John Sayles


John Thomas Sayles (September 28, 1950) is an American independent film director, screenwriter, editor, actor, and novelist. His directorial debut, Return of the Secaucus 7 (1980), which marked his first collaboration with David Strathairn (in his film debut), has been added to the National Film Registry. He, like many other filmmakers, started his career under the mentorship of prolific filmmaker/producer, Roger Corman. He has twice been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, for Passion Fish (1992), with Mary McDonnell, Alfre Woodard, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Strathairn, Leo Burmester, and Angela Bassett; and Lone Star (1996), with Ron Canada, Chris Cooper, Clifton James, Kris Kristofferson, Matthew McConaughey, Frances McDormand, Joe Morton, and Elizabeth Peña. His film Men with Guns (1997), with Federico Luppi, Damián Delgado, Damián Alcázar and Mandy Patinkin; was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

His other films of the 1980s include Lianna (1983), with Linda Griffiths, Jane Hallaren; Baby It’s You (1983), with Rosanna Arquette and Vincent Spano; The Brother from Another Planet (1984), with Morton, Darryl Edwards, Steve James, Bill Cobbs, and Strathairn; Matewan (1987), with Cooper, James Earl Jones, McDonnell, Will Oldham, Strathairn, Kevin Tighe, and Gordon Clapp; Eight Men Out (1988), with John Cusack, John Mahoney, Michael Rooker, Clifton James, Michael Lerner, Christopher Lloyd, Charlie Sheen, Strathairn, and D.B. Sweeney.

Films in the 1990s include City of Hope (1991), with Spano, Tony Lo Bianco, Morton, Todd Graff, Strathairn, Anthony John Denison, Barbara Williams, Bassett, Gloria Foster, and Lawrence Tierney; The Secret of of Roan Inish (1994), with Mick Lally, Eileen Colgan, John Lynch, Jeni Courtney, Richard Sheridan, and Cillian Byrne; and Limbo (1999), with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Strathairn, Vanessa Martinez and Kristofferson.

Films in the 2000s include Sunshine State (2002), with Bassett, Edie Falco, Jane Alexander, Alan King, Timothy Hutton, Mary Steenburgen, and Cobbs; Casa de los Babys (2003), with Marcia Gay Harden, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Daryl Hannah, Susan Lynch, Steenburgen, and Lili Taylor; Silver City (2004), with Cooper, Richard Dreyfuss, Danny Huston, Michael Murphy, Maria Bello, Kristofferson, Mary Kay Place, Thora Birch, Tim Roth, Billy Zane, and Hannah; Honeydripper (2007), with Eric Abrams, Gary Clark Jr., Yaya Dacosta, Charles S. Dutton, Daryl Edwards, Danny Glover, Albert Hall, Vondie Curtis Hall, LisaGay Hamilton, Brent Jennings, Dr. Mable John, Stacy Keach, Davenia McFadden, Kel Mitchell, Keb’ Mo’, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Eddie Shaw, Steenburgen, Sean Patrick Thomas, Arthur Lee Williams, and Tom Wright; Amigo (2010), with Cooper, Garret Dillahunt, DJ Qualls, Joel Torre, Yul Vazquez, Bembol Roco, and Rio Locsin; and Go for Sisters (2013), with Edward James Olmos, Hamilton, Yolonda Ross, Tessa Ferrer, Mahershala Ali, Martha Higareda, Harold Perrineau, and Isiah Washington.

Sayles also wrote or co-wrote scripts to Joe Dante’s Piranha (1978), with Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Steele, and Dick Miller; Lewis Teague’s The Lady in Red (1979), with Pamela Sue Martin and Robert Conrad; Alligator (1980), with Robert Forster, Robin Riker, and Michael V. Gazzo; Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), with Richard Thomas, Robert Vaughn, George Peppard, John Saxon, Sybil Danning, Darlanne Fluegel; The Howling (1981), with Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, and Robert Picardo; The Challenge (1982), with Scott Glenn and Toshiro Mifune; Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1983), with Kevin Bacon, Ellen Barkin, and Strathairn; Clan of the Cave Bear (1986), with Hannah, Pamela Reed, James Remar, Thomas G. Waites, and Curtis Armstrong; Wild Thing (1987), with obert Knepper and Kathleen Quinlan; Breaking In (1989), with Burt Reynolds, Casey Siemaszko, and Lorraine Toussaint; Men of War (1994), with Dolph Lundgren and Charlotte Lewis; and The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008), with Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, Mary-Louise Parker, Andrew McCarthy, Joan Plowright, Strathairn, and the voices Ron Perlman, Martin Short, Nick Nolte, and Seth Rogen

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • Return of the Secaucus 7 (1979)
  • Lianna (1983)
  • Baby It’s You (1983)
  • The Brother from Another Planet (1984)
  • Matewan (1987)
  • Eight Men Out (1988)
  • City of Hope (1991)
  • Passion Fish (1992)
  • The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)
  • Lone Star (1996)
  • Men with Guns (1997)
  • Limbo (1999)
  • Sunshine State (2002)
  • Casa de los Babys (2003)
  • Silver City (2004)
  • Honeydripper (2007)
  • Amigo (2010)
  • Go for Sisters (2013)


  • Piranha (1978) – directed by Joe Dante
  • The Lady in Red (1979) – directed by Lewis Teague
  • Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) – directed by Jimmy T. Murakami
  • A Perfect Match (1980) – directed by Men Damski – TV movie
  • Alligator (1980) – directed by Lewis Teague
  • The Howling (1981) – directed by Joe Dante
  • The Challenge (1982) – directed by John Frankenheimer
  • Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1983) – directed by Mirra Bank, Ellen Hovde, & Muffie Meyer
  • The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986) – directed by Michael Chapman
  • Unnatural Causes (1986) – directed by Lamont Johnson – TV movie
  • Wild Thing (1987) – directed by Max Reid
  • Shannon’s Deal (1989) – directed by by Lewis Teague – TV movie
  • Breaking In (1989) – directed by Bill Forsyth
  • Shannon’s Deal (1990) – TV series; creator
  • Men of War (1994) – directed by Perry Lang
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) – directed by Mark Waters
  • Dr. Dell (2016) – directed by Katie Jacobs – TV movie
  • Sonora, the Devil’s Highway (2018) – directed by Alejandro Springall