The best adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic romantic-gothic novel, the 1939 production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame remains an eminently watchable film; the ambitious RKO Pictures feature rendered essential by Charles Laughton’s devastating portrayal of the tragic Quasimodo, and the stunning art-direction of one of cinema’s most gifted designers and architects, Van Nest Polglase. The Hunchback of Notre Dame still makes for an impressive, engaging watch; its place in motion picture history assured by the real world context of its promotion and release – the movie boasting the distinction of being the first and only film screened at the inaugural Cannes Film Festival in 1939.

For all of its glitz and glamour, Cannes is a festival with deep political roots. The brainchild of Philippe Erlanger, the acclaimed author and former Inspector General at the French Ministry of Education and Fine Arts, Cannes was originally conceived as an alternative to the Venice Film Festival, which by 1938 had been repurposed and retrofitted as a well oiled, if not scandalously jingoistic and partisan, hunk of propaganda machinery for fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

Railing against the authoritarianism of Venice, Erlanger – with the approval and support of the French Education and Fine Arts Minister, Jean Zay, and Radical Socialist statesman, Albert Sarraut – laid the foundations for Cannes. The first edition of the festival launched on Friday 1 September 1939. As fate would have it, Hitler would also invade Poland on that very same day, leaving the world teetering on the brink of war; the dictator’s aggressive aggrandising cutting peaceful, everyday life and the inaugural Cannes Film Festival – among a million and one other (decidedly more important) things – short. Only one film would be shown during the short-lived 1939 festival: William Dieterle’s expressionistic take on Hugo.

Andreas Rentz

With the war coming to an end in 1945, the French sought to get Cannes up and running again, using the event to lure tourists back to the Cote D’Azur. The Palais des Festivals inviting the movers and shakers of world cinema to compete for the prized Palme d’Or, Erlanger’s grand plans for the festival were eventually revived, and Cannes, as we know it today, was born. The rest is crowd-pleasing silver screen history.

A few weeks ago Cannes celebrated that history, marking its 70th anniversary with yet another glamorous week of premieres, special screenings and showcases. Almost as intriguing as the features on show at Cannes 2017 has been the lively debate between Netflix and the global film industry in the run up to this year’s event; many within the latter taking umbrage with the American entertainment company’s stance on streaming and the theatrical roll-out of its films. The spirited debate points to the changing nature of film consumption, modern cinema-goers’ viewing habits vastly different in our fast-paced era of on-demand TV and social media – certainly in comparison to Erlanger’s day. Even the ways in which we discuss movies have changed, with film podcasts incredibly popular among film buffs and cinephiles.

We’d like to gently nudge you in the direction of some of the best film podcasts (with some TV thrown in for good measure, however stay tuned for a separate list of those) – new and old, fledgling and established. In no particular order, here’s our short but exhaustive list of shows every film lover should be listening to.

Established Podcasts

The Canon

American Film Institute

Her voice soft and affable, so easy on the ear and full of music (the laid-back, lo-fi kind) it’s confounding, MTV News’ Amy Nicholson is a treat to listen to; the veteran critic’s intelligent musings – often enlivened by an off-beat wryness – providing an entertaining education on what makes great films great.

Having served as the chief film critic at L.A. Weekly for three years, as well as the editor-in-chief of Boxoffice Magazine, Nicholson discusses movies with the confident authority of a woman who’s as acquainted with her local theaters as she is her own living room; feeling right at home in front of a silver screen.

Following a six-month hiatus, The Canon – thankfully – is back; Nicholson (sans BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH’s Devin Faraci) is taking to her microphone to debate, alongside a new co-host every week, the canonization of films generally regarded as classics. Each episode an engaging showcase of movie and pop culture discourse, the endearing Earwolf podcast makes for fun, informative listening.

Listen to more here.

How Did This Get Made?

Universal Pictures

Another Earwolf entry, How Did This Get Made? (HDTGM, for short) delights in the inexplicable and the terrible, celebrating the very best of bad cinema. Doing so with a big smile on its face and its heart in the right place, the award-winning podcast takes a jovial and light-hearted approach to film criticism.

Hosted by Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas, the deliriously funny show is more entertaining than most big budget box-office fare; the comical trio’s charm and chemistry irresistible.

Whether breaking down the plot of Tommy Wiseau’s cult favourite, The Room, the gravity-defying action sequences of the Fast franchise, or the sweaty gender politics of Over The Top – the Citizen Kane of arm wrestling movies – HDTGM shines an adoring spotlight on the brilliance of dumb movies.

Listen to more here.

Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time Period


From the legendary gait (see Mo’ Better Blues, Training Day, American Gangster), to the heartbreaking Glory tear; the show-stealing performances of those enigmatic lips (quivering method performers; pioneers of lip acting), to that big, tuneful laugh, comedians Kevin Avery and W. Kamau Bell analyze – in comprehensive, painstaking detail – every aspect of Denzel Washington’s allure and appeal, lifting the lid on the great actor’s genius.

The podcast a soapbox of sorts, unapologetic Denzel fanboys, Avery and Bell, make their case for Washington’s claim to the throne as GOAT; the funny twosome charming with their passion for the Fences star.

Interviewing an impressive array of famous guests equally enamored with the two-time Oscar winner, the brilliant comedians discuss the wider history and politics of black cinema, in addition to waxing lyrical about their hero. A godsend for film buffs eager to learn more about the man, the myth and the legend that is the greatest actor of all time, period; Avery and Bell’s show consistently measures up to the brilliance of its subject. Last year’s Ava DuVernay episode is a particular highlight.

Listen to more here.

The Treatment

Universal Pictures

The second L.A. Weekly alum cited on this list, Elvis Mitchell, the American film critic – formerly of  the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Detroit Free Press and The New York Times – hosts the public radio show, The Treatment. A visiting lecturer at Harvard and Film Scholar at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the 58-year-old Highland Park native discusses filmmaking with an academic’s command of his subject; each episode of his edifying show a seminar on the ins and outs of the movie business.

Listen to more here.

Double Toasted

Warner Bros

Podcast fans familiar with the Spill Crew – the irreverent, mad geniuses behind (the popular movie and video game review website) – will no doubt be pleased to hear that Double Toasted, a fun forum for film geeks launched in 2014, continues to live up to its billing as a spiritual successor to the much loved Spill.

Based in Austin Texas, DT and created by the hilariously expressive critic and animator, Korey Coleman, serves up heaps of jocular pop culture goodness; its weekly podcasts – including The Movie Review Extravaganza – offering amusing hot takes on the latest movie and entertainment news.

Listen to more here.

The Business

Universal & Legendary Pictures

The terrific Kim Masters hosts KCRW’s Gracie Award-winning show, The Business. Each week, the erudite editor-at-large of the Hollywood Reporter examines industry news, conducting revealing interviews with stars and luminaries like Norman Lear, Terrence Winter and Brian Grazer; demonstrating – with her professionalism and candor – why she is regarded by many as the best in the business.

Listen to more here.

You Must Remember This

William P. Gottlieb

A story-teller’s story-teller, Karina Longworth wows with her dazzling ability to paint a scene, her captivating podcast, You Must Remember This, regaling fans of classic American cinema with transporting tales of Old Hollywood. Recounting the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century, the radio play production quality of Longworth’s podcast never ceases to amaze; the former Cinematical and SpoutBlog editor’s insightful examinations of the Hollywood blacklist, the MGM studio system and the Manson murders incredible feats of film journalism.

Listen to more here.

The Frame


Former Los Angeles Times staff writer John Horn is the voice of KPCC’s daily arts and entertainment program, The Frame. With over 30 years’ experience covering movies, music and television, and straight from Southern California, Horn generously shares his impressive wealth of film and industry knowledge, delighting with his unique perspective and contagious passion for great cinema.

Listen to more here.

Hollywood Babble-On

David Klein

Clerks director Kevin Smith holds forth like no other. A skilled speaker, the pot-loving funny-man and comic-book aficionado turns self-deprecation into an art-form; the 46-year-old filmmaker approaching podcasting with the same levity and heart-on-his-sleeve honesty that elevated his 1994 convenience store comedy to cult classic status. Teaming up with the adorably acerbic Ralph Garman – the radio host and Family Guy voice over artist – Smith discusses the latest, strangest and most salacious celebrity and movie news, amusing his rapt audiences (the show recorded live) with first-rate dick jokes and old-man stoner humor.

Listen to more here.


Warner Bros

Scriptnotes is a podcast that brims with writerly goodness; the wonderfully educational show offering precious tips and advice on the sweet science of screenwriting. Hosted by accomplished scribes John August (Big Fish, Corpse Bride) and Craig Mazin (The Hangover Part II and III), the excellent podcast takes a close look at the business of screenwriting; discussing the intricacies and finer points of the craft with a variety of stellar guests.

Listen to more here.

Up-and-Coming Podcasts

The Cine-files

John Wells Productions

This author’s favorite movie podcast, The Cine-Files – hosted by Steve Morris (an LA-based filmmaker and directing instructor) and John Steven Rocha (a voice over artist and actor) – is the best new show of its kind: an incredibly articulate and well researched podcast exploring the big, wide world of great films and filmmaking.

Listen to more here.

Psychology in Seattle


A podcast about psychology and psychotherapy, Psychology in Seattle occasionally dabbles in film criticism, providing the wholly original and admirable service of exploring mental health as presented on the big and small screen.

Listen to more here.

Off White Podcast


Dino-Ray Ramos’ Off White Podcast zooms in on the portrayal of minorities and people of color on TV and the silver screen. Ramos, a reporter for The Tracking Board – and former Bustle and Paste Magazine writer – chops it up with the young, diverse and gifted; providing some much needed “commentary with color.”

Listen to more here.

Black Girl Nerds Podcast


A lively space for friendly, spirited debate and pop culture awesomeness, Black Girl Nerds is heaven online. The site is a fun platform for women (especially women of color) “with various eccentricities to express themselves freely and embrace who they are.”

In-keeping with the website’s emphasis on self-love and freedom of expression, the Black Girl Nerds podcast encourages women (and men; ALL NERDS) to embrace their inner geek and passion for comics, superheroes, TV shows, and, of course, movies.

Listen to more here.

Now that you’re clued up on which podcasts to tune in to, check out our list of the 50 best movies releasing in 2017.

  • Written by: Leke Sanusi
Words by Staff
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