My favorite five: Bookish movies

I don’t know about all authors, but I really enjoy seeing novelists — real and fictional — depicted on the big screen. And there’s no shortage of movies about novelists. Please note that this list does not include movies about poets, screenwriters, or journalists, as those will be their own lists later.

1. Capote

I’m a huge fan of both Truman Capote and Harper Lee, so no other movie was going to come in first. Plus, the film depicting Capote’s writing of the true crime classic In Cold Blood, and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Oscar-winning performance, are that damn good. The rest of the cast is also excellent, as is the writing.

A quick note about the movie “Infamous” that was also about Capote writing In Cold Blood. It suffers from having opened a year after “Capote” and from being not quite as good. If this list were a Top 10, “Infamous” would likely be on it.


2. The Shining

This is an absolute classic of American cinema, based on what I consider to be Stephen King’s finest work. Though the book — about a novelist who’s driven insane by King-esque supernatural phenomena — was better, the movie is scary as hell and more than strong enough to stand on its own.


3. The Words

This movie won’t make many of these kinds of lists, and I have no idea why. The story is about literary theft, but also an imagining of what might’ve happened if someone had found and plagiarized Hemingway’s lost stories. The cast is also outstanding, from Bradley Cooper to Jeremy Irons and Dennis Quaid.

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4. The Wife

Glenn Close’s performance as the titular wife in this movie is simply outstanding and earned her a Best Actress nomination from the Academy. Her character, Joan Castleman, has been keeping a secret and the movie explodes in emotion at its climax. I felt the movie gave away a bit too much too early, though.


5. Misery

The hobbling scene. Those few moments are seared into the minds of many a movie fan. Again, King’s book did it better, but this movie is an easy second to “The Shining” in the subgenre of King adaptations about novelists. This one doesn’t have any of his supernatural elements but is no less creepy for it.


HM. The Secret Window

Yet another adaptation of a King work, this movie has a thriller twist at the end. I like that Johnny Depp isn’t in a costume, and his eccentricities make him great for the role of writer Mort Rainey, who’s suffering from — among other things — writer’s block. It’s well below the other King-inspired movies on this list, however.

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