Movies About Writing: 20 Cinematic Stories

Posted on Apr 13, 2023

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It is always an exciting moment when creative mediums cross paths.

Whether it is sports and music, art and dance or indeed the topic we will be focusing on today film and writing, there is a thrill seeing two worlds collide.

And seeing the somewhat solitary and traditional pursuit of putting pen to paper come to life on the big screen is particularly engaging!

In no particular order, let us then take a look at the top 20 movies about writing:

1: Midnight In Paris

Woody Allen’s charming and surrealist exploration of love, romance and what it means to be a writer will have you longing wistfully for the 1920’s as well as taking your own trip to the French Capital. Staring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard. 

2: Capote

2005’s ‘Capote’ sees the title character of Truman Capote played by the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman in this biographical story. Although naturally some artistic licence is taken, the film is inspired by the real life trip Truman Capote took to Kansas which leads to his writing of the classic ‘In Cold Blood’. 

3: The Ghost Writer

A film adaption of the Robbert Harris novel ‘The Ghost’, sees Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor star in this political thriller about a ghostwriter completing the autobiography of fictitious British Prime Minister Adam Lang. 

4: The Secret Window

Johnny Depp plays up to all the cliches about writers and solitude by moving to a lakeside cabin to focus on his work. Given that this is Hollywood however, he does not write blissfully in peace and is instead stalked by a psychopath who accuses him of plagiarism. Twists, murders and revelations soon follow.

5: Spotlight

An ensemble cast that won Best Picture at the 2016 Academy Awards, ‘Spotlight’ is not just a brilliant film but an important one. Re telling the story of a group of journalists in Boston who worked to help uncover child abuse and the subsequent charges against the local church. A challenging and difficult film that tackles such a topic with the sensitivity required.

6: Trumbo

‘Trumbo’ sees Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame turn his attention to screenwriting as he plays historic screenwriting Dalton Trumbo in this biographical depiction. One of the most talented screenwriters in Hollywood, Dalton Trumbo forced to testify in court regarding his membership of the communist party of the USA and its supposed promotion of communist propaganda.

7: The Lost Weekend

A 1940s Film Noir Classic ‘The Lost Weekend’ following the drinking exploits of writer Don Birnam. Navigating themes of addiction, alcoholism and depression, Don is followed across his rollercoaster weekend in New York before a tense and climactic finale with his girlfriend Helen. 

8: Dead Poets Society

Robin Williams stars in one of many career defining roles that stands the test of time nearly 35 years after its initial release. He plays inspirational school teacher John Keating, whose English classes at school go beyond expectations and lead to a club amongst John and several of his students.

9: Sylvia

Gwyneth Paltrow plays Sylvia Plath in this telling of how she met fellow writer Ted Hughes and their subsequent relationship. Although not a commercial success, it’s a quiet and understated telling of a well known tragic tale that follows the story from their meeting in Cambridge up until her suicide in 1963.

10: Finding Neverland

Adapted from a play called ‘The Man Who Was Peter Pan’, ‘Finding Neverland’ is a biographical fantasy film about playwright J M Barrie, and his relationship with a family which subsequently inspired him to create Peter Pan. Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet star.

11: Misery

This psychological thriller tells the tale of novelist Paul Sheldon driving home through the snow. After crashing his car he is rescued by a nurse named Annie Wilkes who takes him to her house to recover. But all is not seems as you would expect when you learn this film is a Stephen King adaption.

12: Genius

Stylish 1920s adaption, ‘Genius’ explores the story of Maxwell Perkins, famed book editor most well known for helping discover authors such as Ernest Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald. Starting Jude Law, Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, it was unsuccessful at the box office but is well worth a watch.

13: Tolkien

An author who transcends the literary world is rare, but J R R Tolkien certainly fits the bill. It is no surprise then that a film was made about his life, however this picture focuses on his earlier years as he finds his path as a writer amongst the backdrop of childhood trauma, adult relationships and World War Two.

14: Mary Shelley

2017 romantic period drama ‘Mary Shelley’ focuses on the writers first love and romantic relationship with the poet Percy Shelley. Then Mary Godwin, her love affair was far from straight forward and the film tells this tale as well as introducing the audience to her famed book Frankenstein and the subsequent drama regarding authorship and income rights.

15: Sunset Boulevard

The epitome of a Hollywood classic, ‘Sunset Boulevard’ is centred around struggling writer Joe Gillis, who narrates the events leading to his own death. Somewhat of a black comedy, it won multiple Academy Awards and regularly features on top all time film lists by critics and Film Institutes.

16: Saving Mr Banks

Released to much fanfare in 2013, ‘Saving Mr Banks’ depicts the difficult early years of P L Travers as well as a series of meetings held much later in life when she is a writer negotiating the rights to her works, most notably Mary Poppins. Starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as main character PL Travers.

17: Adaptation

“Adaptation” is a quirky and original film that follows screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s struggle to adapt Susan Orlean’s book “The Orchid Thief” into a screenplay. Starring Nicolas Cage as Kaufman, the film blurs the lines between reality and fiction, resulting in a clever and entertaining exploration of the creative process.

18: An Angel At My Table

Based on the autobiographical works of New Zealand author Janet Frame, “An Angel at My Table” tells the story of a young woman’s journey from a troubled childhood to literary success. Directed by Jane Campion and starring Kerry Fox, the film is a beautifully shot and emotional portrayal of perseverance and artistic achievement.

19: Shakespeare In Love

“Shakespeare in Love” is a delightful romantic comedy that imagines the life of William Shakespeare during his early years as a struggling playwright. Starring Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow, the film is a witty and charming portrayal of love, inspiration and the process of writing, set against the backdrop of 16th-century London.

20: Can You Ever Forgive Me

Starring Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” is a witty and poignant film based on the true story of writer Lee Israel’s descent into literary forgery. Directed by Marielle Heller, the film is a character study that explores themes of loneliness, creativity, and redemption.

Do you want to tell a tale worthy of the big screen?

There’s nothing quite like the glamor of the cinema screen to trigger nostalgia and longing in a writer’s soul.

If you’ve ever dreamed of penning a story worthy of the movies, dream no longer.

Why not get started today and begin writing your story?

Who knows, it could even be the next Hollywood smash hit some day…

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