Top Ten L.A. Films

With Seven Psychopaths hitting theatres in the US soon, and you can read my review over at FSR from TIFF, I thought it best to take a look at those films that manage to set themselves in L.A. for no real reason. Stories, like Seven Psychopaths, can happen anywhere in the world. However, for one reason or another the writer decided to set it in the land of movies and blah blah blah, so Hollywood/L.A. it is.

So here are my Top Ten Film Set in LA.:

10.  Boyz n the Hood (1991) (dir. John Singleton)

Ice Cube, Lawrence Fishburne and Cuba Gooding Jr. deliver performances that should keep them working for the rest of their careers, however looking at the current state of affairs it doesn’t mean that it happens. The film takes us into the ghetto of Los Angeles with two best friends and how they grow apart due to the morals that define them. However, no matter the distance their friendship is so strong that it keeps them coming back together as they each have to figure out their own way of right and wrong.

A stark depiction of not only inner city life but also gang warfare in Los Angeles.

9. Drive (2011) (dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)

Last year I found it hard to find a movie cooler than Refn’s latest and looking back I still am not sure I can. Ryan Gosling takes on the role of the silent and nameless Driver who gets wrapped up in a bad heist and tears his whole world apart just as it’s beginning to take form. He shows his skills being more than proficient in every area that’s needed and when called upon can deliver what’s necessary for almost any situation. The film deals with the moral grey of life and delusion all while fetishizing violence in a way that’s hardly done as gracefully as this film.

8. Pulp Fiction (1994) (dir. Quentin Tarantino)

If one was the think of a much more serious and equally enjoyable relative of Seven Psychopaths this is the film you would come up with. Pulp Fiction takes the ensemble scattering of stories and brings them together in one big L.A. gangster action/comedy film at once. With John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel and Ving Rhames (to name a few) all getting together to tell stories of hit men with brains in a car, boxers running from mob bosses and robberies gone awry then you know you’re in the right place for a Tarantino film.

7. Heat (1995) (dir. Michael Mann)

A crew of highly professional thieves come to L.A. to pull a big bank job and the police get wind of the job. The film then becomes the cat and mouse of cop and robber pitted against one another to see if one can pull it off and if the other will catch them in the act. Pacino and De Niro have been lauded for this film, with good reason, but more than that is Michael Mann’s calculated hand at making sure all the elements add up and giving a true sense of space at all times. The film takes us on (out of all the films in this list) the most detailed and grand tour of the city of L.A. without distracting from the narrative or feeling too ‘go here when you come in town’. Otherwise the film itself is fantastic with one of the most engaging bank robberies in history of cinema.

6. The Graduate (1967) (dir. Mike Nichols)

With a much more odd view of L.A. we see Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft shuffle around having a secret relationship after he returns from college. It’s a story of a man who falls in love with a woman after having relations with her mother and trying to make one thing work without having the other’s existence ruin it all. Hoffman’s performance is infectiously lovely and also endearing as he has to deal with his own guilt for what he’s done and at the same time be in service to his honest love for Mrs. Robinson’s daughter.

Read my Top 5 On the Next Page>>>

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  • Ryan Mcneil

    Dude – L.A. CONFIDENTIAL!!

    I’m also rather partial to COLLATERAL and (500) DAYS OF SUMMER

  • Andrew Robinson

    *cough* *cough* Still haven’t seen LA Confidential *cough*

    (500) Days of Summer was in contention, but somehow all the above beat it for me… I realise though looking over the list… lots of crimes happen in LA.

  • Ryan McNeil

    Dude! Fuckin’ BLADE RUNNER!!! what happened there? One of the very best uses of The Bradbury Building of all LA films.

    Move L.A. CONFIDENTIAL up the list – high up the list. You can thank me when you rave about it on TUMP.

  • Sam Fragoso

    Don’t think of 500 Days of Summer for LA. Do check out The Player though if you haven’t Andrew.

  • Andrew Robinson

    will do sir.

  • SJHoneywell

    Holy crap! I’ve seen all of these! That never happens when someone makes a top-10 list.

    Ryan makes some good points–Blade Runner, L.A. Confidential and Collateral are all ones I’d consider, and at least two would make my list.

  • jakecole

    I find L.A. Confidential boring, tbh. Bog-standard filmmaking that makes too-neatness of James Ellroy’s style. Brian De Palma’s messier, more Romantic Black Dahlia is the better film, in my opinion, though few share it.

    Big +1 for Collateral, however. A gorgeous evocation of L.A.’s night. I’d also throw my support behind William Friedkin’s To Live and Die in L.A., which sort of used the Miami Vice style of the day against itself to peel back nasty layers at the other end of the country from Miami.

    I’d also recommend Mulholland Dr. and In a Lonely Place.

  • Anna

    Whoa. Only haven’t see Boyz n the Hood, but all the other ones I’ve seen.

    Seriously, man, you need to see L.A. Confidential. It’s brilliant.

  • Andrew Robinson

    I love Collateral… one of the many Michael Mann films which work better and better everytime I view it.

  • Andrew Robinson

    you should go watch Boyz n the Hood… I LOVE that movie. I promise LA Confidential has been shoved to the top of the list.

  • Andrew Robinson

    never actually heard of IN A LONELY PLACE… Humphrey Bogart and the 50s, added to the list.

    While I reserve judgement on LA CONFIDENTIAL I can’t see anything really being worse than THE BLACK DAHLIA.