Because movies are written by, well, writers, it’s not hard to figure out why so many of them are about, well, writers. While there are plenty of classics out there to choose from, I realized “Hey, this is MY blog. I don’t have to be all hoity-toity about it.” Instead, I’ve compiled a list of my all-time favorite movies about writers. No, you won’t find The Hours listed here…I’m afraid it just didn’t “do it for me.” No, you’ll probably not find Funny Farm on a whole lot of “best of” lists, but there are scenes from that movie that have lived with me for 20 years, so it’s on here.
10. Misery, The Dark Half, Secret Window – We’ll just go ahead and get a bunch of the Stephen King movies out of the way. I can’t actually say that any of these are my “favorites,” but considering that King was the first “grown up” author I was allowed to read, I have a special place in my heart for him. You will notice, however, that two more of his movies about writers did make my list separately.
9. Wonder Boys – To be honest, I remember very little about the plot of this movie because I was so enamored with Toby McGuire at the time. Still, I do recall thinking that the movie itself was really cool. I’ll have to go back and watch that again, now that I think of it.
8. Funny Farm – I think a big reason that this movie was so funny to me was that, like Chevy Chase’s character, my family had recently moved from the city to a small “idyllic” American town and discovered it was kind of a horror show. My two favorite scenes: Him taking his wife on a romantic overnight only to force her to spend it reading his (terrible) manuscript full of flash-forwards, flash back-wards, and even a flash sideway. The other was when they got a dog that was so mellow they had to pick its tail out of the fireplace with tongs.
7. Tom and Viv – TS Eliot was one of the first poets whose work I ever really “got,” and therefore, I love him. This movie about his relationship with his supposedly “crazy” wife was fascinating. If I remember correctly, she actually had a hormone imbalance that could be easily treated today. Instead, she ended up institutionalized.
6. Shakespeare In Love – This movie came out just as I was finishing up my Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre, and I felt really, really smart when I was the only one laughing at certain jokes because I was “in the know.” It was also written by a playwright I just loved at the time, so that made me feel extra cool. Oh, and the movie was good, too.
5. As Good as it Gets – This movie was just full of brilliant performances. I’d never seen Greg Kinnear as anything other than that funny guy on Talk Soup, so I was especially blown away by the drama of his character. And then there was Jack Nicholson’s awesome brand of crazy. All around good stuff.
4. The Shining – 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. I even liked the re-made mini-series, especially because it incorporated the freaky topiaries instead of relying on the maze.
3. ‘Salem’s Lot – This movie isn’t going to win any modern awards for special effects, but when I was 12, it scared the hell out of me. No, really. I slept with a crucifix next to my bed for years. Oh, and there’s also the special torment my parents doled out during our second viewing of the movie, but I don’t want CPS to get retroactively involved, and I’ve paid for all the therapy I’m going to over that incident.
2. Moulin Rouge! – I was just so blown away by the creativity of this movie. The way they cobbled together modern lyrics to create a cohesive storyline was something I’d never imagined, the costumes and dancing were right up this theatre geek’s alley…and Ewan McGregor. That is all.
1. Adaptation – Oh my gosh. This movie sort of blew my mind. The irony offered by the narrative versus the action was absolutely brilliant, even if they did go out of their way to make it obvious in that one scene with the professor. It probably didn’t hurt that I was both a writer and deeply depressed when I watched it. I may have identified a bit too much with Nicolas Cage’s main character. Totally brilliant movie.
Meryl K Evans says
When I think of movies for writers — The Shipping News comes to mind first. OK, it was not a perfect film, but some of the lessons from the editor stuck with me.
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I know this is about personal favorites, but I have to say the “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” should at least make an apperance in any list of writer/writing movies…
Lorna Doone Brewer says
@Meryl – I think something about that movie was just lost on me. The only three things I remember about it are Kevin Spacey, a snowy lake landscape, and…I guess I only remember two things about it.
@Chris – I didn’t include that because while I’ve read the book, I’ve never actually seen the movie. It sounds like I should check it out.
Deadline USA (1952), starring Humphrey Bogart
Su-sieee! Mac says
Miss Potter grabbed me so much my husband surprised me with the DVD for my birthday. Little Women (any version) is also a favorite of mine.
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I love this list! I always thought “Funny Farm”, “Secret Window” and “Moulin Rouge” were great films featuring writers. Especially “Funny Farm”! hehe
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… you make a list of movies about writers and leave off Stranger Than Fiction? I agree whole-heartedly with your love of Adaptation, but have not seen many of the other ones. Might have to check them out.
Lorna Doone Brewer says
@Diana – Somehow I overlooked Stranger than Fiction. I really loved the premise of that movie and am actually thinking that I’d like to see it again now that it’s been awhile wince my first viewing. Thanks for the suggestion!
My vote goes to the Wonder Boys and As Good As It Gets…both great great selections! PS: I was surprised Michael Douglas gave up his youthful vanity for Wonder Boys…anybody else?
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