Top Ten Films about Art?

The current issue of Sunshine Artist magazine has an article by Cameron Meier that names the top ten “non-documentary films that have art and artists as their subject matter.” [My amateur-critic comments in brackets.]

10. Surviving Picasso (1996)Vincent
[I almost walked out of this film when I saw it in the theater. I thought it was terrible.]
9. Lust for Life (1956)
8. The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
7. Basquiat (1996)
6. Frida (2002)
5. Pollock (2000)
4. Girl With a Pearl Earring (2003)
[Was anyone else bored to tears by this movie?]
3. The DaVinci Code (2005)
2. As Good as It Gets (1997)
[Yeah, Kinnear played an artist, but this movie doesn’t belong on a top ten list about art--even though it’s a favorite of mine.]
1. Vincent and Theo (1990)
[I’m embarrassed I’ve never seen it. I’m putting it in my Netflix queue tout de suite.]

These movies could easily replace some of the weaker films on this list:Camille
Camille Claudel
Artemesia [Gentileschi]
Impromptu [Chopin, Georges Sand, Delacroix]

Although I haven’t seen them in a while, I enjoyed both:
Wolf at the Door [Gauguin]
The Moderns [all kinds of early 20th-century stars in Paris--love the soundtrack]

A subscriber also recommended these three movies, which I only recently found on Netflix:
Barfly
An Unmarried Woman
My Brilliant Career

Comments? What’s missing?

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31 comments to Top Ten Films about Art?

  • I enjoyed all of these also: 1. The Quince Tree Sun 2. La Belle Noiseuse 3. The Horse’s Mouth 4. The Rebel 5. Carrington

  • New York Stories, three short films, one of them stars Nick Nolte as an abstract expressionist…

  • We watched a TV movie last night called Gentlemens Relish, starring Billy Connolly as an artist turned photographer in Edwardian England.

  • a couple more with characters who are artists: You and Me and Everyone We Know Shopgirl

  • No, no- The Girl with the Pearl Earring had very sensitive photography throughout that captured remarkably well the feeling of Vermeer’s interiors. The film incidentally departed in major ways from the novel, which I didn’t particularly care for. But I recommend it to everyone. It is not a plot-driven film, more a visual and mood oriented movie. OK, I do have a thing for Scarlet Johansen and that no doubt helped too.

  • The December issue of Art News also has an article on artist “biopics” this month! The author, Peter Plagens, talks about the rare successes of the genre. I have to agree with Alyson on Girl with a Pearl Earing—what a snooze! But I loved the book!!

  • Immortal Beloved – great film about the life of Beethoven. I enjoyed learning about his inspirations even though I’m no expert on classical music.

  • From a purely popcorn perspective, Mona Lisa Smile explored the philosophy of art and contrasted the changing context of art with the changing roles in the lives of women in the early 1950s. It was far from deep but I particularly loved the individual interpretations of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers by the students in the film.

  • Pecker by John Waters – absolutely hysterical on the subject of the art world + it has Christina Ricci in it. A young photographer documenting his neighbourhood finds unexpected fame when he’s picked up by an influential gallery owner.

  • I’m a sucker for all art based movies and books…I also liked Girl with the Pearl Earring. But then again, I watch a lot of children’s movies with my daughter, so anything adult themed movies are a treat!

  • Claire

    Well, I’m really dating myself, but I must admit I absolutely love the film Moulin Rouge with Jose Ferrer, all about Toulouse-Lautrec and his life, as seen through the eyes of John Huston. If you can get past the 50′s soap opera drama, there are some gorgeous and colorful scenes.

  • I just wonder why on earth anyone would use Netflix. And promote them in a blog. Oh yeah, it’s the seo ratings. But come on there are better, more ethical, more customer centric video/dvd rental services out there. Take Intelleflix for example, highest consumer products ratings. As for my films, just off the top of my head, sans coffee and in no particular order: Shopgirl Basquiat Pollock Pecker Amadeus Frida Anything on PBS in the American Masters Series.

  • Goodness you’re striking early this morning, Hairy (Terri). I promise to look into Intelliflix and why one would prefer it. I’ve been very happy with Netflix. And I’m finding DVDs that I’ve been looking for for five years.

  • Goodness you’re striking early this morning, Hairy (Terri). I promise to look into Intelliflix and why one would prefer it. I’ve been very happy with Netflix. And I’m finding DVDs that I’ve been looking for for five years.

  • Forgot to mention Junebug.

  • Jan

    “Off The Map” was very enjoyable. About a family who takes in a painter. Fiction, but the paintings were produced by Stan Berning http://www.stanberning.com/ At the bottom of the web site start up page is a link to the paintings that were created for the movie. I got this from Netflix but I think I will have to find out about Intelliflix which I have never heard of. I use Netflix because where I live there are no video stores but we get the mail every day. They rarely don’t have a movie I want, and I never would have found something like Off the Map if not for their recommendations. Now I notice several movies listed in Comments that I have not seen so I am off to update my queue and Google Intelliflix. Thanks for this post. Jan

  • Tami Bone

    “Billy Elliot” is a wonderful film about a boy who has a burning desire to be a dancer, against his coal miner dad’s wishes. It’s uplifting and inspiring, and the photography is beautiful.

  • A couple I enjoyed (among many of the others listed here): American Splendor Backbeat

  • Carye Bye

    I have to agree, Girl with a Pearl Earring was very dull – maybe it’s because I read the book, but I just wanted more out of it. Such a pity with such a fine subject and cast.

  • Mary Andrews

    Rivers and Tides, available on Netflix about Andy Goldsworthy is my favorite.

  • There are two more beautiful movies about artists: -Modigliani (2005 with Andy Garcia) -In The Realms of the Unreal – The mystery of Henry Darger (2005)

  • Kim Klabe

    I loved Modigliani also! Pollock was pretty powerful as well.

  • Also on Netflix: How To Draw A Bunny – strange but interesting and hilarious at times (esp. the bit about itemized pricing of a painting. Stolen – story of the Gardner museum theft. Who Gets To Call It Art – about H. Geldzahler William Eggleston – In the Real World – Must see for anyone interested in modern photography. ABT’s Swan Lake, because of the moving speech on art by JFK and is one of the better films made of a ballet.

  • Rivers and Tides, about environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy, mesmerized me. It is a documentary, narrated by Goldsworthy. The beautiful filming, his quiet compelling work, and his stories about life and art leave the viewer informed, as well as entertained.

  • I liked New York Stories the best. Watching him paint was dramatic and exciting. The paintings are beautiful. I wonder who did them. Good story too.

  • Irma Braun-Hampton

    I was totally mesmerized by Girl with a Pearl Earring. The unhurried unfolding of the story transported me to a time when the U.S. of A. was not even a blip on the universal map. The interpersonal tensions were portrayed beautifully — there is art in expressing emotion without saying a single word and barely acting it out. This is an artful film about art, inspiration, the artist, and the people who influenzed him. Thank goodness we all have different tastes! And Thank You for the tips on art related films I have not seen yet.

  • Patricia Bucko

    A haunting film entitled “Max” – must see! Stars John Cussick as art gallery owner in Germany after WWI

  • Tiano

    ( all art film…)Baghdad Cafe with Jack Palance- also the Film- BOOM with Elizabeth taylor and Richard Burton.

  • Tiano

    ( all art film…)Baghdad Cafe with Jack Palance- also the Film- BOOM with Elizabeth taylor and Richard Burton.

  • ..I think I’ve seen every documentary on an artist that Netflix has…

  • Maybe it wasn’t even out at the time this list came into being, but I would add Art School Confidential to any list about being an artist. What Jerome went through was almost painful to watch, but funny at the same time because there was more truth to his travails than we would care to admit.

    Oh, and I love Girl With a Pear Earring. I’ve watched in numerous times and it never gets old.