Top 10 Best Movies About Making Movies

by Nick Kush
Movies About Making Movies

Hollywood has always had a fascination with the process of making films, highlighting what it can do to the human psyche and all the absurdity that goes into making a celebrated work of art.  Movies about making movies are normally heightened, but the ideas at the center of each film remain resonant to this day.

#10: Argo (2012)

Argo might not be the most historically accurate film in the world, but it replaces those elements with great storytelling that is incredibly tense at every turn.  Depicting the rescue of workers after the siege of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, the film is a fascinating look into the making of the fake Argo in order to gain entry into Iran.

Ben Affleck proved that he is one of the best directors working today, turning his career completely around as he continues to make prestige pictures (sans Live By Night).

movies about making movies

image via NPR

#9: Cinema Paradiso (1988)

The first of two Italian films on this list of movies about making movies, Cinema Paradiso is a strong ode to nostalgia and classic cinema.  At the core of the film is a lovely relationship between a boy and a projectionist, all the while discussing themes of censorship and the art form itself.  It’s clear that the makers of Cinema Paradiso are lovers of film, and that feeling comes through with every passing scene.

movies about making movies

image via The Little Theatre

#8: The Disaster Artist (2017)

insert a reference from The Room here

James Franco and company took what could have been an all-out spoof of one of the best worst movies ever made and added real heart in displaying the friendship between Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero.  The film is undeniably funny, but it also gets at the core of Tommy Wiseau as a person.  In the end, Tommy just wanted acceptance from society — and watching that quest for tolerance leads to great cinema.

*To read my full review of The Disaster Artist, please click here.

movies about making movies

image via The Atlantic

#7: Tropic Thunder (2008)

Both a spoof of the film industry and of classic war filmsTropic Thunder is one of the best comedies of the 21st century.  The film has no interest in dialing back its brand of humor, allowing stars like Jack Black go absolutely nuts.  However, the standout is Robert Downey Jr. who shockingly went on to receive an Oscar nomination for his performance as “a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude.”  Tropic Thunder creates laughs at every turn with the film industry becoming the punchline in most instances.

Watching Tom Cruise go insane is always welcomed, too.

*To read my full review of Tropic Thunder, please click here.

movies about making movies

image via Rotten Tomatoes

#6: Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

Sullivan’s Travels is taught in many film courses, and rightfully so.  Showing a director’s desire to learn what it means to struggle, Joel Sullivan (Joel McCrea) goes on a journey of discovery while meeting an entirely new group of people.  Through its often funny exterior, Sullivan’s Travels offers a different look into the artistic voice and self-discovery that remains entertaining and thought-provoking to this very day.

As a side note, the film is also a great companion piece to O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

movies about making movies

image via Empire Online

#5: Boogie Nights (1997)

The movie that shot Paul Thomas Anderson and Mark Wahlberg into stardom, Boogie Nights is definitely one of the more risqué movies on the list.  Set during the boom of the porn industry in the 1970’s, Boogie Nights is the definition of excess, and Paul Thomas Anderson knows exactly how weave this plot around its ever-memorable characters, most notably Dirk Diggler.

Although he was in his late 20’s during the filming of Boogie Nights, PTA already had a strong grasp for character, handling a dynamite cast in what became one of the more memorable films of the 1990’s.

movies about making movies

image via Den of Geek

#4: 8 1/2 (1963)

Who would have thought that watching a director’s life slowly unravel would be so funny?

8 1/2 manages to strike the balance between comedy and serious romantic drama with ease, showing the inner psyche of Guido as he handles pre-production of a film that seems to have no cohesion or reason.  However, 8 1/2 is still unbelievably funny as we get to see extended, heightened looks into Guido’s thought process and the mental gymnastics that he performs in his life.  Everything in 8 1/2 is in service to the character — a trait that more movies should utilize.

movies about making movies

image via Rotten Tomatoes

#3: Inglourious Basterds (2009)

As Lt. Aldo Raine is running through the countryside looking for Nazi scalps, Shosanna Dreyfus is looking to use the creation of another Nazi pride film against the most prominent figures in the Third Reich.

This movie has it all.  From comedy, to action, to tension, Inglourious Basterds is another thrill-ride from Quentin Tarantino that bends the genre in a completely new and entertaining way.  It’ll never be seen as a historic film, but it doesn’t need that distinction.  With powerful performances across the board, Inglourious Basterds contends for the top spot in Tarantino’s canon.

movies about making movies

image via

#2: Ed Wood (1994)

“The next one will be better!”

Like The Disaster Artist, Tim Burton’s Ed Wood shows the perilous production of films that are considered some the worst in existence.

Ed Wood is another film that isn’t necessarily historical accurate, but it replaces facts with a sense of whimsy and old-timey charm that makes every single character stand out.  Obvious standouts from the cast include Johnny Depp and Martin Landau.  However, each character is particular enough to become memorable.  In fact, Bill Murray may perform the best line delivery of his career as his character gets baptized to fund another movie.

There’s a charm to Ed Wood that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were never quite able to replicate again in their consistent team-ups.

movies about making movies

image via Letterboxd

#1: Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Singin’ in the Rain isn’t just one the best movies about making movies, it’s one of the best movies of all-time.

Using Gene Kelly’s lovable personality and incredible dancing abilities, Singin’ in the Rain is charming with every frame.  As Hollywood transitions from the silent era to talking pictures, the movie itself messes with the idea of sound underneath its already enjoyable storyline.  In fact, you won’t even notice that the film is playing tricks on you.

Sometimes, film captures a feeling that is truly remarkable.  Singin’ in the Rain contains a sense of pure joy that has never been replicated.

*To read my full review of Singin’ in the Rain, please click here.

movies about making movies

image via Letterboxd

Thanks for reading!  Wha are your favorite movies about making movies?  Comment down below!

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The Arcane Nibbler February 9, 2018 - 1:08 pm

I’m curious as to why you omitted Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard. Though technically not about the actual filmmaking process, it’s very much about the film industry. It seems as valid a choice as 8 1/2 which is more of a pastiche of Fellini memories than a film about film. Are you not a fan? I would put in my all time top ten without a second thought.

Nick Kush February 9, 2018 - 1:11 pm

I don’t know, it’s one of those films I watched when I was probably a little too young to fully understand it and I haven’t seen it since. Maybe i should go back and revisit it!

The Arcane Nibbler February 9, 2018 - 1:18 pm

You should. It’s a wicked satire with tons of Hollywood in-jokes.

Liz Gauffreau February 9, 2018 - 7:10 pm

I’m with The Arcane Nibbler. Add Sunset Boulevard!

Nick Kush February 9, 2018 - 7:41 pm

Ohh gosh the pressure is mounting ???

coolcomix0221 February 9, 2018 - 12:19 pm

Another solid article, Nick! If you haven’t already, then check out the video “Cinemassacre’s Top 5 Movies About Making Movies”. Singin’ In The Rain gets mentioned, but it’s not on James’ list. He also brings up the original King Kong, since Carl Denham brings his team to Skull Island in order to make a movie and ends up getting more than he could ever expected as a result. While Ed Wood is also on his list, he does bring up a few that he likes. Obviously, he made that list in 2009 and times have changed, but he lists “Shadow of the Vampire” (a fictionalized account on the making of Nosferatu), “Living In Oblivion” (Steve Buscemi caught in a whirlwind of various problems on and off the set, plus there’s a bit of Peter Dinklage in there and we can never have enough P.D. in our lives), “Be Kind Rewind” (a video tape rental store on the decline and in trouble when an accident causes the tapes to get erased) and “American Movie” (Indy filmmaker Mark Borchardt working on “Coven” in order to finance “Northwestern”). Either way, out of this combined hodgepodge, I’ve seen King Kong, Argo, Inglourious Basterds, Ed Wood, Singin’ In The Rain (though you already knew that), Be Kind Rewind and American Movie. There’s no shortage of this topic in terms of entertainment value.

Nick Kush February 9, 2018 - 12:23 pm

I’ve never watched that! I’ll have to check it out! This was a hard list to make and I know that I left some good ones off of it.

Be Kind Rewind is a film that I have a soft spot for. It isn’t necessarily an amazing movie, but it’s really sweet and has a great message at its core. Plus, watching Jack Black retell some famous scenes from the history of movies is pretty hilarious (the RoboCop scene is one of my favorites).

Nick Kush February 9, 2018 - 10:18 am

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