Best Showbiz Movies - WTOP News (2024)

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WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley ranks the best showbiz movies of all time in the gallery below.

Not seeing your favorite movie? It’s probably in a different genre! Check out the full list here.


30. ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ (2019) – Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino reimagined the Manson Murder of Sharon Tate thanks to next-door neighbors Leo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, who won his long overdue Oscar.


29. ‘The King of Comedy’ (1982) – Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese followed “Raging Bull” by casting Robert De Niro as Rupert Pupkin, who will do anything to be like his hero, late night host Jerry Lewis.


28. ‘Lost in Translation’ (2004) – Sofia Coppola

Sofia Coppola made a name for herself as Bill Murray’s faded movie star formed an unlikely bond with the neglected Scarlett Johansson in Tokyo.


27. ‘La Strada’ (1954) – Federico Fellini

Fellini won the very first Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film with this tale of agirl sold to an abusive traveling circus entertainer named Zampano.


26. ‘Whiplash’ (2014) – Damien Chazelle

J.K. Simmons earned an Oscar as the hardass drill instructor, I mean, drumming instructor grilling Miles Teller about “rushing” and ‘dragging.”


25. ‘Almost Famous’ (2000) – Cameron Crowe

Cameron Crowe penned a semi-autobiographical journey of a young Rolling Stone critic going on the road with a rising rock band alongside Kate Hudson as Penny Lane.


24. ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ (2008) – Danny Boyle

This underdog Best Picture winner followed Mumbai teen Dev Patel’s rise from the slums to star on theIndian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” — culminating with a Bollywood-style dance with Freida Pinto to “Jai Ho.”


23. ‘A Star is Born’ (1954-2018) – George Cukor, Bradley Cooper

Whether it’s Lady Gaga belting “Shallow” or Judy Garland singing “The Man That Got Away,” “A Star is Born” is an evergreen tragedy about the dangers of alcoholismwith James Mason in the ocean and Bradley Cooper in the garage.


22. ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (1964) – Richard Lester

Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr play themselves at the height of Beatlemania in this fast-paced showbiz romp directed with verve by Richard Lester.


21. ‘A Night at the Opera’ (1935) – Sam Wood

No one could have spoofed the opera like the Marx Brothers, whose zany antics include Harpo scaling the stage curtains, Chico reading the “party of the first part” contract, and Groucho packing the famous stateroom scene with “three hard-boiled eggs.”


20. ‘To Be or Not To Be’ (1942) – Ernst Lubitsch

Released a month after she was killed in a plane crash, Carole Lombard dazzles across Jack Benny as atroupe of Polish stage actors matching wits with the Nazis.


19. ‘The Producers’ (1968) – Mel Brooks

Mel Brooks won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in his hilarious directorial debut about a pair of Broadway producers(Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder) who hatch a scheme to make money by producing a sure-fire flop with “Springtime for Hitler.”


18. ‘The Truman Show’ (1998) – Peter Weir

“Cue the sun.” Peter Weir predicted the rise of reality television with this ahead-of-its-time yarn about a giant Hollywood dome set, where Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) unwittingly lives his entire life recorded by TV cameras and broadcast live to the world by the show’s Creator (Ed Harris).


17. ‘Boogie Nights’ (1997) – Paul Thomas Anderson

Right from the masterful opening Steadicam shot, Paul Thomas Anderson is in total control of this uniquetake on Hollywood, exploring Dirk Diggler’s adventures in the late ’70s p*rn industry with a Golden Globe-winning performance by Burt Reynolds.


16. ‘The Player’ (1992) – Robert Altman

Robert Altman’s legendary eight-minute opening shot kicks off this Hollywood satire about a studio executive (Tim Robbins) who is being sent death threats by a screenwriter whose script he rejected — but which writer is it?


15. ‘Ed Wood’ (1994) – Tim Burton

Long before “The Disaster Artist” spoofed ‘The Room,”Tim Burton cast Johnny Depp as untalented filmmaker Ed Wood to chronicle the making of the worst movie of all time, “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” featuring Martin Landau’s Oscar-winning role as an aging Bela Lugosi.


14. ‘Nashville’ (1975) – Robert Altman

This genius mosaic of 24 main characters speaks volumes on American politics, violence, love and music.


13. ‘Contempt’ (1963) – Jean-Luc Godard

Too busy trying to please director Fritz Lang, screenwriter Michel Piccoli seems indifferent to producer Jack Palance’s advances toward his wife Brigette Bardot, sparking the king of marital fights in Jean-Luc Godard’s masterful showbiz satire.


12. ‘Cinema Paradiso’ (1988) – Giuseppe Tornatore

In this ultimate love note to the cinema, a jaded filmmaker recallshis innocent childhood when he first fell for the movies during a friendship with a local theater projectionist, projecting a film on the side of a building and splicing together outtakes for a brilliant finale.


11. ‘The Bad and the Beautiful’ (1952) – Vincente Minnelli

If you wondered whether Minnelli could thrive outside of musicals, look no further than this damning look at a Hollywood producer (Kirk Douglas), who uses and abuses an actress (Lana Turner), director (Barry Sullivan) and screenwriter (Dick Powell) on his way to the top.


10. ‘Children of Paradise’ (1945) – Marcel Carné

Set in the bustling Parisian theater scene of the 1820s, this French landmark of poetic realism stars Arletty as a courtesan courted by four men: a mime, an actor, a criminal and an aristocrat, while the peasant crowds dangle over auditorium balconies as the titular “children of paradise.”


9. ‘Day for Night’ (1973) – Francois Truffaut

Francois Truffaut’s Oscar-winning satire follows adetermined film director who struggles to complete his movie, coping with various personal and professional crises among his cast and crew, most hilariously a cat that won’t drink milk on camera.


8. ‘Quiz Show’ (1994) – Robert Redford

Robert Redford’s best directorial effort was this true story about the investigation into thefixed game show “Twenty One,” where defending champ Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes) is given the answers, much to the dismay of jealous former contestant Herb Stempel (John Turturro).


7. ‘Sullivan’s Travels’ (1941) – Preston Sturges

Preston Sturges’ greatest effort was this showbiz satire about Hollywood producer Joel McCrea, who goes undercover as a hobo to research his “Grapes of Wrath”-style prestige pic “O Brother Where Art Thou,” but bumps into Veronica Lake and learns the power of laughter.


6. ‘Tootsie’ (1982) – Sydney Pollack

Blackballed Broadway actor Dustin Hoffman dresses up as a woman to land a role on a soap opera, spooking his wisecracking roommate Bill Murray, falling for Oscar-winning co-star Jessica Lange, and learning life lessons about gender dynamics in the workplace.


5. ‘Birdman’ (2014) – Alejandro G. Iñarritu

Directed with the illusion of one continuous shot, Alejandro G. Iñárritu satirized Hollywood’s obsession with superheroes by casting former “Batman” star Michael Keaton as a Hollywood actor trying to escape his “Birdman” fame by starring in a Broadway play.


4. ‘All That Jazz’ (1979) – Bob Fosse

“It’s showtime, folks!” Based on Bob Fosse’s own stressful attempt to stage “Chicago” and film “Cabaret” simultaneously,Roy Scheider is mesmerizing as the pill-popping, womanizing, near-death artist, who opens with a catchy “On Broadway” audition, repeatedly tempts Jessica Lange’s Angel of Death, and ends in a body bag to Ethel Merman’s “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”


3. ‘8 1/2’ (1963) – Federico Fellini

After six features and three “half films” (two shorts and a co-directed effort), Fellini made this Oscar-winning autobiography about his own fears of director’s block, using Marcello Mastroianni as his proxy for a wonderfully surreal plunge into memory and fantasy.


2. ‘All About Eve’ (1950) – Joseph Mankiewicz

“Fasten your seat belts!” Broadway backstabbing was never more delicious than this Best Picture winner, in which Bette Davis’ stage veteran Margo Channing fends off Anne Baxter’s hungry climber Eve Harrington amid snarky observations by George Sanders’ theater critic Addison DeWitt.


1. ‘Sunset Boulevard’ (1950) – Billy Wilder

“I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.” Billy Wilder’s gothic masterpiece is a cynical look at aging Hollywood stars, as Gloria Swanson’s silent movie queen Norma Desmond leaves screenwriter Bill Holden floating face-down in a pool before she’s “ready for her close-up.”

Check out the other genres below!

Action | Adventure | Animation | Biopic | Comedy | Coming of Age | Courtroom | Crime | Documentary | Drama | Epic | Family Comedy | Family Drama | Fantasy | Film Noir | Gangster | Horror | Musical | Mystery | | Prison | Romance | Romantic Comedy | Science Fiction | Showbiz | Silent | Sports | Thriller | War | Western

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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