The 10 Greatest Films About Writers
by Aimee Laurence
Writers across history have often been some of the most fascinating figures. The writer’s life, combined with the nature of being a great artist, means that many writers have been very troubled, very eccentric and very inspiring. With how enamored by the biopic Hollywood and the global film industry is, it’s no surprise that some of the best films of all time are about this eclectic and fascinating group of people. Within that there are some films which let the authors down in their portrayal, but there are others that are handled with great skill. So, let’s take a look at the top 10 movies about writers over the years.
Capote is a classic example of a biopic about an author. It is the film for which Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the greatest screen actors of all time, won his Oscar and it tells the remarkable true story of Truman Capote, with all of his strange quirks, investigating the murder which led to his classic book ‘In Cold Blood’.
Kill Your Darlings (2013)
Kill Your Darlings isn’t so much about one author as it is about a whole generation of authors, the founding members of the Beat Generation. It focuses, though, on Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, William S Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Starring Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan, it received good reviews but only a limited release, so it’s definitely worth tracking down.
An Angel At My Table (1990)
An Angel At My Table is a fascinating film from 1990 about New Zealand author Janet Frame. This is a particularly interesting film because it is a biopic that is also an adaptation of a work by the subject of the biopic, Frame herself. Frame’s life proves fascinating and bizarre and the film has been hailed a masterpiece.
Marked by an Academy Award Best Actor nomination for Bryan Cranston, Trumbo is a biopic about Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. It’s a fascinating look at the fear and complexity of communist superstition in the US and how it almost destroyed the career of one of the most influential screenwriters ever.
A film being about a writer doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be an author. In Impromptu we see George Sand, the famous French novelist, and her complex relationship with composer Frederic Chopin. Chopin is played with great sensitivity by Hugh Grant and Sand by Judy Davis.
Misery is one of the myriad of Stephen King film adaptations and not the only one about an author (looking at you Jack Torrance). However, Misery is one of the most iconic horror films of all time, with an extraordinary performance from Kathy Bates, for which she won an Oscar. The tale of a deranged fan who forces a writer she admires to write her stories is a terrifying look at the power of art.
The most recent film on the list, this Korean film by industry heavyweight Lee Chang-dong drew huge praise for its confusing and intriguing narrative about an author, Lee Jong-su, and his life in Paju. Check it out on Netflix.
The Hours (2002)
The Hours is an extraordinarily unique story about three women connected by the novel Mrs Dalloway. There’s a really interesting metanarrative to this non-traditional biopic. The film has Virginia Woolf present, but it also depicts other women she never met who were influenced by her novels. For Streep, Kidman and Moore alone this film is worth watching.
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Probably the most famous film in the list, this timeless tale about a hapless screenwriter sucked into the life and times of a silent film star is one of the iconic Golden Age Hollywood pieces.
My Left Foot
A break-out role for Daniel Day-Lewis, this biographical film tells the story of Christy Brown, an Irish author and artist whose cerebral palsy left him unable to control any part of his body except his left foot.
Hopefully this list will help you find a film about writers that you really enjoy. But, don’t stop here! Writers feature in tons of films, so use this as a launch board!
Aimee Laurence is a movie reviewer and writer at Dissertation Services UK and Academized. She enjoys helping people discover the best films as well as creating her own articles about things that inspire her for Essay Roo.