There is nothing Hollywood loves more than a story about Hollywood.
Hollywood, the centre of American cinema, fills the minds of audiences with all manner of fantastical tales. However, Hollywood is more than just a place where dreams are realised; it is a dream in and of itself. A neighbourhood of Los Angeles where artists of all stripes congregate to forge connections and realise their dreams. It’s where aspiring actors, musicians, and other creative types go to realise their childhood ambitions of being famous. So it’s no surprise that so many films have Hollywood as their setting.
This article will highlight some of the (many) films that are centred around Hollywood.
Director Damien Chazelle is coming back to highlight once again the wealth and glamour of the Los Angeles area. Set in the 1920s, when the cinema industry was transitioning from silent to talkies, Babylon explores the early days of Hollywood’s Golden Age. It traces the rise and fall of a wide cast of real and imagined characters including John Gilbert, a silent cinema star whose popularity waned when talkies became more popular.
Chazelle has established himself as a respected director and filmmaker in the industry. It certainly helps that his three previous feature films combined for a whopping 23 Oscar nominations. On top of that, he grabbed 10 wins out of 23 nominations.
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Sunset Blvd., Billy Wilder’s 1950 noir, is a classic that explores the industry’s darker side. Moreover, it is mostly regarded as one of the most influential films of all time. Gloria Swanson starred as the film’s protagonist, Norma Desmond, an older silent cinema star who enlists the help of a young, struggling screenwriter, Joe Gillis (William Holden), to revive her waning career. Joe is trying to help Norma promote her terrible Salome story. Still, the two are only using each other for their own benefit: Norma is receiving bizarre cosmetic treatments, while Joe manipulates her to have time to write his own screenplay.
More than half a century after its first release, Sunset Boulevard remains remarkably relevant as a film about Hollywood.
La La Land (2017)
Musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) meets and falls in love with Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress who is trying to make it in Hollywood. The film’s excellent cinematography, breathtaking images, and acting make it both hilarious and poignant. La La Land is not only one of the best films we’ve seen, but it will also be remembered as a classic of the 21st century. If you want to get a feel for Chazelle’s style before viewing Babylon, start with La La Land.
Once Upon A Time in Hollywood (2019)
Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is a film about Hollywood directed by none other than Quentin Tarantino. It is his ninth feature film. It features a stellar cast in an ensemble drama. And it paints a rosy picture of Hollywood in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a time of creative ferment for the genre’s more experimental filmmakers. Moreover, Tarantino spent a good deal of time on the screenplay.
The plot centres on Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), a once-famous actor, relegated to bit parts in the face of rising newcomers, is forced to watch his star decline. Also shown is Dalton’s best friend and stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), a former green beret from WWII whose Hollywood career is understandably waning along with Dalton’s. Moreover, the story also highlights Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). As the plot progresses, the three of them eventually reach the night of Aug. 8, 1969, when they have a violent confrontation with the Manson Family.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
L.A. Confidential, directed by Curtis Hanson, is a neo-noir crime thriller set in 1953 that examines the connection between police corruption and Hollywood success through the lens of a squad of LAPD officers. The title alludes to the scandal magazine Confidential, which is renamed Hush-Hush in the film.
In many ways, L.A. Confidential is a perfect homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema: gritty, gorgeous, and hilarious. This means it actively goes against the grain of the majority of Hollywood’s current production norms. The film is excellent and worthy of comparison to other well-known films about Hollywood because it features not just a compelling tale but well-developed and interesting characters.
Ed Wood (1994)
Ed Wood, a biographical comedy-drama set in 1994 America and directed by Tim Burton, stars Johnny Depp as the eponymous cult filmmaker Ed Wood. The film chronicles the time in Wood’s life when he made his most known films and his friendship with Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau).
Burton decided to shoot the film in black and white because the film takes an unfavourable view of Hollywood and its environs. Burton also expertly imitates Wood’s film style and captures Wood’s wild personality on screen. The film doesn’t have much of a plot and instead relies on a series of events to make its point.
Some of the most influential, significant, and critically acclaimed films have been about the Hollywood film industry itself. And there’s a lot more variety within the genre than you may think. From Sunset Boulevard to the most recent star-studded Babylon, there is no shortage of Hollywood-themed films to choose from.