A city that is synonymous with Hollywood and the entertainment industry of the US, Los Angeles is more than just a piece of land that has evolved to become one of the busiest places in the world. It is today the melting pot that provides a highly competitive and even controversial yet highly promising platform for those who wish to earn a name for themselves in the world of entertainment. And of course, there are plenty of movies out there that depict the city and its sights, as well as its people and their ways, making it one of the most represented cities in movies and beyond. And to honor the city for all it represents, here we are with our list of Ten Awesome Movies Straight Out of Los Angeles!
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood may not have been the humongous success that Quentin Tarantino fans had initially made it out to be but even by Tarantinoesque standards, the film did quite well, not just at the box office — raking in a cool $374.6 million against the $90 off million it cost to make it — but also at the award ceremonies that lined up the best movies for the year. From 10 nominations at the Academy Awards to more accolades from other award shows, the movie made quite the impact on moviegoers. Of course, that it was based on all that went down in the very heart of the LA entertainment industry made it even more endearing for fans of all things movies. With an impressive ensemble cast that few other movies can boast of, what truly wins you over is the nostalgic sequences of the film that give you a peek into how Hollywood truly looked in 1969. Telling the story of an interesting set of people and incidents, in a way only Quentin Tarantino can, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is truly the magnum opus that Tarantino hoped it would be! And it’s all LA too!
Directed by Curtis Hanson and based on the James Ellroy novel by the same name, L.A. Confidential is a popular and successful neo-noir crime film that revolves around the corrupt practices of the Los Angeles Police Department, the LAPD, and how this corruption plays out in the corridors of the city’s entertainment industry too. Led by a star cast consisting of Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, David Strathairn, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, and more, the film was quite the success at the box office too, making the filmmakers $126.2 million against the $35 million it took to produce it. In addition to the storyline itself, there’s a lot of LA in the locations that play out in the film too, from the Linda Vista Community Hospital and the Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood to the Frolic Room and Hancock Park. With brilliant work put up by the cast of the film and huge chunks of the Los Angeles life to boot, L.A. Confidential is a true blue LA movie in every way!
Yet another Quentin Tarantino movie set in the city of his choice, Jackie Brown is a crime film that has a long list of great actors as a part of its cast, ranging from Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robert Forster to Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, and Robert De Niro. Shot and set in Los Angeles, the film particularly came under fire from several quarters for the blatant use of the word “nigger”, something Quentin Tarantino movies are famous for. Of course, his movies like Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight pretty much broke the record in terms of the number of times the word was used, but until these movies were released, it was Jackie Brown that garnered the wrong kind of attention. The controversy, although it did create a bit of noise, failed to dampen the spirits of the movie itself, with even Samuel L. Jackson proclaiming that if a filmmaker has to do justice to the setting of a movie, they have to use the language that does justice to the times too. But Jackie Brown is a lot more than just that, and as far as Los Angeles is concerned, can surely go down as an authentic LA movie!
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Don Cheadle, Heather Graham, and a host of other actors, Boogie Nights is an honest and shocking look into the other side of the promises that LA holds, one where people are forced to compromise when they aren’t able to find the limelight in the mainstay and choose the nightlife kinda alternate entertainment instead. In other words, choosing the world of pornography over the original dream of making it big in mainstream cinema! Either out of choice or due to the surrounding circumstances that force them to compromise, aspiring actors who come to LA in the hope of making it big are often pushed to the darker side of it, from taking on small parts in smaller productions to even resorting to pornography. Exploring just about every angle associated with this alternate world, Boogie Nights is strong in every way, telling us a story that is far closer to reality than the exotic and flattering picture of an LA that we all seem to have painted in our minds. There’s certainly a lot of Los Angeles in this one, folks!
When a city is crawling with a mix of all kinds of human beings, it is crucial that the law enforcement agencies in it are at par with the best in the country, and that’s what the LAPD is. But there’s always another side to even the best outfits and that’s what Training Day is all about. A crime thriller led by Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Cliff Curtis, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg, among others, this one is a fast-paced action-packed film that is drawn out only over a period of 24 hours. But those 24 hours prove to be quite the LA ride! Narrating a brief encounter with the corruption and sleaze that is depicted as being an integral part of some narcotic officers of the police force in Los Angeles, the film shows how a younger officer looks up to his senior officer, only to uncover a web of deceit, illegal money, and even more illegal practices. What follows is one man’s fight to not just beat the heat that comes his way for standing up to what he believes is right but also to save his own skin from being branded as a corrupt officer himself. As an LA movie, Training Day sure makes for a great day at the movies!
It all begins with a small-time thief’s attempts at making a quick buck and soon enough, Nightcrawler transforms into an experience that is pretty much like the city it is set in — difficult to comprehend but too enigmatic to get out of! Starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis “Lou” Bloom, Rene Russo as Nina Romina, and Riz Ahmed as Rick, in the lead roles, the film is all about the consumer culture around which the cities of today are built. It doesn’t matter what is being sold, as long as it has sensationalism attached to it, it is bound to sell. Based on this premise that shows the unquenching, cruel, and unsympathetic nature of the human race, Nightcrawler also brings to life the underbelly of the city of Los Angeles, a city where even ghastly crimes need to match the sensationalist cravings of the populace. A neo-noir psychological thriller that is concerned one of the best in the genre, Nightcrawler makes for quite the night ride through the city that is LA!
If the boulevard that Sunset Boulevard is synonymous with the views of the city that is Los Angeles, the movie by the same name is synonymous with just how great the black comedy genre was even in the year 1950. Regarded as one of the most successful films of its time, Sunset Boulevard proved to be a favorite with critics and did just as well at the box office too, raking in $5 million against the $1.75 in productions costs that it took to create it. But what truly made an impact is the hold the film had over the Academy Awards that year, winning nominations that numbered up to a whopping 11 different categories and especially latching on to all four major acting nominations. The film eventually won three Academy Awards — for Best Story and Screenplay, Best Art Direction/Set Direction – Black and White, and Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture. Amusing yet heartbreaking at the same time, the film is an eye-opener for those who live in an illusion of grandeur only to find it all fall apart when the end comes knocking. As a life lesson, Sunset Boulevard is a film that will always remain relevant.
Los Angeles is a famous city and has been that way for several decades now and when a city is famous, there are also a lot of infamous activities that come to be associated with it. And that’s what Chinatown is all about. A neo-noir mystery crime thriller that has you at the edge of your seats all through the 131 minutes of running time it boasts of, this one is the chase to uncover a series of crimes that turn out to be part of a much larger plot entrenched in greed. Led by a star cast consisting of Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Hillerman, Perry Lopez, Burt Young, John Huston, and others, the film wasn’t just a hit with audiences but turned out to be a money churner at the box office too, raking in a cool $29.2 million against the $6 million it cost to produce. More than anything else, the film shows just how many bad things happen in the background of a city when all we notice is the glitz and glamor of it all. A critically acclaimed piece of work from Roman Polanski, Chinatown is especially noted for Jack Nicholson’s extraordinary work in the movie and remains one of his most potent works even today.
One of the most iconic movies from Quentin Tarantino and also one of the most iconic movies ever, Pulp Fiction is what you call a milestone in moviemaking. And of course, the fact that it was set in the city that is an icon for the global entertainment industry makes the film all the more LA. Headed by a star cast that is as shimmering as the city itself, this one consisted of an entire clan of great actors including John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Maria de Medeiros, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken, Bruce Willis, and more. Of course, the fact that the plot and the storyline of the movie, coupled with the brilliant sequences and directorial instinct of the one and only Tarantino, as well as the iconic lines in the movies, all come together to make the movie bigger than even this lineup of actors is what makes Pulp Fiction the perfect movie, and the perfect Los Angeles movie too!
La La Land
The splash that the movie La La Land made at the Oscars wasn’t the only thing that was great about the movie, and when you come to think of it, everything associated with the film did indeed make a splash in 2016, the year of its release. Spearheaded by the two main protagonists, Sebastian “Seb” Wilder and Amelia “Mia” Dolan, played by the dashing Ryan Gosling and the extremely lovable Emma Stone, the film revolves around the beautiful yet unfulfilled love story between two very talented and very beautiful people. Winning the hearts of audiences across the globe, this romantic musical was written and directed by Damien Chazelle and was dedicated to the spirit of the city of Los Angeles and all those who come here with the dream to make it big. In Damien’s own words — “there is something very poetic about the city I think, about a city that is built by people with unrealistic dreams and people who kind of just put it all on the line for that”. And indeed, this sums up Los Angeles perfectly, the LA of your dreams that although seldom true, is enough to lure you in and make you stay. And La La Land is one movie that perfectly depicts the mix of exhilaration and heartbreak that LA is!
Let’s Wave Los Angeles Goodbye For Now!
From the Central LA skyline with the backdrop of those dreamy mountains to the more direct Hollywood sign, there are plenty of sights in Los Angeles that make it into movies, but what truly makes its way into the hearts of audiences and the thousands who head to the city to make their own destinies is the fact that the city of Los Angeles seems to have a heart like no other. And while many may argue that sometimes it does come across as a city without a soul, what truly matters is that even today, it offers a long list of opportunities to those who are willing to work hard to achieve what they came into the city to achieve. And that’s why we have rendered a salute to LA with our list of Ten Awesome Movies Straight Out of Los Angeles!