Hollywood, a northern district of Los Angeles, California, is one of the leaders in motion picture production. The world’s first commercial motion picture exhibition was given in New York City in 1894, using Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope. The next year saw the first commercial screening of a projected film, also in New York, and the United States was in the forefront of sound film’s development in the following decades. Since the early 20th century, the U.S. film industry has largely been based in and around Hollywood, although in the 21st century an increasing number of films are not made there, and film companies have been subject to the forces of globalization.
Director D. W. Griffith, the top American filmmaker during the silent film period, was central to the development of film grammar, and producer/entrepreneur Walt Disney was a leader in both animated film and movie merchandising. Directors such as John Ford redefined the image of the American Old West and history, and, like others such as John Huston, broadened the possibilities of cinema with location shooting, with great influence on subsequent directors. The industry enjoyed its golden years, in what is commonly referred to as the “Golden Age of Hollywood”, from the early sound period until the early 1960s, with screen actors such as John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe becoming iconic figures. In the 1970s, film directors such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Altman were a vital component in what became known as “New Hollywood” or the “Hollywood Renaissance”, grittier films influenced by French and Italian realist pictures of the post-war period. Since, directors such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and James Cameron have gained renown for their blockbuster films, often characterized by high production costs, and in return, high earnings at the box office, with the Russo brothers, Avengers: Endgame (2019) being the highest-grossing film of all time.
Notable films topping the American Film Institute’s AFI 100 list include Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane (1941), which is frequently cited as the greatest film of all time, Casablanca (1942), The Godfather (1972), Gone with the Wind (1939), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Graduate (1967), On the Waterfront (1954), Schindler’s List (1993), Singin’ in the Rain (1952), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and Sunset Boulevard (1950). The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, have been held annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 1929, and the Golden Globe Awards have been held annually since January 1944.