My favorite movies about writers

Recently, The Atlantic had a great piece on movies about writers, citing such films as Shakespeare in Love, Adaptation, Capote, Finding Neverland, and others. Since I am a writing fiend this month, doing both NaNoWriMo AND NaBloPoMo (a blog post for every day in November), I thought I would weigh in on my favorite movies about writers.

NaBloPoMo 2011

All the President’s Men
The film that launched thousands of journalism careers. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman have incredible chemistry. I love the movie as a time capsule too — the clickety-clack of the typewriter keys, the jangling ringing telephones, the cigarette smoking in the newsroom. Hal Holbrook is perfect as Deep Throat, probably far more charismatic than Mark Felt ever was.

Shattered Glass
This is a terrific small film about the disgraced journalist Stephen Glass, who was found to have fabricated more than two dozen articles for The New Republic. The oft-maligned Hayden Christensen is wormy and perfect as the deceitful Glass, but the movie belongs to Peter Sarsgaard as the intrepid editor who discovers the truth about him. An All the President’s Men for our time. The score by Mychael Danna is also great and I listen to it all the time when I write.

Under the Tuscan Sun
Lush footage of gorgeous Italian scenery, food, and men, as well as the beautiful and winning Diane Lane. What’s not to like? This adaptation of Frances Mayes’ wonderful memoir of finding herself in Italy is heartwarming and moving. As a historic preservationist, I appreciate the renovation story at the center of the film too.

Possession
This movie is entirely fictional, following two contemporary researchers who delve into the lives of a pair of Victorian poets who are having an illicit affair. The film goes back and forth in time between the two couples and there is some good suspense. The contemporary couple is played by Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart, who act well and are likable but are not terribly exciting. The Victorians are played with far greater passion and verve by Jennifer Ehle and Jeremy Northam.

Little Women
This is a true gem that I return to again and again. Who doesn’t love the March girls? Winona Ryder won an Oscar nomination for her charming performance as the unbridled Jo March. The scene where she starts writing after sister Beth dies (surely I don’t need to write “spoiler alert” for that, do I?) is so moving and inspiring to me. Be yourself, this movie says to me. Write from the heart.

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