Friday, February 24, 2012

Top 10 Movies about Movies

In light of the Oscars being this weekend (and the strong likelihood of either The Artist or Hugo walking away with a number of them), I present to you a top list of films about films. Movies about movies. Cinema about cinema. How very meta of me.

10. Son of Rambow (2007, Jennings): A group of British youngsters make their own version of Rambo in the summer of the 1980s. A charming and funny look at young friendship and childlike imagination.

9. King Kong (1933, Cooper): A classic that stands the test of time, the entire premise for Kong is a film crew trying to make a movie. While Peter Jackson's remake was an impressive visual feast, I still prefer the original from the '30s.

8. Adaptation. (2002, Jonze): Nicolas Cage plays Charlie Kaufman, who is attempting to adapt a non-fiction book into filmic form. Written by the real-life Kaufman, and directed by the creative auteur Spike Jonze, Adaptation is about as self-referencing as a film can get.

7. Super 8 (2011, Abrams): While the alien story arc in Super 8 can feel tangential at times, the real heart is in these kids who are making movies. Some of the best child acting I've seen in years; I wish there was a full version of the movie these kids make.

6. Ed Wood (1994, Burton): Burton's quirky biography of arguably the worst film director who ever made movies is both hilarious and affecting. Martin Landau won a well-deserved Oscar for his portrayal of an aging Bela Lugosi.

5. Hugo (2011, Scorcese): Set in a beautiful Parisian train station, Hugo is a journey into cinema's origins as a young boy and an elderly man's paths intertwine through their past wounds.

4. Sullivan's Travels (1941, Sturges): When a director tires of making the fluffy films the crowds crave, he sets off on a journey to understand poverty and the human condition. Veronica Lake is at her best here, and the film's spiritual implications are many.

3. Sunset Boulevard (1950, Wilder): A hack screenwriter and a fading star form a strange bond as they navigate the darker side of Hollywood. Norma Desmond's hubris and denial of reality are compelling to witness, and Wilder's darkest film is also one of his finest.

2. Singin' in the Rain (1952, Kelly and Donen): When a silent film production has make the transition into the "talkies," the change proves more difficult than imagined. I don't even really enjoy classic musicals, but I love Singing in the Rain. Filled with catchy songs, impressive dance numbers, and a wonderful romantic story, Gene Kelly's magnum opus is a delight.

1. 8 1/2 (1963, Fellini): Fellini's ninth film was a semi-autobiographical look at the ups and downs of success in the movie industry. When a film director must follow up his latest box-office hit, he struggles with the pressure of coming up with a new successful idea, as well as navigating all the various women in his life. Tons of creative imagery and dreamlike sequences, along with a thrilling climax in a circus ring, 8 1/2 is a wonderful tribute to the world of movies.

Honorable Mentions: Be Kind Rewind, Mulholland Drive, Lost in La Mancha, Tropic Thunder, The Artist, Day for Night, Best Worst Movie

What did I miss? Share them in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. I disagree that Hugo was a better film than The Artist. The movie and its silence establish the nostalgic feeling of early cinema so effortlessly and at the same time successfully cautions against the feeling of hopeless loss. Hugo's characters were fixated on what was lost in a romanticized past while the players of The Artist overcame similar struggles.

    I would also add Cinema Paradiso to your list. A movie for movie lovers.