I mentioned my list of all-time favorite movies to a friend the other day, and I realized something: most of my favorite movies while growing up had a main character that aspired to be a writer.
As a child, I watched these movies because I felt connected to the character's journey. Now, I watch these movies because they serve as inspiration for my own journey. I figured I'd compile a list of movies that I think would be a great source of inspiration for other literary minds. There are many of these lists floating around all over the internet, but I did find that my list has two distinct differences: I did not include movies from decades earlier than the 80s (I don't really like movies that were made prior to that, with a few exceptions—Saturday Night Fever being one of them), and my list has a few movies that were inexplicably left off of several other blogs.
If you are looking for movies that will light that fire in your heart, the fire that helps you type away feverishly on your laptop, then put these 13 movies at the top of your must-watch-list:
Just One of The Guys (1985)
I wasn't as stylish as the main character, Terry, but I shared her passion for written journalism as a high school student. That's the career that I thought I was headed towards, or at least it was the one that I fantasized about.
Terry wants to be taken seriously as a writer, but lives in a decade that came long before the #metoo movement. She is so determined to make her dream come true that she poses as a male student to enter into a contest that would award its winner an internship with the local newspaper. That is what I call determination!
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Andy is an aspiring journalist. As a means of opening doors towards a career in journalism, she takes a position as second assistant to one of the most revered—and feared—women in the magazine/fashion industry. This job could be Andy's shot at getting her foot through one of those doors; to get that foot through she must tolerate and excel at every bequest (no matter how eccentric) that is thrown at her by editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly.
Little Women (1994)
This is a classic! I read the book as a child long before having watched the film, but the film did not disappoint me. Jo March dreams about becoming an author, and spends all of her free time writing thrillers and crime stories. Those are the books that seem to be the most popular at the time, so when her sister says, "dear, I never know what to write," Jo responds with, "the first rule of writing is: never write what you know." It isn't until several life experiences later that Jo learns that a writer should write what is in their heart. When you write with passion, your story comes alive. Jo finally became published after writing a memoir about her family.
The Help (2011)
Skeeter is a young aspiring author chasing after the perfect story to scribe about. It's the 60s, and the South, so Skeeter is living in the middle of the civil rights era. What does she decide to write? An exposé on the treatment of black housemaids by their white employers.
This movie would have been on any "favorites" list of mine; there are so many moments that wrench emotions from your heart. This movie received an 8.1/10 from IMDb, 75% from Rotten Tomatoes, and an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture—among others.
I realize that my list is full of female protagonists, but I've got one here for the boys. I absolutely love this quirky film that follows struggling writer Miles. Miles faces rejection upon rejection for his latest novel while venturing on a male bonding trip to Napa Valley with his friend Jack. Writing, sex, comedy, and wine; this movie has it all!
Becoming Jane (2007)
Okay, back to my heroines! I cannot go on a rant about movies for writers, without including a movie based on the life of one my favorite authors. If it wasn't for JK Rowling, Jane Austen would have the top spot on my favorite writers list all to herself.
Jane Austen wrote some of the best love stories of all time, but in this film about her own love life, she isn't able to write her own ending.
(I just noticed that Anne Hathaway made it onto my list twice. I thought that was funny.)
Poetic Justice (1993)
One of John Singleton's masterpieces! Movies that serve as a crossover for musicians-turned-actors don't always work out well, however Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur execute believable characters in this movie. Janet Jackson plays a poetry writing hairdresser with a painful past—like a true tortured poet. Jackson's character isn't in search of authorship, but you'll love the fact that the poetry that is recited in this movie is the artistry of the acclaimed Maya Angelou. I grew up reading Ms. Angelou's work, which has served as inspiration for so many people. Her poetry is deep and moving, and should be on every book lover's shelf.
Shakespeare In Love (1998)
Writer's block: a writer's worst nightmare and ever present threat. That is the basis of the plot behind this movie. In search of a muse, Shakespeare falls in love with a woman that pretends to be a man just to follow her own dream of acting. It's a fictional affair, though one wonders if Shakespeare ever had a love affair like this one in real life. It would be an answer behind the question of what inspired the fuel behind his creations; over 400 years after his death his work is still considered some of the best that has ever been written.
How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days (2003)
I live for Rom-Coms. Okay, that's taking it overboard; I live for my family, but Rom-Coms make life sweeter. This movie has some cheesy parts, but that's okay with me; I love cheesy. If you haven't noticed, there is a common denominator with many of my favorite movies: journalism. When I was a little girl, I thought I would grow up to be a newspaper or magazine journalist. Similar to the sisters in Little Women, I created and curated my own makeshift newspaper like their "Pickwick Portfolio". Andy, the protagonist, is a “how-to” columnist for a trendy magazine, but she strives to write articles with depth that would affect the world at a greater scale (cue the love interest). Will Andy become the writer she dreams of being? Will love get in the way? You'll have to watch and find out!
For Keeps? (1988)
Everyone's favorite 80s movies had at least these two things: teased hair and Molly Ringwald. Guess what else this movie has—an aspiring newspaper journalist (crowd gasps). Okay, maybe the crowd doesn't gasp considering the fact that I have made it painfully obvious that I gravitated towards these types of characters. Molly plays the role of Darcy Elliot, a high school student that wants to be a newspaper writer. Darcy is madly in love with her high school sweetheart, and all seems perfect, until she becomes pregnant. What will become of Darcy's future? Will love prevail? Again, I want you to watch it and find out!
Something's Gotta Give (2003)
I love Diane Keaton! She never lets me down. She is hands down one my favorite actresses! In this movie, Diane's character, Erica Barry, is a successful playwright—a divorced and successful playwright. Nothing wrong with that. (Enter not one, but two love interests, stage right.)
Erica—a woman in her fifties—learns a few lessons about life and love, while finding inspiration for one of her best plays.
I love this movie so much!
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
The title alone pulled you in; I am sure of it! Confession: this is a last minute addition to this list. I came across this movie after I had already written "12 Inspiring Movies for Writers."
Throw together scenes from London, British accents, and literature, and you've got me sold! This movie is clever, cheeky (as my beloved friends across the pond would say), and sweet. Juliet is a novelist during the WWII era, and she forms a bond with a group of residents from the Island of Guernsey—a tiny island in the English Channel—that formed a book club while under German occupation.
I am so glad that I came across this movie tonight because I needed a little pick me up. That's the point of this list.
This film is available now on Netflix!
These movies have gotten me through times when I found it difficult to write and needed a push. I hope they can inspire you in similar ways, or at the very least, provide you with good entertainment.