Movies about movies reveal a lot about the film industry. Often made as a comedy or satire, this is usually the best way to deal with the high-school-like politics of Hollywood. Imagine if every high-school announcement of who was class president, prom queen, or who got what grade in what class had multi-million dollar consequences behind it. Watching these four films is not only entertaining, but revealing as well.

“The Player” (1992)

The ultimate Hollywood movie satire is one of the best films about the movie industry and mixes a murder mystery with insider showbiz industry tales. Tim Robbins’ 6”5 frame never looked so out of place among the suits and sycophants as he deals with his daily job as a studio executive. Bad ideas circulate like the plague, rivaled only the metaphorical backstabbing of the industry players. After killing a writer he feels is blackmailing him, Robbins’ character Griffin Mill navigates the Hollywood landmines to become the president of a studio – only to discover that he’d killed the wrong writer.

“The Big Picture” (1989)

This comedy walks you through the rise and fall and subsequent rise again of an aspiring movie writer-director. Kevin Bacon plays Nick; wooed right out of film school by Hollywood agents, he falls victim to a starlet’s attention and his own ego. His personal relationships with his fiancé and best friend suffer until his burgeoning career bottoms out and he has no one left to turn to. A chance turn of events bring the Hollywood heat back, but not without the lessons of friendship and love that Nick has learned.

“Swimming with Sharks” (1994)

Kevin Spacey plays Buddy, the boss from hell, in one of the most biting satirical films about the movie industry ever made. Frank Whaley plays Guy, Buddy’s young executive assistant who is constantly verbally and emotionally abused. The ordeal changes Guy, who takes on his boss’s hard-hearted, win-at-all-costs attitude. This attitude apparently includes murdering other executives in order to get promoted.

“Hollywood Shuffle” (1987)

This film about the movie industry covers all of its absurdity from the perspective of an aspiring African-American actor. Robert Townsend plays the character Bobby Taylor, who dreams of someday earning roles outside of the stereotypical racial notion of Hollywood producers. Composed of vignettes that depict imaginary roles, Bobby plays a detective, a butler, war hero and film critic. The movie also hilariously details the audition exploits of black actors; such as playing pimps, criminals, and Eddie Murphy-types.