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Movies Like 'Babylon' to Watch Next

To celebrate the release of 'Babylon,' here are 10 films that share a similar style and tone as Damien Chazelle's latest flick.

Sam Rosenberg
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From left to right: Brad Pitt and Diego Calva in 'Babylon'

Paramount Pictures

With four critically acclaimed films under his belt — 2010's Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench,2014's Whiplash, 2016'sLa La Land, and 2018's First Man — writer-director Damien Chazelle returns to the big screen this year with Babylon, his most ambitious, extravagant, and provocative work to date. 

Clocking in at a hefty 3 hours and 9 minutes, Babylon depicts a pivotal and hedonistic era in Hollywood, chronicling the difficult transition from silent films to sound films (or "talkies") in the late 1920s. And of course, a movie this epic wouldn't be one without a star-studded and decorated cast: Narcos: Mexico actor Diego Calva performs in his first big feature lead role opposite A-list names including Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Jean Smart, and Tobey Maguire. Other members of the sprawling ensemble include Jovan Adepo, Max Minghella, Samara Weaving, and Katherine Waterston.

The film elicited early polarized reactions but racked up five Golden Globe nominations. Considering the success of Chazelle's other films (and how movies about the movies generally tend to do well during awards season), it will likely accrue more accolade attention leading up to the 2023 Oscars. To celebrate the release of Babylon, here are 10 films that share a similar style and tone as Chazelle's latest flick.


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Gene Kelly in 'Singin in the Rain'

MGM

Singin' in the Rain

Metascore: 99
Best for: Fans of joyful, colorful 1950s musicals with a sharp satirical edge
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 103 minutes

The dazzling music and choreography of Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen's Singin' in the Rain served as a major source of inspiration for Chazelle during production for La La Land, but its decadent visuals and colorful (though much more light-hearted) depiction of the silent-to-sound period are also echoed in Babylon. Kelly stars as popular silent film actor Don Lockwood, who gets caught up in early Hollywood's industry transition alongside performers Cosmo (Donald O'Connor) and Kathy (Debbie Reynolds). Though it only scored two Oscar nominations, the 1952 musical was greeted with glowing admiration from critics and audiences alike. Since its release, Singin' in the Rain has remained one of, if not the best and most definitive American musical of all time, placing 10th on this year's BFI Sight and Sound Poll

"With so many films dedicated to the agonies of filmmaking, Singin' overflows with the pleasure of movie creation, stitching together references to Hollywood history with more alacrity than Tarantino. One of the highpoints of hoofin' history but, more importantly, an unadulterated joy." — William Thomas, Empire


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Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in 'La La Land'

Lionsgate

La La Land

Metascore: 94
Best for: Fans of bittersweet, romantic, contemporary homages to throwback musicals
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 128 minutes

After the lightning success of his Sundance breakout hit Whiplash, Chazelle's follow-up La La Land proved that the filmmaker's initial acclaim was no fluke. The film stars Ryan Gosling as a down-on-his-luck jazz pianist and Emma Stone as an aspiring actress who are trying to balance a relationship as they pursue their passions. Inspired by heyday MGM Technicolor musicals, La La Land was as much of a contemporary update on the genre as it was a love letter to it. The film was a massive success too, earning $447 million against a $30 million budget and a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations. It was notoriously incorrectly named the Best Picture winner, with Barry Jenkins's Moonlight being the rightful victor. Still, La La Land managed to win six awards, including a Best Actress trophy for Stone and Best Director for Chazelle, the latter of whom became the youngest winner in the category at age 32

"La La Land wants to remind us how beautiful the half-forgotten dreams of the old days can be — the ones made up of nothing more than faces, music, romance and movement. It has its head in the stars, and for a little over two wonderstruck hours, it lifts you up there too." — Robbie Collin, The Telegraph


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Judy Garland and James Mason in 'A Star Is Born'

Warner Bros. Pictures

A Star is Born (1954)

Metascore: 89
Best for: Fans of showbiz melodramas
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 176 minutes

Before Bradley Cooper wrote, directed, and co-starred in the 2018 remake with Lady Gaga and restaged the Hollywood setting to the rock music scene — and even before Frank Pierson directed Barbra Streisand in the 1976 version — there was George Cukor's musical drama A Star is Born (itself a remake of the 1937 original). The tale is like something woven out of the tapestry of Hollywood mythology: A fading matinee idol (James Mason) finds an aspiring actress (Judy Garland) and helps launch her career and while she ascends to stardom, he slowly descends into a downward spiral toward obscurity. Despite costing $5 million (very expensive for its time) and the studio cutting back 27 crucial minutes of footage, A Star is Born was a critical success and eventually received a full restoration with its original runtime in 1983. On top of being the most acclaimed take on the source material, A Star is Born was also hailed as a comeback for Garland, whose career briefly stalled after ending her MGM contract in 1950. She and Mason both secured Golden Globe awards and Oscar nominations for their performances, two of the film's overall five nods.

"George Cukor's direction, briskly paced, combines heartbreaking tragedy, out-of-this-world musical entertainment and rib-splitting comedy into a coordinated whole that can only be compared for sheer cinematic know-how with Gone With the Wind. This is a picture that's worth seeing over and over again." — Jack Moffitt, The Hollywood Reporter


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Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo in 'The Artist'

The Weinstein Company

The Artist

Metascore: 89
Best for: Fans of heartfelt tributes to silent films
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 100 minutes

Like a mashup of A Star is Born and Singin' in the Rain, French writer-director Michel HazanaviciusThe Artist is also yet another film about the silent-to-sound transitional era of the 1920s and revolves on a love story between an older film actor (Jean Dujardin) and a rising young actress (Bérénice Bejo). Despite being a French production, Hazanavicius's dramedic portrait of that era in American cinema had major international appeal and subsequently became a huge awards darling. It won five Oscars at the 2012 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, beating out the likes of Martin Scorsese, Terrence Malick, and Steven Spielberg. The Artist also broke many "first" records: it was the first mainly silent film to win since the first Best Picture winner (1927's Wings), the first film presented in the 4:3 aspect ratio to win since 1953's From Here to Eternity, the first 100-percent black-and-white film to win since 1960's The Apartment, and Dujardin became the first French actor ever to win Best Actor.

"With elements of A Star Is Born and Singing in the Rain, The Artist is a rarity, an ingenious crowd-pleaser." — Liam Lacey, The Globe and Mail


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Tim Robbins in 'The Player'

Fine Line Features

The Player

Metascore: 86
Best for: Fans of self-referential showbiz satires
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 124 minutes

A cynical and biting take on the entertainment business, Robert Altman's The Player also features a large ensemble of well-known actors, ranging from Tim Robbins and Vincent D'Onofrio, to Peter Gallagher and Gina Gershon. Other celebrity cameos include Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts, Patrick Swayze, and Whoopi Goldberg. This darkly funny satire follows Robbins's character, a morally dubious Hollywood film executive who murders a screenwriter (played by D'Onofrio) he believes is sending him anonymous death threats. The Player marked a significant commercial return for Altman, who had made a prolific career working outside the studio system but had been in unofficial exile from Tinseltown after several weak box office results. For his work on The Player, he scored a Best Directing nomination at the 1993 Oscars, one of three total noms the film received.

"With breathtaking assurance, the movie veers from psychological-thriller suspense to goofball comedy to icy satire: it's Patricia Highsmith meets Monty Python meets Nathaniel West." — Terrence Rafferty, The New Yorker


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Mark Wahlberg in 'Boogie Nights'

New Line Cinema

Boogie Nights

Metascore: 85
Best for: Fans of gaudy glimpses into the porn world during the '70s
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 155 minutes

Like Babylon, the 1997 ensemble drama Boogie Nights is a raucous illustration of the entertainment world, albeit a much different side of it. Paul Thomas Anderson's breakthrough film explores the porn industry in the San Fernando Valley during the '70s, tracing the rise and fall of adult film star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg), who gets thrust from his humdrum suburban life thanks to the help of filmmaker Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds). Initially, the two experience a string of creative and professional successes and lead a luxurious, lucrative lifestyle, but, eventually, they are forced to reckon with the changing of the times at the turn of the '80s. Boogie Nights not only contains a who's who of celebrity faces — namely John C. Reilly, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, and Don Cheadle — but also helped establish Wahlberg as an actor, as he was primarily known at the time as the frontman for Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. The film earned three Oscar nominations, including one for the late Reynolds.  

"Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson has perfectly wedded form to function by filming Boogie Nights in a style suggesting the grainy texture of porn and the ambivalence of the era." — Jami Bernard, Daily News


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From left to right: Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in 'Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood'

Columbia Pictures

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Metascore: 83
Best for: Fans of the golden age of Hollywood and fun, sprawling alternative history comedies
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 161 minutes

Yet another nostalgic and melancholic look at a bygone era of Hollywood (this time in 1969), Quentin Tarantino's ninth film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Babylon actors Pitt and Robbie. DiCaprio and Pitt play a fading TV actor and his stunt double, respectively, who traverse the changing American film landscape, while Robbie inhabits the role of starlet Sharon Tate, whose real-life tragic death at the hands of the Manson Family hung over the end of the decade. (Fortunately, Tate gets a better ending in Tarantino's cinematic retelling). Featuring a stacked cast comprised of Bruce Dern, Al Pacino, Margaret Qualley, and Timothy Olyphant, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is Tarantino's second highest-grossing film — the first being 2012's Django Unchained. Additionally, the filmreceived 10 Oscar nominations and won two: for Pitt's performance and for Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh's production design.  

"It sits at the mature end of Tarantino's work, bringing his tongue-in-cheek storytelling together with exquisite craft and killer lead performances from Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. And yet, it's still very much a Tarantino film, trading in genuine emotion one minute, unapolegetically silly the next." — Dave Calhoun, Time Out


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Leonardo DiCaprio in 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

Paramount Pictures

The Wolf of Wall Street

Metascore: 75
Best for: Fans of funny, irreverent comedies
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 143 minutes

Babylon and Scorsese's 2013 adaptation of entrepreneur Jordan Belfort's memoir have a few things in common. Both are three-hour long epics about excess that star Robbie, with The Wolf of Wall Street being her breakthrough moment and one of her most standout performances to date. DiCaprio stars as the charismatic, sleazy, fourth-wall-breaking Belfort, while Robbie plays Belfort's second wife Naomi. Scorsese's feature recounts Belfort's career as a New York City stockbroker, the rampant corruption at his firm Stratton Oakmont, and his ability to get away with so much (until eventually, he didn't). Controversial at the time of its release for its graphic sexual content and questionable depiction of Belfort's over-the-top lifestyle, The Wolf of Wall Street nevertheless was a huge hit, raking in $406 million at the global box office and five Oscar nominations. It also became Scorsese's highest-grossing film ever and set a Guinness World Record for most instances of swearing in a movie.

"This telling of the tale possesses enormous cinematic energy and a killer supporting cast full of hilarious delights." — Andrew O'Hehir, Salon 


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Josh Brolin in 'Hail, Caesar!'

Universal Pictures

Hail, Caesar!

Metascore: 72
Best for: Fans of lightweight love letters to Hollywood
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 106 minutes

Though not as lavish and indulgent as Babylon, Joel and Ethan Coen's take on 1950s Hollywood also contains a large ensemble cast of frequent collaborators including Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and Frances McDormand (also Joel's wife) as well as other big names Jonah Hill, Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, and Scarlett Johansson. It has a similarly comedic bent too: real-life fixer Eddie Manix (Brolin) is searching for his missing star actor (Clooney) and recruits a singing cowboy (Alden Ehrenreich), a European filmmaker (Fiennes), and a Gene Kelly-type song-and-dance actor (Tatum) for their help in finding him. Though not one of the Coens' most acclaimed works, Hail, Caesar! still made a profit at the box office, making $63.2 million against a budget of $22 million, and earned one Oscar nomination (for production design). 

"It's Coen lite, basically, but still filled with their best signatures: cracked humor, indelible characters, and cinematography so rich and saturated you want to dunk a cookie in it." — Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly


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From left to right: John Turturro and Jon Polito in 'Barton Fink'

20th Century Fox

Barton Fink

Metascore: 69
Best for: Fans of darkly funny satirical thrillers set in Hollywood
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 116 minutes

Hail, Caesar! wasn't the Coen Brothers' only movie about Hollywood. In 1991, they wrote and directed Barton Fink, a satire about a meek yet promising 1940s playwright (John Turturro) who gets hired by a major Hollywood studio to write a script and the nice insurance salesman (John Goodman) who lives next door to him. Although it bombed at the box office, Barton Fink was a major success on the awards front: It won three prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, including the coveted Palme d'Or, and was nominated for three Academy Awards. 

"Stimulating entertainment, as rigorously challenging and painfully funny as anything the Coens have done. But it's necessary to meet the Coens halfway. If you don't, Barton Fink is an empty exercise that will bore you breathless. If you do, it's a comic nightmare that will stir your imagination like no film in years." — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone