There’s something about the life of a writer that feels romantic. It’s a creative field that requires a good dose of imagination and an artistry with words. Many writers will tell you, however, that their gift requires discipline, dedication, and persistence. Still, the idea that it’s a romantic profession persists. This is in large part due to how writers are portrayed in films.

I have compiled a list of films which feature writers. Some of these are idealized, while others are a bit more realistic. Some are based on actual people and others exist only on screen. But all of them offer a fascinating glimpse into the life of those who create worlds from words.

18 FILMS ABOUT WRITERS

1. Finding Neverland (2004)

Johnny Depp & Kate Winslet in Finding Neverland; Films Featuring Writers List

Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, Depp plays J.M Barrie. This film highlights his friendship with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Winslet) and her children and is set in turn of the century London. Barrie’s interaction with Sylvia’s boys, in particular, her son Peter, inspires his creation of Peter Pan. It’s a beautiful and sensitive film, which leaves me in tears every time.

Where to Watch: Stream on Netflix, Rent on Amazon, GooglePlay or YouTube.

2. Miss Potter (2006)

Miss Potter Film Review; Renee Zellweger & Ewan McGregor

Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Beatrix Potter is the writer and illustrator of many beloved children’s books, including Peter Rabbit. Renee Zellweger stars as the title character whose gift and passion is not quite acceptable for a woman of her time and status. With the help of a sympathetic publisher (Ewan McGregor), Beatrix defies convention to become a success.

Where to Watch: Buy on Amazon

RELATED: Miss Potter Film Review -A Whimsical Treat

3.  Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks; Films Featuring Writers List

Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks.
Photo: Disney

Walt Disney immortalized a magical British nanny named Mary Poppins. But Mary Poppins first materialized in the mind of P.L Travers. This movie chronicles the long journey towards bringing this beloved character to the screen. It also focuses on the life of Travers who balked at seeing Mary Poppins brought to life.

Where to Watch: Rent Amazon, GooglePlay, iTunes or YouTube

RELATED: Saving Mr. Banks Film Review 

4.  Julie and Julia (2009)

Films Featuring Writers List

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

Who says that bloggers aren’t writers? Perhaps no film better encapsulates the life of a blogger than this one. With nothing but passion and an idea, Julie takes charge of her life to use the writing skills she abandoned. Determined to cook her way through Julia Child’s cookbook, this kitchen novice chronicles her experiences online. I love that this is based on a true story and that it stars Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, and Stanley Tucci.

Where to Watch: Rent on Amazon

5.  The Help (2011)

Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer & Viola Davis in The Help; Films Featuring Writers List

Photo Credit: Dreamworks and Touchstone Pictures

With a powerhouse cast including Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney and veteran Cicely Tyson, this is a fabulous female-centric story. When Skeeter Phelan returns to her Mississippi hometown, she notices the prejudice and racism that runs rampant in her former social circle. Skeeter decides to use her journalism training to write an expose highlighting the inequality. With the help of the black maids who serve in white households, she challenges the prevailing status quo in 1960’s Jackson Mississippi.

Where to Watch: Rent on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, and GooglePlay

6. Little Women

Films Featuring Writers List

Photo: Columbia

How could I not include this famous novel on this list? The beloved story of the March sisters has been adapted numerous times for the screen. What could be more meta than an author (Louisa May Alcott) writing a book about a young woman (Josephine March) who wants to be a writer. The fact that it includes the unique bond between sisters and also features themes of sacrifice, honesty and forgiveness have made this a timeless classic.

Where to Watch: Several version are available to rent on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, and GooglePlay.

7.  Genius (2016)

Genius Film Review; Colin Firth and Jude Law

Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment & Roadside Attractions

Max Perkins was an important and visionary editor who discovered some of the most famous authors of the twentieth century including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. Genius focuses on his friendship with the verbose and mercurial Wolfe. With stars like Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Laura Linney, this is an interesting glimpse into the world of publishing.

Where to Watch: Rent on Amazon, GooglePlay, iTunes or YouTube

Content Warning: Rated PG-13 for sexuality, language and the use of drugs and/or alcohol.

RELATED: Genius –A Literary Period Drama Starring Colin Firth, Jude Law and Nicole Kidman

8.  Anne of Green Gables (1985)

Megan Follows in Anne of Green Gables; Films Featuring Writers List

Photo Credit: Sullivan Entertainment

The classic tale of a young orphan girl whose rich imagination helps her thrive in difficult circumstances is much loved. Anne is writing tales in her head long before she puts them to paper. Fortunately, she finds people who love and support her in her endeavors. After many rejections, she’s eventually humbled enough to take Gilbert’s solid advice to write about the “people you love and care about, right here in Avonlea”.  It’s only then that she finds both personal and professional success.

Where to Watch: This version of Anne is available on DVD.

9.  Paris When it Sizzles (1964)

Films Featuring Writers List

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Audrey Hepburn plays an assistant who is hired to ensure that a boozy screenwriter finishes a contracted script. She not only types up his notes but also role-plays as he considers and discards various plots. Though the film is a bit silly, the bonus is Audrey’s vibrant wardrobe, the golden good looks of William Holden AND a tour through an idealized Paris.

Where to Watch: Rent on Amazon, GooglePlay, iTunes or YouTube

10.  I Capture the Castle (2003)

Rose Byrne and Romola Garai in I Capture the Castle: Films Featuring Writers List

Photo Credit: BBC Films

Young Cassandra is the only practical one in a family full of artists and dreamers. As her older sister pursues her dream of marrying wealthy and her writer father succumbs to writer’s block, Cassandra experiences her first bout of heartbreak in 1930’s England. She writes down all her triumphs and failures in her diary.

Where to Watch: Stream on Amazon and TubiTV. Rent on Amazon, GooglePlay, iTunes or YouTube

Content Warning: Rated R for brief nudity and some mild profanity.

RELATED: I Capture the Castle -A Whimsical Fairytale Adaptation

11.  Bright Star (2009)

Ben Wishaw & Abbie Cornish in Bright Star; Films Featuring Writers List

Photo Credit: BBC Films

Starring Ben Wishaw as the poet John Keats, Bright Star features his romance with Fanny Brawne towards the end of his life. Though this film has a tragic ending since Keats died young, Wishaw gives a nuanced and sensitive portrayal.

Where to Watch: Stream on Netflix. Rent on Amazon, GooglePlay, iTunes or YouTube

RELATED: Film Review: Bright Star -A Deeply Affecting Love Story

12.  Possession (2002)

Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle in Possession; Films Featuring Writers List

Photo Credit: Focus Features & Warner Bros. International

Another film featuring poets, Possession also has the added bonus of portraying two different time periods. Two modern-day scholars researching separate Victorian-era poets discover a bundle of love letters between the two poets. As they research this historical connection further, they find their own lives further intertwined. If the synopsis doesn’t interest you, then watch it for Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Ehle, Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart.

Where to Watch: Rent on Amazon and iTunes

RELATED: Possession -A Love Story with a Multigenerational Pull

13.  Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Joseph Fiennes and Gwynneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love; Films Featuring Writers List

Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love
Photo: Universal Pictures

Perhaps one of the best-known films about the famous English bard, this is a very loosely based interpretation of a young William Shakespeare. But it has gorgeous cinematography, costumes and talented performers and thus is enjoyable to watch.

Where to Watch: Rent on Amazon, GooglePlay, iTunes or YouTube

Content Warning: Rated R for sexuality.

14.  Stranger than Fiction (2006)

Will Ferrell & Emma Thompson in Stranger than Fiction: Films Featuring Writers List

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

This may be one of the quirkier movies I’ve seen. But I love the creative plot about a man who learns he’s actually the main character in an author’s book. He must then determine whether his life story is a tragedy or a comedy based on the things he experiences. In the meantime, he awakens to a new appreciation of life. This is a rare sincere dramatic performance by Will Ferrell and also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman and Queen Latifah.

Where to Watch: Rent on Amazon, GooglePlay, iTunes or YouTube

RELATED: Film Review: Stranger Than Fiction – A Unique Story for Writers

15.  Becoming Jane (2007)

Anne Hathaway & James McAvoy in Becoming Jane: Films Featuring Writers List

Photo Credit: Miramax Films

Another film loosely based on a famous author. This one stars Anne Hathaway as a pre-published Jane Austen and focuses on her rumored romance with Irishman Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy). Also starring British stalwarts Julie Walters, Maggie Smith, James Cromwell and Anna Maxwell Martin, it’s a bittersweet tale of a young woman who was successful professionally but thwarted in love.

Where to Watch: Rent on Amazon, GooglePlay, iTunes or YouTube.

RELATED: Becoming Jane (2007) -A Gorgeous Period Drama About Jane Austen

16.  The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

Photo: Parallel Films/Rhombus Media

I had the pleasure to see this in theaters last Christmas and found it utterly delightful. Downton Abbey alumnus Dan Stevens portrays Charles Dickens and his journey in creating one of his most famous works, The Christmas Carol. Many authors put pieces of themselves into their stories and this movie portrays the same, as Dickens uses personal experiences to write his tale. Fans of The Sound of Music will recognize an older Christopher Plummer as the miserly Scrooge.

Where to Watch: Stream on Amazon Prime. Rent on Amazon, GooglePlay, iTunes or YouTube.

17. Theodora Goes Wild (1936)

Films Featuring Writers List

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

Classic film actress Irene Dunne excelled at comedy. Here she plays the staid Theodora Lynn whose ancestors have lived in the same, small conservative town for generations. Unbeknownst to her spinster aunts, Theodora is a successful author of scandalous romance novels written under a pseudonym. But when she meets an irresponsible man in her editor’s office, he challenges the hypocrisy of her puritanical lifestyle and convinces her to let loose.

Where to Watch: This film is only available on DVD but occasionally airs on TCM.

18.  Shadows in the Sun (2005)

Films Featuring Writers List

Photo Credit: Peace Arch Motion Pictures

A book editor who dreams of being a writer is sent to Tuscany to nurse a new book out of a successful writer. But author Weldon Parrish (Harvey Keitel)  suffers from writer’s block and has no interest in writing. In the meantime, Jeremy (Joshua Jackson) starts to fall in love both with Weldon’s daughter Isabella (Claire Forlani) and Italy.

Where to Watch:  Stream or rent on Amazon.

What are some of your favorite films featuring writers? Have you seen any of the films on this list? Which do you think most realistically depicts the life of a writer?


Featured image at top – Becoming Jane. Photo: Miramax

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