The podcast universe is an ever-expanding, increasingly inaccessible audio medium with many diamonds in the rough. The diamonds, however, can be hard to find. Even when discussing the subgenre of cinema-related podcasts, it is hard to narrow down the wheat from the chaff.
The upshot is that, for movie fans, it is hard to go wrong with any movie podcast. However, there are clear winners that rise to the surface and are consistently high quality. From the serious to the silly, the scholastic to the plebeian, these podcasts represent quality listening experiences for your drive-time commute or household chores.
Only relegated to the honorable mentions column because it is recently defunct, “The Black List Table Reads” gave listeners something that no other movie podcast could: real, unmade movie scripts. Being culled from the increasingly influential Black List, the list of un-produced movie scripts chosen and thus broadcasted to execs for their potential, the scripts are given full cast table reads so that listeners can get a picture of the film that could be.
Creator Franklin Leonard call the reads “ear movies,” and they very much are. The scripts run the gamut of genre so that you may pick to your fancy, and they are always presented in a way that highlights the scripts’ strengths. Not only is it fun to listen to, but it gives much needed attention to unmade scripts.
Point of Entry Episode: Balls Out (Ep. 1-4)
Also honorable mentioned for its lack of new episodes, “James Bonding” makes the cut because it is coming back soon. Originally on the Nerdist network (soon to be on Earwolf), “James Bonding” follows two die-hard James Bond fans, Matt Mira and Matt Gourley, as they break down every entry in the franchise with special guests.
It is undoubtedly a niche podcast, so non-Bond fans need not apply. But for those who enjoy the martini-drinking spy will love hearing the Matts light-heartedly prove that they know far too much about a fictional character.
Point of Entry Episode: Casino Royale (Ep. 6)
As with “James Bonding,” “Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period” is a niche podcast (I mean, just look at that title). If you are not well-versed on your Denzel, then you might have trouble getting into this one. But the undying love that hosts W Kamau Bell and Kevin Avery have for the legendary actor is enough to get you interested. The two hosts are really the reason to tune in, and their unique rating system of Denzelishness is great.
Point of Entry Episode: Getting into the Denzelishness (Ep. 0) and The Equalizer (Ep. 1)
The Top Ten:
Of the podcasts on this list, “Collider Movie Talk” is the most straightforward show. It is a daily news podcast (also a Youtube show, although it is a format that lends itself easily to the audio-only arena), and that is about all you can expect from it. Fans of the Collider or Schmoes Know brands will tune in for the personalities on the panel, but even if they are unknowns to you the information that they provide will keep you up-to-date on the inner workings of Hollywood. This said, the panelists tend to focus more on what interests them (superhero movies, Star Wars, horror movies).
Point of Entry Episode: Whichever is most recent
In terms of consistency, Sanspants Radio’s “Movie Maintenance” might be the least successful, as an episode’s quality is solely dependent on the pitch. But more often than not the pitches are endlessly entertaining.
The premise of the podcast is that some movies just need fixing. As such, each week one of the hosts will take a relatively new major release and re-write it to their liking. What results is a dramatic reading of the pitch that often leans into storytelling conventions in order to subvert the negative storytelling of the given film. What is most fun is being led through the journey of an episode along with the non-pitching co-hosts, who often audibly respond to twists and turns in amusing ways.
Point of Entry Episode: Aliens 3 (Ep. 102)
Earwolf’s “How Did This Get Made” has been around for some time, but it remains one of the go-to outlets for bad movie roasting. The ultimate enjoyment may come from the personality of a week’s guest(s), but the dynamic between hosts Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas pick up slack in this regard week after week. It is almost more fun experiencing the triumvirate’s comedic relationship than it is to hear about the movie being discussed.
This said, the podcast becomes all the more enjoyable when one has watched the bad movie in question, if only to share in the miserable experiences of the hosts. The downside is that you have to watch some real stinkers.
Point of Entry Episode: Sleepaway Camp (Ep. 48)
Like Collider, Screen Junkies works first and foremost out of Youtube, but Movie Fights can also be accessed via audio feed. Unfortunately, it is a much more visual podcast than Collider Movie Talk in that much of the enjoyment comes from seeing the visual reactions of competitors (particularly the often curmudgeonly-looking champion Dan Murrell).
Still, the show is endless entertainment for those movie fans that love to bicker. It becomes hard to listen to the show without audibly breaking out into disagreement over a competitor’s argument. The competition is loose and fun and always judged dubiously, but it wouldn’t work any other way.
Point of Entry Episode: Best Movie Fight! – Movie Fights 1 Year Epic Battle! (Season 2 Episode 24)
Matt Gourley returns to the list (and debuts on the list proper) with “I Was There Too,” a podcast that takes a different approach to the movie podcast format. It is an interview show, which is conventional enough, but it is a step removed from convention by interviewing extras and/or small supporting actors from some of the biggest movies in history.
From comedian Paul Scheer in Meet Dave to character actor Stephen Tobolowsky in Groundhog Day, Gourley rounds up a variety of acting talents to talk about the world of Hollywood. Gourley gets his interviewees into some interesting alleys of conversation at times, but mostly it is his true giddiness to be talking to these actors that makes the podcast lively and enjoyable.
Point of Entry Episode: Aliens | T2 | Titanic with Jenette Goldstein (Ep. 11) or Speed with the Passengers of Bus 2525 (Ep. 7)
“You Must Remember This” is one of the few movie podcasts that delves into an older era of cinema. Most of the other podcasts on this list focus on current releases, but Karina Longworth at Panoply dives headfirst into in-depth stories of Classical Hollywood. The podcast is a goldmine of well-researched knowledge that any cinephile would benefit from hearing.
Whether you want long, multi-part essays on particular eras or people or one-off episodes about smaller subjects, “You Must Remember This” delivers with just the right amount of information and entertainment
Point of Entry Episode: Bogart, Before Bacall (Ep. 13) and Bacall, After Bogart (Ep. 14)
Sometimes, torture is a form of entertainment. In the case of the hosts of “The Worst Idea of All Time,” New Zealand comedians Tim Batt and Guy Montgomery, this torture comes in the form of watching the same movie 52 times in a year. But not just any movie, but some really terrible movies.
Season one makes for some great binge-listening. The duo watch Grown Ups 2, having not seen Grown Ups, and they do whatever they can to stay sane. In this pursuit, they create false narratives and focus on strange areas of the film in ways that only make the shoddily made film better. Even if you haven’t seen the movie (which they highly recommend you don’t), you can find enjoyment in these two guys ruining their mental health.
Point of Entry Episode: You’re best off starting from the beginning of whichever season you choose.
Hosts Elliot Kalan, Dan McCoy, and Stuart Wellington are the perfect trio to discuss movie failures. Not unlike “How Did This Get Made,” the podcast survives on the charismatic relationship of its hosts, but “The Flop House” does something more with its loose conversational structure. The movies they discuss sometimes lack substance entirely, but the hosts in their roundabout way make comedy gold out of nearly every one. Cinema and comedy fans alike will find endless enjoyment in the deep well of episodes in “The Flop House” canon.
Point of Entry Episode: Bratz (Ep. 14) or Mirrors (Ep. 34)
“Doug Loves Movies” is one of the original movie podcasts, and it remains one of the most fun and unique out there. Stand-up comedian Doug Benson works like a dog, consistently putting out episodes from comedy clubs around the country. The show features panels comprised of comedians and Hollywood figures that compete in trivia games for the sake of giving an audience member a prize bag of random items brought by the guests.
The show has changed somewhat since the end of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, which was the basis of the show’s biggest game: The Leonard Maltin Game. But Benson has added some new, interesting games to fill the gap. The quality of individual episodes can depend on whether the frequent guests on the panel are your personal favorites or not, but it is always fun to play along with the games at home.
Point of Entry Episode: Whatever episode is newest. It’s best just to jump in!
Yes, I realize that these are two separate podcasts and that it may be blasphemous to anoint them jointly as the best movie podcast out today. However, when viewed as a pair (they are “sister podcasts” after all) they provide the most in-depth movie analysis in the podcast sphere.
“Filmspotting” has been around for a while, with endless hours of content that involves lists and traditional long-form reviews. The relatively newer “The Next Picture Show” is the perfect augmentation to this more traditional review show. The hosts take a new release film and put it in direct comparison with a similar film from the past. This historical perspective often sheds new thematic light on new films, often in ways that cannot be found from other review outlets.
With the conventional review format of “Filmspotting” (itself going satisfyingly in-depth on many formal aspects of a given film) and the historical comparison of “The Next Picture Show,” the podcasts are much more comprehensive than other movie podcasts on the market.
Point of Entry Episode: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg / La La Land (Eps. 57-58)
As always, thanks for reading! Got a favorite movie podcast not listed here? What is it, and why is it great? Let me know in the comments!
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)