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20 Of The Best Movies That Are About Movies

27 April 2014 | Features, Film Lists | by Gavin Miller

best movies about movies

Sometimes, a good way to understand movies is to simply watch movies. The best way though, is to watch movies about movies. It’s joyous when a film can be show the audience a portrait of the filmmaking process, or an insight into the industry – and some of the greatest films are about films. It’s a fascinating subject to explore, and one that ironically translates very well into cinema.

Documentaries are a great way to give the audience an informative and insightful journey behind the camera, but equally wonderful is fiction – where the world of cinema can be artistically expressed. There’s so many aspects of the of film as a medium that cinema can explore. An art form, a creative process, a very important part of life and culture. Here are some of the best movies that are about movies.

 

20. Film Geek

Film Geek

Film Geek is an underrated, made-for-nothing gem, and its often hilarious and on-the-nose depiction of cinephilia is affectionate and entertaining. After being fired from his job at a DVD rental store, Scotty struggles to find work, at the same time balancing his infatuation with cinema and for a woman who shares his love for David Cronenberg.

Film Geek is clearly not made for a large budget, but it’s worth checking out for anyone who loves movies, as you’ll definitely find the titular character quite relatable.

 

19. Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder is a quite hysterical satire of the film industry, as well as a successful and often intelligent spoof of big-budget war epics. Every iconic war film is made fun of here, and the dedicated, hilarious performance of Robert Downey Jr. alone is worth the price of admission.

Tropic Thunder always accomplishes what it’s going for, and there’s enough big laughs and clever comments about movie-making for it to deserve a spot on this list.

 

18. Broken Embraces

broken-embraces

Pedro Almódovar’s Broken Embraces is one of the director’s most ambitious and complex films, and one of the best parts of it is that it is told as a flashback of a blind filmmaker that loves movies more than anything.

Broken Embraces is a perfect example of Almódovar’s colorful direction and beautiful framing, and thanks to wonderful performances from Penélope Cruz and LluÍs Homar, it ranks among his most emotionally complex and rich films. Broken Embraces depicts on-set drama as well as the directorial experience with flair, and its noirish undertones are vibrant.

 

17. The Blair Witch Project

blairwitchproject

This 1999 horror sensation that essentially began the found-footage craze realistically presented the “footage” from a group of college students who journeyed into supposedly haunted woods to film a documentary about an urban legend involving a witch.

It’s all fiction of course, but the way it’s done is so effective and scary that the film works wonders with its lack of production value, intentionally amateur camera work and some damn convincing work from its stars. It’s very frightening on a horror level, but it’s also quite interesting to watch as the characters go about making the documentary – as they start to become suspicious of whether or not their subject is really just a myth.

 

16. Barton Fink

barton fink

Barton Fink is pure Coens brothers; it’s drenched in black comedy, sated with potent commentary and featuring a fascinating narrative. John Turturro gives a magnificent performance as a successful screenwriter who has been hired to write a wrestling picture, and ends up suffering from major writer’s block, which in turn results in psychological horror setting in.

An acutely realized and genre bending masterpiece, Barton Fink is a works a Hollywood satire and a dark portrait of terror – one that will continue to be analyzed and thought of as it matures with age.

 

15. This Film Is Not Yet Rated

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

Kirby Dick’s funny and enraging documentary about the MPAA rating system is a must-see film for any cinephile, and an entertaining, thoroughly insightful look at one of the more stupid and unfortunate points of the filmmaking process. We learn about how the MPPA has forced and continues to force artists to censor their work by slapping NC-17 or R ratings on their films.

These ratings are often not profitable for studios, and the filmmakers often have to cut their movies to bump up the rating. Filled with enlightening interviews with lots of familiar faces and renewed directors, This Film Is Not Yet Rated is one of the best and most compelling and interesting documentaries about the filmmaking industry.

 

 

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  • Luis Arturo González

    “Federico Fellini’s 8½ is the best film ever made about filmmaking” Why isn’t it then?

    • Jonas K. Lundbye

      sunset boulevard and mullholland drive arent about filmmaking, but they are about film.

      • garden variety

        Wrong, m.drive is definitely about filmaking as well

  • Javacafe

    One of my most favorite films which involve movie making as a subject is François Truffaut’s “Day for Night.” Can’t believe it didn’t make this list.

  • Alan Levy

    I may get blasted for this but how can you leave out Groundhog Day?

    • Mihai Meseșan

      No blasting, but that one, although great, was related to a TV reportage, not a movie.

  • Terry Powell

    Sorry to see a couple of my favorites missing, The Stuntman and Matinee.

  • winstoncdumas

    No “The Party” by Blake Edwards?

  • savudin

    I would put Living in Oblivion on this list.

  • Angel Manuel Fernandez Corral

    Splendor (EttoreScola) is the name of an old movie theater managed by Jordan (Mastroianni), who inherited it from his father. The theater is in decay and only generates debts and trouble, but Jordan gets aid in his almost quixotian quest from projectionist Luigi (Troisi) and ushurette Chantale (Vlady). However, Jordan is finally forced to sell the Splendor to businessman Lo Fazio (Piperno), which plans to transform it in some kind of furniture store. When Jordan leaves the theater for the last time (the very first scene), he recalls the glorious days of Splendor and movies in general.
    – Written by Ivan Antezana IMDb

  • Ted Wolf

    Contempt?

  • Flávio St Jayme

    You could add “Cine Holiúdi”, an excelent brazilian movie about a poor guy who make a little movie cinema in a small town. It’s simply wonderful!

  • williamdais

    I’d include State and Main, Living in Oblivion and Day for Night. Come on!

  • aceblack1965

    Good list and good topic! There is no shortage of good and interesting films about the world of films. I would add Robert Altman’s The Player (1992), Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962), and Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s The Barefoot Contessa (1954) to the debate.

  • subwayfare

    No, “My Life’s In Turnaround?”

  • Chandradeep Singh Rathore

    you have missed Rob Marshal’s Nine.

  • Melville Baz

    Why didn’t you mention “Contempt” ? This is a no-brainer when it comes to movies about movies

  • mysteriousguy48

    How about The Player? SOB?

  • Sanghmitra Hitaishi

    Why is Bertolucci’s The Dreamers not included in this list?

  • Mikhail Goberman

    The Bad and the Beautiful???

  • Nelson

    Thought Day for night and living in oblivion made the list

  • Red Lagoon

    Paprika maybe?

  • Aya Dae

    How about Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind and Kenneally’s Side by Side? 😀

  • Daniel Deheljan
  • Jose Alberto Hermosillo

    What about if you make it 25. Mel Brooks’ A Silent Movie is one of the best.

  • Guest

    Best Worst Movie.

  • Brad Klopman
  • Sumedh Natu

    You guys would love Bollywood’s Filmistaan. Also, The Dreamers, The Dreamers, The Dreamers.

  • Enrico Butelli

    You forgot Living In Oblivion, wich is actually more about film making than all the movies listed here

  • Please correct me if I’m wrong but, when you posted Broken Embraces, in the text under the image, you kept referring to it as Broken Flowers (Starring: Bill Murray/ Dir: Jim Jarmusch) …and repeatedly I may add. ( …and not to mention, has nothing to do with film making.)

  • Mary Crosson

    No “Forgotten Silver”? It’s the Spinal Tap of filmmaking.

  • Sugato Majumdar

    “Akaler Sandhane” (In Search of Famine) by Mrinal Sen, I think, should have been in the list. It is an extraordinary film about film making.

  • YokoRobot

    Hi guys, Broken Embraces isn’t Broken Flowers… No real problem but this is a list for cinephiles…

  • Guest

    No Iranian movies?

  • Alex Nasaudean

    Surely too many American movies, and absolutely no Iranian ones…must be a conspiracy against the Axis of Evil. You need to considerably broaden your horizons before doing such a difficult list.

  • Matt_Terry

    These are 20 great films, no doubt, but the BEST film about filmmaking is the movie “Baadassss” about the making of the film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasss Song.” Not only is the film made by the very people who were actually IN the original film – the film showcases the struggle of a black filmmaker in the 1970’s trying to do something different than just what the studio wants. The very fact that the people who made the original film are interviewed during the credits (including Bill Cosby who produced “Sweet”) makes this story ring more true instead of some weird fictionalized account of how the movie was made. If you haven’t seen “Baadassss” do yourself a favor and watch it. It’s great.

  • Leon

    The Player??

  • Richard McLin

    What about Robert Altman’s “The Player”?

  • FlyteBro

    Gee, another TasteOfCinema-list featuring Scorsese. What a big surprise.

    It’s becoming more and more obvious that the people who write these lists have very limited knowledge about movies.

  • fantail31

    The sweet smell of success.

  • Massimo Salvato

    “This is not a film” by Jafar Panahi

  • Brock Brahmes

    How is Day for Night not in that list?

  • Terry Powell

    Disappointed not seeing Matinee on the list.

  • Ozz Wald

    I would add
    -Day for Night – Truffaut
    -Berberian Sound Studio

  • Matt_Terry

    Sadly, a film that didn’t make this is list is a FANTASTIC film about low-budget film making. The film is “Baadasssss!” About the making of the 1970’s blaxploitation flick “Sweet Sweetback’s Bad Ass Song.” What makes the film so great is the fact that all the major players in the original film had a hand in making the film about making it. Actors, Director, Production people, even Bill Cosby who bankrolled the original film with $50K (even though it was rated X when it was released). When so many of the original players are involved there’s a really good chance that the film is completely accurate in its portrayal of the struggle of a young black filmmaker trying to make and get funding for his film. Do yourself a favor and see both films.

  • Jafar Panahi’s This is Not a film and Close-Up

  • John W. Thackery

    Baadasssss! (aka How to Get the Man’s Foot Outta Your Ass), The Bad and the Beautiful, The Player. C’mon guys!

  • jdougs

    Swimming with Sharks, The Player.

  • SCParegien

    Inception. Inception is about making movies.

  • river2myppl

    A more recent and somewhat worthy addition would be ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’, albeit about a couple of kids making short films that parody famous arthouse movies.

  • Miro M

    Great list. Burton should be no 5 at least

  • Arshad Mohammed

    Solino….no no?

  • lauramoreaux

    La nuit américaine by Truffaut. Nice list.

  • Iain Robert Behr

    ‘Super 8’ and ‘Inglorious Basterds’ would be on my list – but this was a great article, thanks!