My Favorite Movies About Writers

Ian Cahill
Nov 16 · 5 min read
(Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash)

I love movies. In fact, I majored in Mass Media with an emphasis on Film Studies in college. And just like everyone else, I’m drawn to movies that are well written and tell a great story.

I could go on and on about the movies I love, but today I thought it would be fun to focus on some films I enjoyed that were about writers. A few of them are quirky, a few are funny, and there are definitely some scenes that will make you cry. I recommend you check any and all of them out.

1) Authors Anonymous

In truth this film isn’t that good and it plays up just about every stereotype you can imagine about writers. The plus here is it is a movie about a writing group! It gives you a bit of insight into the sheer amount of luck involved in finding an agent or a publisher. Sometimes it really is just a matter of letting the writing speak for itself.

Kaley Cuoco is the star of this film, pulling the role from her success on that silly sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. She is great, but when paired with the far older and painful to watch Chris Klein, she just comes off as wasted.

The supporting cast is made up of faces you are sure to recognize in varying degrees of success, mostly falling short of anything worthwhile. You see Dylan Walsh, Teri Polo, the late Dennis Farina, and Jonathan Banks.

It might not be the best film ever made and you can likely predict the ending, but I would never turn down a film set in a world that is near to my heart.

2) Ruby Sparks

Ruby Sparks takes writing to a whole new level. This quirky film pits the incomparable Paul Dano against himself. Once heralded as the new big thing on the literary scene, Calvin is struggling with his follow-up novel.

After a therapist suggest he create a new character, a sexy dream girl, Calvin is energized. When he wakes up the next morning, the girl is cooking breakfast for him and this sets off a series of freak out moments as Calvin comes to terms with the notion that his fictional muse is right in front of his face.

Ultimately he discovers he can control her by writing pointed passages in his typewriter. As a writer, not a day goes by that I don’t fantasize about controlling someone else’s actions through my writing, boy would that make life a lot easier!

For Calvin however, it proves to be his undoing. As Ruby becomes more and more aware, Calvin attempts to control her. With each pass of the typewriter, things get more and more intense.

This is a beautiful film that explores the nature of fantasy versus reality. Dano and Zoe Kazan, who plays Ruby Sparks (which is a perfect name for a character!), play this magical relationship with grace and you believe it from the start. This is a film you need to run out and see NOW.

3) Stranger Than Fiction

Will Ferrell stars in this leap of faith that takes an everyday man, perhaps a bit sad and lonely, and begins to narrate his life out loud via a very audible author’s voice only he can hear.

He soon tracks down the voice of the narration and finds out that he is, through circumstances unknown, the character in an author’s newest book. An author who is famous for killing her protagonists.

As he comes to terms with this strange situation, he also falls in love with the owner of a bakery whom he is auditing. The romance is real and sweet and sad as he slowly accepts and even welcomes the fact that the author is going to finish the book, and likely kill him.

The premise for this movie is pulled off perfectly and it definitely explores the notion of the eccentric shut in writer. The real story here is Will Ferrell’s character discovering that his regimented life needs a little flavor. This is one of my favorite films EVER and Will Ferrell, while charming, is not overbearing at all. This is another one that should be on everyone’s top 10 list.

4) The Rewrite

Released in 2014 this story has Hugh Grant, a washed up screenwriter, taking a job as a professor at a small college in up state New York. He thinks he is above the gig, but his money has run dry, so he presses on and actually discovers that he enjoys teaching.

Films like this always interest me. The idea that someone can have extreme and extremely brief success in Hollywood. It is scary and awesome at the same time. It is also ironic that Hugh Grant is in this film. His star has seemingly fallen on hard times.

His character in this film is not very likable, but he does endear himself to a young screenwriter with a lot of potential and helps him blossom.

The supporting cast is full of award winners as well (read: JK Simmons, Marisa Tomei, and Allison Janney) so they make the best of what is a fairly weak plot. I enjoyed this film and it serves to remind yourself to stay humble.

5) Wonder Boys

Finally, we come to my favorite of the bunch. Wonder Boys, based off a book of the same name, is about Grady Tripp, an English professor who is struggling with completing his follow-up to what people have called “The Great American Novel.”

Seven years has passed since his award-winning novel was released and many now see him as a flash in the pan. He falls into one pratfall after another during the school’s weekend WordFest conference on campus. His wife leaves him, his mistress is mad at him and pregnant, his star pupil is a creep and his agent is in town poking around for the book that will never be finished.

This is a stellar story with an amazing cast and if you only see one movie on this list, this should be it. The whole film is shot beautifully in seedy and often rainy Pennsylvania settings. The whole thing feels dark and literary before anything even happens.

Some things to look for that build this world and make it instantly memorable are Grady’s disgusting bathrobe, red cowboy boots, a man known only as Vernon, and a special jacket owned by a famous ingénue. Not to mention a dead dog and an transgendered dinner date.

I can’t say enough of this film and book without gushing and giving the whole thing away. Watch this film and watch it over and over and over.


The Bigger Picture

Ian Cahill

Written by

Author of TWELVE AND A HALF HEARTS, NO SUCH LUCK & LUCK BE LADY. I write 📚and love to share them. https://www.amazon.com/author/iancahill

The Bigger Picture

Oddly specific. Universally applicable. Submit your writing to biggerpicturemedium@gmail.com.

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