Barry Lee Levinson (born April 6, 1942) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, comedy writer, comedian and actor. His first writing work was for variety shows such as The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine, The Lohman and Barkley Show, The Tim Conway Show, and The Carol Burnett Show. His early screenwriting credits include the Mel Brooks comedies Silent Movie (1976), with Brooks, Dom DeLuise, Marty Feldman, Bernadette Peters, and Sid Caesar; and High Anxiety (1977), with Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Harvey Korman, Dick Van Patten, Ron Carey, and Howard Morris. Levinson had small roles in both films.
He received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay fox Norman Jewison’s …And Justice for All (1979), with Al Pacino, Jack Warden, John Forsythe, Lee Strasberg, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Lahti, Craig T. Nelson and Thomas Waites. It was one of a few screenplays co-written with his first wife, Valerie Curtin. The two also co-wrote Richard Donner’s Inside Moves (1980), with John Savage, David Morse, Diana Scarwid, and Amy Wright; Best Friends (1982), with Burt Reynolds, Goldie Hawn, Jessica Tandy, Barnard Hughes, Audra Lindley, Keenan Wynn, and Ron Silver; and Howard Zieff’s Unfaithfully Yours (1984), with Dudley Moore, Nastassja Kinski, Armand Assante, Cassie Yates, Richard Libertini, and Albert Brooks.
He received a second Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for his directorial debut Diner (1982), with Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Paul Reiser, Kevin Bacon, Tim Daly, and Ellen Barkin. He won the Academy Award for Best Director for Rain Man (1988), with Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, and Valeria Golino.
Other films in the 1980s include The Natural (1984), with Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Wilford Brimley, Barbara Hershey, Robert Prosky, and Richard Farnsworth; Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), with Nicholas Rowe, Alan Cox, Anthony Higgins, Sophie Ward, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Freddie Jones, Nigel Stock, Brian Oulton, and Susan Fleetwood; Tin Men (1987), with Richard Dreyfuss, Danny DeVito, Hershey, John Mahoney, Jackie Gayle, Seymour Cassel, Bruno Kirby, Michael Tucker, J.T. Walsh, and Deirdre O’Connell; and Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), with Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Kirby, Robert Wuhl, Walsh, Noble Willingham, and Richard Edson.
Levinson received a third Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for Avalon (1990), with Armin Mueller-Stahl, Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth Perkins, Joan Plowright, and Elijah Wood; as well as a second Academy Award nomination for Best Director for Bugsy (1991), with Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Harvey Keitel, Ben Kingsley, Elliott Gould, Bebe Neuwirth, and Joe Mantegna.
Other films in the 1990s include Toys (1992), with Williams, Michael Gambon, Joan Cusack, Robin Wright, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, and Donald O’Connor; Jimmy Hollywood (1994), with Joe Pesci and Christian Slater; Disclosure (1994), with Michael Douglas, Demi Moore, Donald Sutherland, Caroline Goodall, and Dennis Miller; Sleepers (1996), with Bacon, Jason Patric, Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Hoffman, Minnie Driver, Vittorio Gassman, Brad Renfro, Jeffrey Donovan, Terry Kinney, Joe Perrino, Geoffrey Wigdor, Jonathan Tucker, and Billy Crudup; Wag the Dog (1997), with Hoffman, De Niro, Anne Heche, Denis Leary, Willie Nelson, Andrea Martin, Woody Harrelson, Kirsten Dunst, and William H. Macy; Sphere (1998), with Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, Peter Coyote, Liev Schreiber, and Queen Latifah; and Liberty Heights (1999), with Adrian Brody, Ben Foster, Neuwirth, Mantegna, David Krumholtz, and Orlando Jones.
Films in the 2000s include An Everlasting Piece (2000), with Barry McEvoy, Brían F. O’Byrne, Anna Friel, and Billy Connolly; Bandits (2001), with Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, and Cate Blanchett; Envy (2004), with Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Rachel Weisz, Amy Poehler, and Christopher Walken; Man of the Year (2006), with Williams, Walken, Laura Linney, Lewis Black, and Jeff Goldblum; and What Just Happened (2008), with De Niro, Catherine Keener, Wright, Stanley Tucci, Moon Bloodgood, John Turturro, Sean Penn, and Willis.
Films in the 2010s include The Bay (2012), with Kether Donohue, Nansi Aluka, Christopher Denham, Frank Deal, and Kristen Connolly; The Humbling (2015), with Pacino, Greta Gerwig, Dianne Wiest, Nina Arianda, Dylan Baker, Charles Grodin, Dan Hedaya, Billy Porter, Kyra Sedgwick, and Mary Louise Wilson; and Rock the Kasbah (2015), with Bill Murray, Kate Hudson, Beejan Land, Zooey Deschanel, Danny McBride, Scott Caan, Leem Lubany, Arian Moayed, and Willis.
Levinson also directed the TV movies You Don’t Know Jack (2010), with Pacino, John Goodman, Danny Huston, Susan Sarandon, and Brenda Vaccaro; The Wizard of Lies (2017), with De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Alessandro Nivola, Hank Azaria, Nathan Darrow, Connolly, Kathrine Narducci, and Diana B. Henriques; Paterno (2018), with Pacino, Riley Keough, Kathy Baker, Greg Grunberg and Annie Parisse; and The Survivor (2022), with Foster, Vicky Krieps, Billy Magnussen, Peter Sarsgaard, John Leguizamo, and DeVito.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- Street Girls (1975) – directed by Michael Miller – co-writer
- Silent Movie (1976) – directed by Mel Brooks – co-writer, actor
- High Anxiety (1977) – directed by Mel Brooks – co-writer, actor
- …And Justice for All (1979) – directed by Norman Jewison – co-writer
- Inside Moves (1980) – directed by Richard Donner – co-writer
- History of the World, Part I (1981) – directed by Mel Brooks – cameo
- Tootsie (1982) – directed by Sydney Pollack – uncredited writer
- Best Friends (1982) – directed by Norman Jewison – co-writer
- Diner (1982) – director, writer
- Unfaithfully Yours (1984) – directed by Howard Zieff – co-writer
- The Natural (1984) – director
- Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) – director
- Tin Men (1987) – director, writer
- Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) – director
- Rain Man (1988) – director
- Avalon (1990) – director, writer
- Kafka (1991) – directed by Steven Soderbergh – executive producer
- Bugsy (1991) – director
- Toys (1992)* – director, co-writer
- Wilder Napalm (1993) – directed by Glenn Gordon Caron – executive producer
- Jimmy Hollywood (1994) – director, writer
- Quiz Show (1994) – directed by Robert Redford – actor
- Disclosure (1994) – director
- A Little Princess (1995) – directed by Alfonso Cuarón – executive producer
- Sleepers (1996) – director, writer
- Donnie Brasco (1997) – directed by Mike Newell – executive producer
- Wag the Dog (1997) – director
- Sphere (1998) – director
- Home Fries (1998) – directed by Dean Parisot – co-producer
- Liberty Heights (1999) – director, writer
- The Perfect Storm (2000) – directed by Wolfgang Peterson – executive producer
- An Everlasting Piece (2000) – director
- Bandits (2001) – director
- Possession (2002) – directed by Neil LaBute – producer
- Analyze That (2002) – directed by Harold Ramis – executive producer
- Deliver Us from Eva (2003) – directed by Gary Hardwick – executive producer
- Envy (2004) – director
- Man of the Year (2006) – director, writer
- Bee Movie (2007) – directed by Simon J. Smith & Steve Hickner – voice
- What Just Happened (2008) – director
- PoliWood (2009) – director – documentary
- You Don’t Know Jack (2010) – director – TV movie
- The Bay (2012) – director, co-story
- Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight (2013) – directed by Stephen Frears – actor – TV movie
- The Humbling (2015) – director
- Rock the Kasbah (2015) – director
- The Wizard of Lies (2017) – director – TV movie
- Paterno (2018) – director – TV movie
- Here Today (2021) – directed by Billy Crystal – cameo as himself
- The Survivor (2022) – director
- Wise Guys (2024) – director