If, while scrolling through Netflix’s latest offerings during another in a countless series of evenings in, you felt like you’d already watched every worthwhile film in existence, well, you’d be wrong, but you’d also kinda be right. I can safely say that you will never truly run out of good movies to watch—but only if you know how to find good movies to watch.
Like sourcing new music, figuring out what’s worth adding to your watch queue beyond the latest blockbusters and award-winners takes time, effort and attention. And increasingly, one of my favourite ways to do that is via podcasts.
Ever since two guys with annoying voices hooked up mics to a computer, there have been film podcasts, but today—some 15 years into the podcast boom—there are plenty of them that go well beyond the familiar can-we-still-really-call-them-niches (laughing at crappy movies; obsessively analyzing the Oscars). While I still enjoy plenty of those shows (probably because they are made by and for guys exactly like me), there are also movie podcasts from a diverse array of voices: Black men, Black women, gay dudes, etc. Turns out by listening to people who don’t look, think or live lives a lot like mine talk about movies, I can find a bunch of new movies I want to watch—even if I’m rewatching movies I’ve seen before through new eyes.
Here are 15 of my favorite podcasts, for deepening my love of movies and for finding new movies to watch.
The Flop House
It might be more advisable to think of The Flop House as a podcast to listen to if you want to know what movies not to watch, but there’s also something to be said for learning to appreciate how watching a bad movie can be just as entertaining (if less rewarding) than watching a good one. Across more than 400 episodes, hosts Dan McCoy (a former writer for The Daily Show With Jon Stewart), Elliot Kalan (ex-Daily Show head writer and contributor to the reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000) and Stuart Wellington (er, co-owner of several bars in Brooklyn, but hey, they are pretty great bars) have made doing so into something of an art.
The trio (and sometimes a guest) bring a goofy, good-natured exasperation to their analyses of films that failed either at the box office or with critics (usually both) as they recount their ludicrous plot turns and poorly developed characters and find fun even amid the most torturous of cinematic experiences. Few of the movies they’ve covered are “worth” watching (Cats excepted), but I often end an episode wanting to watch them anyway. And if bad movies don’t float your boat, they end each show with recommendations of others that are actually worth your time.
This Had Oscar Buzz
The Academy Awards have been referred to as the Gay Super Bowl, and on This Had Oscar Buzz, co-hosts and film critics Joe Reid and Chris Feil certainly dive into analyses of historical Oscar races with all the zeal and expertise of your office’s most dedicated fantasy football enthusiast. Each week they choose a film that the Oscars forgot—movies that featured big stars or accomplished directors, cred that got people talking about their awards potential… but then, “the Oscar hopes died and [they’re] here to perform the autopsy.”
What I love about this show is that it covers a lot of movies I’ve “heard were good” (hence the buzz) but haven’t gotten around to watching. It isn’t a bad-movie podcast, per se—some of the films they cover are truly great and were unjustly ignored (I heart I Heart Huckabees)—so it’s a great way to find worthy, watchable films, and as an Oscar geek myself, I love their chatter about why a particular film didn’t quite make it onto the ballot.
The Big Picture
The Big Picture, an offshoot of the online sports network The Ringer, is essential listening if you’re the type of person who loves being in the know on everything currently playing in theatres, getting buzz at festivals, and likely in contention for major awards. Regular hosts Sean Fennessey and Amanda Dobbins give their off-the-cuff reactions to new releases—from blockbusters to art house fare—and comment on (or commiserate over) the state of modern cinema along the way. Themed episodes abound, including regular and highly contentious drafts, and with two episodes dropping most weeks, you’ll never be hurting for more content.
Eye of the Duck
Inspired by a quote from director David Lynch, this show leans into in-depth analysis of films and their context, by way of “eye of the duck” scenes—those moments or sequences in a film that define the whole. Hosts Dom Nero and Adam Volerich take on older releases (usually grouping them in themed series, from ’80s fantasy to films set in space), and dive into their production history, analyze what’s actually on the screen, and consider their place in cultural memory. And of course, at the end of every episode, each host identifies their own personal “eye of the duck” for a given film. (It’s surprising how often they disagree.)
Fighting in the War Room
Fighting in the War Room is a sort of all-star movie podcast for the extremely online, hosted as it is by four of Film Twitter’s (I can’t call it Film X, sorry) loudest voices: Vanity Fair’s Katey Rich, Polygon’s Matt Patches, Geek.com’s Dave Gonzales and IndieWire’s David Ehrlich. They get together every episode to argue over recent releases and talk about recent developments in the world of pop culture. It’s a bit more wide-ranging than most others on this list, dipping into TV a bit as well, but the discussions are always entertaining and (despite the name) sometimes a bit contentious (in a friendly way).
Linoleum Knife was recommended by a reader in the comments of an earlier version of this post, and I’m so glad it was, because it has become a favorite comfort-listen for me. Hosted by married film critics Dave White and Alonso Duralde (who are both regular presences on a whole bunch of podcasts, including others on this roundup), it’s a laid-back, intimate chat show looking at the movies from a queer perspective. If it feels like listening to your old married friends bicker over the dinner table, well, that’s exactly what it is. (True fans can sign up for the Patreon to listen to a whole range of spinoffs that take you deeper into the duo’s lives and relationship).
The Next Picture Show
If you’ve been in the online film fantatic space for a long time, you might remember the late, lamented site The Dissolve, founded by former core staffers of the once indispensable pop culture site The AV Club and intended to offer a sort of “Pitchfork for movies.” (Which made sense, as it started as an offshoot of Pitchfork itself.) The Dissolve had a podcast that I loved, but it, er, dissolved (along with the rest of the site) when Pitchfork shut it down in 2015, shortly before being acquired by Condé Nast. Out of the ashes of that podcast arose The Next Picture Show, featuring one-time Dissolvers Genevieve Koski, Keith Phipps, Tasha Robinson and Scott Tobias. It retains the earlier show’s irreverent but seriously knowledgable vibes, with a new and catchy conceit: Each episode is part of a duology examining two films that are linked in some way, whether because they represent two eras of a filmmaker’s body of work, or because they operate on similar themes (they are currently halfway through a two-pronged discussion of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away and The Boy and the Heron). I’m so glad to have these folks still in my ears after all these years.
It’s one of the great ironies of my life that I rarely have time to watch the many two-and-a-half to three-hour movies I want to see, but I will regularly listen to podcasts about movies that stretch to three hours or more. (Granted, I often listen on double speed, which I know many of you feel is a crime.) Screen Drafts is regularly one of the longest shows I listen to (one episode was over six hours long), but I love it. The conceit is that a rotating group of movie lovers get together to “draft” the ultimate best-of movie list on a given topic, whether that’s the best Disney animated films ever or the essential debut films from a screenwriter. “Draft commissioners” Clay Keller and Ryan Marker make a real game out of it, introducing wrinkles like limited vetoes that can boot a movie off the list, and players bring their own biases and tastes to the recording booth, so you’ll never quite be sure where your own favorites will land.
You Are Good
A favorite of Lifehacker’s resident podcast expert Lauren Passell, You Are Good is “a feelings podcast about movies” from You’re Wrong About host Sarah Marshall and Alex Steed. Each episode, they invite on a guest who chooses a movie that they love for sentimental reasons. This is a show less about analyzing movies for what they are or the awards they won, but for how they make us feel—which is ultimately what matters, isn’t it? It’s a pleasure to hear folks talk unapologetically about why they connect with a movie (even one generally regarded as “bad”), and it’s rare I don’t end an episode wanting to watch (or rewatch) whatever has just been discussed.
Blank Check With Griffin and David
What began as a jokey attempt to dissect the Star Wars prequels has become one of my favorite podcasts ever, as hosts Griffin Newman (an actor you may recognize from Prime Video’s The Tick) and David Sims (a critic for The Atlantic) delve into lengthy mini-series focused on the entire filmographies of a particular director. The idea behind Blank Check is that these filmmakers made one movie that was such a hit, it gave them the clout to do whatever projects they wanted after that, so seeing what movies they chose to make—and hearing the hosts’ and their guests’ considerations of why they made them—is addictive. It’s a great way to explore deep cuts from a director you may not be overly familiar with—if The Silence of the Lambs is the only Jonathan Demme film you’ve ever seen, their Jonathan Demme “Stop Making Podcasts” mini will definitely make you want to check out a few more.
The show can meander as the hosts spend a lot of time talking about anything but the week’s movie at the beginning of an episode, but you get used to it. They definitely come at things from a white-dude perspective, but in recent years they have made strides to be more inclusive in who they invite on as guests and what filmmakers they cover; take, for example, recent series on the films of South Korean director Park Chan-wook and African-American filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood. If you throw them $5 a month on Patreon, you can also enjoy a huge back catalogue of feature length commentaries for mega-franchises the likes of the Marvel films, Toy Story, and…Crocodile Dundee?
Black on Black Cinema
Across more than 250 episodes to date, Black on Black Cinema hosts Terrence Carpenter, Jay Jacksonrao and Micah Payne—who, you will not be shocked to learn, are all Black men—discuss and dissect, with equal parts humor and insightful criticism, works from Black filmmakers in Hollywood, but also movies from white writers and directors that center Black actors and characters. I found the show through a friend’s recommendation of their episode about The Help, released amid the police protests in early June 2020 when that 2011 film was inexplicably trending on Netflix. I already knew the movie was heavily problematic, of course—Green Book before Green Book, in the same “white people learning about/solving racism” category as Driving Miss Daisy—but their cutting and hilarious analysis of it was enlightening. It’s a great entry point into a fascinating and entertaining pod.
The show formerly known as Who Shot Ya?, Maximum Film is explicitly “a podcast that isn’t just a bunch of straight white dudes.” Maximum Film is hosted by comedian Ify Nwadiwe, filmmaker Drea Clark and film critic Alonso Duralde. The focus is more general than some of the other shows on this list—in that it isn’t explicitly aimed at exploring issues of race and representation (though they certainly come up). Episodes tend focus on a single new film, though occasionally they tackle an older movie or analyze an entire franchise.
The Bechdel Cast
The Bechdel Test has become a meme of sorts—a way to analyze how women are depicted in film by counting up their scenes that don’t involve or revolve around men. The Bechdel Cast was inspired by but goes deeper than the original parameters of the test, as hosts Caitlin Durante and Jamie Loftus (both L.A.-based comedians) take a look at films from a feminist perspective, considering how female and female-identifying characters are treated in them. The discussions are a good mix of humorous and insightful, and typically feature a guest from within the worlds of filmmaking or comedy. The films they focus on tend to be catalogue titles versus new releases—recent shows run the gamut from Y Tu Mamá Tambien to Videodrome—so there’s a healthy dose of historical perspective in the mix.
You Must Remember This
If you’re of the opinion that old black and white movies are dumb, slow and boring, this acclaimed podcast will change your mind, and fast. It’s a bit of an outlier on this list, in that rather than reviewing or discussing a single film in each episode, host Karina Longworth—who also researches, writes and produces the show—takes a deep dive into Hollywood history to place classic flicks, legendary stars and forgotten examples of both in their proper context.
Though you don’t need to watch the movies she discusses to be entertained, you’ll want to—her recently wrapped series Erotic ’90s had everyone I follow on Letterboxd dipping back into the likes of Basic Instinct and Showgirls. Listening to Longworth discuss the rise and fall of MGM or the sad stories of Tinsel Town’s many doomed dead blondes has helped me grow my knowledge of film history well beyond any classes I took in college, and given that she name-drops tons of old movies in every episode, I’m never left without a new title to add to my to-watch list. Even better: She’s given me a great method to choose which one of them to watch next.
Black Girl Film Club
The idea for Black Girl Film Club sprang from hosts Ashley and Britney’s desire to talk about movies from their “often underrepresented point-of-view”—that of two Black girls—and it’s a super fun, super smart show that covers all sorts of movies; episodes have focused on everything from the costume design of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette to the directorial excess of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet (one of this ’90s kid’s personal faves). Even just a peek through their back catalogue reminded me of a dozen or so movies I’ve really been meaning to watch, and their discussions of them are a great teaser (or chaser) for your viewing experience.
Credit: Chelsea Beck
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