And the Oscar goes to ...

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
I've never written a screenplay, but in honor of the 90th Academy Awards this Sunday night, and the fact that Sunset Boulevard (1950) will be on television tomorrow, I'm writing about movies about writers and writing.

If you love old movies and wonder where the lines "I am big! It's the pictures that got small," and "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up," came from, then wonder no more, because this is the movie for you. Gloria Swanson plays Norma Desmond in the film-noir classic about the dark side of fame, and William Holden plays a screenwriter who allows himself to be a kept man.

A couple of months ago I watched Genius (2016), after a recommendation from my husband. The movie is based on the relationship between Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938), author of Look Homeward, Angel, and You Can't go Home Again, and his editor, Max Perkins, who also discovered F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

If you like movies that include scenes in train stations, and men who wear vests and hats indoors while smoking cigarettes, then this movie is for you. There's also dramatic dialogue, and lots of red-ink scribbles over typed pages of Wolfe's novel.

Many years ago, when The Player (1992), starring Tim Robbins was popular, I found a better movie starring Kevin Bacon titled The Big Picture (1989), directed by Christopher Guest. This movie is more relatable because it's about a writer who finds success early, only to have it disappear just as quickly. Although it received positive reviews, the movie had a limited distribution.

If you want to watch a young Kevin Bacon trying to navigate the Hollywood machine while wearing clothing you can now find in vintage shops, then watch this one.

A few more I like include, The World According to Garp, Finding Forrester, and Adaptation. I also love Stranger Than Fiction, Wonder Boys, and Trumbo.

This year, The Post is nominated for Best Picture, but to be honest, I haven't seen it! Maybe I'll get to that one before Sunday. What are your favorite movies about writing and writers?

Mary Horner is the author of Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing, and teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges. She is a certified medical writer, and earned the Writing Certificate at UM-St. Louis.


Margo Dill said...

SO I like Capote, I think it's called that. It was about how Truman Capote wrote In Cold Blood. And it also showed his friendship with Harper Lee. I think Philip Seymour Hoffman was nominated for awards and maybe won? for his role?

Nila said...

My favorite movie about writing (well, journalism, but still) is Spotlight, which is a fairly new movie about the Boston Globe exposing the Catholic sexual abuse scandal. I LOVE that movie because it really shows that the pen is mightier than the sword! I love how it outlines the power of words, and a well-written story. Once the stories were released, the world was forever changed, and I love how it focused on a group of people trying to change the world with words.

Renee Roberson said...

I too love movies about the power of journalists and what they can bring to light when they band together. Spotlight was very hard to watch but was superbly written and acted. I still have yet to see The Post but is definitely on my list!

Angela Mackintosh said...

I just watched Sunset Boulevard last night for the first time! I absolutely LOVED it. They don't make movies like that anymore.

Some of my other favorites are Henry & June (about Henry Miller and Anais Nin), Capote, The Player, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Hunter S. Thompson), and Naked Lunch (William Burroughs). I still want to see Trumbo.

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