Our favorite, local, Hollywood screenwriter and one of our fabulous writing workshop presenters, Xaque Gruber gives us a chronological list of his favorite films about writers and writing to help get you through quarantine. Thanks, Xaque!
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
A dark, twisted, suspenseful film noir about a writer who finds himself in a spider’s web spun by a lonely, deranged, faded silent movie star who thinks she’s a writer.
Director: Billy Wilder
Writer: Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, DM Marshman Jr
Stars: Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Erich von Stroheim
Zorba the Greek (1964)
Both outrageous comedy and painfully sad drama intermingle in this story of an uptight British writer who travels to Crete on a business trip. His life is forever changed when he meets the gregarious Zorba.
Director: Michael Cacoyannnis
Writer: Michael Cacoyannnis
Stars: Anthony Quinn, Alan Bates, Irene Papas
My Brilliant Career (1979)
Part period piece, part coming of age drama, the film tracks Australian author Sybylla Melvin (Judy Davis) as she transitions from girlhood to a rather unconditional adult life for her time and place.
Director: Gillian Armstrong
Writer: Eleanor Witcombe
Stars: Judy Davis, Sam Neill
The Shining (1980)
One of cinema’s great horror treats, based on a Stephen King novel. A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father into violence while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings of both the past and future.
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writer: Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson, Stephen King
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers
An Angel At My Table (1990)
Jane Campion’s beautiful tribute to the work and life of New Zealand writer Janet Frame. An ode to idiosyncrasy and the sheer beauty of human creativity.
Director: Jane Campion
Writer: Laura Jones
Stars: Kerry Fox
Another great horror film based on a Stephen King novel, this dramatic thriller follows two characters, a famous author injured in a car crash, and trapped in the remote home of his biggest fan.
Director: Rob Reiner
Writer: William Goldman, Stephen King
Stars: Kathy Bates, James Caan, Lauren Bacall
Barton Fink (1991)
A renowned New York playwright is enticed to Los Angeles to write for the movies and discovers the awful truth about Hollywood.
Director: The Coen Brothers
Writer: The Coen Brothers
Stars: John Turturro, Michael Lerner, Judy Davis, John Goodman
Delightful and hilarious romantic drama about a Baroness who wrote under the name George Sand (Judy Davis), a 19th Century novelist who left her family, moved to Paris, wore trousers, smoked cigars, and had an affair with Frederic Chopin.
Director: James Lapine
Writer: Sarah Kernochan
Stars: Judy Davis, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Bernadette Peters, Julian Sands
Deconstructing Harry (1997)
Dark comedy by Woody Allen in which he plays Harry Block, who suffers from writer’s block. Characters, both fictional and real, from his best selling novels and his life come back to haunt him.
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Judy Davis, Kirstie Alley, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Romantic comedy about the ups and downs of writing for a young William Shakespeare, and the journey of crafting his iconic play “Romeo & Juliet.”
Director: John Madden
Writer: Mark Norman, Tom Stoppard
Stars: Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Geoffrey Rush, Judi Dench, Colin Firth, Ben Affleck
Wonder Boys (2000)
Drama with comedic elements, a creative writing professor at a Pennsylvania college suffers from writer’s block and tries to deal with the pressures of his complex love life and his troubled students’ assorted problems.
Director: Curtis Hanson
Writer: Steve Kloves
Stars: Michael Douglas, Frances McDormand, Tobey Maguire, Robert Downey Jr, Rip Torn
Brilliant, enigmatic comedy drama about screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s attempts to adapt Susan Orleans’ book The Orchid Thief, which in turn becomes the screenplay for Adaptation.
Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Charlie Kaufman
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Tilda Swinton, Brian Cox
Mrs. Palfrey At The Claremont (2005)
Quietly tender English drama about an elderly woman living in a hotel who befriends a struggling young writer and both of their lives are changed for the better.
Director: Dan Ireland
Writer: Ruth Sacks Caplan
Stars: Joan Plowright, Rupert Friend
The Lives of Others (2006)
Dramatic/mystery/thriller in German language with subtitles. 1984, East Berlin, an agent of the secret police conducts surveillance on a writer and his lover, and becomes obsessed with their lives.
Director: Florian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck
Writer: Florian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck
Stars: Ulrich Muhe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch
Midnight in Paris (2011)
A time traveling Woody Allen comedy in which a young American screenwriter, while visiting Paris with his fiancee, finds himself going back to the 1920s to meet with the greats of art, music and literature every day at midnight.
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Stars: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Marion Cottilard
In 1947 Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood’s top screenwriter, until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs.
Director: Jay Roach
Writer: John McNamara
Stars: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Louis CK, John Goodman, Helen Mirren
Can You Ever Forgive Me (2018)
A powerful true life story about Lee Israel, a once-successful writer who was not allowed to write what she wanted, suffered commercial failures and writer’s block, and turned to selling forgeries to make ends meet.
Director: Marielle Heller
Writer: Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty
Stars:Melissa McCarthy, Richard E Grant, Jane Curtin