Watchworthy

The Best Movies for Writers to Watch 

Ranker Film
Updated May 10, 2019 458 votes 113 voters 6.4k views 28 items

List Rules Vote up the films all aspiring writers must see.

Aspiring writers are highly analytical by nature. When any writer sits down to watch a movie, they inevitably pick it apart and consider the dialogue, story structure, and underlying themes. While any compelling story is great material for a writer, movies for novelists, poets, or other scribes often tackle the topic of writing itself. Such movies ask compelling questions about what it means to be an artist and watching a fictional character create on screen can often prove inspiring for those in need of a creative boost. 

Good movies for writers can be biopics about writers or fictional films about writers. The best writerly films should also feature interesting dialogue and strong character development, which can help guide prospective authors with their own projects. Good narration is also a bonus, as you get to see how a writer frames their personal experience. This list compiles the films all writers should sit down and watch at least once in their lives. Whether you're a veteran of the craft or completely new to writing, browse this list for suggestions. 

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list ordered by
1
The Shining is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

Released: 1980

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

The Shining is a 1980 British-American psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, ...more

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2
Dead Poets Society is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Lara Flynn Boyle

Released: 1989

Directed by: Peter Weir

Dead Poets Society is a 1989 American drama film written by Tom Schulman, directed by Peter Weir and starring Robin Williams. Set at the conservative and aristocratic Welton Academy in the ...more

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3
Misery is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates, James Caan

Released: 1990

Directed by: Rob Reiner

Misery is a 1990 American psychological thriller film based on Stephen King's 1987 novel of the same name and starring James Caan, Kathy Bates, Lauren Bacall, Richard Farnsworth, and Frances ...more

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4
Stand by Me is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack

Released: 1986

Directed by: Rob Reiner

Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age comedy-drama adventure film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. Based on the novella ...more

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5
Barton Fink is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Frances McDormand

Released: 1991

Directed by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Barton Fink is a 1991 American period film written, produced, directed and edited by the Coen brothers. Set in 1941, it stars John Turturro in the title role as a young New York City playwright ...more

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6
Fear and Loathing in Las... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci

Released: 1998

Directed by: Terry Gilliam

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a 1998 American dark comedy film co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam, starring Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke and Benicio del Toro as Dr. Gonzo. It was adapted ...more

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7
Adaptation is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Released: 2002

Directed by: Spike Jonze

Adaptation is a 2002 American comedy-drama metafilm directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman. The film is based on Susan Orlean's non-fiction book The Orchid Thief, with numerous ...more

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8
Almost Famous is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, Anna Paquin

Released: 2000

Directed by: Cameron Crowe

Almost Famous is a 2000 comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit. It tells the fictional story of a teenage journalist ...more

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9
Sunset Boulevard is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
William Holden, Buster Keaton, Gloria Swanson

Released: 1950

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Sunset Boulevard—stylized onscreen as SUNSET BLVD.—is a 1950 American film noir directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, and produced and co-written by Charles Brackett. It was named after the ...more

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10
Ruby Sparks is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Annette Bening, Deborah Ann Woll, Humphrey Bogart

Released: 2012

Directed by: Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton

Ruby Sparks is a 2012 romantic comedy-drama film directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, and written by Zoe Kazan. It stars Paul Dano as an anxious novelist whose fictional character, ...more

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11
Naked Lunch is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Ian Holm, Roy Scheider, Julian Sands

Released: 1991

Directed by: David Cronenberg

Naked Lunch is a 1991 science fiction drama film written and directed by David Cronenberg and starring Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, and Roy Scheider. It is a film adaptation of William S. ...more

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12
Wonder Boys is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Robert Downey Jr., Katie Holmes, Michael Douglas

Released: 2000

Directed by: Curtis Hanson

Wonder Boys is a 2000 Romantic comedy film directed by Curtis Hanson and written by Steve Kloves. An international co-production between the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and ...more

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13
Stranger than Fiction is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah

Released: 2006

Directed by: Marc Forster

Stranger than Fiction is a 2006 American comedy-drama-fantasy film directed by Marc Forster, written by Zach Helm, and starring Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, ...more

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14
Midnight in Paris is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hiddleston

Released: 2011

Directed by: Woody Allen

Midnight in Paris is an American 2011 romantic comedy fantasy film written and directed by Woody Allen. Set in Paris, the film follows Gil Pender, a screenwriter, who is forced to confront the ...more

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15
Capote is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Cooper, Catherine Keener

Released: 2005

Directed by: Bennett Miller

Capote is a 2005 biographical film about Truman Capote, following the events during the writing of Capote's non-fiction book In Cold Blood. Philip Seymour Hoffman won several awards, including ...more

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16
Henry Fool is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Parker Posey, Rachel Miner, Liam Aiken

Released: 1997

Directed by: Hal Hartley

Henry Fool is a 1997 American seriocomic film written, produced and directed by Hal Hartley, featuring Thomas Jay Ryan, James Urbaniak, and Parker Posey. As in The Unbelievable Truth, an earlier ...more
17
The End of the Tour is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Segel, Joan Cusack

Directed by: James Ponsoldt

The End of the Tour is a 2015 American biographical drama film directed by James Ponsoldt and written by Donald Margulies, based on David Lipsky's 2010 book Although of Course You End Up ...more
18
Julie & Julia is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, Jane Lynch

Released: 2009

Directed by: Nora Ephron

Julie & Julia is a 2009 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Nora Ephron starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, and Chris Messina. The film contrasts the life of chef ...more

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19
Finding Forrester is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Sean Connery

Released: 2000

Directed by: Gus Van Sant

Finding Forrester is a 2000 American drama film written by Mike Rich and directed by Gus Van Sant. An African-American teenager, Jamal Wallace, is invited to attend a prestigious private high ...more

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20
Ace in the Hole is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Iron Eyes Cody

Released: 1951

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Ace in the Hole is a 1951 American film noir starring Kirk Douglas as a cynical, disgraced reporter who stops at nothing to try to regain a job on a major newspaper. It marked a series of firsts ...more
21
The Lost Weekend is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Jane Wyman, Ray Milland, Howard Da Silva

Released: 1945

Directed by: Billy Wilder

The Lost Weekend is a 1945 American drama film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Ray Milland and Jane Wyman. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four: Best Picture, Best ...more

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22
Sideways is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Sandra Oh, Virginia Madsen, Thomas Haden Church

Released: 2004

Directed by: Alexander Payne

Sideways is a 2004 American comedy-drama film written by Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne and directed by Payne. A film adaptation from Rex Pickett's novel of the same name, Sideways follows two ...more

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23
Can You Ever Forgive Me?... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Jane Curtin

Released: 2018

Directed by: Marielle Heller

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a 2018 biographical comedy-drama film directed by Marielle Heller, based on the memoir by Lee Israel. When bestselling celebrity biographer, Lee Israel (Melissa ...more

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24
I Remember Mama is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
I Remember Mama Ellen Corby, Barbara Bel Geddes, Irene Dunne

Released: 1948

Directed by: George Stevens

I Remember Mama may refer to: I Remember Mama (play), a 1944 play by John Van Druten, based on Kathryn Forbes' novel Mama's Bank Account I Remember Mama (film), a 1948 film based on the play I ...more
25
In Bruges is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
TylerKoch added Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes, Matt Smith

Released: 2008

Directed by: Martin McDonagh

In Bruges is a 2008 British-American comedy film written and directed by Martin McDonagh. The film stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two Irish hitmen in hiding, with Ralph Fiennes as ...more

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