Some of the most unique projects in cinema history revolve around the general prospect of screenwriting, whether the heroes in question are well-established in that regard, or just starting out in the film business. And for what it’s worth, these movies were directed by some of the biggest names Hollywood had to offer at the time, like Billy Wilder and Jean-Luc Godard.

You’ll no doubt recognize some of the titles along the way, while other movies on the list have flown a little too far off the general radar. And for what it’s worth, this list will also count foreign-language films. All that said, these are the twelve best films ever made about screenwriters, ranked.

11 Trumbo

Entertainment One features

With Bryan Cranston in the titular role, Trumbo (2015) depicts the story of real-life Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Known as part of the Hollywood Ten – Hollywood’s first systematic blacklist – Trumbo is well remembered for adapting screenplays to both exodus (1960) and Spartacus (1960). He portrayed the aforementioned actor in Cranston Trumbo to an absolute tee, even earning a Best Actor nomination at the Academy Awards.

He came up short, but his performance drove the quality Trumbo By heart. And although the film as a whole barely made back its $10 million budget at the worldwide box office, critics had mostly positive expectations. And justified, with Trumbo Finally starting the list.

10 The Big Picture

The big picture is by Christopher Guest
Columbia Pictures

As the directorial debut of Christopher Guest – who co-wrote the screenplay alongside Michael Farhall and Michael McCain – The Big Picture (1989) is about a recent film school graduate named Nick Chapman who is still riding the tides in his award-winning student film.

Starring Kevin Bacon, this entry might not have the name value of many of the other titles that will appear on the list – it was absolutely blown at the box office, in fact. But it nonetheless holds up as a quality film about a screenwriter, the plot of which begins when Nick signs with a major film studio to create his masterpiece. There’s a strong chance you’ve never heard of it The Big Picturebut you should check it out, though.

9 Mank

Gary Oldman in Mank
Distributed by Netflix

This black and white mission from director David Fincher marks the latest film on the list, with Mank (2020) featuring Gary Oldman in the titular role. He was nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards thanks to his efforts, in fact, with the film as a whole picking up two wins — Best Production Design and Best Cinematography — among nine other nominations, to boot.

For those unfamiliar: Hermann J. Markievicz is one of the most popular and respected screenwriters Hollywood has ever seen. And Mank He tells his journey to finish the famous screenplay of Citizen Kane (1941), directed by Orson Welles. This is among the most important films ever made, and this biopic perfectly captures its imagination.

8 The Seven Madmen

Colin Farrell in Seven Psychopaths
CBS Movies

Written and directed by Martin McDonough, this entry follows protagonist Colin Farrell as an alcoholic screenwriter. And while he struggles to complete his script of the same name here The Seven Madmen (2012), the writer (named Marty Farranan) finds inspiration through the antics of his friends, Hans and Billy — played by Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell, respectively.

Related: Seven Psychopaths: Revisiting Martin McDonough’s Overlooked Gem

They make their way through life by stealing the dogs of the rich and returning them for a big reward. And while this isn’t the best quality McDonough has under his directorial belt, he doesn’t have a single bad job to his name. The Seven Madmen Entertaining and injury-inducing from the movie from frame to frame, it undoubtedly deserves that eighth spot.

7 Midnight in Paris

Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams at midnight in Paris
Sony Pictures classics

Starring Owen Wilson as the screenwriter and Rachel McAdams as his materialistic girlfriend, Midnight in Paris (2011) saw the trend under Woody Allen. Of course, as writer and director, Allen also penned the script, giving an especially tactile feel to the project as a whole.

With the couple vacationing in the titular French capital, the plot follows Wilson’s hero as he travels back in time each night at 12:00 on point. For another detour: Encounter the most iconic figures of America’s Jazz Age throughout the Roaring Twenties, like Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. A lot of these movies feature ambitious premises, but they still manage to see their plots come to fruition perfectly. This is very much the case with Midnight in Paris.

6 Barton Fink

Barton Fink by Joel and Ethan Coen
Twentieth Century Fox

Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, this entry features John Turturro in the titular role as a playwright hired to move to Hollywood to star in film scripts. Unfortunately, he soon began suffering from a severe case of writer’s block. As he tries to cope with these stifling urges, a mysterious series of circumstances distract him from his new work on B movie scripts.

And Barton Fink (1991) as a whole is among the most underrated films of this writer-director sibling duo, and the eponymous character goes down as the definitive turn of Turturro’s career. He really runs the gamut here as Fink, landing the project almost single-handedly in sixth place.

5 love forest

Still from the Japanese movie The Forest of Love (2019) on Netflix

This entry is being distributed by Netflix, with a screenwriter named Joe Murata sitting in a restaurant listening to TV reports of a serial killer. crime thriller movie in japanese, love forest (2019) saw direction under Sion Sono, with Kippei Shiina portraying the aforementioned screenwriting hero.

Related: The 15 Biggest Serial Killer Movies Of The 2000s

It saw massive review scores across the critics panel, with a rare 100% approval rating on the critical consensus site Rotten Tomatoes. For that, it’s not only about the greatest movies ever made about screenwriters, but also: serial killers. It’s long, arguably repetitive, but wholly entertaining.

4 Adaptation

Nicolas Cage wrote the 2002 film adaptation
Sony Pictures

Directed by Spike Jonze from a script written by Charlie Kaufman, this is among the most unique films on the entire list. It stars Nicolas Cage in a dual role as a pair of screenwriting twins — Charlie and Donald Kaufman — as they struggle to adapt a book called Orchid thief on the silver screen. The premise is inspired by real-life screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s experiences in the same regard.

As a whole, Adaptation (2002) is among the most respected films on the list. It got rave reviews from critics upon release while making good money at the worldwide box office. Most notably, however, it received four nominations at the Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay for Kaufman. Earned willingly and through.

3 in a lonely place

In a Lonely Place by Nicholas Ray
Santana Productions

A film noir directed by American director Nicholas Ray, this entry stars Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame in the lead roles as the screenwriter and his neighbor, respectively. But plot in a lonely place (1950) takes a dramatic turn when Dixon Steele (Bogart’s hero) is suspected of murder. Despite his violent tendencies, Dixon casts a spell on Graham’s character Laurel Gray, and the two develop a tangible bond in every scene.

in a lonely place It has really cemented its legacy in recent years, being listed by Slant, BBC and Time Magazine as one of the 100 greatest films ever made. Additionally, it has been selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry, and is often cited among the greatest noirs ever to grace the silver screen. And for good reason. on any given day, in a lonely place It could end up higher on the list.

2 contempt

Brigitte Bardot in contempt
Marceau Kokinor

Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard – perhaps the best single director his region has ever seen – contempt (1963) has been cited over the years as one of the most essential releases of the French New Wave. Follows protagonist Paul Javal (played by Michel Piccoli) as he accepts an offer from a brash film producer named Jeremy Prokosch (portrayed by Jack Palance) to rework the script on an upcoming adaptation of Homer Epic.

Related: The 14 Greatest French Directors of All Time

But aside from the main characters, it’s perhaps most worth noting in regards to the cast and crew contempt Her fictional film director will be: Fritz Lang, a real-life German filmmaker who appears here as himself. But apart from the enormous value of the cast name, contempt It also boasts one of the greatest screenplays you’ll ever likely read. And, of course, many other elements of behind-the-scenes filmmaking pay off perfectly. Rest assured: it deserves that penultimate spot.

1 Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard
Paramount Pictures

without Sunset Boulevard (1950) by American writer and director Billy Wilder, such a list would never have been possible. And that’s not just because this is the oldest movie here, but also because it’s the most poignant. Wilder is among the greatest screenwriters who ever lived, shown here with a keen film sense of story structure that yields perfect pacing.

And there are great performances and hilarious dialogue throughout every corner of the thoughtful plot. The film is about a struggling screenwriter named Joe Gillis (played by William Holden) who is drawn into the bizarre fantasy world of former silent film star Norma Desmond (played by Gloria Swanson). And frankly, this race for the top spot in movies about screenwriters has never been so close. Sunset Boulevard It is widely considered among the greatest films ever made, with an endless number of accolades and legendary statistics to its name. It cannot be denied that it is placed at the top.


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