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180 voters

The Best Movies for Artists to Watch

Updated April 27, 2021 817 votes 180 voters 10.0k views68 items

List RulesVote up the films every artist must see.

If there's one thing any artist will tell you, it's that they could always use some inspiration. Over the years, Hollywood and many independent filmmakers have put together hundreds of amazing movies about artists and their works. Aspiring artists have used such films for years as their own personal muses.

Movies artists should watch range in style, tone, and theme. Whether a film is an artist biopic, a documentary about a style of artwork, or is made in a visually inspiring fashion, it can be used to help get the creative juices flowing. Every artist has their own unique style they are accustomed to, so not every film on this list will appeal to everyone. But odds are, at least one of these movies for artists will inspire you. Whether you're following the life of fabulous painters like Frida Kahlo and Jackson Pollock or learning the story of Mark Hogancamp's fascinating sculpture project, browse this list to find the best film for you! 

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    Frida

    Salma Hayek, Edward Norton

    Released2002

    Directed byJulie Taymor

    Frida is a 2002 Miramax/Ventanarosa biopic which depicts the professional and private life of the surrealist Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. It stars Salma Hayek in her Academy Award-nominated portrayal...  more

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    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 Woody Allen. Set in Paris, the film follows Gil Pender, a screenwriter, who is forced to confront the...  more

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    Basquiat

    David Bowie, Courtney Love

    Released1996

    Directed byJulian Schnabel

    Basquiat is a 1996 biopic/drama film directed by Julian Schnabel based on the life of American postmodernist/neo expressionist artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat, born in Brooklyn, used his...  more
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    Loving Vincent

    Robert Gulaczyk, Douglas Booth

    Released2017

    Directed byDorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman

    Loving Vincent is a 2017 animated biographical drama film directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman. In a story depicted in oil painted animation, a young man comes to the last hometown of painter...  more

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    Big Eyes

    Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz

    Released2014

    Directed byTim Burton

    Big Eyes is a 2014 American biographical drama film directed by Tim Burton. Famous for drawing portraits and paintings with big eyes, American artist Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) fights a legal battle...  more

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    Girl with a Pearl Earring

    Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth

    Released2003

    Directed byPeter Webber

    Girl with a Pearl Earring is a 2003 drama film directed by Peter Webber. The screenplay was adapted by screenwriter Olivia Hetreed, based on the novel of the same name by Tracy Chevalier. Scarlett...  more

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    At Eternity's Gate

    Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend

    Released2018

    Directed byJulian Schnabel

    At Eternity's Gate is a 2018 American drama film directed by Julian Schnabel. Vincent van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) spends his final days in Arles....  more
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    Exit Through the Gift Shop

    Banksy, Mr. Brainwash

    Released2010

    Directed byBanksy

    In the late 1990s, a hybrid form of graffiti began appearing in cities around the world. Enlisting stickers, stencils, posters, and sculpture and spread by the burgeoning Internet, it would be...  more
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    Pollock

    Jennifer Connelly, Val Kilmer

    Released2000

    Directed byEd Harris

    Pollock is a 2000 biography drama film written by Steven Naifeh, Gregory White Smith, Barbara Turner and Susan Emshwiller and directed by Ed Harris....  more
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    The Agony and the Ecstasy

    Charlton Heston, Rex Harrison

    Released1965

    Directed byCarol Reed

    The Agony and the Ecstasy is a 1965 film directed by Carol Reed, starring Charlton Heston as Michelangelo and Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II. The film was partly based on Irving Stone's biographical...  more
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    New York Stories

    Kirsten Dunst, Woody Allen

    Released1989

    Directed byFrancis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese

    New York Stories is a 1989 anthology film; it consists of three shorts with the central theme being New York City. The first is Life Lessons, directed by Martin Scorsese, written by Richard Price and...  more
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    Lust for Life

    Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn

    Released1956

    Directed byVincente Minnelli, George Cukor

    Lust for Life is a MGM biographical film about the life of the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, based on the 1934 novel by Irving Stone and adapted by Norman Corwin. It was directed by Vincente...  more
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    Factory Girl

    Sienna Miller, Jimmy Fallon

    Released2006

    Directed byGeorge Hickenlooper

    Factory Girl is a 2006 American biographical film based on the life of 1960s underground film star, socialite, and Warhol Superstar Edie Sedgwick. The film premiered in Los Angeles on December 29,...  more
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    Seven Servants

    Anthony Quinn, Audra McDonald

    Released1996

    Directed byDaryush Shokof

    Seven Servants is a USA — Germany co-production 1996 German drama — comedy film directed by Daryush Shokof. The movie is about a man named Archie, portrayed by Anthony Quinn, who wishes to unite and...  more
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    Art School Confidential

    John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi

    Released2006

    Directed byTerry Zwigoff

    Art School Confidential is a 2006 comedy-drama film directed by Terry Zwigoff, loosely based on the comic of the same name by Daniel Clowes. The film is Zwigoff's second collaboration with Clowes,...  more

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    Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child

    Julian Schnabel, Fab Five Freddy

    Released2010

    Directed byTamra Davis

    "In his short career, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a phenomenon. He became notorious for his graffiti art under the moniker Samo in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side scene, sold his first painting to...  more
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    Art of Conflict

    Art of Conflict is a documentary film directed by Valeri Vaughn....
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    The Mystery of Picasso is a 1956 French documentary film about the painter Pablo Picasso, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, and showing Picasso in the act of creating paintings for the camera. Most...  more
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    An Unmarried Woman

    Jill Clayburgh, Alan Bates

    Released1978

    Directed byPaul Mazursky

    An Unmarried Woman is a 1978 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Paul Mazursky, and starring Jill Clayburgh. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and Clayburgh...  more

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    What Dreams May Come

    Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr.

    Released1998

    Directed byVincent Ward

    What Dreams May Come is a 1998 American fantasy drama film, starring Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr., Annabella Sciorra and Max von Sydow. The film is based on the 1978 novel of the same name by...  more

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    Carrington

    Emma Thompson, Rufus Sewell

    Released1995

    Directed byChristopher Hampton

    Carrington is a 1995 British biographical film written and directed by Christopher Hampton about the life of the English painter Dora Carrington, who was known simply as "Carrington". The screenplay...  more

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    American Splendor

    Paul Giamatti, Josh Hutchersonm

    Released2003

    Directed byRobert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman

    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 comics,...  more

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    Downtown 81

    Debbie Harry, Vincent Gallo

    Released2000

    Directed byEdo Bertoglio

    Downtown 81 is a film that was shot in 1980-1981. This film, directed by Edo Bertoglio, written and produced by Glenn O'Brien with post-production in 1999-2000 by Maripol, is a rare real-life...  more
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    Waste Land

    Vik Muniz

    Released2010

    Directed byLucy Walker, Karen Harley, João Jardim

    Waste Land is a feature documentary film that premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and went on to be nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, as...  more
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    I Shot Andy Warhol

    Justin Theroux, Jill Hennessy

    Released1996

    Directed byMary Harron

    I Shot Andy Warhol is a 1996 independent film about the life of Valerie Solanas and her relationship with the artist Andy Warhol. The movie marked the debut of Canadian director Mary Harron. The film...  more

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