Miloš Forman


Jan Tomáš “Miloš” Forman (February 18, 1932 – April 13, 2018) was a Czech-American film director, screenwriter, actor, and professor who rose to fame in his native Czechoslovakia before emigrating to the United States in 1968. Forman was an important figure in the Czechoslovak New Wave. Film scholars and Czechoslovakian authorities saw his 1967 film The Firemen’s Ball as a biting satire on Eastern European Communism, and it was banned for many years in his home country. He left Czechoslovakia for the United States, where he gained critical and financial success.

Foreman made his US debut with Taking Off (1971), with Lynn Carlin and Buck Henry. He then directed One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), with Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Will Sampson, Sydney Lassick, William Redfield, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, and Brad Dourif. The film received widespread acclaim, and five Academy Awards including for Best Picture and for Forman Best Director. The film was the second film to win all five major Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Actor in Leading Role, Actress in Leading Role; after Frank Capra‘s It Happened One Night (1934), with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert; then followed by Jonathan Demme‘s The Silence of the Lambs (1991), with Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins.

Forman then directed the anti-war musical Hair (1979), with John Savage, Treat Williams, Beverly D’Angelo, Annie Golden, Dorsey Wright, Don Dacus, Cheryl Barnes, Melba Moore, and Ronnie Dyson; which premiered at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival. The film was a financial and critical success. He then directed the turn of the century drama film, Ragtime (1981), with James Olson, Mary Steenburgen, Howard Rollins, Brad Dourif, and Elizabeth McGovern, features the final film appearances of James Cagney and Pat O’Brien, and features early appearances, in small parts, by Jeff Daniels, Fran Drescher, Samuel L. Jackson, Ethan Phillips, and John Ratzenberger. The film went on to receive 8 Academy Award nominations.

His next feature was a period biographical film, Amadeus (1984), based on the life of famed classical musical Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with Tom Hulce and F. Murray Abraham. The film was both a critical and financial success earning 11 nominations with 8 wins including for Best Picture, and another win for Forman as Best Director. His next film was Valmont (1989), with Colin Firth, Annette Bening, and Meg Tilly; followed by The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), with Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love, and Edward Norton. For the latter, Forman was nominated for another Academy Award for Best Director. He also acted in Mike Nichols’ Heartburn (1986), with Meryl Streep, Nicholson, Stockard Channing, Jeff Daniels, and Catherine O’Hara; New Year’s Day (1989), with David Duchovny, Maggie Wheeler, Gwen Welles, Henry Jaglom (who also directed); and Keeping the Faith (2000), duty Ben Stiller, Edward Norton (who also directed), Jenna Elfman, Eli Wallach, and Anne Bancroft.

Forman’s last two films were the Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon (1999), with Jim Carrey, DeVito, Love, and Paul Giamatti; and Goya’s Ghost (2006), with Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, and Stellan Skarsgård. He was also a professor emeritus of film at Columbia University. He wrote poems and published the autobiography Turnaround in 1994. In 1996, asteroid 11333 Forman was named after him. After a short illness, he died at Danbury Hospital near his home in Warren, Connecticut on Friday, 13 April 2018 at age 86. He is interred at New Warren Cemetery in Warren, Connecticut.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • Black Peter (1964)
  • Loves of a Blonde (1965)
  • A Well Paid Walk (1966) – TV movie
  • The Fireman’s Ball (1967)
  • Taking Off (1971)
  • I Miss Sonia Henie (1971) – short
  • Visions of Eight (1973) – documentary anthology, directed one segment
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
  • Hair (1979)
  • Ragtime (1981)
  • Amadeus (1984)
  • Valmont (1989)
  • The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
  • Man on the Moon (1999)
  • Goya’s Ghost (2006)

Other notable New Hollywood filmmakers: