Movies For Writers

There are hundreds of movies that have characters acting as writers; much too many to list here. The following list of movies also has characters acting as writers, but the difference is that these films contain a stronger thematic element of the writing life. They provide insight into the writing life which writers may be able to identify with, appreciate, and possibly learn from. Feel free to send us your recommendation for movies that you would like to see added to this list.

Sideways (2004, Comedy, Drama, Romance)

Miles is a failed writer living a meager existence in San Diego as an English teacher. Jack is a television actor whom some recognize but not many do. The two embark on a road trip through California's wine country before Jack’s wedding. Miles is depressed with his career seemingly fading and frustrated that he is unable to get his seemingly very good novel published–something many writers can relate to.

The Player (1992, Comedy, Crime, Drama)

A studio script screener gets on the bad side of a writer by not accepting his script. This film captures the desperate and belittling status of the screenwriters who are often scrapping for every opportunity to pitch their ideas to the gatekeepers.

My Brilliant Career (1979, Biography, Drama, Romance)

The heroine, Sybylla, a headstrong girl growing up in early 20th century Australia, has the opportunity of marriage to a wealthy young man whom she loves, but rejects it in order to maintain her independence, and desire to be a writer.

The Front (1976, Comedy, Drama)

During the McCarthy Era when writers were blacklisted for real or perceived connections with the Communist party, a cashier poses as a writer to submit the work of blacklisted writers.

Adaptation. (2002, Comedy, Crime, Drama)

A lovelorn screenwriter turns to his less talented twin brother for help when his efforts to adapt a non-fiction book go nowhere.

Wonder Boys (2000, Drama, Comedy)

An English Professor tries to deal with his wife leaving him, the arrival of his editor who has been waiting for his book for seven years, and the various problems that his friends and associates involve him in.

Barton Fink (1991, Drama, Mystery, Thriller)

In 1941, New York intellectual playwright Barton Fink comes to Hollywood to write a Wallace Beery wrestling picture. Staying in the eerie Hotel Earle, Barton develops severe writer's block.

Sunset Boulevard (1950, Drama, Film-Noir)

A hack screenwriter writes a comeback screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity.

Misery (1990, Thriller)

A famous novelist is "rescued" from a car crash by an obsessed fan who becomes unhappy that the writer plans to kill off her beloved character.

In a Lonely Place (1950, Drama, Film Noir, Mystery)

A potentially violent screenwriter is a murder suspect until his neighbor clears him.

Shakespeare In Love (1998, Comedy, Drama, Romance)

A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.

Finding Forrester (2000, Drama)

An afro-American teen writing prodigy finds a mentor in a reclusive author.

I Capture the Castle (2003, Drama, Romance)

The film follows 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain, and the fortunes of her eccentric family, struggling to survive in a decaying English castle. Her father is desperate to repeat the spectacular success of his first novel, but hasn't written a word for 12 years; her exquisite sister Rose can only rail against their fate, and their Bohemian step-mother Topaz is a nudist and no help at all.

The Ghost Writer (2010, Mystery, Thriller)

A ghostwriter hired to complete the memoirs of a former British prime minister uncovers secrets that put his own life in jeopardy.

The Help (2011, Drama)

An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maid's point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

To keep this list from growing too huge, it includes only English-language versions of movies made for the cinema. It does not include TV movies or series, and does not include foreign-language films at this time. Feel free to send us your recommendation for movies you would like to see added to this list.

A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries (1998, Drama)

A fictionalized story based on the family life of American author James Jones, known for his explorations of World War II and its aftermath; a slice-of-life story written by Jones’ daughter about living in living in Paris during the 1960s.

All the Presidents Men (1976, Drama, History, Thriller)

Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Nixon's resignation.

An Angel at My Table 
(1990, Biography, Drama)

This 1990 film documents the life of New Zealand author Janet Frame, who grows up in a poor family with lots of siblings. At an early age she is different from the other kids. She gets an education as a teacher but since she is considered abnormal she is locked up in a mental institution for eight years. Success comes when she starts to write books.

Barretts of Wimpole St. (1934, Biography, Drama, Romance)

Elizabeth Barrett's tyrannical father has forbidden any of his family to marry. Nevertheless, Elizabeth falls in love with the poet Robert Browning.

Becoming Jane (2007, Biography, Drama, Romance)

A biographical portrait of a pre-fame Jane Austen and her romance with a young Irishman.

Before Night Falls (2000, Biography, Drama)

Episodic look at the life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), from his childhood in Oriente province to his death in New York City.

Bright Star (2009, Biography, Drama, Romance)

The drama based on the three-year romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, which was cut short by Keats' untimely death at age 25.

Bukowski: Born into This (2003, Documentary, Biography)

Documentary on Charles Bukowski, author of 'Notes of a Dirty Old Man', 'Love Is a Dog from Hell', and the autobiographical novels, 'Women', 'Hollywood', and 'Post Office'.

Capote (2005, Biography, Crime, Drama)

Truman Capote (Hoffman), during his research for his book In Cold Blood, an account of the murder of a Kansas family, the writer develops a close relationship with Perry Smith, one of the killers.

Carrington (1995, Biography, Drama)

The story of the relationship between painter Dora Carrington and author Lytton Strachey in a World War One England of cottages and countryside.

Celeste (1980, Biography, Drama)

In 1914, with men gone to war, Marcel Proust hired Céleste Albaret as his attendant. More than eight years later, she was at his side when he died.

Cross Creek (1983, Biography, Drama, Romance)

The true story about the woman who wrote "The Yearling", Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

Devotion (1946, Biography, Drama)

In Victorian England, literary siblings Emily and Charlotte Bronte vie for the affection of the Reverend Arthur Nichols. Along with their sister Anne, Emily and Charlotte also try to help their tormented brother Branwell, a gifted artist whose life is being destroyed by alcohol.

Dreamchild (1985, Biography, Comedy, Drama)

This movie focuses on Alice Liddell Hargreaves, age 80, who was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. As she thinks back, she begins to see her relationship with the shy author in a new way.

Dreams with Sharp Teeth
 (2008, Biography, Documentary)

A documentary on speculative fiction writer and essayist Harlan Ellison.

Factotum (2005, Comedy, Drama, Romance)

This drama centers on Hank Chinaski, the fictional alter-ego of "Factotum" author Charles Bukowski, who wanders around Los Angeles, CA trying to live off jobs which don't interfere with his primary interest, which is writing.

Finding Neverland (2004, Biography, Drama, Family)

The story of J.M. Barrie's friendship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan.

Hamsun (1996, Biography, Drama, War)

Knut Hamsun was a Norwegian author, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920.

Hans Christian Andersen (1952, Biography, Family, Musical)

nicene of the movie describes it best: "Once upon a time there lived in Denmark a great storyteller named Hans Christian Andersen. This is not the story of his life, but a fairy tale about the great spinner of fairy tales."

Heartburn (1986, Comedy, Drama)

An autobiographical look at the breakup of Ephron's marriage to Carl "All the President's Men" Bernstein that was also a best-selling novel.

Henry and June (1990, Biography, Drama)

In 1931 Paris, Anais Nin meets Henry Miller and his wife June. Intrigued by them both, she begins an affair with Henry and others.

Howl (2010, Animation, Biography, Drama)

As Allen Ginsberg talks about his life and art, his most famous poem is illustrated in animation while the obscenity trial of the work is dramatized.

Impromptu (1991, Biography, Comedy, Music)

Novelist George Sand falls in love with composer Frédéric Chopin. She tries to profess her love for him at a weekend hosted by a pretentious, artistically minded duchess for famous musicians, artists, and writers of the day.

Infamous (2006, Biography, Crime, Drama)

While researching his book In Cold Blood, writer Truman Capote develops a close relationship with convicted murderers Dick Hickock and Perry Smith.

Iris (2001, Biography, Drama, Romance)

The true story of the lifelong romance between novelist Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley, from their student days through her battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Isn’t She Great (2000, Biography, Comedy, Romance)

An unsuccessful over-the-top actress becomes a successful over-the-top authoress in this biography of Jacqueline Susann, the famed writer of "The Valley of the Dolls" and other trashy novels.

Jack London (1943, Adventure, Biography, Romance)

Episodes in the adventurous life of the American novelist (1876-1916).

Julia (1977, Drama)

At the behest of an old and dear friend, playwright Lillian Hellman undertakes a dangerous mission to smuggle funds into Nazi Germany.

Julie & Julia (2009, Biography, Drama, Romance)

Julia Child's story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book.

Leonie (2010, Drama)

A film about the life and relationships of the early 20th American educator, editor, and journalist Leonie Gilmour, the mother of the acclaimed artist and architect Isamu Noguchi.

Little Women (1917, 1918, 1933, 1949, 1994, Drama, Family, Romance)

With their father away fighting in the Civil War, Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy grow up with their mother in somewhat reduced circumstances. Little Women is loosely based on the life of American novelist Louisa May Alcott and her three sisters.

Man of La Mancha (1972, Adventure, Comedy, Drama)

This musical version of Don Quixote is framed by an incident allegedly from the life of its author, Miguel de Cervantes.

Mishima: A Life in 4 Chapters (1985, Biography, Drama)

A fictionalized account in four segments of the life of Japan's celebrated twentieth-century author Yukio Mishima.

Miss Potter (2006, Biography, Drama, Fantasy)

The story of Beatrix Potter, the author of the beloved and best-selling children's book, "The Tale of Peter Rabbit", and her struggle for love, happiness and success.

Mrs. Parker & The Vicious Circle (1994, Biography, Drama)

Dorothy Parker remembers the heyday of the Algonquin Round Table, a circle of friends whose barbed wit, like hers, was fueled by alcohol and flirted with despair.

My Left Foot (1989, Biography, Drama)

The story of Christy Brown, who was born with cerebral palsy. He learned to paint and write with his only controllable limb - his left foot.

Naked Lunch (1991, Biography, Drama)

Not an adaptation of beat writer William S. Burrough's novel but a mix of biography and an interpretation of his drug- induced writing processes combined with elements of his work in this paranoid fantasy about Bill Lee, a writer who accidentally shoots his wife, whose typewriter transforms into a cockroach and who becomes involved in a mysterious plot in an Islamic port called Interzone.

Nora (2000, Drama)

The story follows the relationship and marriage of James Joyce and Nora Barnacle.

Orpheus (1950, Fantasy, Drama, Romance)

Orpheus is a poet who becomes obsessed with Death (the Princess). They fall in love. Orphee's wife, Eurydice, is killed by the Princess' henchmen and Orpheus goes after her into the Underworld.

Out of Africa
 (1985, Adventure, Biography, Drama)

A study of the life of Danish noblewoman and storyteller Karen ('Isak') Dinesen Blixen, from her marriage and departure for Kenya in 1913 until her return to Denmark in 1931.

Pandaemonium (2000, Biography, Drama)

Friendship and betrayal between two poets during the French Revolution.

Permanent Midnight (1998, Biography, Drama, Romance)

Comedy writer Jerry Stahl, whose $6000-a-week heroin habit had him taking his infant daughter along on his drug runs and doing smack during TV script conferences.

Piñero (2001, Biography, Drama)

"Piñero" tells the story of the explosive life of a Latino icon, the poet-playwright-actor Miguel Piñero, whose urban poetry is recognized as a pre-cursor to rap and hip-hop.

Prick Up Your Ears (1987, Biography, Drama)

This film is the story of the spectacular life and violent death of British playwright Joe Orton.

Priest of Love (1981, Biography, Drama, Romance)

Following the banning and burning of his novel, "The Rainbow," D.H. Lawrence and his wife, Frieda, move to the United States, and then to Mexico. When Lawrence contracts tuberculosis, they return to England for a short time, then to Italy, where Lawrence writes "Lady Chatterley's Lover."

Quills (2000, Biography, Drama, History)

In a Napoleonic era insane asylum, an inmate, the irrepressible Marquis De Sade, fights a battle of wills against a tyrannically prudish doctor.

Regeneration (also known as Behind the Lines) (1997, Biography, Drama, History)

Based on Pat Barker's novel of the same name, 'Regeneration' tells the story of soldiers of World War One sent to an asylum for emotional troubles. Two of the soldiers meeting there are Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, two of England's most important WW1 poets.

Rowing With the Wind (Remando al viento)  (1988, Drama, Horror, Mystery)

The film is situated in the time when Mary Shelley wrote her novel "Frankenstein". It describes the relationship between Lord Byron, Percy and Mary Shelley during various voyages through different European countries in that period. Although Frankenstein is just an invention strange things happen to the people Mary does not like.

Saint-Ex (1996, Biography, Drama, Fantasy)

Poetic biography of author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Shadowlands (1993, Biography, Drama, Romance)

C.S. Lewis, a world-renowned writer and professor, leads a passionless life until he meets spirited poet Joy Gresham.

Stevie (1978, Biography, Drama)

This movie portrays British poet/author Stevie Smith and her life with her beloved aunt through direct dialogue with the audience by Stevie, as well as flashbacks, and narration by a friend. The movie mainly focuses on her relationship with her aunt, romantic relationships of the past, and the fame she received late in her life.

Sylvia (2003, Biography, Drama, Romance)

Story of the relationship between the poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.

The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944, Adventure, Biography, Drama)

A dramatized life of Samuel Langhorn Clemens, or Mark Twain.

The Bell Jar (1979, Biography, Drama)

Based on the semi-autobiographical novel written by American poet, Sylvia Plath, under the pen name of Victoria Lucas in 1963. (A 2012 version of The Bell Jar is in preproduction.)

The Broken Tower (2011, Biography, Drama, History)

A biography of American poet Hart Crane who committed suicide at the age of 32 by jumping off the steamship SS Orizaba.

The Diary of Anne Frank
 (1959, Biography, Drama, History)

Based on Anne Frank's diary, in Nazi-occupied Holland, Otto Frank and his family have decided to go into hiding, because of the increasing persecutions against Jews.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
 (2007, Biography, Drama)

The true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffers a stroke and has to live with an almost totally paralyzed body; only his left eye isn't paralyzed.

The Gambler (1997, Biography, Drama, Romance)

Based on the true events of the writing of The Gambler, Dostoyevsky meets the much younger Anna when she comes to him as stenographer.

The Hours (2002, Drama)

Detailing the lives of three very different women, one of whom is famed writer Virginia Woolf.

The Last Station
 (2009, Biography, Drama, Romance)

A historical drama that illustrates Russian author Leo Tolstoy's struggle to balance fame and wealth with his commitment to a life devoid of material things.

The Libertine (2004, Drama)

The story of John Wilmot, a.k.a. the Earl of Rochester, a 17th century poet who famously drank and debauched his way to an early grave, only to earn posthumous critical acclaim for his life's work.

The Life of Emile Zola
 (1937, Biography, Drama)

The biopic of the famous French muckraking writer and his involvement in fighting the injustice of the Dreyfuss Affair.

The Whole Wide World
 (1996, Biography, Drama, Romance)

In Texas in the 1930s, young schoolteacher Novalyne Price meets a handsome, eccentric, interesting young man named Robert Howard. He's a successful writer - of the pulp stories of 'Conan the Barbarian'; she's an aspiring one. A friendship develops into a sort of courtship.

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962, Animation, Adventure, Biography)

The fictionalized lives of the story-telling Grimm brothers are brought to life in this all-star fantasy film.

This Boy's Life
 (1993, Biography, Drama)

The story about the relationship between a rebellious 50s teenager and his abusive father, based on the memoirs of writer and literature professor Tobias Wolff.

Tom & Viv (1994, Biography, Drama, Romance)

In 1915, poet T.S. (Tom) Eliot and writer Vivienne Haigh-Wood elope. Her father is angry because Tom's poetry doesn't bring in enough to live on, but her mother is happy Viv has found a tender and discreet husband.

Total Eclipse (1995, Biography, Drama, Romance)

The self-destructive relationship between 19th-century teenage French poet Arthur Rimbaud and his older mentor Paul Verlaine.

Veronica Guerin (2003)

Based on the true story about Irish journalist, Veronica Guerin, who is assassinated by drug dealers she wrote about in a series of stories.

Voltaire (1933, Biography, Drama, History)

Writer and philosopher Voltaire, loyal to his king, Louis XV of France, nonetheless writes scathingly of the king's disdain for the rights and needs of his people.

Where the Buffalo Roam (1980, Biography, Comedy)

Semi-biographical film based on the experiences of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

Wilde (1997, Biography, Drama, History)

The story of Oscar Wilde, genius, poet, playwright and the First Modern Man.