The 20 Greatest Movies About Writers


March 20, 2013 by Craig Sutherland

Sometimes writers get writers block and when they do they turn to material that they know inside-out, writers/writing.

Here’s the a list of the greatest films about writers.

20) The Paperboy (2012)

The Paperboy is a 2012 American thriller film starring Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, John Cusack, and Nicole Kidman. Directed by Lee Daniels, it is based on the 1995 novel The Paperboy by American author Pete Dexter.

Journalist Ward Jansen gets in deep with a convicted murderer whilst battling his own demons. Featuring Zac Efron getting pissed on and telepathic sex… Really.

Shakespeare or Tabloid Hack? Ward does work for a newspaper but rather than search out the easy stories he tries correct an injustice.

19) As Good as it Gets (1997)

As Good as It Gets is a 1997 American romantic comedy film directed by James L. Brooks and produced by Laura Ziskin. It stars Jack Nicholson as a misanthropic, obsessive-compulsive novelist, Helen Hunt as a single mother with an asthmatic son, and Greg Kinnear as a gay artist.

Shakespeare or Tabloid Hack? Melvin is a best-selling author but he’s still a douche.

18) The Basketball Diaries (1995)

The Basketball Diaries is a 1995 American independent drama film directed by Scott Kalvert, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lorraine Bracco, James Madio, and Mark Wahlberg. It is based on the autobiographical book of the same name by Jim Carroll.

Shakespeare or Tabloid Hack? Jim Carroll’s book has become a classic piece of adolescent literature.

17) The Squid and the Whale (2005)

The Squid and the Whale is a 2005 American drama film written and directed by Noah Baumbach and produced by Wes Anderson. It tells the semi-autobiographical story of two boys in Brooklyn dealing with their parents’ divorce in the 1980s.

Shakespeare or Tabloid Hack? Bearnard’s once promising career as a novelist is slowly declining because of his teaching commitments. His wife however is publishing works to widespread acclaim.

16) Young Adult (2011)

Young Adult is a 2011 American comedy-drama film directed by Jason Reitman, from a screenplay written by Diablo Cody, and starring Charlize Theron.

Shakespeare or Tabloid Hack? Mavis is a ghost-writer on a series of young adult novels, not exactly what she had hoped for.

15) Sideways (2004)

Sideways is a 2004 comedy-drama film written by Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne and directed by Payne. Adapted from Rex Pickett‘s 2004 novel of the same name, Sideways follows men in their forties, portrayed by Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church, who take a week-long road trip to Santa Barbara County Wine Country.

Shakespeare or Tabloid Hack? Miles is unpublished and unloved.

14) Molin Rouge! (2001)

Moulin Rouge! is a 2001 Australian-American romantic jukebox musical film directed, produced, and co-written by Baz Luhrmann. It tells the story of a young English poet/writer, Christian, who falls in love with the terminally-ill star of the Moulin Rouge, cabaret actress and courtesan Satine.

Shakespeare or Tabloid Hack? Christian writes an entire musical for the girl he’s infatuated with but can’t have, it’s a little Shakespearean right?

13) Wonderboys (2000)

Wonder Boys is a 2000 comedy film based on the novel of the same title by Michael Chabon. Directed by Curtis Hanson, it stars Michael Douglas as professor Grady Tripp, a novelist who teaches creative writing at an unnamed Pittsburgh university.

Shakespeare or Tabloid Hack? Grady is struggling to find a satisfactory ending for the follow-up to his successful first novel.

12) Almost Famous (2000)

Almost Famous is a 2000 comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe, telling the coming-of-age story of a teenage journalist writing for Rolling Stone magazine while covering a fictitious rock band named Stillwater. The film is semi-autobiographical, as Crowe himself had been a teenage writer for Rolling Stone.

Shakespeare or Tabloid Hack? With Crowe actually having written for Rolling Stone you can be assured that William’s writing is authentic.

11) American Splendor (2003)

American Splendor is a 2003 American biographical comedy-drama film about Harvey Pekar, the author of the American Splendor comic book series. The film is also in part an adaptation of the comics, which dramatize Pekar’s life.

Shakespeare or Tabloid hack? Harvey writes comics which as a medium are looked down on, but these are comics about real life, it’s not as if he writes the Green Lantern…

10) My Left Foot (1989)

My Left Foot is a 1989 drama film directed by Jim Sheridan and starring Daniel Day-Lewis. It tells the true story of Christy Brown, an Irishman born with cerebral palsy, who could control only his left foot. Christy Brown grew up in a poor, working-class family, and became a writer and artist.

Shakespeare or Tabloid hack? Christy Brown achieved so much considering the challenges he faced, he is an inspiration.

9) Capote (2005)

Capote is a 2005 biographical film about Truman Capote, following the events during the writing of Capote’s non-fiction book In Cold Blood.

Shakespeare or Tabloid hack? The book In Cold Blood became the greatest crime seller at the time and is almost universally acknowledged as one of the best books of its type ever written.

8) Shakespeare In Love (1998)

Shakespeare in Love is a 1998 British romantic comedy-drama film directed by John Madden, written by Marc Norman and playwright Tom Stoppard. The film depicts a love affair involving playwright William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) while he was writing the play Romeo and Juliet.

Shakespeare or Tabloid hack? Really? You had to ask didn’t you?

7) Barton Fink (1991)

Barton Fink is a 1991 American film, written, directed, and produced by the Coen brothers. Set in 1941, it stars John Turturro in the title role as a young New York City playwright who is hired to write scripts for a movie studio in Hollywood, and John Goodman as Charlie, the insurance salesman who lives next door at the run-down Hotel Earle.

Shakespeare or Tabloid hack? Barton is enjoying the success of his first Broadway play and has been hired by Capitol Pictures to write movie scripts.

6) Ruby Sparks (2012)

Ruby Sparks is a 2012 romantic comedy-drama film written by Zoe Kazan and directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. It stars Paul Dano as a struggling novelist whose fictional character, Ruby Sparks, played by Kazan, comes to life.

Shakespeare or Tabloid hack? Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) ends up creating the perfect girlfriend who he can control by simply writing down what he wants her to do.

5) Adaptation (2002)

Adaptation is a 2002 American semi-autobiographical drama metafilm directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman. The film is based on Susan Orlean’s non-fiction book The Orchid Thief, with numerous self-referential events added.

Though the film is billed as an adaptation of The Orchid Thief, its primary narrative focus is Charlie Kaufman’s difficult struggle to adapt The Orchid Thief into a film, while dramatizing the events of the book in parallel. Adaptation. also adds a number of fictitious elements, including Kaufman’s twin brother (also credited as a writer for the film) and a romance between Orlean and Laroche, and culminates in completely invented events including fictional versions of Orlean and Laroche three years after the events related in The Orchid Thief, Kaufman and his fictional twin brother.

Shakespeare or Tabloid hack? Charlie Kaufman in real life is a genius, Charlie Kaufman in the film is finding it difficult to adapt the book The Orchid Thief into a screenplay.

4) Misery (1990)

Misery is a 1990 American psychological thriller / horror film based on Stephen King’s 1987 novel and starring James Caan and Kathy Bates.

Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is an author of a successful series of books centered on the character Misery Chastain. Sheldon drives his car off the road one day and is found by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) who takes him in and looks after him while he is unconscious, he wakes to find he has a dislocated shoulder and two broken legs. Annie claims to be his No1 Fan but all is not well in the Wilkes house…

Shakespeare or Tabloid hack? Sheldon has written a long series of books but he’s desperate to branch out into something new.

3) The Shining (1980)

The Shining is a 1980 psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, and Danny Lloyd. The film is based on the Stephen King novel The Shining. A writer, Jack Torrance, takes a job as an off-season caretaker at an isolated hotel.

Shakespeare or Tabloid hack? All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

2) Fear and Loathing in Las Veags (1998)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a 1998 American black comedy film directed by Terry Gilliam, starring Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke and Benicio del Toro as Dr. Gonzo. It was adapted from Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel of the same name.

Shakespeare or Tabloid hack? Raoul Duke is a fuck-up, sent to Vegas to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race he decides (With a lot of input from Dr. Gonzo) to fill the trunk of his great red shark full of copious amounts of drugs and spends his time in Vegas tripping and causing mayhem, i doubt the article panned out the way they planned…

1) Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Stranger than Fiction is a 2006 American comedy-drama-fantasy film directed by Marc Forster, written by Zach Helm, and starring Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, and Emma Thompson.

The main plot follows Harold Crick (portrayed by Ferrell), a nondescript IRS official whose regimented life is interrupted by a disembodied voice narrating events as they happen. Believing he is not mentally ill, Crick consults a literature professor (Hoffman) who suspects that Crick might be a character in a novel and who suggests that Crick analyze the narration to determine whether his story might be comedic or tragic.

Shakespeare or Tabloid hack? Creating a character on a page and them meeting them real life as your creation and have them beg you not to kill them off in your book has got to be pretty odd. Still, that makes you a god of sorts right?

Some film write-ups taken from Wiki

7 thoughts on “The 20 Greatest Movies About Writers

  1. […] • 20 Greatest Movies About Writers [Off the Record on the QT and Very Hush-Hush]  […]

  2. Brian Grady says:

    Some hits and misses here. While I can’t recall them all, “Barfly” is one of the greats as far as a great film about a writer also “Prick Up Your Ears”. Hollywood is notorious for crappy films about writers. The Shining really isn’t about writing at all (except for one scene) and should not be included as a great “writers” film as opposed to Barton Fink which is genuinely about the creative process.

  3. Jo says:

    YES to Ruby Sparks. Very very very clever film. Even more of a mind messer when you think about how Kazan and Dano date in real life…

  4. These are great films, none of them were on my list , so it’s complementary. There’s also a blog about over 200 films about writers 🙂

  5. Andy says:

    Shadows in the Sun with Harvey Keitel. An excellent film.

  6. Joshua Then and Now by the great Mordecai Richler with wonderful performances by James Woods and Alan Arkin

  7. Ellan says:

    HEELOOO What about Seven Psychopaths…that movie is incredible!

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