The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures offers a fastidiously curated and always timely calendar of exhibitions, public programs, and screenings of significant films. Notable this season are John Waters: Pope of Trash, the first comprehensive exhibit dedicated to Waters’ moviemaking; and the ongoing Lourdes Portillo and Boyz n the Hood exhibitions. Looking ahead, the immersive Hollywoodland: Jewish Founders and the Making of a Movie Capital gallery opens in May of 2024.
Here are some highlights of Academy Museum happenings at the time of writing. For up-to-date details, tickets, and reservations (where required), visit the Museum’s calendar page.
John Waters: Pope of Trash (Sept. 17 - Oct. 28, 2023)
The first-ever comprehensive exhibition dedicated to John Waters’ moviemaking, John Waters: Pope of Trash delves deep into his creative process, recurring themes, and singular style. The event kicks off on September 17 with a rare screening of Waters’ Eat Your Makeup silent short with live commentary by the man himself; a John Waters: Pope of Trash book signing; and a screening of Serial Mom with Waters and host Peaches Christ at the David Geffen Theater. Pope of Trash also exhibits costumes, set decoration, props, handwritten scripts, posters, concept designs, correspondence, and more from Waters’ 60-year career. The Academy Museum’s Warner Brothers Gallery will feature Outside the Mainstream, an installation that contextualizes Waters’ films within contemporary and subsequent film movements, including the American avant-garde, underground film, and New Queer Cinema.
Significant Movies and Movie Makers: Lourdes Portillo (Through Jan. 5, 2025)
Located on Level 2 of the ongoing Stories of Cinema exhibition, the gallery devoted to Lourdes Portillo highlights the life and career of a truly remarkable documentarian. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico and raised in Los Angeles, Portillo’s work has focused on themes of identity and social justice in both the U.S. and Latin America. A filmmaker since 1979, her significant works include Las Madres: The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo; La Ofrenda: The Days of the Dead; The Devil Never Sleeps; and 2001’s Senorita Extraviada/Missing Young Woman, all of which are represented in this important exploration of her contribution to documentary film.
"Daughter of Mine ( Figlia Mia)" (Sept. 18, 2023)
Debuted at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival, Laura Bispuri’s Daughter of Mine is the story of a young girl torn between two mothers. It’s an exploration of imperfect motherhood and inextricable bonds, overwhelming feelings and open emotional wounds. Set in coastal Sardinia, Daughter of Mine examines and questions what makes a mother when the girl discovers that her birth mother is not the loving mom she has grown up with, but rather a local party girl. But the universal resonance of this small yet wonderfully nuanced film is, as Joe Morgenstern observed in his Wall Street Journal review, its even deeper questions of who am I, and who should I be?
"JFK" (Sept. 20, 2023)
Selected by the Film Editors Branch, this special screening of Oliver Stone’s epic 1991 docudrama JFK includes a pre-screening conversation with film editors Joe Hutshing, Pietro Scalia, and Hank Corwin. Stone’s controversial conspiracy thriller challenged and forever changed popular perceptions of the Kennedy assassination, not to mention being a stylistic work of art in itself. Starring Kevin Costner with a prodigious supporting cast boasting the likes of Gary Oldman, Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, and John Candy (in a rare serious role), JFK earned Oscars for Hutshing, Scalia and cinematographer Robert Richardson, as well as a Best Supporting Actor nod for Jones.
Sunday Supper at Fanny's Restaurant (Ongoing)
Every Sunday, the Academy Museum’s film-themed Fanny’s Restaurant hosts a Sunday Supper comprising dishes inspired by Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 classic The Godfather in conjunction with the Museum’s The Art of Moviemaking: The Godfather gallery. Served from 5pm to 9pm, this fun, family-style menu includes a rotating selection of cheeky specials such as Connie's Crispy Calamari, A Pasta You Can't Refuse, and Sonny's "Bada-Bing!" Ribs, along with a selection of Italian wines and imaginative, cinema-inspired craft cocktails. Celebrating the time-honored intersection of film and food, reservations for Fanny’s Sunday Supper can be made via OpenTable and Resy, or by emailing email@example.com.
Drop-In Tours: Latinx on View (Oct. 6 & 27, 2023)
The Academy Museum’s Drop-In Tours are public drop-in style gallery conversations that happen 1–3pm on Friday afternoons. Created by the Education and Public Engagement team, they offer admission-free opportunities to explore the Museum’s ongoing Stories of Cinema core exhibition that presents diverse, international, and complex stories of significant moviemakers and their works. Additionally, Stories of Cinema highlights the crafts central to moviemaking: screenwriting, performance, cinematography, editing, costume design, hairstyling and makeup, and more.
In October, Drop-In Tours will spotlight Latinx voices in film, with Museum educators exploring films and filmmakers such as documentarian Lourdes Portillo (see above) and the scripts of Aurora Guerrero’s award-winning Mosquita y Mari.
The Academy Museum Teen Council Presents "Stand by Me" (Oct. 7, 2023)
One of the Academy Museum’s myriad initiatives to further the appreciation of film is its Teen Council, comprising 31 teenagers from all over Los Angeles. Selected based on application essays, the Council works with the Museum’s education team to develop programming for their peers and is a one-year, paid opportunity.
For their final program, the outgoing 2022-23 Teen Council has selected Rob Reiner's Stand by Me (1986). A timeless tale of the American teen experience starring River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Wil Wheaton, Stand by Me was selected because it embodies the essence of what it is to be a young person discovering the realities of the grown-up world.
"What’s Love Got to Do with It" (Oct. 11, 2023)
With the passing of the legendary Tina Turner in May, 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do with It biopic has assumed renewed poignancy. Although elements of the script, based on the singer’s I, Tina autobiography, were fictionalized for dramatic purposes, the Brian Gibson-directed movie now has heightened historical and documentary significance, nonetheless. Angela Bassett brilliantly channels Turner’s befuddling juxtaposition of onstage strength and offstage vulnerability, notably in her relationship with short-fused husband Ike Turner (portrayed fearsomely by Laurence Fishburne). What’s Love Got to Do with It is also just well-executed, thought-provoking filmmaking, including Oscar-nominated performances by Bassett and Fishburne, which earned a Golden Globe for the former.
"Nocturama" (Oct. 22, 2023)
Written and directed by Bertrand Bonello, the 2016 thriller Nocturama tells the tale of a clique of multiracial teenage radicals that commits a spate of terrorist bomb attacks across Paris. After detonating their devices remotely, they hole up in a Parisian shopping mall that is closed for the night, where they incongruously indulge the materialistic cravings of youth. Bonello focuses not on the group’s politics or motives, which remain opaque, but rather their fears and feelings as their murderous spree unfolds (both literally and in their heads). Ethically neutral, even numb, Nocturama invites viewers to at least consider the humanity, and sometimes naivety, of those we regard as the embodiment of inhuman.
Significant Movies and Movie Makers: "Boyz N the Hood" (Through Jan. 5, 2025)
John Singleton’s 1991 feature directorial debut, Boyz N the Hood is a groundbreaking depiction of Black life in gang-blighted South Central LA. Initially developed by Singleton as part of his film school application, it features breakout performances by Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Nia Long and Morris Chestnut. The Significant Movies and Movie Makers exhibit highlights both Singleton – who with Boyz N the Hood became the first African American and youngest person ever nominated for the Best Director Oscar – and the hugely influential film’s cast and crew through rare production photos, costumes, original location photos, and props from its production, as well as ephemera from Singleton’s personal collection.
"Y Tu Mamá También" (Nov. 8, 2023)
Alfonso Cuarón’s witty, unconventionally erotic Mexican road movie Y Tu Mamá También ambushed audiences and critics alike upon its 2001 release, going on to earn Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. Appearing at a time when both Mexican cinema and the country itself were in states of flux, it traces a love triangle between two teenage boys of contrasting social backgrounds and an older Spanish woman. Featuring career-changing performances from Diego Luna, Maribel Verdú, and Gael García Bernal bathed in the naturalistic artistry of cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, Y Tu Mamá También poses lingering, controversial questions about sexual openness, societal inequalities, and traditional concepts of masculinity that transcend borders.
Shifting Perspectives: Vertical Cinema (Nov. 12, 2023 - Aug. 4, 2024)
Shifting Perspectives: Vertical Cinema is an upcoming exhibition located in and inspired by the Academy Museum’s double-height Hurd Gallery. Utilizing the Hurd’s 20' high by 3' wide screen, which can be viewed from the Museum’s second and third floors, the exhibit spans the roots of vertical cinema in the 1890s all the way to the contemporary proliferation of vertical filmmaking on today’s portable smart devices. Among the exhibition’s 25 short films will be the first-ever works commissioned by the Academy Museum for exhibition, all by local filmmakers: desert dreams in red by Zaina Bseiso, Dusty Tapes by Fox Maxy, and black man fly by LA native Walter Thompson-Hernández.
"Amélie" (Nov. 15, 2023)
One of the biggest international hits for French filmmaking and an enduring cult classic, Jean-Pierre Juenet’s Amélie (2001) is a whimsical romantic comedy like no other. Audrey Tautou’s breakout performance as the charmingly eccentric Amélie is made all the more magical by Bruno Delbonnel’s Oscar-nominated widescreen cinematography. But this exquisitely crafted gem also garnered critical acclaim in numerous departments - production and sound design, writing, editing and Yann Tiersen’s musical score. Along with a slew of major awards and nominations, Amélie placed No. 2 in Empire magazine’s "100 Best Films of World Cinema" and listed in Rolling Stone’s "50 Greatest Romantic Comedies of All Time."
"L.A. Confidential" (Nov. 26, 2023)
A neo-noir masterpiece that has aged well, L.A. Confidential (1997) beautifully explores the murky intersection of police corruption and Hollywood celebrity in 1950s Los Angeles. Oddly, both lead LAPD officer roles were filled by then little-known Australian actors, Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe, so promotion for the film leaned heavily on an otherwise star-studded ensemble cast, including Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey (who dominated the DVD cover and promotional posters) and Danny DeVito. A commercial success that grossed $126 million against a $35 million budget, this utterly LA movie - rich in authentic area locations like the Formosa Cafe - was a critical darling, earning nine Oscar nods and two wins (Best Supporting Actress for Basinger and Best Adapted Screenplay) despite being up against Titanic.
Hollywoodland: Jewish Founders and the Making of a Movie Capital (Opening May 19, 2024)
Los Angeles and in particular Hollywood are almost synonymous with moviemaking, but why? Opening in May 2024, Hollywoodland: Jewish Founders and the Making of a Movie Capital traces the history of filmmaking in LA back to its early 20th century roots, illustrating how and why the city became (and remains) the world’s cinema capital. Comprising an immersive gallery conveying the evolving topography of Los Angeles along the timeline of the developing movie industry, the exhibition spotlights the Jewish founders of the Hollywood studio system, foregrounding the ways in which the birth of the American film industry – and the depiction of the “American Dream” – is at its heart an immigrant story.