I am the kind of nerd who likes to “research” the things I want to do and be. So when I realized I loved writing and wanted to pursue that, I started reading books about writing and memoirs by writers, as well as watching movies about writers. Writing is a pretty heavily romanticized profession, so it’s no surprise that there are a lot of movies about writers and many are not great, or overly stereotypical. A handful, however, are truly brilliant. They offer insight into the craft of writing, and they are also beautiful, compelling stories in their own right.
Here are a few of my favorites:
This is one of my favorite movies, period. It has an amazing cast, and it perfectly traces the myriad of ways in which family relationships and romantic relationships can be dysfunctional.
IMDB Summary: Meet the Borgens. William Borgens is an acclaimed author who hasn’t written a word since his ex-wife Erica left him 3 years ago for another man. In between spying on Erica and casual romps with his married neighbor Tricia, Bill is dealing with the complexities of raising his teenage children Samantha and Rusty. Samantha is publishing her first novel and is determined to avoid love at all costs – after all, she has seen what is has done to her parents. In between hookups, she meets “nice guy” Lou who will stop at nothing to win her over. Rusty, an aspiring fantasy writer and Stephen King aficionado, is on a quest to gain “life experiences.” He falls for the beautiful but troubled Kate and gets his first taste of love and a broken heart. A tale of family, love (lost and found), and how endings can make new beginnings. There are no rewrites in life, only second chances.
This is possibly my favorite movie, ever, of all time. It affected me so much as a teenager, and I still can’t get through it without crying. If I ever got a tattoo, it would probably be “Oh Captain! My Captain!”
IMDB Summary: A new English teacher, John Keating, is introduced to an all-boy’s preparatory school that is known for its ancient traditions and high standards. He uses unorthodox methods to reach out to his students, who face enormous pressure from their parents and the school. With Keating’s help, students Neil Perry, Todd Anderson, and others learn to break out of their shells, pursue their dreams, and seize the day.
This is such an underrated movie, but I think it’s one of Sean Connery’s best. It’s real and a little quirky, and hella inspiring.
IMDB Summary: Jamal Wallace is an inner-city kid from the Bronx who has an aptitude for basketball and a genius for writing. While always a C student, Jamal comes to the attention of a prestigious New York prep school when he scores highly on his standardized tests. While Jamal is given a heavy load at his new school, both he and the school know that the real reason they took him on is for his prowess on the court. Befriended by a fellow student Claire and helped along by Pulitzer-prize winning author and recluse William Forrester, Jamal pursues his dreams both on and off the court while overcoming obstacles placed by his bitter literature teacher. As Jamal is shaped by Forrester, he finds that he is changing the old writer as well, forcing him to confront his past…and his future.
This movie tackles the darker side of writing: the responsibility of creativity and the line between fiction and reality. Words have power, and in some situations it is important not to embellish.
IMDB Summary: The day that 13-year-old Briony Tallis came across her older sister Cecelia and her love Robbie making love in the library was a day that would have repercussions for all three of them. Briony misunderstands what has taken place between them and her reaction later tears the two lovers apart, perhaps forever, as war breaks out in Britain.
Regardless of the writing component, I would still highly recommend this movie because it is heartfelt and funny and badass in all the right ways. But on top of that, it highlights how writing gives a voice to the voiceless, and that’s why it must be accessible to everyone.
IMDB Summary: Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, Skeeter is a southern society girl who returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends’ lives – and a Mississippi town – upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families. Aibileen, Skeeter’s best friend’s housekeeper, is the first to open up – to the dismay of her friends in the tight-knit black community. Despite Skeeter’s life-long friendships hanging in the balance, she and Aibileen continue their collaboration and soon more women come forward to tell their stories – and as it turns out, they have a lot to say. Along the way, unlikely friendships are forged and a new sisterhood emerges, but not before everyone in town has a thing to two to say themselves when they become unwittingly – and unwillingly – caught up in the changing times.