The Best Film Essays That You Need To Watch

Film is more than just sitting in an uncomfortable seat for two hours, as you try to escape the harsh realities of life by drowning yourself in a sea of computer generated imagery, explosions, and car chases. Film extends past those two hours. Good films will make you think, better films will make you talk, which is why I find film analysis so fascinating.

In the past five years, I’ve shifted from viewing films as a means of entertainment and instead, studying what they do, what message they’re trying to deliver, and why they are the way they are. Critic mode is always on when I’m watching a movie, which used to be distracting, but now I’ve come to enjoy it. It makes the experience more interesting and I actually feel like I’m getting more value when buying a DVD, or going to the cinema.

And so after I see a film, more often than not I find myself clicking on the YouTube search bar, typing [Film Name] Review, and submitting hours of my time into hearing what other people have to say about the film, professional film critic or not.

Even more commonly now, I’m trawling through YouTube videos to find film analysis. Not on anything particular, just something that delves deeper than an opinion of a film. These videos teach me about filmmaking, but more importantly they help me appreciate certain films, and cinema in general. So, here’s a few channels that I think fulfil that last point.

Every Frame A Painting

The one you’ve probably heard about or seen before, but for good reason. Described simply as a channel ‘dedicated to the analysis of film form’, Tony Zhou is probably one of, if not the best, film analysts on YouTube. The uploads aren’t as frequent as other channels, but nevertheless, the content itself is just as good as the films he analyses.

Choice videos: The Marvel Symphonic Universe, Vancouver Never Plays Itself, David Fincher – And The Other Way Is Wrong, Edgar Wright – How to Do Visual Comedy.


Nerdwriter uploads much more frequently than Every Frame A Painting, and isn’t always strictly related to film. Evan Paschak looks towards ideas more than anything else. If you haven’t watched any of his work before, go correct that right now.

Choice videos: The Prestige: Hiding In Plain Sight, Scott Pilgrim: Make Your Transitions Count, Snowpiercer: The Artist As Historian, The Office: Embrace The Cringe.

Channel Criswell

Lewis Bond says that art has moulded him into who he is today, and hopes he and art can do the same for you. His videos are, on average, longer than the videos from the channels I’ve mentioned so far. Uploads aren’t as frequent as Nerdwriter, but provide so much detail into aspects of cinema that you don’t want to miss them.

Choice videos: Colour In Storytelling, Her – Needs & Desires, The Social Network – Designing Dialogue, Stanley Kubrick – The Cinematic Experience.

Lessons from the Screenplay

A fairly new channel, that aims to upload every few weeks. Lessons from the Screenplay is run by Michael Tucker, who believes that ‘examining the techniques used to tell great stories makes your own writing better and you appreciation for the stories deeper’. I’m always anticipating his next upload.

Choice videos: Gone Girl – Don’t Underestimate the Screenwriter, The Dark Knight – Creating the Ultimate Antagonist, Nightcrawler – Empathy for the Antihero.


Wisecrack has a video series called ‘Earthling Cinema’, where films are analysed by Gary Wormuloid. It’s quite shallow in comparison to the previous channels, but you might still learn a thing or two. Their other film series, ‘Wisecrack Edition’, delves very deeply into specific films.

Choice videos: The Brilliant Deception of Inception – Wisecrack Edition, Hidden Meaning in The Incredibles – Earthling CinemaThe Philosophy of Rick and Morty – Wisecrack EditionThe Philosophy of The Joker – Wisecrack Edition.


Mostly review-like videos and sometimes deeper, thoughtful breakdowns on film. The channel isn’t obnoxious like CinemaSins, and the ‘Quickie’ review series are quite good.

Choice videos: Quickie: Suicide SquadThe Genius of Synecdoche, New York (Part 1)The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ReviewThoughts on Edge of Tomorrow.

Filmmaker IQ

A channel that explains the history of cinema. John P. Hess explores the inception and development of things like aspect ratios, green screens and so on.

Choice videos: Hollywood’s History of Faking It | The Evolution of Greenscreen CompositingThe Changing Shape of Cinema: The History of Aspect RatioThe History and Science of Color TemperatureThe History of Hollywood Censorship and the Ratings System.

Vashi Nedomansky

Vasai Nedomansky is a film editor living in Los Angeles. His work includes Sharknado 2, An American Carol and That Which I Love Destroys Me. His company Vashi Visuals has assisted with big Hollywood films like Deadpool and Gone Girl. On his Vimeo page, Vashi has a few uploads, showcasing certain film and editing techniques. A great insight into film from someone who works in the industry.

Choice videos: Evolution of the Dolly Zoom, Mad Max: Center Framed, The Fastest Cut: Furious Film Editing, Star Wars – The Music Makes the Moment.

Kevin B. Lee

Considered one of the first online film essayist, Kevin has been doing these videos for almost a decade, and while they’re not the most visually interesting videos, his views and points are insightful and original. He doesn’t necessarily praise every film that he discusses, which makes his videos different from the other channels.

Choice videos: The Career of Paul Thomas Anderson in Five Shots, Who Deserves the 2014 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress?, Growing Up a Bond Girl, Who Deserves the 2015 Oscar for Best Director?


Kristian Williams creates videos on his ‘favourite shit’, which has includes figures of pop culture, but also specific films, shows and companies.

Choice videos: Pixar – What Makes a Story Relatable, Watchmen – Adapting The Unadaptable, Childish Gambino – Storytelling Through Hip-Hop, Futurama – The Science of Comedy.

Midnight’s Edge

Midnight’s Edge doesn’t have much in the way of film analysis like the other channels, but instead have great video series on the politics and drama of Hollywood and its companies. Very insightful and explains a lot of the behind the scenes that can be hard to understand.

Choice videos: Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four: The Controversies Behind The MovieGhostbusters reboot: How Sony hijacked Ghostbusters 3Spider-Man Cinematic Saga Part 1: The Untold Story Behind The MoviesGhostbusters: Sony Hits Back at Fan Backlash.

Honourable Mentions:

Digging Deeper: Vehicles of Masculinity, Sicario: The Mirage of a Moral World.

AlternatingLineThe Remaker: Spider-Man 2 (2004) vs. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)The Remaker: The Day The Earth Stood Still 1951 vs. 2008.

Renegade CutBatman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – Renegade CutEyes Wide Shut – Renegade Cut.

StorytellersNo Dislike Button: the Media Critique of the Social NetworkShutter Island: Why Perspective is Everything.

Rocket Jump Film School: Why CG Sucks (Except It Doesn’t)Die Hard Editing Concepts.

Glowing Screen: What Is A Good Movie?American Sniper: The Danger Of Patriotism.

RossatronJohn Wick – Break Down: Action Film AnalysisAction Masterclass: Mad Max: Fury Road – The Rhythm of Chaos.

Now You See ItBritish vs. American Comedy: What’s the Difference?, How to End a Movie.

Films&StuffSpider-Man 2: Marvel At Its BestMission: Impossible – Orchestrating a Setpiece.

Mr NerdistaFury Road: An Unconventional Comic Book Film?Jake Gyllenhaal: It’s All In The Eyes.


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