Hollywood often loves to hold a mirror up to itself by making movies that detail the ups and downs of filmmaking. Films like Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and La La Land show life in Hollywood and the complicated lives of actors and directors. Plenty of famous movies have intriguing backstories of how they were developed.
Audiences can watch a great movie and wonder what it was like to make this movie; audiences can also watch a terrible movie and wonder how the movie ever got made in the first place.
10 Hugo (2011)
While Hugo is a fictional tale, one of the film’s characters is George Melies, an iconic director in the early stages of the film who revolutionized film with special effects and storytelling. Hugo features a sequence in which Melies looks back at the making of his classic film A Trip To The Moon in 1902. Director Martin Scorsese recreates many of the props and settings from A Trip To The Moon to give a behind-the-scenes of its making. Hugo is not only a love letter to the development of film as a technology but also film as a form of entertainment. Martin Scorsese has a love for film and nowhere is his love more expressed through the eyes of Hugo.
9 Shadow Of The Vampire (2000)
Shadow of the Vampire is a fictionalized telling of the silent horror film Nosferatu. Starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe, the film centers around director F.W. Murnau who is obsessed with creating the most authentic Vampire film-to the point where he hires a real vampire in the lead role who begins to attack the crew.
It is a funny idea and critiques certain films determination for authenticity, while also poking fun at method acting when it goes too far. It is a clever way of honoring a classic horror film while also being a solid vampire horror flick on its own.
8 Baadasssss! (2003)
Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is a film from 1971 which garnered controversy at the time due to its violence and graphic sex scenes. Baadasssss! documents the complicated production behind the film. It stars and is directed by Mario Van Peebles, the son of Melvin Van Peebles, who starred in the original film being documented. Mario plays his father and provides an unfiltered look at many of the questionable acts his dad committed while shooting the film which included tricking a fire department and allowing Mario to film sex scenes at the age of 11.
7 My Week with Marilyn (2011)
Michelle Williams takes on the role of Marilyn Monroe here and focuses on the week when Monroe was escorted around London while shooting The Prince and the Showgirl. My Week with Marilyn features other iconic Hollywood stars including actress Vivien Leigh, director Laurence Olivier, and playwright Arthur Miller. While the film is more focused on Monroe’s relationship with Eddie Redmayne’s character, there are still some scenes that show Marilyn Monroe as an actress and her relationship with Olivier during the production of The Prince and the Showgirl.
6 Hitchcock (2012)
Hitchcock portrays the production of Psycho and how the film influenced Alfred Hitchcock’s relationship with his wife. Anthony Hopkins takes on the role of the iconic director along with a fantastic cast including Helen Mirren, Scarlet Johansson, and Toni Collette. Hitchcock features many recreations of the making of Psycho, including the iconic shower scene. It even shows the theatrical experience for Psycho, which featured specific instructions for the movie and portrays how audiences reacted to Psycho, which at the time was a game-changing movie that no one had seen before. For fans of Psycho or Hitchcock movies in general, Hitchcock is a must-see for those who want to know more about how Hitchcock made his iconic proto-slasher horror film.
5 The Aviator (2004)
The Aviator is Scorsese’s biopic on Howard Hughes, famous director and aviation pioneer. Leonardo DiCaprio takes on the role of Hughes who suffered from crippling obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is seen throughout the film, especially as he makes the film Hell’s Angels. The beginning of The Aviator shows Hughes making Hell’s Angels and many of the complications that came from trying to shoot a film in the air with the limited technology available in the 1930s. The Aviator also features an Oscar-winning performance from Cate Blanchett as legendary actress Katherine Hepburn, who had a lengthy relationship with Hughes.
4 The Disaster Artist (2017)
The Room is commonly known as the worst movie ever made. The Disaster Artist portrays the shocking and puzzling making of this trainwreck of a movie.
While fans of The Room will certainly get to see a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most hilarious scenes, The Disaster Artist centers more around Tommy Wiseau, the mysterious and kooky director of The Room, and the friendship he develops with Greg Sestero, who plays Mark in The Room. Real-life brothers James and Dave Franco take on the lead roles with James doing a very solid impression of Wiseau.
3 Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
If The Disaster Artist and Shaft had a baby, it would be Dolemite is my Name. This Netflix film served as a comeback for Eddie Murphy, who portrays Rudy Ray Moore who many consider being the Godfather of rap. Moore created a character named Dolemite, who starred in many films also starring and directed by Moore. Dolemite is my Name takes a look at the making of Dolemite and how Moore rose to fame after the creation of his character. It is a really funny comedy that pays tribute to a man who followed his dreams no matter how many people told him he was crazy.
2 Ed Wood (1994)
Continuing with the theme of how bad movies were made, Ed Wood is a biopic from Tim Burton about director Ed Wood, who directed several low-budget horror movies that are remembered for how remarkably bad they were. The film looks at the making of many of Wood’s films, including his most famous movie, Plan 9 from Outer Space. Johnny Depp plays the role of Wood perfectly as well as Martin Landau, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of classic Hollywood horror actor, Bela Lugosi. Burton pays tribute to Wood by shooting the biopic as if it was done by Wood himself.
1 Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Mary Poppins is one of Disney’s most beloved movies. What many people might not know is that it faced a lot of pushback from the author, P.L. Travers. Saving Mr. Banks explores Travers as a character by showing her childhood through flashbacks which explain why she is so protective of her magical nanny. While it does portray the meetings in which they tried to develop the story and songs for Mary Poppins, it is more focused on making Travers a complex, fleshed-out character. What is also impressive is Saving Mr. Banks makes viewers rethink their own understanding of the real message behind Mary Poppins. This Disney picture is heartwarming and emotional with great performances by Emma Thompson as Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney.