Must Watch Films for Writers and Journalists

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All the President's Men. Image: Alamo

If you have a interest in writing, journalism or just good movies – this list is for you. There is no need for a spoiler alert as the small reviews attempt to keep the plot and any major twists hidden.

Spotlight

“I know there’s things you cannot tell people. But I also know there’s a story here.”

How did a small group of writers take down the Catholic Church? Investigative journalism. This true story details the team of ‘Spotlight’ journalists at the Boston Globe who uncovered the harrowing details of child molestation within their local Catholic Archdiocese. This film outlines how thorough research, multiple sources and persistence can lead to breakthroughs in even the toughest situations. 

Image: Open Road FIlms

Almost Famous (2000)

“This little sh*t is the enemy. He writes what he sees … although it would be cool to be on the cover.”

Imagine getting the chance to interview your biggest heroes and idols. It sounds like the perfect scenario but is easier said than done. This brilliant film highlights that spending enough time with people reveals many imperfections whilst details the struggles a journalist has in fitting in with their subjects. The 15-year-old journalist at the centre of the story wants to write a piece on his idols but also wants to be friends with them. This is a difficult task when his interviewees are sceptical and reserved whenever the young writer is around.

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The End of the Tour

“If your WRITING is personal then reading you is like meeting you.”

As if the kid from Almost Famous grew up and faced a similar task to the one he had in his youth. This reflective film is based on a true story and details a Rolling Stone reporter heading on the road with author David Foster Wallace. The latter has just written a book, the former wants to write an article on him. They bond over a passion for writing and share similarities in how they perceive themselves. One wants what the other has but the other wants to be anything but himself.

Image: A24 Films

Citizen Kane

“I run a couple of newspapers. What do you do?”

A timeless classic that everyone should find the time to watch, not just budding writers or journalists. A masterpiece from Orson Welles that details the life of the publishing tycoon Charles Foster Kane and the many aspects that accompany power and wealth. It is a great insight into news moguls of that era and elements of that are still relevant today when discussing media control. The technical aspects of the film were well ahead of its time and, with some critics calling it the greatest movie of all time, it is definitely a must-watch.

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Network

“I’m going to blow my brains out right on this program a week from today. So tune in next Tuesday. That should give the public relations people a week to promote the show.”

Ratings and profit can create power for a television network, the power to manipulate the media and the viewers. This film details the differences between news production when ratings are low or high and how a taste of the latter can affect the content produced. A highly dramatical story of exploitation and control that takes you back to when TV ruled the news media landscape. Despite the film being released over 40 years ago, there is no doubt it is still relevant in today’s society.

Image: Taste of Cinema

All The President’s Men

“I never asked about Watergate. I simply asked what were Hunt’s duties at the White House. They volunteered he was innocent when nobody asked if he was guilty.”

A media-centric look at the Watergate scandal and the two young Washington Post reporters that found themselves in the middle of it all. The film, which features an all-star cast, gives an insight into how the biggest political scandal in American history was uncovered. Whilst this film is based on a true story, the plot is enthralling to see how the two journalists stumbled across the facts of this landmark story.

Image: Warner Bros.

Nightcrawler

“My motto is if you want to win the lottery you’ve got to make money to get a ticket.”

When an eccentric con man who blurs the line between dedicated and crazy is looking for work, he will stop at nothing to be successful. That is the story of Louis Bloom and his rise in the crime journalism industry. Jake Gyllenhaal shows his versatility in his depiction of Bloom, a character who has a strong focus but questionable methods in achieving his goals. Whilst most journalists are merely observers, Bloom shows that sometimes you have to get your hands dirty to get the inside scoop.

Image: Bold Films

True Crime

“No, I don’t have to listen to you! I’m looking at you, I’m looking and I can see a reporter who’s about to tell me he has a HUNCH!”

Investigative journalist becomes makeshift detective for a murder case where the facts are unclear on the surface. Another film that showcases how deep the investigations can go for a journalist who wants to discover the facts for a story. Whilst this film has its flaws due to the protagonist’s personality, the story is gripping and gets more engaging as it reaches its climax.

Image: FanPop

Midnight in Paris

“If it’s bad, I’ll hate it because I hate bad writing, and if it’s good, I’ll be envious and hate all the more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.”

If ‘Night at the Museum’ is for history buffs then ‘Midnight in Paris’ is the art and literature equivalent. Fans of the pioneers in writing would salivate at the characters in this Woody Allen fantasy film. It is a homage to the past that connects brilliantly with the future and dissects the difficulties with inspiration and self-doubt that writers deal with regularly. Adjusting to Owen Wilson as the protagonist writer is difficult when the audience must compare him with the likes of Twain, Hemingway and Stein. Nevertheless, the movie is worth a watch for the mise-en-scene alone. 

Image: Medium

And one TV show… 

The Newsroom

“If a news outlet doesn’t have credibility it doesn’t matter what else it has.”

As accurate a TV show depicting a working newsroom can be. This three-season rollercoaster gives you a behind the scenes look at a nightly news program and what goes into making it. The show never runs out of interesting storylines which is reflective of the news itself, something different every night. Whilst the main character is undoubtedly the lead anchor, each character brings something to the table in their roles. Whether it is the producers, field reporters or IT guys, everyone plays a role and is relied upon to make the broadcast work. If you don’t give the Newsroom a chance, you’re missing out.

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Have we missed any? Leave a comment below or let us know via Twitter at @dscribenews or @anguskramer

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