Watching the news these days can be quite an experience, with pretty much every story being about Coronavirus. Not that the news was all that exciting before that. But it seems like it used to be, and we would often hear stories of journalists cracking very big stories. Switch off the real news for a few hours and check out these excellent films about journalists, all of which are currently available to stream.
Almost Famous (2000) – Prime
This classic coming of age story actually tells the story of a teenage journalist writing for Rolling Stone in the early 1970s. He gets a taste of the rock and roll life touring with a fictional band Stillwater and encountering many stereotypical characters from the music world. The film stars Patrick Fugit as the young journalist that must remember that his subjects are not his friends, Billy Crudup as the lead singer of the band, and Kate Hudson as a professional groupie.
His Girl Friday (1940) – Prime
In this classic comedy, Cary Grant tries to sabotage the wedding of his top reporter Rosalind Russell in order not to lose her services. But perhaps he also has more personal motives. More about live and hijinks than telling the news, it is still a nice look into the newspaper offices of the era.
Frost/Nixon (2008) – Prime
This movie tells the story behind the infamous Frost-Nixon interviews of 1977 that did much to expose what was happening in the White House. Michael Sheen stars as the British broadcaster Frost, and Frank Langella as the ex-U.S. President Nixon. Both actors give compelling performances which means that the slow burn of the story never peters out.
Kill the Messenger (2014) – Netflix
Jeremy Renner stars in this film based on the true story of the CIA’s involvement in contra-cocaine trafficking which was investigated by San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb. He quickly becomes the villain of the piece in the eyes of many as the CIA work to ensure that the story is never told, and Webb fights for the truth.
The Killing Fields (1984) – HBO Now
A harrowing film about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia told from the perspective of two journalists, a Cambodian Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor) and an American Sydney Schanberg (Sam Waterston). It shows how these hidden horrors were revealed to the rest of the world.
The Newsroom (2012) – Prime
OK, this is a series rather than a movie, but it is so good it needs to be on the list, and there are only 25 episodes. It takes us behind the scenes of a fictional cable news channel where journalists are forced to balance real journalism and ratings. Our lead anchor, played by Jeff Daniels, has fallen into rating obsession, but he is dragged out of his stupor when an ex-love and current serious journalist played b Emily Mortimer joins the team.
Spotlight (2015) – Prime
The now famous story of how the Boston Globe exposed an extensive series of sexual abuse cases that were covered up by the Catholic Church in the Boston area. It resulted in similar misconduct being identified around the world. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams.
State of Play (2009) – HBO Now
Before she appeared in Spotlight, Rachel McAdams appeared in this film alongside Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and Helen Mirren. It shows how a journalist probed the suspicious death of a congressman’s mistress, working against the system to expose criminal misconduct.
True Story (2015) – Netflix
Despite starring friends Jonah Hill and James Franco, this is a thriller rather than a comedy. It tells the story of a man on the FBI’s most-wanted list who was hiding out in Mexico using the identity of a reporter. When he was finally caught the reporter’s name was completely disgraced. He then began to visit the convict in order to try and regain his reputation.
Zodiac (2007) – Prime
This is a thriller about the hunt for the Zodiac serial killer than terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area, but told predominantly from the perspective of the journalists that were on the case, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr. Mark Ruffalo also stars as the police detective hunting the killer.