The arrival of newlyweds disrupts Shirley Jackson’s careful schedule and heightens tensions in her already turbulent relationship with her philandering husband, and she is on the verge of creating her masterpiece. As soon as the youthful pair arrives at the door of the middle-aged couple, they begin to play cruelly with them. It’ll Be Across the Board on Friday.
A biopic is a movie based on a true story. Because most biographical films are either boring or fictitious, I don’t like the term “biopic” at all. While some movies about real-life authors are more accurate than others, there are still a handful worth seeing, some of which are more accurate than others. These aren’t precisely biopics, but they are movies about actual people, so let’s just think of them as movies about people.
13 Movies About Authors
1. Becoming Jane (Jane Austen)
It’s based on Jane Austen’s letters to her sister Cassandra, which is an…interesting decision, but works well in this wonderful movie about Jane (Anne Hathaway) and her neighbor Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy).
2. Before Night Falls (Reinaldo Arenas)
Xavier Bardem’s biopic of Cuban writer Arenas (Johnny Depp) includes a heavy content warning for the fact that Depp plays a transgender woman and that Arenas committed suicide in the late stages of HIV/AIDS. To that end, the story of one man’s unashamed queerness is an intriguing one, especially given the political and social climate of the period.
3. Bright Star (John Keats)
Love tale between Keats (Ben Wishaw) and Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) in Jane Campion’s lovely film feels like a dream. As Mr. Brown, Keats’ buddy who gets in the way of their relationship, Paul Schneider makes an appearance.
4. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Lee Israel)
As in the true story of real-life freelance writer turned literary forger Israel (Melissa McCarthy), director Marielle Heller brings Israel’s (McCarthy) autobiography to life in this tragic comedy.
5. Colette (Colette)
For centuries, men have taken credit for the labour of women, most notably their wives. As a French writer, Colette (Keira Knightley) had her first novels published under the pseudonym of her husband. Even if Dominic West isn’t playing him, he’s still rude.
6. Dickinson (Emily Dickinson)
Emily Dickinson movies have been made recently, including A Quiet Passion starring Cynthia Nixon, but none have focused on Dickinson’s (Hailee Steinfeld) queerness nearly as well as the Apple TV+ series, which borrows modern sensibility to tell a true story about a poet who was completely ahead of her time….
7. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)
Angelou wrote the screenplay for this 1979 TV drama based on her autobiography, and Constance Good portrays Angelou as a protagonist rather than an observer.
8. Iris (Iris Murdoch)
John Bailey (Jim Broadbent) tells the narrative of Iris Murdoch (Kate Winslet as a young woman, Dame Judi Dench as she reaches her twilight years) through the eyes of her husband, Iris Murdoch (Kate Winslet).
9. Malcolm X (Malcolm X)
Filmmaker Spike Lee narrates the epic story of Malcolm X’s (Denzel Washington) journey from the KKK’s death of Malcolm’s father to the Nation of Islam’s conversion in prison to his civil rights leadership, marriage to Betty (Angela Bassett), and conversion to Sunni Muslim. With Alex Hailey’s collaboration on Malcolm X’s Autobiography, this 1992 film set the standard for modern biopics.
10. Mary Shelley (Mary Shelley)
Elle Fanning’s (Elle Fanning) life is accurately depicted by director Haifaa al-Mansour, but the tale suffers from its own lack of concentration. However, it is breathtaking, and the actors deliver outstanding performances (Tom Sturridge is delightfully terrible as Lord Byron).
11. Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (Dorothy Parker)
Dorothy Parker (Jennifer Jason Leigh) makes her way from the Algonquin Hotel Round Table to Hollywood in this Alan Rudolph-directed 1994 film, which also has a large (mainly white) supporting ensemble playing many of Parker’s contemporaries.
12. This Boy’s Life (Tobias Wolff)
When Toby Wolff (Leonardo DiCaprio in his debut big-screen leading role) was an angry child with an abusive stepfather, he became a respected professor of literature and author (Robert De Niro). It’s been a while since I watched this movie about a young boy trying to save his own life, but I remember really enjoying it.
13. Vita & Virginia (Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf)
There are plenty of biopics on the subject of Virginia Woolf, but I’d rather watch this blatantly lesbian film. Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton) and Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki) are the subject of director Chanya Button’s film, which is based on their letters. Isabella Rosselini also appears in the film.