactions, and… read more!

The Shrine Auditorium

Nine Oscar Venues

The Academy Awards are just around the corner, and once again they are being held in Hollywood, in what is now known as the Dolby Theatre. But the Oscars have hopped around all of Los Angeles since the first ceremony in 1929. In chronological order: The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Just across the street (and down a block) from the Dolby… read more!

Lone Survivor

Nine Movie Titles That Are Also Spoilers

I've seen a few lists like this one, but their obvious choices left me wanting more. After all, just because you call your film Escape from New York or Saving Private Ryan doesn't necessarily mean the characters will escape from New York or save Private Ryan (even though they do); the titles are meant as commands or mission statements. The… read more!