14. Inland Empire
David Lynch’s Inland Empire is one of the most indecipherable, confusing and impenetrable films in the history of cinema. The story focuses (for at least the first hour) on an actress during the production of a film that may be cursed. Maybe the Inland Empire is supposed to be about the psyche of the actor, or maybe in fact it has nothing to do with that.
Whatever it means, Inland Empire could be best described as something of a collage of nightmares straight out of Lynch’s mind; this three-hour long tour de force may not be for the casual movie-goer, but for those who want a truly unique cinematic experience, this one is for you.
13. Shadow of the Vampire
This film recounts the making of the silent classic Nosferatu, but puts a gothic twist on the material. The film suggests that director F.W. Murnau hired a real vampire, Max Schreck, to play the role of Nosferatu.
One of the most interesting parts of Shadow of the Vampire is watching scenes from Nosferatu reconstructed and duplicated, if you’re a fan of the silent masterpiece, you’ll love this film. It’s of course fiction, but it’s a very interesting idea, and gives a lot of genuine insight into the making of one of the iconic and famous horror films ever made.
In Spike Jonze’s second masterpiece, Nicolas Cage plays the screenwriter of the film itself… yes, he plays Charlie Kaufman, who wrote Adaptation, as well as Donald, Charlie’s fictional twin brother. Once you get your mind around that, the plot is basically Charlie struggling to adapt a book about orchid flowers into a different and new kind of film.
The film deals with all kinds of themes, and it’s a very unconventional and weird film. Adaptation will really make you respect screenwriters and the writing process of filmmaking though, as it depicts this particular writer’s struggles in grueling, and hilarious, detail.
11. The Artist
This best picture winning sensation is a crowd pleaser and an ode to the silent age of cinema. It follows a silent movie star who can’t make the adjustment to talkie films, and it does so in touching, artful fashion.
A silent film itself, The Artist is a wonderful film, one that pays tribute to the silent classics as well as being a beautiful, entertaining and energetic story on its own. The films illustrates perfectly this transitional period in film history, and is very enjoyable to watch.
10. American Movie
This hilarious and sorrowful documentary about an ambitious American filmmaker is a moving ode to the artist, and an insightful look at the filmmaking process.
Mark Borchardt is a fascinating personality to watch and follow, and as he refuses to let his dream escape him, the journey is both funny and sad. A documentary with real passion about a man with true ambition, American Movie is the ultimate filmmaking movie.
9. The Purple Rose of Cairo
Woody Allen loves movies and his 1985 The Purple Rose of Cairo is an all-out valentine to the cinema. Mia Farrow plays an abused wife who escapes through the movies, and when one day a movie character walks right off the screen, he falls in love with her and a sweet, thoughtful and always entertaining story ensues.
One of Allen’s least Allen-esque films, The Purple Rose of Cairo is a delight for movie lovers and, and a wonderful tale of the (literal) magic of the movies.
8. Ed Wood
In one of Tim Burton’s more down to earth films, Johnny Depp stars as Edward D. Wood Jr. – the worst director of all time. What’s so fascinating and inspiring about this film though, is that Wood was clearly born to make movies…but at the same time he clearly wasn’t.
Not many filmmakers have been as passionate and ardent about making movies as Ed Wood, and the inspiring thing about his story is how little he cared about what others thought of him or what stood in his way. But unfortunately, for all Wood’s ambition, his films were terrible. The performances of Johnny Depp and of Martin Landau, who plays Bella Lugosi, are brilliant, and the film itself is entertaining, funny and fascinating.