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7 Great Live Action “School” TV Series  

It’s been said most television sitcoms can fall into three categories–shows about friends, shows about a family, or shows about a workplace. Many dramas typically fall under one of these categories as well. One location that’s seen it’s fair share of television series is the school, which can be a mixture of all three.

Here are some of the classic live action television series about school:

Community

Dan Harmon’s show about a group of misanthropes who form a study group at a community college quickly became a cult favorite, and lasted five seasons on NBC before getting cancelled and renewed for a sixth season by Yahoo! Screen. The show, which revelled in both referencing and subverting all things pop culture, launched and boosted several careers, including comedy veteran Chevy Chase, Alison Brie, and Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino.

Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks, a period drama about high school outcasts in 1980, also launched multiple careers, including Linda Cardellini, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, producer Judd Apatow, and creator Paul Feig. No wonder the one-season wonder picked up an Emmy for Outstanding Casting in a Comedy. The show had the hallmarks of Apatow’s and Feig’s future work–pop culture-referencing humor with a ton of heart.

Glee

The memorable pilot for Glee launched a new wave of musicals on television, including Smash, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and live performances of famous musicals. The show worked with high school stereotypes like jocks, cheerleaders, and nerds, but over six seasons it shaded its characters with a ton of depth. Glee covered nearly every social issue a high schooler might encounter, as well as covered hundreds of famous pop, rock, and musical numbers. The show, which included NYFA alumni Chord Overstreet and Naya Rivera–the latter as the deviously talented Santana Lopez–also wore its progressive heart on its sleeve, and was praised for its three-dimensional LGBTQIA+ and other diverse characters.

Friday Night Lights

Adapted from the 2004 film by Peter Berg, itself adapted from the nonfiction book by H.G.Bissinger, this NBC drama ran for five seasons, earning critical acclaim throughout its run. Like its source material, the show was based around a Texas town’s obsession with high school football, but quickly transcended that material to become a grounded, fully-realized portrayal of working class families. The show, and its characters, wasn’t afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve, and from time to time punctuated its character drama with breathtaking football action and laugh-out-loud comedic beats.

Saved by the Bell

Originally a workplace vehicle for Hayley Mills about middle school called Good Morning, Miss Bliss, the show was renamed Saved by the Bell in season two and re-tooled to be about the students, now in high school, led by the charismatic Zack Morris. The show became both a syndication and Saturday morning staple for an entire generation, and has persisted in pop culture through TV movies and spin-offs like The College Years and The New Class.

My So-Called Life

In 1994, ABC aired this teen drama that lasted for only a season but dealt with several major issues for teens in the 90s in its short time, from drug use to alcoholism to school violence. The show launched the careers of Jared Leto and Claire Danes; the latter winning a Golden Globe for her lead role. 

Veronica Mars

The first season of Veronica Mars was a murder mystery whodunnit with a clever gimmick–what if the hard-boiled private eye was a teenage girl? Suspects and witnesses came from every clique in high school as the title character navigated a murder investigation with her homework and dating life. Kristen Bell’s winning performance as well the show’s shocking twists and clever, snappy dialogue, made the show a cult hit. It lasted another two seasons before being cancelled, but was brought back to life as a feature film and most recently with another season of TV.

 

9 Great Pirates Movies That Beat Walking the Plank

Pirate films aren’t as ubiquitous as westerns, but they’ve been a key part of Hollywood adventure films for just as long. Between the high seas action and swashbuckling anti-heros, audiences can’t resist a good pirate movie. 

Whether you’re celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day or just looking for a fun popcorn adventure, here are some of the best pirate films Hollywood has to offer:

Muppet Treasure Island

When Robert Louis Stevenson published his novel Treasure Island in 1883, he practically invented the entire pirate genre, including such staples as treasure maps, buried treasure, peglegs, parrots, and “X marks the spot.” The novel has been adapted countless times and in nearly every medium, so it was natural for Jim Henson’s Muppets to tell the story in their own charming way. Brian Henson, Jim’s son, directed this musical adventure comedy, which featured live-action stars Jennifer Saunders, Billy Connolly, and Tim Curry as Long John Silver.


Pirates of the Caribbean

Disney executives weren’t sure what to make of Johnny Depp’s one-of-a-kind performance as Captain Jack Sparrow in a movie adapted from a theme park ride, but once the original Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl became a monster hit in 2003, what they thought didn’t really matter. Depp’s performance instantly minted a new iconic character, and earned him an Academy Award nomination. The film and its four sequels set a high standard for incredible special effects and epic filmmaking, and have earned several Oscar nominations in addition to Depp’s.

The Pirate

If you’re looking for a romance from Hollywood’s Golden era, this is the pirate film you want. Judy Garland and Gene Kelly teamed up for Vincente Minnelli’s 1948 musical romance, which tells the tale of a woman who dreams about the legendary pirate Macoco. A traveling singer falls in love with her and poses as the pirate to win her heart.

Waterworld

Waterworld, the most expensive film ever made at the time of its release in 1995, takes place in a dystopian future when the ice caps have melted and all of Earth is covered in ocean. The villains of Kevin Costner’s action epic are a mix between classic pirates and apocalyptic oil-slicked Mad Max villains, raiding what little remains of civilization from weaponized jet skis and the Exxon Valdez to pirate and plunder food, gas, and fresh water. Hopper relishes his role as a futuristic pirate, giving maximum intensity in his performance and even sporting an eyepatch.


Captain Blood

Errol Flynn is the definitive Robin Hood for many cinephiles, but for many he’s also the definitive pirate. In fact, Captain Blood, directed by Michael Curtiz, was Flynn’s first Hollywood role. Captain Blood is one of several adaptations of the 1922 novel of the same name, and tells the story of an enslaved doctor and his fellow prisoners who escape imprisonment and become pirates in the West Indies. The 1935 film made stars of Flynn and his then-unknown romantic lead, Olivia de Havilland, and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

The Goonies

Produced and based on a story by Steven Spielberg; director/producer Richard Donner and screenwriter Chris Columbus paired for this family adventure comedy, now a modern classic and launching pad for familiar faces like Josh Brolin, Sean Astin, and Martha Plimpton. The story focuses on poor kids from Oregon who attempt to save their homes from foreclosure with an old treasure map that takes them on an adventure to unearth the long-lost fortune of One-Eyed Willy, a legendary 17th-century pirate.

Hook

Master director Steven Spielberg was also able to indulge in the pirate genre through the meta sequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Hook’s plot concerns a middle-aged Pan (Robin Williams), who is forced back to Neverland to rescue his two children from the clutches of stereotypical pirates led by Dustin Hoffman’s Captain Hook. Bob Hoskins makes a memorable impression as Hook’s first mate, Smee, and the film includes numerous high-profile cameos, including Glenn Close as the bearded pirate, Gutless. Everyone delights in chewing as much scenery as possible, which made the pirate antics all the more fun.

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips is most certainly not a popcorn movie, but rather the harrowing true story of real-life pirates who, to this day, prey on tankers containing millions of dollars of cargo. Paul Greengrass directs Tom Hanks as the captain of the Maersk Alabama, who was taken hostage for days along with his crew. The film received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Barkhad Abdi, who in his first role ever, improvised the now-infamous line, “I’m the Captain, now.”

Treasure Island (1934)

Since this list began with a Treasure Island adaptation, it might as well end with one, and a great one at that. The black-and-white film was directed by Oscar-winner Victor Fleming (Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz) and starred Jackie Cooper, Wallace Beery, and Lionel Barrymore. While the special effects aren’t quite as sharp as today’s CGI, you’ll still find all the thrills that come along with a solid pirate adventures.

 

9 Hilarious Animated Films for the Whole Family

When it comes to animated films for children, parents resign themselves to watching the same few entries over and over and over again. That’s why they are always thrilled to find something that is hilarious for both children and adults, and more importantly, has replay value.

Here are nine hilarious animated films the whole family can enjoy, even if they end up watching it dozens of times. 

Frozen

Two very different sisters – one ordinary and one with magical ice powers – are emotionally separated after an accident as children. With the help of some new friends and a sister’s big heart, they learn that love can thaw the “iciest” of situations.

This blockbuster hit was popular with viewers of all ages. Not only is the lovable, huggable snowman Olaf full of little quips to keep viewers giggling, but Anna is by far the most awkward and relatable Disney princess to date. Fans of the film will be glad to hear its sequel, Frozen II, worked on by NYFA Animation instructor Kelley Williams, will be released later this year.

Shrek

Dreamworks release three sequels and a spin-off to Shrek in less than a decade, so fans of ogres with Scottish accents have their options, but the original has a level of hilarity that is nearly unmatched. The groundbreaking film created a brand new subgenre of CGI kids films brimming with modern pop culture references that parents could laugh along to.

Austin Powers star Mike Myers is a comedy natural, but even his scenes are stolen by fellow Saturday Night Live alum Eddie Murphy, as Donkey, and Antonio Banderas’s adorable-but-deadly Puss in Boots.

The Lego Movie

President Business is out to destroy the world, but not if the prophecy of the Piece of Resistance is true. Can an ordinary construction worker truly be the special master builder who has the power to stop an evil tyrant from freezing the entire Lego world in time?

Combining amazing animation that mimics stop motion, laugh-a-second gags, a surprisingly heartwarming story, and an all-star stellar cast, The Lego Movie was a gigantic hit upon release as well as a critical darling. Accolades include a BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film, the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Animated Feature, and countless other nominations.

 

The Secret Life of Pets

What do your pets do when you aren’t at home? Some may laze around; others may go on an adventure to find their lost friend while avoiding a band of “flushed pets” who hate both humans and their beloved animals.

Made by the artists behind the Despicable Me series, this film offers a fun-filled time by depicting pets as very human-like while also keeping their animal-specific personalities intact. The Secret Life of Pets provides lots of laughs while also featuring relatable, adorable characters that even the youngest members of your household will be able to giggle at.

Minions

The title Minions’ sole purpose in life is to serve the biggest, baddest badguy boss in existence, but their clumsiness makes it difficult to keep their jobs. A prequel to the hit movie Despicable Me, this story follows three brave minions who venture off to save their tribe by searching for a boss that will cherish and need them for years to come.

Minions most impressive achievement is sustaining 90 minutes of fun and story despite the constant warbling of the characters’ gibberish language. Indeed, not only was the film a success, but cemented the little yellow creatures as animation icons.

Despicable Me

There would be no Minions if not for the success of the original Despicable Me, which won audiences over with a modern style of humor, a subversive take on superhero tropes, and a hilarious leading performance by Steve Carell at the height of his comedic powers. But the movie is also a perfect family film, as the supervillain Gru (Carell) becomes a surrogate father to three daughters and finds true meaning in a suburban family unit.

 

 

Wreck-It Ralph

Poor Ralph never wanted to be a video game villain; he just wants to be accepted by his fellow game characters. Eager to prove himself more than just a villain, Ralph leaves his home game in hopes of showing that he can be a hero. His plan backfires–if he doesn’t return to his game in time, it will be unplugged and shut down forever, leaving him and all his friends without a home.

Wreck-It Ralph is a blast from the past for parents who grew up playing vintage video games during the 80s and 90s. But you don’t need an interest in Nintendo and Atari to enjoy this fantastic film, especially considering it was directed by Rich Moore, director of iconic comedy shows like Futurama and The Simpsons.

Toy Story

The original Toy Story transformed the animated film genre with its computer animation, but the impressive artistry and technology would not have captivated audiences the way it did without an, imaginative story, gut-busting one-liners, and a lively cast voiced by some of Hollywood’s top talent, including Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.

Twenty-five years later, the iconic Pixar characters Woody and Buzz Lightyear are still dominating the box office, along with all their old friends as well as new ones, including Toy Story 4’s breakout character Forky, played by recent New York Film Academy guest speaker Tony Hale.

The Incredibles

Toy Story walked so The Incredibles could run. The 2004 Pixar film depicted a family of superheroes and perfectly captured the love (and hostility) that exists between a mother, father, and their children living under a roof, whether they have superpowers or not. Every member of the family will find something to love from this action/comedy/family drama and it’s must-watch for parents and their children.

If you’re interested in studying animation and visual effects at New York Film Academy, you can find more information on our programs here.

7 Perfect Films for Father’s Day

Fathers and father figures have been a storytelling trope for millennia, from oral traditions passed generation by generation, to the earliest written epics and sagas. Cinema, of course, is no different.

Here’s a look back at some of the best films to watch on or around Father’s Day:

 

Pinocchio (1940)

Pinocchio is one of Disney’s earliest animation features, and follows a puppet who was given life by a fairy after his creator, Geppetto, wished upon a star. After a sometimes heartbreaking journey and reunion, Pinocchio is transformed from a living marionette into a real boy, and Geppetto becomes his true father.

 

The Kid (1921)

This American comedy-drama silent classic focuses on the simple yet powerful journey of a tramp (Charlie Chaplin) who finds a baby on a street and takes it upon himself to look after him. Their special relationship grows through a very physical series of unfortunate circumstances and showcase a lovable and energetic father figure with a very turbulent child sidekick (Jackie Coogan). 

 

Mary Poppins (1964)

Magical nanny Mary Poppins comes to a London house to help raise the children of Mr. Banks (David Tomlinson), a strict disciplinarian. While he initially seems cold and harsh, his deeply sentimental and sincere love of his kids eventually shines through with some help from Poppins.

 

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

The third entry in the Indiana Jones trilogy is decidedly more lighthearted and comedic than its darker predecessors, and a lot of that comes from the bickering relationship Indy has with his bookwork father, played by Sean Connery. The Spielberg film finds its heart in their relationship though, as ultimately they both realize they need each other even more than they do the Holy Grail.

 

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

Robin Williams is in peak form in this family classic, playing a divorced dad who misses spending time with his three kids. His solution is outside-the-box, using heavy prosthetics, he transforms into elderly British nanny Mrs. Doubtfire, and is hired as his children’s nanny. A series of iconic comedic setpieces ensue.

 

Billy Elliot (2000)

Set in England during the 1984-85 coal miners’ strike, Billy Elliot tells the story of a boy (Jamie Bell) who wants to become a professional ballet dancer. His father (Gary Lewis) wants to push him into boxing. Billy’s ballet teacher (Julie Walters) serves as bridge for the father and son, helping Billy both fulfill his dream and be accepted by his father.

 

Father of the Bride (1991)

This remake quickly became a classic in its own right with comedy legend Steve Martin playing the lead role and learning that part of being a parent is knowing when to let your children go and start their own lives. Buoyed by a stellar supporting cast that includes Diane Keaton, Martin Short, Kieran Culkin, and B.D. Wong, it wasn’t surprising when the film spawned a direct sequel.