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The 15 Best Movies About Writers

05 January 2015 | Features, Film Lists | by Linda Ponce

best movies about writers

Writers make the world better. They give us stories of love and horror and they live to inspire others. Every author is a vessel that contains the new worlds about to be born. Can you imagine a world without H. G. Wells, Oscar Wilde, Salinger, Woody Allen or J. K. Rowling? To make us dream, feel, and change, they had to live on their own first. Masterful minds, great sets of words, firm hands and trusty pens are the ingredients that prepare the stories we enjoy so much.

Cinema has been kind and mean to writers. They aren’t as famous as actors or directors; yet, they are the basis of any production. The ups and downs of being a tale teller are shown in a great deal of titles that can’t be put into one single list. However, here are 15 movies that were able to portrait real and fictional writers.


15. Shakespeare in Love (1998)


Every now and then, we see famous people and when we think about them, we can’t remember why that happened. For the younger audience and the ones not paying much attention, Gwyneth Paltrow is just Pepper Potts or the wife of Brad Pitt in Seven. But, the truth be said, she can act. Much of the success of Shakespeare in Love lies in her presence; her first major, protagonist role.

We see a fictional love affair between William Shakespeare and Viola de Lesseps that leads to the making of Romeo and Juliet. Some people hate this film for its length and lack of accuracy; nonetheless, it’s a well-directed film that shows how hard it might be for a writer (even a great one) to create when there is nothing to write about.

If you look for adventures and life changing events, like love, you need to take challenges, even if they’re life- threatening. The way this fictional Shakespeare did.


14. The Ghost Writer (2010)

The Ghost Writer (2010)

After the mysterious death of his ghost writer, the former Prime Minister, Adam Lang decides to recruit a new man to complete his memoirs. But deep secrets come to the surface that endangers the life of everyone involved. The new writer discovers the truth that powerful people want to bury and forget. As the movie progresses, we see that sometimes it is best to keep some facts off the record.

Roman Polanski gives excellent rhythm to this thriller starring Ewan McGregor and his most serious face. This doesn’t qualify as shocking like other works of him; it’s a simple plot where the Government links Adam to illegal acts of torture. The curious writer happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.


13. American Splendor (2003)

American Splendor

Turn everyone you know into a comic book character. Include all of their strengths and weaknesses, their good and bad times, put all their essence inside a bunch of blank pages and become a teller of your life around them. Funny? 

Harvey Pekar is a strange name for a unique person. He is whom we see in this picture, all grumpy, and he was also real. We see him at his workplace, at home with his ex-wife, him getting a new wife, talking with friends, buying at the supermarket (or trying to), we see him walking, thinking and writing.

What makes the movie extraordinary is the strong personality of Pekar. The regular life of an unusual guy.


12. Stranger than Fiction (2006)

Stranger than Fiction

Pay attention to the sounds around you, you might listen to something weird. Maybe it’s the voice of the narrator of your life, the writer of your destiny. Harold Crick is a lonely man that seems to be living according to Kay Eiffel’s will. She’s the God of Harold, he can’t escape her, but he’ll try.

When Kay discovers that what she puts in her novel is affecting directly the life of someone else, she has to find a way to finish her book, knowing that whatever fate she chooses for her character, it will happen to a real man too.

The movie transports us to a world full of possibilities. When the movie ends, we realize that the real world is often the one that surprises the most. It doesn’t matter if you think there’s someone out there making choices for you, or if you believe you make your own path. You will find something here to make you think.


11. Before Sunset (2004)


Strange is how life works, it gives and takes equally. This is the second part of a successful trilogy that began with Before Sunrise. After nine years apart, the paths of Jesse and Céline cross again in Vienna.

Now he’s a successful writer who remembers in his book the one day he spent with Céline. She was supposed to be the love of his life, but wasn’t. Once more, we witness the undoubtable chemistry between these two people that could never have enough of each other, even if they were alone in the planet.

Love is in small talks and philosophies; in simple walks and a cup of coffee. Neither distance nor time matters. Love lives in moments and simplicity, just like this movie.


10. 2046 (2004)


Time is everything. Things that happen at the right time can mean all to someone; and what happens at the wrong moment can destroy a person forever. 2046 is the last of a series following the love life of the novelist Chow Mo-Wan. He writes about a train that travels to the future, looking for the lost memories. Never forget that all fiction is based on reality. It’s a one of a kind story with hints of science fiction on top of the drama of life.

It’s hard to let go off people, and even harder if they were your impossible loves. Is there a better way to go over them than writing a novel? Wong Kar-Wai, the director, takes care of every detail that combines the past and the future of the man we follow in the movie. Chow Mo-Wan learns that when something happens at the wrong time, it can leave traces of bitterness behind.


9. Misery (1990)


You can’t go wrong with this movie. Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her memorable portrait of a woman obsessed with the writer of her favorite novels that have Misery as the heroine. She goes as far as locking him up and breaking his feet to prevent him from walking out the door. And more suffering is yet to come.

The mood is of complete isolation, everything’s white outside in the cold. Paul Sheldon, the main character, has to change the original tragic ending he gave to the saga of Misery, if he wants to stay alive. But there’s no reasoning with the mentally disturbed.

Sometimes we identify with a story so much; that an inner part we didn’t know about ourselves emerges from a deep corner of our conscience. That’s fanaticism. The creator of that story becomes the author of both, fiction and reality, and the time comes to deal with the consequences. This is another Stephen King’s classic that made him rich and made us tremble.



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  • Espacio Pannonica

    barton fink?

    • Ankur Deb


    • Elani Dzuguda


    • Pete Howell


    • Richard McLin

      Great film.

    • Kate J. Gonzales

      I was going to post this and you beat me to it! Which makes me happy that others love this movie as much as I do.

  • Joel Zachariah

    Synecdoche ???

  • Rup

    Hey admin u missed Barton fink..

  • Omar M Barakat

    Where is Auther.Auther for Al Pacino

  • Krishna Prashant

    the Following??

  • Rafael Ramz R

    Das La Maison.

    • lauramoreaux

      I totally agree with Dans la maison

  • You can’t have a list like this and not include Barton Fink which is the best film about writers.

  • Andoverblogger

    At risk of beating a dead horse, Barton Fink

  • #1 – The Quills with Geoffrey Rush playing Marquise de Sade

  • siddharth

    barton fink?????????????????????????????????

  • Veronica Clarke

    Author, Author, definitely.

  • Ricardo Filipe Matos

    Barton Fink is a real miss here. In my opinion, Fellini’s Casanova, Providence, Mishima: A life in Four Chapters, Naked Lunch could be in this list.

    • Unkle Amon

      Naked Lunch for sure.

    • Clumsy Dad

      Barton Fink, totally, just watched it again last night… amazing !!

  • Alex Nasaudean

    List with many holes…

  • john

    what about “seven psychopaths”?

  • you missed the best undoubtedly: Barton Fink

  • Alfonso Capetillo

    Adaptation is by far, the best. Charlie Kaufmann is a true genius.

  • Sahil Sachdeva

    naked lunch

  • Goldie Stokes


  • Goldie Stokes


  • Jennifer McNally

    I like the films chosen, but boy is this article badly-written. Not the first time I’ve had this complaint on this site. 🙁

  • Ace Gebilaguin


  • fantail31

    Barton Fink!!! the absolute best existential treatise on a writer.

    • Clumsy Dad

      that’s what I’m talking about !!

  • fantail31

    Leaving Las Vegas? A failed screenwriter drinks himself to death.

  • Mila Moon

    Malina (1991), Dead Poets Society (1989), Psychosis (2010).

  • Jen Davidson

    No one is saying a standout favorite of mine, “Moulin Rouge”!!

    A writer writes of a play within a play
    to get the girl, whom he loses anyway.

    There’s a little freebie couplet for you ;^)

  • Abdeldjalil E.

    Manhattan , Ruby Sparks , Deconstructing Harry ,The Pillow Book , very poor list…

  • Klaus Dannick

    Great to see Sunset Boulevard at a deserved first-place, but you definitely missed Barton Fink (and I’m not even a fan of the Coen brothers).

  • Carl Dixon

    Midnight in Paris is the pits

  • ‘Sideways’ really shouldn’t be in this post because it has nothing to do with the Paul Giamatti character being a writer, but rather him experiencing sad times with everything else around his life.

    • Clumsy Dad

      good point

  • Finding Forrester, staring Sean Connery
    The Dark Half, staring Timothy Hutton

  • Joachim de Graaf

    Finding Forrester

  • Gonzalo Mendoza Garcia

    Naked Lunch!

  • Richard McLin

    Wonder Boys?
    The Words

    • Clumsy Dad

      wonder boys is decent

  • Dario

    That question mark on j.k. Rowling haha

  • Sam Pirelli

    “Breakfast of Champions”

    • Clumsy Dad

      hmmm, is that film any good?

      • DonkeYes


  • Sameer Shaikh

    barton fink? bullets over broadway? on the road?

  • Parham Sedaghat

    secret window?

  • Hitesh Ochani
  • Dimitri Poenaru

    Barton Fink, Synecdoche New York, Secret Window, Following…

  • Kriss_Kringle

    Midnight in Paris instead of Bullets over Broadway? I can’t even…

    • Clumsy Dad

      As much as I love Bullets over Broadway, I’ve been charmed over by Midnight in Paris. Thumbs up, great thoughts !

  • kinch’s edge

    It’s probably way too transgressive for most, but RWF’s Satansbraten comes to mind.

  • jamesmerendino

    dr zhivago

  • Daniele Santoro

    Limitless & The Words?

  • João Simões

    Definitely Seven Psychopaths and Barton Fink

  • Pingback: The 15 Best Movies About Writers | Writer's Blog()

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    I would probably remove Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (I prefer Where the Buffalo Roam) and replace it with In the Mouth of Madness. I am also not terribly keen on The Shining, I find Nicholson’s hamming rather difficult to take seriously at almost any point. But a fine list overall.

  • Mach Mer

    Shakespeare in Love and no Nostalghia or Naked Lunch?

  • Ted Wolf

    Thanks for including sunset boulevard but there’s another wilder flick that deserves to be on this list: lost weekend

  • “In a Lonely Place”?

  • Rob_52

    Nocturnal Animals

    New, but one of the essential “writers movies”

  • Daniel B. Goode

    “Secret Window”