The Nine Best Features I Saw at Film Festivals in 2016

2016 was a pretty grim year, but I do have one positive thing to say for myself: I saw more movies in the theater than I had in any year over the past decade. Compare: in 2015, I caught just 31 new feature films on the big screen. (That may sound like a lot to you, but you're probably not a childless filmmaker who… read more!

Ghost World director Terry Zwigoff

Nine Directors Who Disappeared

It's a bummer to watch a talented filmmaker's career stall out. Someone comes along, directs a few noteworthy movies, then poof! You never hear about them anymore. What happens? Some retire without fanfare. A lot give up on features and move to TV (Keith Gordon, Carl Franklin, Agnieszka Holland). A handful keep working, but not on anything you've ever heard of. And then you have these "whatever… read more!

A typical film festival

The Nine Types of Film Festivals

Much of my time this year has been spent on film festivals: entering them, attending them, and just plain obsessing over them. This list, informed by my experiences and observations, is written with the American independent filmmaker in mind. My short 20 Matches has played in (almost) all of the following types of festivals; for a full list, go here. So if… read more!

At a private dinner in Mallorca

The Nine Fanciest Experiences I Have Had

Recently I heard someone ask, "What's the fanciest thing you've ever done?" It's a fun question to answer, because first one has to define "fancy". It's not merely – or necessarily – expensive. But it is luxurious. Classy. A little snooty. And I don't come from fancy stock. Never been on a private jet or a yacht, or in an Italian sports car. Never had… read more!

1970s: Saturday Night Fever

Nine Films That Accurately Define the Past Nine Decades

Lately it seems like we have more period pictures than ever. It's not unreasonable to conclude that filmmakers are setting their stories in pre-digital times because mobile phones and the Internet screw up traditional dramatic tropes. (More ominously, it's possible that some current films take place far in the past in order to justify non-diverse casts.) But what 2010s films best represent life in the 2010s? Will it be the upcoming The Circle, based on Dave… read more!

Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent

Nine Thwarted Actors from Superhero Franchises

Forgive the awkward title. But how else to describe those who were cast as iconic comic book characters, yet never got to play them to their full potential? I write this list in honor of Jared Leto, whose much-hyped Joker was front and center in Suicide Squad ads, then relegated to a few fleeting moments in the actual movie. (Seriously, when you've got the Joker, why do you instead make… read more!

James Doohan and daughter

The Nine Oldest Celebrity Dads

It was recently announced that Mick Jagger was about to sire his eighth child. Provided that he and baby both survive, this will make the Rolling Stone a new dad at 73. This news got me searching for other famous elderly fathers, and I found many lists citing men over 50. Pshaw! Here is the definitive list of history's very oldest celebrity dads. Accept no imitations. Charlie Chaplin, 73. Chaplin was notorious… read more!

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Nine One-Person Plays That Became Feature Films

The one-man or one-woman play has become a mainstay of the Los Angeles stage, thanks to the many struggling actors who write these pieces for themselves to perform because no one else will hire them. Once in a rare while, one of these solo shows gets turned into a movie, complete with a big cast and multiple locations. The results aren't always successful, but the task… read more!

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

Nine Movie Titles That Sound Like Sequels (But Aren’t)

Even though Hollywood cranks out sequels on an almost weekly basis, the word itself has become toxic – so much so that studio heads laughably insist that their sequels are not, in fact sequels. They're "reimaginings" or "stand-alone films". In the case of this list, however, we're talking about actual non-sequels. But you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise. 10 Cloverfield Lane. We begin with a debatable entry.… read more!

Justine and Jason Bateman

Nine Actors Whose Careers Were Upstaged By Their Siblings

It's not unusual to find groups of famous siblings in show business. Why, I've written about it here before. And again. And again. But this time I'm listing those actors who were supposed to be the star of the family, only to watch their siblings go on to greater fame. I'm sure, in most cases, that there's been no bitterness. But who… read more!

Pretty Maids All in a Row, written by Gene Roddenberry

Nine More Feature Screenplays Written by Future TV Creators

This is the promised follow-up to my previous list; the concept is the same, except that this time I'll be focusing on an older crop of small-screen moguls. SKATEBOARD, written by Dick Wolf. Grand Vizier of the Law & Order empire, Wolf had a humble start with this 1978 teen flick, cowritten with its director. Then came a dreadful comedy called Gas, then brat pack… read more!

Home Fries, by Vince Gilligan

Nine Feature Screenplays Written by Future TV Creators

This list was so interesting to research that I've decided to make it a two-parter. (Part 2 is here.) Usually the biggest names in TV got their start in that medium. But once in a while you'll hear about a writer who gets a motion picture screenplay produced, then makes the move to television. This once was considered a step down; now it's a… read more!

The Birds

Nine Classic Films That Could Actually Be Improved by a Remake

This list was hard to write, because I don't really believe in remakes. First, because filmmakers and studios should focus on new material – even though we all know they don't. Second, because while most older movies look dated today, they still fascinate as time capsules, and often have charming star performances that can't be replicated. Third, because most remakes… read more!

You can’t come in.

The Nine Reasons Why a Film Festival Might Reject Your Film

As of this writing, I've submitted 20 Matches to 41 film festivals. Deciding where to submit can be tricky, as most festivals cost money to enter, and those fees add up fast. To make it worth the gamble, you have to consider which festivals you're willing and able to travel to; how much clout each festival has; whether it's the right venue for your film; if it has potential for… read more!

Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett in Saturn 3

Nine Very Unlikely On-Screen Couples

Movie romances thrive on the "odd couple" concept: the less two paramours have in common, the more friction they generate. But there are times when the star pairing elicits a gigantic "What?!" from the audience. I don't just mean they have a lack of chemistry. I mean you'd never imagine them even being in the same room together, much less wooing each other on the… read more!

Aron’s Records

Nine Things That Say “Los Angeles in the 1990s” and Are Now Gone

I have lived in Los Angeles for 24 years – over half my life – so allow me to wax nostalgic for a bit. You non-Angelenos may want to tune out, but I still hope you enjoy this little time capsule of my first decade in town. None of these things exists anymore, but for me they are as symbolic of '90s LA… read more!

Roy Orbison in The Fastest Guitar Alive

Nine Entertainers Who Had Exactly One Hollywood Starring Vehicle

A while ago, I wrote a list about nine character actors given solitary shots at leading man/lady status. This companion piece looks at the various singers, comedians, and TV personalities who couldn't resist the lure of the silver screen... but were never given a second chance. LIBERACE, Sincerely Yours. The IMDb displays a grand total of ten acting credits for Mr.… read more!

Straight Outta Compton

The Nine Biggest Box Office Surprises of 2015

I've been remiss at updating this section lately, but as I have literally 136 Lists of 9 in various stages of completion, I promise that I haven't run out of ideas. It's just a matter of timing, a matter of not repeating other people's lists on the Internet, and a matter of finding just the right nine examples for each list. Anyway, predicting a movie's financial… read more!