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writers The Best Writer Biopics  

Ranker Film
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List Rules Vote up the best true biographical movies about any author, poet, journalist, or other type of writer.

Writers are some of the most fascinating subjects for biopics. Some of the best writers are solitary, alcoholic, disturbed, and gifted, and the writers on this list definitely run the full spectrum. Although their stories have the power to grip readers and not let go, sometimes the story behind the author is the most fascinating part. The best writer biopics tell the stories of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into writing a novel, journalistic piece, academic journal, or poem.


What are the best writer biopics? Capote might top your list. Starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote, this biopic tells the story of the mysterious author who was so obsessed with the gruesome murder of the Cutter family in rural Kansas. The film chronicles Capote’s life as he composes his magnum opus, In Cold Blood. It won Hoffman an Academy Award for his performance. On this list, you’ll also find Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a drug fueled romp based on the life and work of Hunter S. Thompson, the gonzo New Journalism hero portrayed by Johnny Depp. This list also includes writers from bygone eras, including William Shakespeare, as seen in Shakespeare in Love: a moving tale of theatre, love, and betrayal set in Elizabethan England.


We also included Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s delightful time-traveling tale set in Roaring '20s Paris. Although the story is mostly about Owen Wilson’s character figuring out who he is, the film features hilarious and delightful portrayals of many legendary authors including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein.   

Vote up the best writer biopics below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.  

list ordered by

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas 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

The Greatest Writer Characters in Film The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

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Capote is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Capote 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

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The Hours is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
The Hours Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore The Hours is a 2002 British-American drama film directed by Stephen Daldry, and starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Ed Harris. The screenplay by David Hare is based on ...more

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A Man for All Seasons is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
A Man for All Seasons John Hurt, Orson Welles, Vanessa Redgrave A Man for All Seasons is a 1966 British biographical drama film based on Robert Bolt's play of the same name about Sir Thomas More. It was released on 12 December 1966. Paul Scofield, who had ...more

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Midnight in Paris is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Midnight in Paris Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hiddleston Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial 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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My Left Foot is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
My Left Foot Daniel Day-Lewis, Fiona Shaw, Brenda Fricker Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown is a 1989 Irish drama film directed by Jim Sheridan and starring Daniel Day-Lewis. It tells the story of Christy Brown, an Irishman born with cerebral ...more

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American Splendor is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
American Splendor Paul Giamatti, Josh Hutchersonm, Molly Shannon American Splendor is a 2003 American biographical comedy-drama film about Harvey Pekar, the author of the American Splendor comic book series. The film is also in part an adaptation of the ...more

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Shakespeare in Love is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Shakespeare in Love Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Affleck, Judi Dench Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Shakespeare in Love is a 1998 British-American romantic comedy-drama film directed by John Madden, written by Marc Norman and playwright Tom Stoppard. The film depicts an imaginary love affair ...more

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Barfly is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Barfly Mickey Rourke, Faye Dunaway, Charles Bukowski Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Barfly is a 1987 American film which is a semi-autobiography of poet/author Charles Bukowski during the time he spent drinking heavily in Los Angeles. The screenplay by Bukowski was commissioned ...more

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Howl is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Howl James Franco, Jon Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Howl is a 2010 American experimental film which explores both the Six Gallery debut and the 1957 obscenity trial of 20th-century American poet Allen Ginsberg's noted poem Howl. The film is ...more

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Quills is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Sazonana added Quills Kate Winslet, Michael Caine, Geoffrey Rush Quills is a 2000 period film directed by Philip Kaufman and adapted from the Obie award-winning play by Doug Wright, who also wrote the original screenplay. Inspired by the life and work of the ...more

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Out of Africa is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Out of Africa Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Iman Abdulmajid Out of Africa is a 1985 American epic romantic drama film directed and produced by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. The film is based loosely on the autobiographical ...more

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An Angel at My Table is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
An Angel at My Table Kerry Fox, Kevin J. Wilson, Maggie Tarver An Angel at My Table is a 1990 New Zealand-Australian-British film directed by Jane Campion. The film is based on Janet Frame's three autobiographies, To the Is-Land, An Angel at My Table, and ...more

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Kill Your Darlings is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Kill Your Darlings Daniel Radcliffe, Elizabeth Olsen, Jennifer Jason Leigh Kill Your Darlings is a 2013 American biographical drama film written by Austin Bunn and directed by John Krokidas in his feature film directorial debut. The film had its world premiere at the ...more

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The Libertine is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Sazonana added The Libertine Johnny Depp, John Malkovich, Rosamund Pike The Libertine is a 2004 British drama film, the first film directed by Laurence Dunmore. It was adapted by Stephen Jeffreys from his play of the same name, starring Johnny Depp, John Malkovich, ...more

The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters Mythical Creatures That Were Found in Real Life

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The Rum Diary is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
The Rum Diary Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart The Rum Diary is a 2011 American film based on the novel of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson. The film was written and directed by Bruce Robinson and stars Johnny Depp. Filming began in ...more

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Bright Star is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Bright Star Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw, Thomas Brodie-Sangster Bright Star is a 2009 film based on the last three years of the life of poet John Keats and his romantic relationship with Fanny Brawne. It stars Ben Whishaw as Keats and Abbie Cornish as Fanny. ...more

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Mishima: A Life in Four Chapte... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Mollevangsvagen added Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters Roy Scheider, Ken Ogata, Kenji Sawada Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters is an American/Japanese film co-written and directed by Paul Schrader in 1985. Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas served as executive producers. The film is ...more

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Before Night Falls is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Before Night Falls Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Javier Bardem Before Night Falls is a 2000 American drama film directed by Julian Schnabel. The screenplay is based on the autobiography of the same name of Reinaldo Arenas, which was published in English in ...more

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Iris is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Iris Kate Winslet, Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent Iris is a 2001 biographical film that tells the story of British novelist Iris Murdoch and her relationship with John Bayley. The film contrasts the start of their relationship, when Murdoch was ...more

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Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Ci... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle Gwyneth Paltrow, Heather Graham, Matthew Broderick Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle is a 1994 American film scripted by screenwriter/director Alan Rudolph and former Washington Star reporter Randy Sue Coburn. Directed by Rudolph, it starred ...more

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Agatha is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Agatha Dustin Hoffman, Vanessa Redgrave, Timothy Dalton Agatha is a 1979 drama thriller film directed by Michael Apted, starring Vanessa Redgrave, Dustin Hoffman and Timothy Dalton, and written by Kathleen Tynan. The film focuses on renowned crime ...more

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Devotion is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Devotion Olivia de Havilland, Ida Lupino, Arthur Kennedy Devotion is a 1946 American biographical film directed by Curtis Bernhardt and starring Ida Lupino, Paul Henreid, Olivia de Havilland, and Sydney Greenstreet. Based on a story by Theodore ...more

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The Trials of Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
The Trials of Oscar Wilde Peter Finch, Lionel Jeffries, James Booth The Trials of Oscar Wilde also known as The Man with the Green Carnation and The Green Carnation, is a 1960 British film based on the libel and subsequent criminal cases involving Oscar Wilde ...more

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Hammett is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Hammett Marilu Henner, Peter Boyle, Sylvia Sidney Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Hammett is a 1982 homage to noir films and pulp fiction produced by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Wim Wenders. The film is a fictionalized story about writer Dashiell Hammett, based on ...more

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Voltaire is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Voltaire Margaret Lindsay, George Arliss, Reginald Owen Voltaire is a 1933 biographical film starring George Arliss as the renowned 18th century French writer and philosopher.

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The Kidnapping of Michel Houel... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Mollevangsvagen added The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq Michel Houellebecq, Françoise Lebrun, Maxime Lefrançois The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq is a 2014 French comedy-drama film directed by Guillaume Nicloux, starring Michel Houellebecq, Mathieu Nicourt, Maxime Lefrançois and Luc Schwarz. It ...more

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The Life of Emile Zola is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
The Life of Emile Zola Paul Muni, Gale Sondergaard, Donald Crisp The Life of Emile Zola is a 1937 American biographical film about French author Émile Zola, played by Paul Muni and directed by William Dieterle. It has the distinction of being the ...more

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Fellini's Casanova is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Fellini's Casanova Donald Sutherland, Tina Aumont, Daniel Emilfork Fellini's Casanova is a 1976 Italian film by director Federico Fellini, adapted from the autobiography of Giacomo Casanova, the 18th century adventurer and writer. Shot entirely at the ...more

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Priest of Love is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
Priest of Love Ian McKellen, Ava Gardner, John Gielgud Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Priest of Love is a British biographical film about D. H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda. It was produced and directed by Christopher Miles and co-produced by Andrew Donally. The screenplay was by ...more

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The Adventures of Mark Twain is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Writer Biopics
The Adventures of Mark Twain Fredric March, John Carradine, Peter Lawford The Adventures of Mark Twain is a 1944 American biographical film starring Fredric March as Samuel Clemens and Alexis Smith as his wife, Olivia. It was produced at Warner Brothers, and directed ...more