No, this is not a tutorial in how to write screenplays. This is about movies, that are about writing.
Can you think of any?
What are the criteria to be on my top five list for a good Writing Movie?
First – It must be about writing, not just about a writer. Leaving Las Vegas, and The Shining both have writers going off the rails as a major plot theme, but they are not about writing. Misery on the other hand is not the same without the writing element.
Second – The writing as an action must form part of the plot device. In The Muse and Throw Mamma from the Train, writing moves the story forward, but it is a motive only. It introduces, and ultimately explains, the main themes of the novel, but it does nothing to advance them.
Finally – I must have seen it. I am reliably informed that there are hundreds of movies about writing, but many of them I have never seen. Go figure. So Adaptation, Alex & Emma, Capote and Barton Fink will fall by the wayside, unless someone wants to pick up the ball and run with it? Anybody?
So what are my top five Writing Movies?
- Finding Neverland – Beautiful, and quirky. The story of a man who never grew up, and how he wrote a story about a boy who never grew up. J.M. Barrie gave the world Peter Pan, and J Depp gave us a wonderful J.M. Barrie.
- Shakespeare in Love – Like the above entry, this movie allows us to watch a well known story being put together, piece by piece. As factually accurate as Julius Malema, and twice as entertaining to watch.
- The Wonder Boys – The dark horse entry. Michael Douglas and a pre-Spiderman Tobey Macguire are excellent as a writing professor, and his pupil. While the plot is not entirely driven by the writing aspect, it features strongly enough to push this film into my top 5. Plus it is awesome.
- Finding Forrester – “No thinking – that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!” This film has enough writing advice in it to teach a graduate class.
- Stranger than Fiction – Best. Writing. Film. Ever. Will Ferrell proves to me that he can act, and be funny as the straight man. Plus, seriously, who doesn’t want to jump Maggie Gyllenhaal.
So what about you?
What Writing Movies can you recommend?