It’s a successful year for a movie star or film director if they have one hit movie in a 12-month span. These folks just had some very good luck.
Two of the most enduringly popular and critically acclaimed movies of all time both came out in 1939: the big-screen adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard Of Oz, and the epic film version of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. Both films were directed by Victor Fleming. At least in part – he replaced Wind’s original director George Cukor just after filming started, and was replaced himself with Sam Wood for a spell. Oddly enough, Cukor served as an advisor to Fleming on The Wizard Of Oz, so Cukor had a pretty good year, too.
Mel Brooks (1975)
Three films written and directed by Mel Brooks appear in the top 20 of the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 comedies of all time: The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein. All three are very different movies: a modern-day farce, a comic western, and a sendup of horror movies, respectively. More impressive is that Brooks made Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein in the same year, back-to-back.
Richard Dreyfuss (1977)
Dreyfuss starred in two movies that year. One of them was Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the second-highest grossing movie of the year (behind only Star Wars). The other movie was The Goodbye Girl, for which Dreyfuss won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Holly Hunter (1993)
That year, Hunter starred in two movies: The Firm and The Piano. She was Oscar-nominated for both of them. She won the Best Actress award for The Piano, a role in which she was entirely silent. Hunter got a Best Supporting Actress nomination for The Firm, but lost to Anna Paquin, who co-starred with Hunter in The Piano.
Ben Stiller (2004)
Most A-list movie stars don’t even appear in more than two or three movies a year, and if they do, it’s rare that they’re all hits. But in 2004, Stiller appeared in six films, five of which were among the year’s top 30 grossing films: Meet the Fockers, Dodgeball, Starsky and Hutch, Along Came Polly, and Anchorman. (The sixth film? The box office bomb, Envy.)