best actor goes to…los angeles!

People have said that if you really want to act in movies you need to live in Los Angeles because that’s where movies are filmed.  Although some other states like Georgia and New Mexico are luring production companies to their states by offering tax rebates and some productions are going to other countries where it’s cheaper to film a movie, Los Angeles is still the heart of the movie industry. All the major studios have a base in the Los Angeles area.  They’re so busy that some of them are in the process of building even more production offices and soundstages.

There are several movies and TV shows filmed on the soundstages all over the city and there are also movies filmed on location (see my other comments about how annoying filming in Los Angeles is to residents).  For some of those movies, they were filming in the city but were set in a different place.  Some parts of Gotham City in “The Dark Knight Rises” were filmed in downtown Los Angeles, the outside shots of the merry-go-round in “The Sting” is a real merry-go-round on the Santa Monica Pier, and the main building of Judgement City in “Defending Your Life” is a government building about a mile away from UCLA.  UCLA has also played a few other universities in movies.

There have also been movies filmed on location in Los Angeles that are also set in Los Angeles.  The “Lethal Weapon” movies were all filmed and set in the Los Angeles area, the “Beverly Hills Cop” movies were filmed in the Los Angeles area (although a lot of scenes weren’t filmed in Beverly Hills), and Quentin Tarantino filmed in the Los Angeles area (or close to Los Angeles) for his movies “Reservoir Dogs”, “Pulp Fiction”, “Jackie Brown”, and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”.  There are so many movies filmed and set in the city there’s a pretty interesting documentary called “Los Angeles Play Itself”

Having grown up in Los Angeles, I’m a fan of the movies set in this city.  The following is a list of some of the best movies set in Los Angeles – including 2 movies with “L. A.” in the title.  They’re in alphabetical order.

“Blade Runner” (1982) – In a future version of Los Angeles, a “blade runner” hunts down four “replicants” with fixed lifespans who have come to Los Angeles to find their creator so they can get their life extended.

Okay, this movie is somewhat loosely “set in Los Angeles” because it’s a future version of Los Angeles that hasn’t happened yet (the movie takes place in 2019 which is in the past now but was over 35 years in the future when the movie was released).  Of all the “future Los Angeles” movies – including “Demolition Man”, “Strange Days”, “Escape from L.A.”, etc. – this movie is by far the best.

Notable Los Angeles location: Although this movie shows a “future” Los Angeles there are a few real locations including the “Bradbury” building in downtown Los Angeles (known for its open “cage like” elevators” and glass ceiling) and Union Station in downtown Los Angeles is the police station in the movie.

“Chinatown” (1974) – A private detective hired to track a man having an affair gets caught up in a web of lies involving water distribution in 1930s Los Angeles.

A lot of people – including me – consider this movie one of the best scripts ever written.  The story is loosely based on the real “water wars” that happened in Los Angeles where some people including William Mulholland (the person Mulholland Drive is named after) tried to divert water that was going to the valley into the city.

Notable Los Angeles location: One of the few movies that filmed on Catalina Island just off the coast of Los Angeles.  Also, the place where Hollis Mulwray is found dead is the Hollywood Reservoir in the Hollywood hills.

“Die Hard” (1988) – A New York cop visits his family in Los Angeles for the holidays and ends up battling terrorists in a Los Angeles high rise.

One of the best – and one of the most famous – “single man vs a group of terrorists” movies ever made.  It’s so popular a lot of people still call the building in the movie the “Die Hard Building”.

Notable Los Angeles location: The “Die Hard building”, which is actually called “Fox Plaza”.

“Heat” (1995) – The LAPD is on the trail of a group of professional thieves planning their ultimate bank robbery.

In my opinion, one of the best “cops vs robbers” movies ever made.  Also in my opinion, it has one of the best shootouts in movie history

Notable Los Angeles location: The bank robbery and the shootout were actually filmed on the streets of downtown Los Angeles.

“L.A. Confidential” (1997) – Three Los Angeles police officers get involved in the corruption of the Los Angeles police department in the 1950s.

The movie I thought should have won the Academy Award for best picture (instead of “Titanic”).  Although the storyline isn’t real, the police corruption in Los Angeles in the 1950s was and the movie references some actual events.  For example: the “Bloody Christmas” riot shown at the start of the movie was based on something that really happened on Christmas Day in the 50s.

Notable Los Angeles location: There’s a couple scenes at the Formosa Café which is a real place where Lana Turner and Johnny Stompanato occasionally visited – like they do in the movie.

“L.A. Story” (1991) – A wacky weatherman shows an English newspaper reporter around Los Angeles in the 1990s

Steve Martin skillfully wrote and starred in this movie which shows (and pokes fun of) Los Angeles.

Notable Los Angeles location: In one scene he roller-skates through the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

“The Player” (1992) – A studio executive accidentally kills a man he thought was the person threatening him.

One of the many movies about the movie industry.  If you’re doing a movie about the movie industry, they’re usually set Los Angeles.

Notable Los Angeles location: The Sunset Tower hotel in Hollywood has a brief scene in this movie where the studio executive walks through the lobby and sees Andie MacDowell (playing herself) and then Malcom McDowell (playing himself).

“Pretty Woman” (1990) – A shrewd businessman hires a woman to accompany him to some social events.

One of the biggest romantic comedies ever which made Julia Roberts a star.

Notable Los Angeles location: This movie (and “Beverly Hills Cop”) also made the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills famous.

Sunset Blvd” (1950) – A struggling screenwriter develops a dangerous relationship with a former silent film star looking to make a triumphant return.

One of my personal favorite movies ever.  Before “The Artist”, and “Singin in the Rain”, and “Babylon”, this was the best movie about when movies switched from silent films to films with sound.  The movie features silent film star Buster Keaton, studio executive H.B. Warner, director Cecil B. DeMille, and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper playing themselves.

Notable Los Angeles location: A scene where they drive into the Paramount Studios main gate – is THE REAL Paramount Studios main gate (at the time when this movie was filmed).

The Terminator” (1984) – A cyborg killing machine and a human are sent back in time to Los Angeles in 1984.  The cyborg is sent back to kill the mother of the boy who will become the key to the future human rebellion.  The human is sent back to protect her.

One of the first and still one of the best time travel movies.  In the movie, Los Angeles is apparently the city where they start creating the cyborgs.

Notable Los Angeles location: The terminator first shows up at the famous Griffith Park Observatory.

HONORABLE MENTION: There are some notable movies that have a few scenes in Los Angeles including a famous scene involving a studio executive and a horse head in “The Godfather” and the tallest building in downtown Los Angeles blowing up in “Independence Day”.

No matter what kind of movie you enjoy – drama, comedy, action, film noir, sci fi – some of the best movies are set in Los Angeles.  It’s one of the reasons the city is one of the most famous cities in the world.