The Greatest Movies About Writers, Ranked

Over 300 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Greatest Movies About Writers, Ranked
Voting Rules

Vote up the best films about authors, biographers, novelists, poets, screenwriters, and any other type of writer who puts pen to paper (or fingers to typewriter).

Are you looking for some inspiration and motivation to get your creative juices flowing? If you’re a budding writer, there are plenty of films out there that explore the craft and the live of novelists, screenwriters, poets, and English teachers. From biopics about famous authors (like Truman Capote) to fictional stories about writers in love (As Good as It Gets) or struggling with their work (The Shining), these cinematic gems will not only entertain but also give insight into the often complex worlds of literature, creativity, and even writer's block.

This list ranks the greatest movies about writers set throughout history. Whether it's an exploration into the mind of a genius like William Shakespeare or an insight into creative struggles as presented through the filter of Stephen King, these films have something for everyone who loves the written word and values the way it influences the world. 

Most divisive: The Beach Bum
Ranked by
  • Dead Poets Society
    Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke
    94 votes
    • Released: 1989
    • Directed by: Peter Weir

    Dead Poets Society is an inspiring movie about a young actor, Neil Perry, and the English teacher who helps him find his life's purpose. As he introduces students at the all-boys prep school to unorthodox ideas by the likes of writer Walt Whitman, Mr. Keating encourages Neil to break away from society's expectations for him and follow his own dreams. The movie has some amazing performances by Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, and Robin Williams, who was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor.

  • Capote
    Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins
    56 votes
    • Released: 2005
    • Directed by: Bennett Miller

    Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote, this film follows his journey to write his non-fiction novel In Cold Blood about a murder in a small town. The film explores the author's relationship with one of the convicted murderers (Clifton Collins, Jr.), who he interviewed extensively for his book, as well as his friendship with aspiring novelist Harper Lee (Catherine Keener). It offers an interesting perspective on writing, death row justice, and morality in criminal cases.

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  • The Shining
    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
    68 votes
    • Released: 1980
    • Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

    A classic must-see psychological horror movie based on a novel by Stephen King, The Shining follows writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), his wife (Shelley Duvall), and their son during their stay in the isolated Overlook Hotel for the snowy winter. While Jack attempts to write, supernatural forces at work in the hotel slowly drive him into madness. While it's an intense horror flick, it also serves as a powerful exploration of writer's block and mental illness. 

  • Misery
    James Caan, Kathy Bates, Frances Sternhagen
    66 votes
    • Released: 1990
    • Directed by: Rob Reiner

    Based on a psychological thriller novel by Stephen King, Misery follows the story of novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan) who is stranded in a blizzard after he crashes his car. He is saved by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), an obsessive fan of his work who takes him to her home to recover from his injuries. However, it soon becomes apparent that she has more sinister plans for him: holding him captive until he finishes writing his next novel so she can read it.

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  • Quills
    Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix
    13 votes
    • Released: 2000
    • Directed by: Philip Kaufman
    A fictional work that reconstructs the unknown fate of the Marquis de Sade, the writer and sexual deviant who was imprisoned in an insane asylum for the last 10 years of his life. The Marquis de Sade befriends the director of the asylum and shares affections with the asylum laundress. When a doctor is sent in to cure the Marquis of his supposed madness, the Marquis's rebellious character only grows stronger.

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  • Barton Fink
    John Turturro, John Goodman, Judy Davis
    51 votes
    • Released: 1991
    • Directed by: Joel Coen
    Barton Fink (John Turturro) is an aspiring New York playwright who lands a job in 1940s Hollywood. Tasked with writing a wrestling picture for a big-time studio, Fink suffers from severe writer's block and finds himself entangled in a twisted tale of mystery and madness. His neighbor, Charlie Meadows (John Goodman), adds to the intrigue with his jovial yet unsettling demeanor. Directed by the Coen brothers, Barton Fink is a surreal drama that won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, showcasing a labyrinthine plot that blurs the line between reality and illusion.

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