Christopher Guest: Every Great Mockumentary, Ranked | Pretty Reel

Writer/director/actor Christopher Guest has been delighting audiences for decades. His mockumentaries become instant classics with each release. Guest began his acting career in the early 1970s, but he was unsuccessful until he starred in the 1984 film This is Spinal Tap. His character, Tufnel, originated on The TV Show, a comedy sketch show that aired in 1978.

The same year This is Spinal Tap was released, Guest joined the cast of Saturday Night Live. He was part of a group of comedians who were hired for the 1984-85 season, including Billy Crystal, Harry Shearer and Martin Short. Guest rounded out the 1980s with appearances in The Princess Bride and The Little Shop of Horrors. He also co-wrote and directed the Hollywood satire The Big Picture.

In the 1990s, Guest started making his big mockumentaries. He was influenced by This is Spinal Tap and its director Rob Reiner in that the films he wrote, directed and acted in from 1996 onwards were largely improvised. He imagined the plots and set the scene, but let his actors explore their characters within the framework of the story. This practice has led to his films being labeled mockumentaries.

Guest frequently works with his writing partner Eugene Levy and casts the same group of actors and actresses in his films, including Catherine O’Hara, Michael McKean, Parker Posey, Jennifer Coolidge, Ed Begley, Jr., Jane Lynch , Bob Balaban, Harry Shearer, John Michael Higgins, Jim Piddock and Fred Willard. During filming, Guest and Levy create backgrounds for the characters and notes for each scene that outline the plot, then he goes behind the camera, rolls it around, and lets his actors do the magic. All five feature films and one series on this list were made using this process.

6 Family tree


In 2013, HBO and the BBC aired Family Tree, an eight-part story written by Christopher Guest and Jim Piddock, and starring Chris O’Dowd and Nina Conti (with guest appearances from Guest and her usual husband). y group of actors, including Michael McKean, Fred Willard, Bob Balaban and Ed Begley Jr.). Family Tree is about unattached 30-year-old Tom Chadwick, who lost his sense of himself after a bad breakup. When he receives a box of family memories from a distant relative he has never met, he is inspired to investigate his family tree.

5 A Mighty Wind

Warner Bros.

A Mighty Wind is Christopher Guest’s 2003 film about a folk music reunion concert in which three folk music bands come together for the first time in decades to perform a televised concert. Guest also composed all of the film’s music and co-wrote the film with Eugene Levy. A Mighty Wind parodies the folk music revival of the early 1960s, particularly the interesting and colorful personalities involved in that movement. The film stars many of Guest’s usual suspects, including Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Michael McKean, Fred Willard, Harry Shearer, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch, Parker Posey, Ed Begley Jr., John Michael Higgins, and Bob Balaban.

4 For your consideration

Independent Warner Images

Christopher Guest co-wrote For Your Consideration in 2006 with Eugene Levy. The pair star in the film about a group of actors who discover that the movie they’re still making is generating a lot of buzz during awards season. The movie is a drama set in the South in the 1940s called Home for Purim. The movie title is what the entertainment industry uses when promoting movies for the Oscars, Emmys, or Golden Globes. The film stars the cast of Guest as well as Ricky Gervais, Larry Miller, John Krasinski, Richard Kind and Sandra Oh.

3 Waiting For Guffman

Sony Pictures Classics

Christopher Guest started Waiting for Guffman in 1996. He co-wrote it with Eugene Levy. The title is a play on Samuel Beckett’s famous existential story Waiting for Godot. In the fictional town of Blaine, well-meaning Missouri residents prepare for a community theater production chronicling the town’s history on the 150th anniversary of its founding. The musical is called Red, White and Blaine. Guest plays the director of the play. Waiting for Guffman stars the usual Guest actors like the great Parker Posey, plus Lewis Arquette, Matt Keeslar, David Cross, Brian Doyle-Murray.

2 mascots


Mascots premiered on Netflix in 2016. Christopher Guest wrote the film with Jim Piddock. He directed it and reprized his role as Corky St. Clair from Waiting For Guffman. This mockumentary takes place during the World Mascot Championships where several mascots compete for the coveted Golden Fluffy Award. Jane Lynch, Parker Posey, Jennifer Coolidge, Fred Willard, Ed Begley Jr, Bob Balaban, Christopher Moynihan, Chris O’Dowd and Zach Woods star.

1 Best in Show

Pictures from Warner Bros.

Best in Show isn’t just a mockumentary, it’s a comedic masterpiece. Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy co-wrote the film set in the world of dog shows. This 2000 film is about five dogs and their owners/handlers who travel to Philadelphia to compete in the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show, much like the Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s annual dog show on Thanksgiving Day. Catherine O’Hara, Michael McKean, Parker Posey, Fred Willard Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch, Ed Begley Jr. and the rest of the cast are at their improv best in this mockumentary.

Christopher Guest: Every Great Mockumentary, Ranked | Pretty Reel