The best writers in films

Last week, we talked about ten of the best fictional writers on television. Which of course got me thinking about some of my other favorite fictional writers. The writers portrayed on the big screen. Because of course, people love talking about what they’re passionate about. And what writers are passionate about, more often than not, is writing. 

Today, I’m bringing you the top seven best portrayals of writers in movies. Some of them are funny. Some are scary. And some made me bawl like a baby. But all of them are great examples of flawed people trying to do the same thing we’re trying to do; craft stories.

Secret Window

Starring Johnny Depp and based on a short story by Stephen King, Secret Window is the story of a writer named Mort Rainey looking for some peace to write his latest book. This quiet is destroyed by a man named Shooter, who insists that Rainey stole his short story. Rainey desperately tries to prove that he didn’t commit plagiarism, while Shooter stalks him through town.

I honestly think being accused of plagiarism is scarier than being accosted by some hayseed in a wide-brim hat. I adored this movie. And I thought the ending, unlike some of King’s other endings, was truly satisfying. 

Orange County 

Starring Colin Hanks and Jack Black, this is the hilarious story of a young writer named Shaun, desperate to escape his dysfunctional family. He goes through a series of hilarious hijinks with his brother and girlfriend, trying to get him into a writing program at Stanford. 

If you’ve never seen this movie, it’s a great time. And of course, it discusses the very real issue of whether or not to attend higher education. 

The Shining

Of course, I was going to be talking about this one. It’s not the first Stephen King story on this list, and it won’t be the last. It is, perhaps, the most famous. 

Do I even need to summarise this story? Jack and Wendy, and their son Danny, spend the winter at a hotel as caretakers. This is every writer’s dream, and Jack is a writer. He thinks he’ll spend the whole winter writing his novel while making some easy money.

Of course, that amount of quiet and isolation is often the last thing a writer needs. It’s also the last thing a struggling alcoholic needs, especially when his spirits are replaced by, well, spirits. 

Dead Poet’s Society

(Note. This movie deals with teen suicide.)

A good teacher can make all the difference in a young person’s life. Especially the life of a young artist. Such is the case with John Keating, played by Robin Williams. He inspires a group of teenage boys to not only read poetry but to care about it. To care about their own writing as well. Keating reminds them, and us, that a poem is not a dry dead thing. It is a moment in time, an emotion, a spark, captured in words on a page. 

It’s a passionate movie about living for what makes you feel alive. 

Moulin Rouge!

Yes, I do love this movie, and not ironically. Is it a good movie? No, not really. Is it a really fun movie with a wonderful soundtrack and a fun main character? Yes, yes it is. 

Christian is a writer looking for work. He wants to write a play for a dance club called the Moulin Rouge. Its star is a woman named Satine, who is dying of consumption. Through his writing, Christian makes her last days magical. Even as he struggles to protect her from the evil Duke. It’s full of music, wild characters, and absinthe. It is, I think what a lot of us thought the writing life would be like, full of drugs and interactions with wild artists. Spoiler, it’s actually full of coffee and editing manuscripts while turning down social invites because you’re on a deadline. 


This will be the last time I talk about Stephen King in this post, I swear. But you know I had to talk about Paul Sheldon, Annie Wilkes, and Misery. 

Starring James Caan and Kathy Bates, this is the terrifying tale of an obsessed fan who saves her favorite author from a car crash. All is going fine until she finds out he’s going to kill off her favorite character. Then, things get not fine real fast. 

On one hand, I love the thought of having someone obsessed with my writing. On the other hand, I hate the idea of having someone that obsessed. Either way, it’s a dark and gruesome tale, told well. 

Also, Kathy Bates is a queen. 

Finding Forrester

This is easily my favorite movie about writing of all time. It stars Rob Brown and Sean Connery. This is the tale of a reclusive writer who is, frankly, an asshole. Through a series of events, he starts mentoring a young writer named Jamal. 

A lot of topics are discussed here. Racism, of course. Poverty, and how it impacts the opportunities of young people. When it is and is not okay to approach a famous person. In the end, though, it’s a story about a friendship built on a common passion. A passion for writing. If you’ve never seen it, go watch it right now. It is incredible. 

Now, I want to hear what you think. What is your favorite movie about a writer? Let us know in the comments. 

Paper Beats World is free to read, but it’s not free to make. If you can, please consider supporting the site on Ko-fi. 


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