Entertainment

The Best Movies for Writers to Watch  

Ranker Film
301 votes 82 voters 3.6k 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. 

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
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
2
Misery is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates, James Caan
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
3
Dead Poets Society is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Lara Flynn Boyle
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
4
Barton Fink is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Frances McDormand
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
5
Ruby Sparks is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Annette Bening, Deborah Ann Woll, Humphrey Bogart
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
6
Almost Famous is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, Anna Paquin
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
7
Adaptation is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Maggie Gyllenhaal
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
8
Midnight in Paris is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hiddleston
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
9
Sunset Boulevard is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
William Holden, Buster Keaton, Gloria Swanson
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
10
Henry Fool is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Parker Posey, Rachel Miner, Liam Aiken
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
11
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci
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
12
Stand by Me is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack
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
13
Naked Lunch is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Ian Holm, Roy Scheider, Julian Sands
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
14
Wonder Boys is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Robert Downey Jr., Katie Holmes, Michael Douglas
Wonder Boys is an American 2000 comedy film directed by Curtis Hanson and written by Steve Kloves. The film was based on the novel of the same title by Michael Chabon. Michael Douglas stars as ...more
15
Sideways is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Sandra Oh, Virginia Madsen, Thomas Haden Church
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
16
Julie & Julia is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, Jane Lynch
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
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
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
Stranger than Fiction is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah
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
19
Ace in the Hole is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Iron Eyes Cody
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
20
Capote is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Cooper, Catherine Keener
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
21
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Jane Curtin
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
22
Finding Forrester is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Sean Connery
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
23
Tolkien is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Colm Meaney
Tolkien is a 2019 American biographical drama film directed by Dome Karukoski. An orphaned author (Nicholas Hoult) finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow ...more
24
I Remember Mama is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
Ellen Corby, Barbara Bel Geddes, Irene Dunne
I Remember Mama is a 1948 drama film, directed by George Stevens, from a screenplay by DeWitt Bodeen, based upon the play by John Van Druten, which itself was based on Kathryn Forbes' novel, ...more
25
Storytelling is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
John Goodman, Paul Giamatti, Selma Blair
Storytelling is a 2001 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Todd Solondz. It features original music by Belle & Sebastian, later compiled on an album of the same name. It was ...more