Barry Levinson just received his 10th and 11th Emmy nominations for producing and directing the HBO drama “Paterno” which was the true story of how the Penn State football coach handled child abuse allegations against one of his employees. Levinson has picked up Emmy nominations for producing, writing and directing in the past, winning four times in his career.
Levinson began his career as a comedy writer on various variety shows in the 1970s ultimately landing a steady job writing for 72 episodes of “The Carol Burnett Show.” When that show ended he began writing screenplays and had a remarkably successful run co-writing two Mel Brooks movies — “Silent Movie” and “High Anxiety” — as well as two acclaimed dramas “Inside Moves” and “and Justice for All.” He would receive his first Oscar nomination for the screenplay of “And Justice for All.”
That success led Levinson to a feature film directing career. His semi-autobiographical film “Diner,” about a group of young men hanging out in his native Baltimore, became a sleeper hit in 1982. The screenplay brought Levinson his second Oscar nomination. He would go on to receive another Oscar screenplay nomination for his work on “Avalon.” As a director he would be nominated for “Bugsy” and won the Oscar for “Rain Man.” He would also receive a producing nomination for Best Picture nominee “Bugsy.”
“Paterno” received two Emmy nominations for directing and Best TV Movie (but its star Al Pacino was surprisingly left out). In honor of Levinson’s latest Emmy bid, take a tour of his film directing career with our photo gallery above, ranking his 12 greatest movies from worst to best.
12. YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES (1985)
Levinson’s third outing as a director was this story which features Sherlock Holmes as a teenager. It was reasonably well reviewed but proved to be a bit of a disappointment at the box office.
11. DISCLOSURE (1994)
This film caused a lot of discussion on news programs and talk radio in the nineties. The film focuses on sexual harassment in the workplace but in this case, it was a man (Michael Douglas) who is being harassed by a woman (Demi Moore).
10. SLEEPERS (1996)
Levinson assembled a strong cast for this story of four boys who are sent to a juvenile detention center where they suffer severe trauma. They then reunite when they are adults to seek revenge.
9. BANDITS (2001)
“Bandits” is an often-overlooked film that stars Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton as escaped convicts on a bank robbing spree. The film features a comic gem of a performance from Golden Globe nominee Cate Blanchett as a neurotic housewife who ends up in the middle of the duos’ plans.
8. TIN MEN (1987)
Many of Levinson’s films are set in his boyhood home of Baltimore. This film is the story of two rival aluminum siding salesmen and their petty feud after a minor car accident.
7. WAG THE DOG (1997)
“Wag the Dog” refers to when a president uses a military maneuver to distract attention from something else. This film was released at the height of the Bill Clinton impeachment scandal and earned an Oscar nomination for Dustin Hoffman for his semi-impersonation of famed film producer Robert Evans.
6. AVALON (1990)
In another film set in Baltimore, Levinson tells the story of the struggles of a family who immigrates to the USA in the early part of the 20th Century in hopes of bettering their lives.
5. BUGSY (1991)
Ten Oscar nominations went to this biopic of gangster Bugsy Siegel who brought gambling and show business to Las Vegas. The two stars of the film (Warren Beatty and Annette Bening) fell in love during the shooting and later married.
4. GOOD MORNING, VIETMAN (1987)
Robin Williams earned his first Oscar nomination for this true-life film about a comic disc jockey whose radio show entertains the troops in Vietnam.
3. THE NATURAL (1984)
Levinson mixed the supernatural and baseball in this lushly photographed story of a talented baseball player who disappears and then returns years later to try and regain his place in the sport. The scene where Glenn Close stands up in the bleachers as inspiration for Robert Redford to hit a home run is a classic movie moment.
2. DINER (1982)
“Diner” was Levinson’s first film as a director. It tells the tales of a bunch of friends navigating their post-high school life in Baltimore. The cast is particularly impressive and many were launched into successful careers by the film.
1. RAIN MAN (1988)
Levinson won the Oscar for Best Director and the film itself took home Best Picture as well as Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor for Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman plays a severely autistic man who is reunited with his brother played by Tom Cruise.