Miloš Forman was one of the world’s most famous directors and when we take a look at his filmography, there is no wonder. We can’t find anything mediocre here, let alone bad. He excelled in everything he filmed. He was detailed, didn’t rush and gave himself completely to his movies. This can be seen in a pretty small number of movies he directed in his 50 years of making.
He started in his native country of the former Czechoslowakia and continued in the U.S. where he showed his full potential. He won two Oscars for best director. It’s time we discovered his works of art. This is the list of all Miloš Forman movies ranked from worst to best.
13. Dobre placená procházka (A Walk Worthwhile, 2009)
Forman’s last movie, once again in his mother tongue. This is a film version of a famous comic jazz opera which he already filmed as a tv movie in 1966. It is a story of a married couple in the midst of a divorce. They are trying to sort out everything about it and while doing it they receive two telegrams from Liverpool.
The telegram states that there is a rich Auntie who plans to give one million pounds to the pair’s future child. Everyone now wants to secure this money for themselves in a certain way and we are witnessing a comedy so typical for the Czechoslovakian cinematography. Witty and quirky, with a funny and interesting ending.
12. Goya’s Ghosts (2006)
It is always interesting to see an artist’s life and relationships on the big screen. Many times we don’t have the time to read their biographies, but we can often find two hours to watch a movie and learn something. Of course, it needs to be done properly. And Forman does it always.
In this movie we will learn something about the past, but most importantly about Francisco Goya, one of the most important Spanish painters. Spanish inquisition is in its full swing when Goya becomes involved in it because his muse, Ines, is arrested by the church for being a heretic. Goya is doing a portrait of a man responsible for her possible release, so her father comes to him and begs him for his help.
11. Cerný Petr (Black Peter, 1964)
This is an iconic movie belonging to the Czechoslovakian New Wave, shot in black and white. A reality drama which follows a few days in the life of a seventeen year old teenager when he starts working.
It is the story of a typical teenager who has problems in every domain of his life. Even though he is given pretty basic instructions at work, he is having a hard time managing it. He is a disappointment at the dance hall, too. And at home his father won’t leave him alone and doesn’t stop complaining about how big of a failure he is. Once again, a classic Czech comedy drama which we always like to see.
10. Taking Off (1971)
This is Forman’s first movie in English. A humoristic music drama about two parents who start to get close to each other and rediscover the beauties in life while trying to find their missing daughter. Jeannie runs away from home, misunderstood at home and always fighting with her parents.
They join a group for the parents of missing children and slowly start to find a new meaning of life. They realise that they don’t have responsibilities anymore and learn how to enjoy and appreciate life more. Of course there is so much more to it than this simple plot description, but it also conveys an important message for both the young and the older.
9. Horí, má panenko (The Firemen’s ball, 1967)
Forman wrote all the screenplays for his earlier movies. He had so much imagination and never lacked new ideas for his mostly comedic dramas at the time. It is still the first association to the Czechoslovakian cinematography of that time. Witty and funny, but always with some seriousness in the background. True realism in movies, the way it is.
Here we have the members of a volunteer fire department in a small town when their ex-boss celebrates his 86th birthday. The whole town was invited and even though everything looked promising, nothing went as planned. We suddenly have missing lottery prizes and a beauty contest which contestants are really eager to participate in.
8. Valmont (1989)
Set in Baroque France, this period drama is based on the same novel as the movie Dangerous Liaisons. A story about a man who is convinced that he would seduce a recently married woman. He makes a bet with his lover at the time to prove that even married women are corrupt and immoral.
As happens most of the time with men who are full of themselves and convinced that women simply fall for their irresistibility, Valmont falls in love with the woman. The story now becomes even more intriguing and sensual. Colin Firth was born for roles of men in costumes. He was the perfect choice for seductive and charming Valmont.
7. Ragtime (1981)
Forman loves music. He enjoys jazz in particular and this can be seen in his movies. He introduces it so skillfully and makes it a unique experience. Ragtime takes us to 1910 New York City where we meet Coalhouse Walker Jr., a black piano player. Jazz was big then, musicians worshipped and Walker is also a hit with his band.
But as it usually happens, some are not satisfied with other’s popularity and talent and want to have it their way. And a combination of his skin colour and his fame bothers a group of men who attack him. Will Walker get his justice?
6. Lásky jedné plavovlásky (A Blonde in Love,1965)
Rural Czechoslowakian village, young female workers and their factory manager who thinks they are lonely and sad. All local boys were enlisted and the manager asked the army to send other men to cheer his workers. Unfortunately, most men are married and middle-aged, but there is a jazz pianist who wins the heart of a local beauty, Andula.
She decides to follow him to Prague after a night spent together, but when she shows up on her protective parents’ doorstep, they aren’t so pleased to see her. Comedy, drama and romance once again make a perfect combination in a Forman’s movie.
5. The People Vs. Larry Flint (1996)
Such a powerful movie, such brilliant performances and a story of craziness that you won’t soon forget. Woody Harrelson is masterful in his role of Larry Flint, a sleazy publisher of Hustler magazine. It is a biographical drama which shows us what power and money can do to people. And what happens when you have too much of it.
This movie has a strong message and will make you think and rethink and discuss it. Harrelson played a role of a lifetime and Norton showed what a talent we are going to meet in the next few years. This movie will leave you speechless.
4. Man On the Moon (1999)
Another biographical drama, another masterpiece. A story about a late American comedian, Andy Kaufman and his ups and downs. We are introduced to a seemingly untalented comedian who slowly becomes one of the best. But he wants more and begins his wrestling career. His professional life will bring him much satisfaction, but fame has two sides. And we will see both of them here.
Jim Carrey once again proved that he is a great actor, maybe even better in dramatic roles. He aced it as Andy Kaufman and this will remain one of his most memorable roles. Forman can really get the best out of everyone.
3. Hair (1979)
A musical, an antiwar movie, romance and drama in one. A true masterpiece, a movie that will make you laugh and cry at the same time. So powerful and emotional, with a message that is universal and never gets old. The Vietnam war and hippie movement are the two opposites in Hair. We follow a group of carefree young individuals who spend their days hanging in New York City parks, smoking marijuana and enjoying free love.
On the other side we have Claude, a young recruit who comes to NYC from Oklahoma and befriends the group. He falls in love with a young woman from a rich family and they all end up together, with no worries in mind. But Claude isn’t free and he has a duty towards his country. He must serve and will soon be sent to war.
This musical is full of unforgettable songs, characters that crawl under your skin and a heartbreaking ending which will melt hearts of the most coldblooded individuals. Miloš Forman did an extraordinary job with putting this famous Broadway musical on the big screen.
2. Amadeus (1984)
A classic, a movie that everyone must see, being a fan of classical music or not. It is a story about one of the greatest, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told by his contemporary, Antonio Salieri. A man who also composed at the same time, but wasn’t a shadow of Mozart and his greatness.
Salieri was a big believer, a devout to God and believed that people deserve to be awarded by him according to their deeds and behaviour. And Mozart was a vulgar creature who lived freely and without a care in the world. Aware of his mediocrity, Salieri was envious of him because he saw God’s greatness in Mozart’s talent.
This is not only a story about talent, but even more a story of jealousy and inability to accept one’s grandiosity. It goes much deeper into human’s soul and tackles different subjects which show us what was going on at the time between some of the biggest artists.
1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
It hasn’t been easy making this list, since all Forman’s work is extraordinary. But there wasn’t a moment of insecurity which movie is going to be at the very top. One Flew Over Cuckoos’ Nest is probably one of the best movies ever, not only Forman’s.
And Jack Nicholson had so many memorable roles and is unforgettable in countless, but McMurphy is a character that seems to be made for him. He gave the movie a whole new dimension with his presence, gestures and fantastic facial expressions. Accompanied by numerous fantastic supporting roles, his story can be seen from various angles.
The movie itself is a big criticism of the psychiatric institution of the time and it leaves us broken and disappointed in the end. A low criminal McMurphy is sent to a mental institution instead of a prison after he pleads insanity. He changes the lives of other inmates and challenges them to so much more than they are bargained for.
Together they even start a mutiny against one of the most repulsive characters ever in a movie, Nurse Ratched, whose sadistic methods weren’t appropriate anywhere. But the big ones always win and sadly this movie shows us the dark side of the medal.