Happy Thursday everyone! This is another entry to the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog. Here’s the gist:
The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is…
Movies featuring journalists/reporters for print/TV
I LOVE this month’s theme as I actually wanted to be a journalist growing up. I was thisclose to enrolling in Journalism major in college before I switched to Advertising. I like a lot of film that involve journalism, especially investigative journalism that continues to be an intriguing subject today. In fact one of the films I’m anticipating later this year that screened at TIFF is SPOTLIGHT, about the Boston Globe’s investigation into the child molestation scandal within the local Catholic Archdiocese. These three films also involve scandalous events that’s notable in their time.
So without further ado, here are my picks:
All The President’s Men (1976)
Reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Nixon’s resignation.
This was one of my Blindspot picks of last year and I’m glad I finally saw it. It’s as much a detective tale as it is about journalism. I like how the story stays focused on the investigative aspect of the scandal and how the Post finally got to publish it, there’s no unnecessary subplots about the personal lives of the leads or anything of the sort. What an intriguing slice of American history, and as someone who’s not born in the US, it’s especially fascinating to see. To this day, every political scandal is tagged with the “-gate” suffix because of this, which adds to the timeless aspect of this film. Thanks to Robert Redford for acquiring the rights to Bernstein’s and Woodward’s memoir and for Mr. Pakula for bringing this engrossing political history to life. The two leads Redford and Dustin Hoffman are in top form here, but it also feature fantastic supporting performances from Hal Holbrook who played Woodward’s extremely secretive source, “Deep Throat.”
The Insider (1999)
A research chemist comes under personal and professional attack when he decides to appear in a “60 Minutes” expose on Big Tobacco
This film (as well as HEAT) is why I will always admire Michael Mann. I was disappointed by Blackhat but I think he’s still a phenomenal filmmaker that can infuse such a compelling drama to an otherwise ho-hum story. Russell Crowe gave one of his best performances in his illustrious career, which I think deserved a Best Actor Oscar more than his role in Gladiator. I dedicated this post to highlight some of the scenes I love from this film. The relationship between Dr. Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe), the whistle blower of the mammoth tobacco company Brown & Williamson’s and Lowell Bergman, a senior producer on 60 Minutes (Al Pacino) is compelling to watch. It’s amazing how even just two people talking on the phone can be so riveting, but that’s the genius of Mann’s style. Lots of great supporting cast here too, most notably Christopher Plummer as the legendary CBS News reporter Mike Wallace, Bruce McGill as trial lawyer Ron Motley, and Michael Gambon as the top tobacco company exec.
Veronica Guerin (2003)
Based on a true story, this is about the Irish journalist Veronica Guerin, a reporter for The Sunday Independent, who exposed some of Dublin’s most powerful crime barons and drug lords in 1996.
One of my all time favorite Cate Blanchett performances, where she totally disappeared into her role. Cate not only portrays the feisty reporter, she embodies the journalist’s incredible valor in investigating Dublin’s drug trafficking. You immediately believe her as the character and the Aussie thespian even nailed Guerin’s Irish accent convincingly. I know some of you might be put off by Joel Shumacher as director, but it’s a good film, so give it a shot if you haven’t already. It’s one of the great examples of the danger of investigative journalism and how some of them are truly unsung heroes for their bravery to expose things that are harmful to society.
A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman’s search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.
I already had the three above locked down but I still want to include this film as I haven’t reviewed it yet. I LOVE Dame Judi Dench and she’s simply phenomenal as Philomena (hey that rhymes :D) Steve Coogan (who also co-wrote the script) played the disgraced former journalist Martin Sixsmith who ended up coming alongside Philomena Lee in her journey to find her long lost son. A lot of his acting consist of bewildered reaction to Philomena, especially the part where she basically divulges the entire plot of a trashy book she’s reading that he couldn’t possibly be more disinterested in. It’s a bittersweet story that made me laugh and cry. Dame Judi is mesmerizing here and she’s as effortlessly adept in comedy as she is in dramatic roles. I find the story to be poignant, thought-provoking, and profoundly moving.
What do you think of my picks? Which movies involving journalism/reporting are your favorites?
64 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Picks #62: Journalist/Reporters for Print/TV”
Awesome picks. Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom would be a personal pick of mine. Not sure if he qualifies as a journalist though
I thought of Nightcrawler, but Lou Bloom actually gives tv reporting a bad name. But yeah, I suppose he qualifies 😉
Good Night and Good Luck (2005). “Broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow looks to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy.” GNAGL is gripping, and David Strathairn is perfect as Edward R. Murrow. Edward and his producer, Fred Friendly, (George Clooney) work perfect together. This one is a must-see in the journalist category.
Oh I was just commenting on someone’s blog how I need to see this film! David Strathairn looks good here so I definitely need to watch it pronto. Thanks Becky!
I think one of the reasons the film is so good is that George’s dad was also a journalist:
“Nicholas Joseph “Nick” Clooney (born January 13, 1934) is an American journalist, anchorman, and television host. He is the brother of singer Rosemary Clooney and the father of actor George Clooney.” What a great resource George had as a writer and director of the film… his own dad!
I actually haven’t seen any of these movies, but The Insider looks really good. My own choices would be The Life of Davids Gale and His Girl Friday. Can I count The Devil Wear Prada? lol
Hi Tiffany! Oh I still need to see His Girl Friday. But yes, Devil Wears Prada counts though I forgot there’s a journalistic element in it, ahah.
I was also thinking about The Ring since the main character’s a reporter. I’m not normally a horror movie fan because they’re super cheesy, but I thought that one was well done.
Oh I’m too chicken to see The Ring, even just looking at THAT girl w/ the long hair spooked me. I had no idea the main character is a reporter but isn’t the guy played by Aussie actor Martin Henderson? He’s really cute 😀
Haha, it is really creepy. And yep, that’s the guy. He is pretty cute 😉
You should see him in Bride & Prejudice, which is a Bollywood version of the Jane Austen classic. It’s hilarious and sweet, and Martin makes for a hunky Mr Darcy! 😛
I’ve seen it! It’s a really fun movie!
Oh good! Boy you must’ve seen every period dramas out there, glad to see a fellow Austen *nut* 😀
Yeah, I pretty much have seen every one. I’m just a tad obsessed 😉
Oh I am too, I would often put my S&S or P&P dvd when I’m writing just for background noise, i love the BBC adaptations AND the film versions. Have u seen Lost in Austen? I’m not too fond of it overall but there are some fun parts, esp that lake scene! Oh and Austenland is hilarious too.
I actally really liked Lost in Austen. I can see why some wouldn’t though. I still think they should make more of them, but with a different lead who enters the world of another Austen novel, like Emma.
Oh yeah I think Emma would be a fun one to do as a spoof of sort like Lost in Austen, they would have to cast someone as dreamy as Jeremy Northam as Mr Knightley 😍
I’ve never heard of Veronica Guerin, I’m going to check that out. I love Blanchett.
It’s worth it just to see Blanchett’s performance, and there’s a small cameo from Colin Farrell too, might be his first big screen role.
OMG, how did I miss Veronica Guerin (2003)? I will have to rent that one right away. Love all your choices, Ruth!
Hello Cindy! Oh I think you’d love Veronica Guerin, there’s not that many compelling female journalist roles but miss Cate is simply astounding. It’s heartbreaking though, if you know the real story, but I won’t spoil it for you.
P.S. I just emailed you about my trip to Sedona next week, so excited! 😀
Wonderful choices. Veronica Guerin isn’t a great film but is a good one and the performances are excellent. The same applies to Philomena which I liked better than I thought I would. I was sure Judi Dench would be wonderful but I’d heard that was all the film had to offer however it was not bad without her though it probably would have been a nothing.
I’ve seen The Insider pop up a lot today and it surprised me. Not that I don’t think its a good film with great performances but I didn’t realize that it was so well remembered. All the actors are terrific but Crowe is on a whole other level.
I’m delighted to see All the President’s Men all over the place, it’s one of my top 5 favorite films and one of my choices as well. Completely agree about Hal Holbrook, Jason Robards Jr. was exemplary and a worthy winner of his Oscar but that Holbrook didn’t even rate a nomination is a terrible oversight. He added so much to the film in his brief scenes.
I love this genre and ended up with six films I just couldn’t decide between so I’m double dipping! I ended up with a mix of the serious and the somewhat daffy. Love them all but President’s Men is a masterpiece.
Broadcast News (1987)-Incisive look at the news division of a Washington D.C. station with a love triangle woven in. Hard driving and ambitious producer Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) is torn between her attractions to the handsome but cloddish Tom Grunick, a new reporter at the station who is on his way up and Aaron Altman a superior reporter who doesn’t have the right look for television despite his skill and who she sees as a brother figure. He loves her desperately and therefore feels a fierce competition with Tom who he sees as inadequate. Set against a station reorganization at a time when hard news departments were still bastions of respectability and fighting the incursion of entertainment news into their formats.
The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)-An Australian reporter, a very young Mel Gibson, is on assignment in Jakarta during the political upheaval of Sakarno’s rule. He is taken under the wing of Billy Kwan, a brilliant Linda Hunt who won an Oscar, a photographer who worships the leader. Along the way he falls in love with an equally young and striking Sigourney Weaver. He is just starting to build contacts when the situation explodes and it becomes a race for life or death. Filmed with an oppressive atmosphere and tense direction by Peter Weir.
Libeled Lady (1936)-When his newspaper accidentally prints a false story about an heiress and she threatens to sue for libel he concocts an elaborate scheme to make it appear true, pulling an old friend and his own fiancée into the plan. Things naturally go awry. Classic comedy with four great stars, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy and William Powell working at the top of their craft. Harlow and Powell were engaged at the time this was made but she died the following year before their marriage could take place.
Hello Joel!! THANK YOU so much for your always spectacular comment, man!
I LOVE Philomena because of Dame Judi. She never disappoints me in anything. As for The Insider, it’s one of the first that came to mind when it comes to journalism movies. I mean Crowe is simply outstanding, and Mann’s direction is superb. And yes, All the President’s Men is as close to a perfect film as it could get.
Man, I don’t think I’ve seen Broadcast News in its entirety, definitely need to revisit that. Same with The Year of Living Dangerously which is set in my hometown Jakarta, but not filmed there for political reasons. Libeled Lady sounds delightful!
All the President’s Men (1976) – Compulsively watchable chronicle of Woodward and Bernstein’s relentless investigation of the Watergate break-in for the Washington Post. For a drama that is all talk this is a fascinating viewing experience with exceptional work from the entire cast and perfectly judged direction by Alan J. Pakula.
The China Syndrome (1979)-While on location for a documentary on energy at a nuclear power plant reporter Kimberly Wells and her crew witness a near catastrophe which her cameraman secretly films. When they get back to the station and want to broadcast the story they hit a wall of resistance from both the network and the plant. During further investigation Kimberley discovers how much peril they, and the state of California, were in coming close to “the China Syndrome” and the fact that the issue has not been repaired and the threat remains. Incredibly timely on release, while this was playing in theatres the Three Mile Island accident occurred in Pennsylvania turning the film into a monster hit.
June Bride (1948)-Carey Johnson (Robert Montgomery), a combat journalist just back from assignment is forced to take a job covering a June wedding for a bridal magazine run by Linda Gilman (Bette Davis), the fiancée he jilted, much to her displeasure. Off they travel to Indiana, with the rest of the crew, in the dead of winter for the “June” shoot. When they arrive Carey immediately starts looking for an angle to his story causing trouble for all involved but most of all for himself. Slight but breezy comedy with a great supporting cast including Mary Wickes, Fay Bainter and Tom Tully. Keep an eye out during the wedding scene and you can spot Debbie Reynolds in a wordless bit, her screen debut.
Thanks for these great recommendations, I do love films about journalists/reporters. They always make for a fascinating subject on film.
Haven’t seen anything by Robert Montgomery so I should give June Bride a watch!
Nice picks. Zodiac and Foreign Correspondent are my two favorites, both excellent films.
Oh I haven’t even heard of Foreign Correspondent, I should look that up now.
# films that I know very well but 3 that I have yet to see! I know-what a crime!! I actually remember Watergate even though I was a kid but it was such a huge story. I love Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. Philomena I have seen and it is a wonderful movie even though it is bittersweet
Hello Birgit! Hey I’m glad I’ve given you some recommendations then 😀 If you love Crowe and Blanchett, two of the best Aussie actors of this generation, you should definitely check out The Insider & Veronica Guerin.
Great choices Ruth. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed Philomena – it’s stayed with me for a long time. I really should give it a re-watch.
Thanks Natalie! Yeah, Philomena stayed w/ me for a while too, it’s just so heartbreaking but there are some truly hilarious moments in the film too, so it’s not a thoroughly somber film.
Good choices with Philomenia and All the Presidents Men – I swear it’s an scandal that has the world ‘gate’ added to it. They’re be a scandal about a gate and it’ll be called Gategate
Hi Myerla! Yes, I mentioned in my review of All the Presidents Men that it basically originated the term ‘gate’ in every scandal, political or otherwise 🙂
Great choices! I’m sad to say I haven’t actually seen any of these, but I’ve heard an awful lot of praise for All The President’s Men this week, so I’m going to have to give it a watch soon 🙂
Hi Allie! I have a feeling All The President’s Men would be a popular choice, but rightly so. Yes, do give it a shot, but I highly recommend ALL of these as well.
I’ve only seen The Insider and all I can say is YESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!
YESSSSSSSSSS to that comment!! Crowe at his absolute best!
I only saw the first two films and they’re superb. I wanted to see Veronica Guerin forever but somehow never got around to it.
The two films about journalism that I really dug were The Pelican Brief, one of the rare films that’s better than the book it’s based on. Also, I really enjoyed The Paper with Michael Keaton and Glenn Close. I think those two films were sort of forgotten early 90s flicks, especially The Pelican Brief, it’s one of the last films Pakula directed before his untimely death.
Hi Ted! Veronica Guerin is a small film set in Ireland so yeah I highly recommend it even though it’s by Joel Schumaker 🙂 Oh I remember Pelican Brief, I like that one, bummer about Pakula. Haven’t seen The Paper but I like Keaton and Close so I should give that a shot.
Great picks! All the President’s Men and The Insider would definitely top my list of journalism films. No question.
Glad to hear Alex! I LOVE Michael Mann’s style, even though Blackhat was disappointing. But The Insider might be one of his masterpieces.
Nice! We share The Insider. All the President’s Men is a great movie. So classic!
Hi Kevin! Hey glad we both love The Insider, it’s such an underrated film. All the President’s Men is a must when it comes to journalism movies, it’s so timeless too.
So cool to see Veronica Guerin here, it’s such an underrated movie!
Hi Margaret! Oh I had to include VG in this as there are so few female journalist stories being made and Blanchett was astounding in the role. Glad you love that film, too!
Super picks Ruth. I always like Good Night, and Good Luck. which is very journalism-y. Broadcast News, Nightcrawler. One of my favourite DiCaprio films, Blood Diamond, has a roving reporter element too. I’d love to get into journalism — especially film journalism — so these films always pique my interest.
Hey thanks Adam! Man, people have been recommending Good Night, and Good Luck a lot here, I really should check that out soon. Oh I totally forgot about Blood Diamond having some journalism aspect, but I did like that one.
I haven’t even heard of those ones you listed =/ I do want to see Philomena though, i love Coogan 😀
You haven’t heard of All the President’s Men? Boy it’s a classic man, you should give it a watch. Philomena is excellent and if you like Coogan, you should definitely see it as he also co-wrote it.
Hehe there are soooo many classics I haven’t seen :S
I’m glad you chose All the President’s Man. The sound of all those typewriters is the first thing I think of with this movie. And the tension. Its a study in how well tension can be built on a large scale.
Hello Ian! I just saw that not too long ago and it’s still fresh in my mind. I think it’s the quintessential journalism film so it’s a must-see for people who like this sub-genre. Yes it’s a great example of how to build tension without too much action.
I still have gotta see All the President’s Men.
My pick would have to be Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon. Can’t get enough of that dynamic between Michael Sheen’s David Frost and Frank Langella’s President Nixon. So, so good.
Hello Tom! Oh man I still need to see Frost/Nixon, I love both of those actors, esp Michael Sheen.
Sheen is absolutely outstanding in that movie. Can’t wait for you to check it out. 🙂
Great picks Ruth; can’t argue. I’d add Zodiac and The Killing Fields to that list.
Thanks Mark. I still haven’t seen The Killing Fields yet, but I definitely agree w/ Zodiac.
I’ll stick with the 2009, subtitled made for television, ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’. With Noomi Rapace. And its following two lesser tales.
Haven’t seen that I’m afraid, but the original ‘Dragon Tattoo’ film has come up here a few times in the comments.
Seen all except Veronica Guerin.
That thrashy book scene in Philomena is so funny.
Veronica Guerin is excellent, hope you see it at some point. And yeah, there are some truly hilarious scenes in Philomena.
Nice picks, Ruth! All the President’s Men and The Insider would also make my top 3, probably along with His Girl Friday.
Oooh I still need to see His Girl Friday. I have a feeling I’ll enjoy that one.
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