Movies About Writers
May 16, 2010 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking to develop a comprehensive list of movies about writers. I have a pretty good list that includes the likes of 'Wonder Boys', 'The Hours', 'Mrs. Parker', 'Capote' and the like. However, I know there are many small indie films that fly under the radar every year, some probably about writers. Even if you think I already have it on my list - tell me your favorite movies about writers. Thanks!
posted by Gerard Sorme to Media & Arts (67 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer is one, obviously.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:37 PM on May 16, 2010


Deconstructing Harry.
posted by piratebowling at 1:38 PM on May 16, 2010

What about the The Shining
posted by Dick Laurent is Dead at 1:38 PM on May 16, 2010

Misery & Something's Gotta Give
posted by jontyjago at 1:39 PM on May 16, 2010

posted by The Mouthchew at 1:41 PM on May 16, 2010

Stranger Than Fiction
posted by puritycontrol at 1:41 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Secret Window
posted by Dick Laurent is Dead at 1:41 PM on May 16, 2010

Synecdoche, New York is about a playwright.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:45 PM on May 16, 2010

Great suggestions - several of these weren't on my list. 'Hunger' is a great catch, thanks. Movies about real flesh and blood writers such as 'Capote' would be appreciated as well.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 1:46 PM on May 16, 2010

posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:49 PM on May 16, 2010

Starting Out in the Evening is an excellent, understated indie movie.
posted by mooders at 1:49 PM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Naked Lunch
posted by domographer at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2010

There's a documentary that is just about to be released called Bad Writing, which features interviews with several modern authors, including David Sedaris.
posted by mmmbacon at 1:52 PM on May 16, 2010

An Angel at my Table (directed by Jane Campion, about Janet Frame)
posted by Paragon at 1:55 PM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Stand By Me, sort of. Possibly more apparent in the novela. Guess I'll have to rewatch it to remember!
posted by theredpen at 1:57 PM on May 16, 2010

Nora is about the early days of the relationship between James Joyce and his partner Nora Barnacle. It's not a particularly great movie, but it's enjoyable if you are a Joyce fan and/or inclined to enjoy sex scenes involving Ewen McGregor.
posted by scody at 2:00 PM on May 16, 2010

Sylvia, Mishima.
posted by oulipian at 2:00 PM on May 16, 2010

Bright Star, also directed by Jane Campion, about John Keats.
posted by bcwinters at 2:04 PM on May 16, 2010

Some of my favorites:

Total Ecplise: about the 19th cent French poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud.

Carrington: primarily about the painter Dora Carrington, but also about the writer Lytton Strachey and the Bloomsbury Group.

The Pillow Book: Told through passages and stories from the author Sei Shōnagon. Very much about writing.

Naked Lunch: About William S. Burroughs in as much as his book was sorta autobiographical.
posted by jardinier at 2:04 PM on May 16, 2010

Barton Fink
posted by Melsky at 2:07 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Impromptu - Judy Davis plays writer George Sand

Romancing the Stone - Kathleen Turner's character is a romance novelist.

Bright Star - about poet Keats if you include poets on your list.

Henry & June - Anais Nin and Henry Miller

Becoming Jane - Jane Austen

Shakespeare in Love
posted by cecic at 2:11 PM on May 16, 2010

charles bukowski, a film about his life
posted by Postroad at 2:33 PM on May 16, 2010

The Door in the Floor and Margot at the Wedding both feature main characters who are writers (and assholes) though writing is not the focus of the films. The parents in The Squid and the Whale are writers.
posted by kyleg at 2:41 PM on May 16, 2010

Dedication is about a children's book writer. It wasn't as bad as you think it would be.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:48 PM on May 16, 2010

There's "Finding Forrester" with Sean Connery.
posted by ambulatorybird at 2:54 PM on May 16, 2010

The World According to Garp.
posted by bookmammal at 2:55 PM on May 16, 2010

Finding Neverland - Peter Pan author J.M Barrie

Miss Potter - Beatrix Potter
posted by cecic at 3:08 PM on May 16, 2010

Leave her to heaven (1945), about a writer and the psychotic girl he marries.

In a lonely place (1950), about a screenwriter accused of murdering a girl.
posted by MrMisterio at 3:10 PM on May 16, 2010

posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:12 PM on May 16, 2010

You don't specify if you are looking for movies about real writers or fictitious writers.

I came in to suggest Shadowlands, about C. S. Lewis, but will also mention DeathTrap which is about fictitious screenwriters.
posted by SLC Mom at 3:16 PM on May 16, 2010

Moulin Rouge
posted by SisterHavana at 3:21 PM on May 16, 2010

I don't know if I'd call them my favorites, but if you're looking to add to the list:

Iris - Bio-pic about novelist Iris Murdoch, but less about her writing than about her late struggles with Alzheimer's.

Adaptation - A weirdly fictionalized account about Charlie Kaufman's adaptation of Susan Orlean's real non-fiction book The Orchid Thief.

Little Women - Tons of versions, out there, but (like the book) most are semi-autobiographical Louisa May Alcott accounts of trying to make it as a young, female writer, no?
posted by Diagonalize at 3:28 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

François Ozon's Swimming Pool (2003) is all about writing, in its own crafty way.
posted by cirripede at 3:30 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I haven't seen it, but The Last Station is about Tolstoy.
posted by crank at 3:47 PM on May 16, 2010

Henry and June (about Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller)
Barton Fink
Wilde (Oscar Wilde, natch)
Infamous (I preferred this to Capote, personally; Toby Jones is amazing)
Stranger Than Fiction (eh; not great)
Naked Lunch (Cronenberg does Burroughs)
An Angel at my Table (about New Zealand author Janet Frame)
My Brilliant Career (about female Australian author Miles Franklin)
The Sheltering Sky
Prick Up Your Ears (about Joe Orton)
Sunset Boulevard
Julie & Julia (total fluff, but Meryl Street is great as Julia Childs)
The Dark Half (not great, to be honest)

(I'd love to see your list when it's done.)
posted by hot soup girl at 3:53 PM on May 16, 2010

Permanent Midnight.
A Merry War (aka Keep the Aspidistra Flying).
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:54 PM on May 16, 2010

The Hours
posted by tacoma1 at 4:02 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

These are great! Many are already on the list, but many of these are new to me. I'll share the complete list here when it's finished.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 4:07 PM on May 16, 2010

Where the Buffalo Roam
posted by sickinthehead at 4:14 PM on May 16, 2010

Death in Venice. About a fictitious writer, based on Thomas Mann's novella. Leaving Las Vegas features an alcoholic scriptwriter.
posted by londongeezer at 4:51 PM on May 16, 2010

Author! Author!
Throw Momma From the Train (Billy Crystal's character)
Dan in Real Life
The Hoax
Lives of Others
Closer (Jude Law's character, book about Natalie Portman's character)
Marley and Me

This is an embarrassing list.
posted by fleacircus at 5:24 PM on May 16, 2010

Secret Window (Stephen King movie with Johnny Depp)
The Accidental Tourist
posted by fso at 5:42 PM on May 16, 2010

Regeneration (also known as Behind the Lines) portrays the meeting of the poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon while they were patients in an asylum during World War I.
posted by TEA at 5:44 PM on May 16, 2010

In Sunset Blvd. the male lead, Joe Gillis played by William Holden, is a screenwriter (or did you just want novelists?).
posted by amyms at 5:52 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Bon Voyage
posted by estherbester at 6:03 PM on May 16, 2010

Il Postino.
posted by pecanpies at 6:11 PM on May 16, 2010

posted by blazingunicorn at 6:20 PM on May 16, 2010

Romantic Comedy (Dudley Moore and Mary Steenburgen are playwrights.)

She's Having a Baby

Down With Love

Sex and the City

Paper Man

Basic Instinct (Sharon Stone's character is an author)

Alex and Emma

She Devil
posted by cecic at 7:17 PM on May 16, 2010

The Prize is a somewhat ridiculous Hitchcockian thriller about an American writer who's been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature and becomes involved in Cold War spy shenanigans. It's enjoyable.
posted by Kattullus at 7:46 PM on May 16, 2010

William Hurt's character in 'Smoke' is a writer, if I recall correctly.
posted by usonian at 7:55 PM on May 16, 2010

This Boy's Life, based on the memoir by Tobias Wolff
posted by ifjuly at 8:11 PM on May 16, 2010

Oh, that reminds--The Basketball Diaries
posted by ifjuly at 8:12 PM on May 16, 2010

And Quills
posted by ifjuly at 8:13 PM on May 16, 2010

And you could argue the adaptation of Wings of the Dove (fabulous btw, for the last 5 minutes) counts, since Merton is a journalist.
posted by ifjuly at 8:27 PM on May 16, 2010

Check out Reprise.
posted by edlundart at 8:34 PM on May 16, 2010

American Splendor
posted by Artw at 9:49 PM on May 16, 2010


Also: Soapdish.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:08 PM on May 16, 2010

Gentlemen Broncos
posted by Artw at 10:17 PM on May 16, 2010

Alan Resnais' 1977 film Providence stars an amazing John Gielgud as a dying novelist remembering his family and characters, and confusing the two. Dreamlike and autumnal.

Jeff Bridges plays a dime novelist roped into acting in oaters when he moves to 1920s Hollywood in Hearts of the West (1975.

Michael Caine plays a pulp (1972) novelist. The film reunited him with director Mike Hodges. They made the classic Get Carter (1970) together.

Nicholas Cage plays a screenwriter with a bit of a drinking problem in Leaving Las Vegas.
posted by doncoyote at 12:45 AM on May 17, 2010

Woman of The Year (If you count print journalists as writers)
How to Make/Sew(?) an American Quilt
posted by bardophile at 12:48 AM on May 17, 2010

The Oscar Wilde biopic with Stephen Fry is fantastic.

Alex and Emma is pretty bad, but it's about a writer. :)
posted by bardophile at 12:51 AM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Surprised not to see The Third Man in the thread already, so I came in to mention it. Definitely one of my favorite movies. It follows a writer (played by Joseph Cotten) trying to piece together what happened to his friend Harry (Orson Welles) in post-WW2 Vienna.

The Third Man was written by Graham Greene, who wrote a few other works with writers as protagonists. The End of the Affair is about a novelist/is based on events in Greene's own life and was produced twice as a movie. I've seen the 1999 Neil Jordan adaptation which made some interesting changes (but I still prefer the novel overall).
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 1:37 AM on May 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Her Alibi is about a mystery writer.
posted by bewilderbeast at 10:00 PM on May 17, 2010

The Edge of Love has been on my Netflix Instant Watch queue for a while. It doesn't look that great, but it's about Dylan Thomas! Who doesn't love Dylan Thomas?
posted by KatlaDragon at 3:04 AM on May 18, 2010

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