There’s a certain kind of voracious must-see-all-the-movies movie fan that Los Angeles serves quite well. International festival faves? Check. Oddball deep-cut obscurities? Check. New studio releases in top-of-the-line theaters? Check. Pretty much whatever your film-fan heart desires, you can find playing in Los Angeles. This list is far from comprehensive, but here are a few essential spots every movie-lover should know.
Home to the historic Cinerama Dome, still one of the city’s premiere venues, the ArcLight Hollywood is an upscale multiplex that prides itself on top-notch presentation. On a night when the lobby is full of people coming and going from the venue’s mix of franchise fare and ambitious indies, there is a palpable energy that makes going to the movies feel particularly exciting. Plus there’s a strong chance the person sitting near you who looks like that celebrity actually is that celebrity.
THE LANDMARK / THE NUART
The Landmark is something of the west-side cousin to the ArcLight Hollywood, likewise busy and bustling if a little less glitzy and more low-key, with a similar mix of studio fare and independent titles. The national chain of Landmark theaters also operates the Nuart on Santa Monica Boulevard, a throwback single-screen venue that showcases even more adventurous movies.
THE SAMUEL GOLDWYN THEATER
Run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and in the same building as its headquarters, the theater has a massive screen flanked by two oversized Oscar statues that give a very particular Hollywood feel. They don’t put on as many events as some other venues in town, but pretty much every one is something special, such as a recent rare 70 mm presentation of the original “Star Wars” and a screening of 1975’s “Cooley High” with director Michael Schultz and cast in attendance.
THE NEW BEVERLY CINEMA
Owned and programmed by Quentin Tarantino, watching movies at the New Beverly can sometimes feel like stepping inside the filmmaker’s brain, a mélange brimming over with old Hollywood, new Hollywood, exploitation and grindhouse weirdness and all manner of movies in between. As a lead-up to the release of Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood,” the summer programming has been an astonishing syllabus on late-1960s moviemaking, including many titles that influenced or inspired his new movie.
Currently operating both the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, the American Cinematheque is one of the most dependable places to see classics like “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Vertigo” or “Chinatown” on the big screen. They also provide smart context in their thematic programming, such as a recent series that paired the works of Martin Scorsese and John Cassavetes, and are home to events including the genre-centric Beyond Fest.
THE BILLY WILDER THEATER
The home of public programming for the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the Billy Wilder Theater is of course named for the Hollywood filmmaker and features an Instagram-ready wall-sized portrait of its namesake. The programming is a spot-on mix of the surprising and the familiar, such as current spotlights on the American Genre Film Archive and Hollywood productions made abroad after WWII.
With theaters all over the city, including the Royal in Santa Monica, the Laemmle chain remains a vital home to international and independent films. Without them, titles such as Chilean filmmaker Dominga Sotomayor’s “Too Late To Die Young” or the new restoration of the 1974 documentary “A Bigger Splash” might not otherwise have screens to show on in Los Angeles.