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The Best Movies for Writers to Watch

Updated May 10, 2019 626 votes 121 voters 7.2k views28 items

List RulesVote 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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  • 1
    Dead Poets Society is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
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    5

    Dead Poets Society

    Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke

    Released1989

    Directed byPeter Weir

    Dead Poets Society is a 1989 American drama film written by Tom Schulman, directed by Peter... more on Wikipedia

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  • 2
    The Shining is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    38
    14

    The Shining

    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall

    Released1980

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    The Shining is a 1980 British-American psychological horror film produced and directed by... more on Wikipedia

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  • 3
    Misery is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    25
    6

    Misery

    Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates

    Released1990

    Directed byRob Reiner

    Misery is a 1990 American psychological thriller film based on Stephen King's 1987 novel of... more on Wikipedia

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  • 4
    Henry Fool is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    27
    9

    Henry Fool

    Parker Posey, Rachel Miner

    Released1997

    Directed byHal Hartley

    Henry Fool is a 1997 American seriocomic film written, produced and directed by Hal Hartley,... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    Barton Fink is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    21
    5

    Barton Fink

    John Goodman, Steve Buscemi

    Released1991

    Directed byEthan Coen, Joel Coen

    Barton Fink is a 1991 American period film written, produced, directed and edited by the Coen... more on Wikipedia

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  • 6
    Sunset Boulevard is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    21
    6

    Sunset Boulevard

    William Holden, Buster Keaton

    Released1950

    Directed byBilly Wilder

    Sunset Boulevard—stylized onscreen as SUNSET BLVD.—is a 1950 American film noir directed and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 7
    Almost Famous is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    22
    9

    Almost Famous

    Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson

    Released2000

    Directed byCameron Crowe

    Almost Famous is a 2000 comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe and starring... more on Wikipedia

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  • 8
    Adaptation is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    20
    6

    Adaptation

    Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep

    Released2002

    Directed bySpike Jonze

    Adaptation is a 2002 American comedy-drama metafilm directed by Spike Jonze and written by... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    Julie & Julia is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    18
    5

    Julie & Julia

    Amy Adams, Meryl Streep

    Released2009

    Directed byNora Ephron

    Julie & Julia is a 2009 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Nora Ephron... more on Wikipedia

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  • 10
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    20
    7

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz

    Released1998

    Directed byTerry Gilliam

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a 1998 American dark comedy film co-written and directed by... more on Wikipedia

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  • 11
    Sideways is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    18
    7

    Sideways

    Sandra Oh, Virginia Madsen

    Released2004

    Directed byAlexander Payne

    Sideways is a 2004 American comedy-drama film written by Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne and... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
    Stranger than Fiction is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    15
    4

    Stranger than Fiction

    Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman

    Released2006

    Directed byMarc Forster

    Stranger than Fiction is a 2006 American comedy-drama-fantasy film directed by Marc Forster,... more on Wikipedia
  • 13
    Stand by Me is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    24
    15

    Stand by Me

    Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman

    Released1986

    Directed byRob Reiner

    Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age comedy-drama adventure film directed by Rob... more on Wikipedia

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  • 14
    Naked Lunch is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    13
    4

    Naked Lunch

    Ian Holm, Roy Scheider

    Released1991

    Directed byDavid Cronenberg

    Naked Lunch is a 1991 science fiction drama film written and directed by David Cronenberg and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 15
    Wonder Boys is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    13
    4

    Wonder Boys

    Robert Downey Jr., Katie Holmes

    Released2000

    Directed byCurtis Hanson

    Wonder Boys is a 2000 Romantic comedy film directed by Curtis Hanson and written by Steve... more on Wikipedia

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  • 16
    Ruby Sparks is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    14
    6

    Ruby Sparks

    Annette Bening, Deborah Ann Woll

    Released2012

    Directed byValerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton

    Ruby Sparks is a 2012 romantic comedy-drama film directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie... more on Wikipedia
  • 17
    Capote is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    11
    3

    Capote

    Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Cooper

    Released2005

    Directed byBennett Miller

    Capote is a 2005 biographical film about Truman Capote, following the events during the... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Midnight in Paris is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    18
    13

    Midnight in Paris

    Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard

    Released2011

    Directed byWoody Allen

    Midnight in Paris is an American 2011 romantic comedy fantasy film written and directed by... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    The End of the Tour is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    9
    3

    The End of the Tour

    Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Segel

    Directed byJames Ponsoldt

    The End of the Tour is a 2015 American biographical drama film directed by James Ponsoldt and... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Finding Forrester is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    10
    6

    Finding Forrester

    Anna Paquin, Matt Damon

    Released2000

    Directed byGus Van Sant

    Finding Forrester is a 2000 American drama film written by Mike Rich and directed by Gus Van... more on Wikipedia

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  • 21
    Ace in the Hole is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    7
    4

    Ace in the Hole

    Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling

    Released1951

    Directed byBilly Wilder

    Ace in the Hole is a 1951 American film noir starring Kirk Douglas as a cynical, disgraced... more on Wikipedia
  • 22
    The Lost Weekend is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    6
    3

    The Lost Weekend

    Jane Wyman, Ray Milland

    Released1945

    Directed byBilly Wilder

    The Lost Weekend is a 1945 American drama film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Ray... more on Wikipedia

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  • 23
    Factotum is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    7
    5

    Factotum

    Marisa Tomei, Matt Dillon

    Released2005

    Directed byBent Hamer

    Factotum is a 2005 film directed by Bent Hamer, adapted from the novel of the same name by... more on Wikipedia
  • 24
    Tolkien is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    5
    4

    Tolkien

    Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins

    Released2019

    Directed byDome Karukoski

    Tolkien is a 2019 American biographical drama film directed by Dome Karukoski. An orphaned... more on Wikipedia

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  • 25
    In Bruges is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies for Writers to Watch
    5
    5

    In Bruges

    Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes

    Released2008

    Directed byMartin McDonagh

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