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The 10 Best “Writer’s” Movies (a list in progress)

I’m in the early stages of an article on The 10 Best “Writer’s” Movies. The idea occurred (and it’s, by no stretch, an original one) as I was recently watching Barton Fink, an early Coen brothers film about an intellectual, idealistic New York playwright who comes to California to write a low-Q wrestling pic. It’s darkly comedic and often surreal. Anyway, I started reflecting on how many of my favorite films involve writers or the craft of writing, and realized there’s a lot.

By “writer’s movies”, I’m not referring to a well-written screenplay — though, no doubt, a well-written screenplay is a joy for writers. Rather, I’m thinking about the actual profession or craft of writing, the creative processes involved, the quirky nature of the artists in question, and the celluloid rendering of any or all these items. Below is a random list of the films I’m mulling. Some of them I have not seen (denoted by a *), but they’ve been duly noted and placed in my Netflix Queue.

  • Barton Fink
  • Naked Lunch
  • Atonement
  • Wonder Boys *
  • Finding Neverland
  • Capote
  • The Squid and the Whale *
  • My Left Foot
  • Stranger than Fiction
  • Adaptation
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Deconstructing Harry *
  • Sideways
  • The Singing Detective *

So that’s my working list, and I clearly have a few faves. What about you? Any writer’s movies that you think capture the essence, the mystery, the struggle, the possibilities, and the joy of the writing life?

Tags: movies, writing, writer’s movies

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Angie Poole May 7, 2008, 3:26 AM

    A Love Song For Bobby Long.

  • Katie Hart May 7, 2008, 12:11 PM

    Alex and Emma

  • Mike Duran May 7, 2008, 12:43 PM

    Thanks for the suggestions, ladies. While I did like A Love Song for Bobby Long, Angie, I thought the writer’s elements were pretty peripheral. However, I’ll check it out again. And Katie, Alex and Emma looks dangerously close to a chick flick. But, on your recommendation, I’ll give it a whirl. Thanks!

  • janet May 7, 2008, 12:59 PM

    I just took my girls to see Nim’s Island. Wasn’t expecting to be much entertained, but it ended up being lots of fun. Jody Foster played a nuerotic and agoraphobic novelist who can see and talk to her character. Very good.

  • janet May 7, 2008, 1:02 PM

    Oh, and Sylvia, with Gwyneth Paltrow about Sylvia Plath.

  • janet May 7, 2008, 1:04 PM

    And The Hours about Virginia Woolf. Incredible performance by Kidman…

  • Jjitsu May 7, 2008, 1:23 PM

    Naked Lunch is the ultimate writer’s movie. Cronenberg outdoes Borrough’s original. Bow down to talking typewriter-roaches!

  • Mark H. May 7, 2008, 5:56 PM

    One of my favorite writers in the movies was James Earl Jones’ portrayal of the reclusive Terrence Mann (obviously based on J.D. Salinger) in Field of Dreams. Not sure it qualifies for this list since he was a supporting character, but he sure did steal the show.

  • janet May 8, 2008, 1:53 AM

    I can’t believe I forgot Misery!

  • Mike Duran May 8, 2008, 3:23 AM

    Hmm. I think you guys are helping me narrow the definitions of my category. There’s a lot of movies with a writer character in them — like Field of Dreams and Misery. What I’m thinking of is movies that seem to capture the angst, the transcendence, the quirkiness of being a writer. The bursts of creativity. The deserts of un-imagination. The loneliness. The oddball celebrity. So while a lot of movies contain a “writer character,” I’m looking for those that seem to capture the uniqueness of this calling, the weight it places on those who accept it, the power of words, and the strange world that an author inhabits. Thanks for your suggestions!

  • Veronica May 9, 2008, 9:12 PM

    eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

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