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The Best Movies for Writers to Watch

Updated May 10, 2019 626 votes 121 voters 7.4k 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
    41
    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
  • 2
    The Shining
    38
    14

    The Shining

    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall

    Released1980

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

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  • 3
    Misery
    25
    6

    Misery

    Lauren Bacall, Kathy Bates

    Released1990

    Directed byRob Reiner

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  • 4
    Henry Fool
    27
    9

    Henry Fool

    Parker Posey, Rachel Miner

    Released1997

    Directed byHal Hartley

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  • 5
    Barton Fink
    21
    5

    Barton Fink

    John Goodman, Steve Buscemi

    Released1991

    Directed byEthan Coen, Joel Coen

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  • 6
    Sunset Boulevard
    21
    6

    Sunset Boulevard

    William Holden, Buster Keaton

    Released1950

    Directed byBilly Wilder

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  • 7
    Almost Famous
    22
    9

    Almost Famous

    Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson

    Released2000

    Directed byCameron Crowe

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  • 8
    Adaptation
    20
    6

    Adaptation

    Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep

    Released2002

    Directed bySpike Jonze

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  • 9
    Julie & Julia
    18
    5

    Julie & Julia

    Amy Adams, Meryl Streep

    Released2009

    Directed byNora Ephron

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  • 10
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
    20
    7

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz

    Released1998

    Directed byTerry Gilliam

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  • 11
    Sideways
    18
    7

    Sideways

    Sandra Oh, Virginia Madsen

    Released2004

    Directed byAlexander Payne

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  • 12
    Stranger than Fiction
    15
    4

    Stranger than Fiction

    Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman

    Released2006

    Directed byMarc Forster

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  • 13
    Stand by Me
    24
    15

    Stand by Me

    Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman

    Released1986

    Directed byRob Reiner

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  • 14
    Naked Lunch
    13
    4

    Naked Lunch

    Ian Holm, Roy Scheider

    Released1991

    Directed byDavid Cronenberg

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  • 15
    Wonder Boys
    13
    4

    Wonder Boys

    Robert Downey Jr., Katie Holmes

    Released2000

    Directed byCurtis Hanson

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  • 16
    Ruby Sparks
    14
    6

    Ruby Sparks

    Annette Bening, Deborah Ann Woll

    Released2012

    Directed byValerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton

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  • 17
    Capote
    11
    3

    Capote

    Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Cooper

    Released2005

    Directed byBennett Miller

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  • 18
    Midnight in Paris
    18
    13

    Midnight in Paris

    Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard

    Released2011

    Directed byWoody Allen

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  • 19
    The End of the Tour
    9
    3

    The End of the Tour

    Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Segel

    Directed byJames Ponsoldt

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  • 20
    Finding Forrester
    10
    6

    Finding Forrester

    Anna Paquin, Matt Damon

    Released2000

    Directed byGus Van Sant

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  • 21
    Ace in the Hole
    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
    6
    3

    The Lost Weekend

    Jane Wyman, Ray Milland

    Released1945

    Directed byBilly Wilder

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  • 23
    Factotum
    7
    5

    Factotum

    Marisa Tomei, Matt Dillon

    Released2005

    Directed byBent Hamer

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  • 24
    Tolkien
    5
    4

    Tolkien

    Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins

    Released2019

    Directed byDome Karukoski

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  • 25
    In Bruges
    5
    5

    In Bruges

    Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes

    Released2008

    Directed byMartin McDonagh

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