25 films about writing

Text: Solveig Hansen, 2016

The list could be much longer, but these are 25 of my favorite movies somehow related to writing.

American Splendor tops my list, followed by Midnight in Paris and Paterson. American Splendor tells the story of the comic book creator Harvey Pekar, brilliantly played by Paul Giamatti. The film itself sometimes mimics a comic book. In Midnight in Paris, aspiring writer Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) travels back in time on his midnight walks in Paris and spends time with Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein.

In Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, intriguing actor Adam Driver plays Paterson, a bus driver and poet in the city of Paterson, New Jersey. As he drives his bus he observes the city life through the windshield and overhears conversations between the passengers. He scribbles his poems in a secret notebook. (Ron Padgett wrote the poems used in the movie.) Here’s the trailer:

One little gem on the list is 84 Charing Cross Road, based on the letters between American author Helene Hanff and Frank Doel at the antiquarian bookshop Marks & Co, 84 Charing Cross Road, London (pictured to the left). Over the course of 20 years, starting in 1949, they exchange letters but never meet. Starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins.

Another gem is Finding Forrester, in which the seasoned writer William Forrester (Sean Connery) mentors young writing talent Jamal (Rob Brown).

“Thinking comes later. You write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!”
– William Forrester in “Finding Forrester”)

My list of 25 writing-related films:

84 Charing Cross Road (Anne Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins, director: David Hugh Jones, 1987)

All the President’s Men (Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, director: Alan J. Pakula, 1976)

American Splendor (Paul Giamatti, director: Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, 2003)

Barfly (Mickey Rourke, Faye Dunaway, director: Barbet Schroeder, 1987)

Barton Fink (John Turturro, director: Ethan and Joel Cohen, 1991)

Before Sunset (Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, director: Richard Linklater, 2004)

Capote (Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, director: Bennett Miller, 2005)

Finding Forrester (Sean Connery, Rob Brown, director: Gus van Sant, 2000)

Genius (Colin Firth, Jude Law, director: Michael Grandage, 2016)

Il Postino (Massimo Troisi, Phillipe Noiret, director: Michael Radford, 1994)

Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) (Mathieu Amalric, director: Julian Schnabel, 2007)

Midnight in Paris (Owen Wilson, director: Woody Allen, 2011)

Misery (James Caan, Kathy Bates, director: Rob Reiner, 1990)

My Left Foot (Daniel Day-Lewis, director: Jim Sheridan, 1989)

Paterson (Adam Driver, director: Jim Jarmusch, 2016)

Reconstruction (Maria Bonnevie, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, director: Christoffer Boe, 2003)

Reprise (Anders Danielsen, Espen Klouman Høiner, director: Joachim Trier, 2006)

Spotlight (Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, director: Tom McCarthy, 2015)

Stranger than Fiction (Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, director: Marc Forster, 2006)

Sunset Boulevard (William Holden, Gloria Swanson, director: Billy Wilder, 1950)

Swimming Pool (Charlotte Rampling, director: François Ozon, 2003)

The Hours (Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, director: Stephen Daldry, 2002)

The Lunchbox (Nimrat Kaur, Irfan Khan, director: Ritesh Batra, 2013)

Trumbo (Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren, director: Jay Roach, 2015)

Wonder Boys (Michael Douglas, director: Curtis Hanson, 2000)

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