Five Excellent Biopics About Journalists


Perhaps one of the most underappreciated professions out there, journalists work 24/7 to inform of us what’s happening around us. From geopolitical conflict to local government corruption, journalists respond to the call, notebook and pen at the ready, to keep everyone informed. Unfortunately, journalists are also often maligned, and their profession is under siege by people in power who do not benefit from the work that they do. Some of the most critical accomplishments of journalists have been immortalized in film, with the best performers in Hollywood portraying them and the nitty-gritty of their daily work. If you are interested in awesome, edge-of-your-seat biopics that depict the real lives of some of the most notable journalists in history, look no further. We’re not going to be including movies about fictional journalists, so don’t expect Citizen Kane to be a part of this list. Without further ado, here are our recommendations for excellent biopics about journalists.

The Post

First on the list is The Post, a major blockbuster movie featuring some of Hollywood’s most prominent stars. The movie depicts the story of The Washington Post, then headed by Katharine Meyer Graham, and its publication of the Pentagon Papers. The plot of the movie, according to Rotten Tomatoes, is as follows: “Katharine Graham is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper — The Washington Post. With help from editor Ben Bradlee, Graham races to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. Together, they must overcome their differences as they risk their careers — and very freedom — to help bring long-buried truths to light.” A masterful depiction of the chaos that enveloped U.S. journalists during the time, The Post stars Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham, Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee, Sarah Paulson as Antoinette “Tony” Pinchot Bradlee, Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian, Tracy Letts as Fritz Beebe, Bradley Whitford as Arthur Parsons, Bruce Greenwood as Robert McNamara, Matthew Rhys as Daniel Ellsberg, Alison Brie as Lally Graham, and many others, most of whom depict real-life figures involved in the drama that surrounded The Washington Post during the time. The Post was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actress for Meryl Streep at the 90th Academy Awards, as well as numerous nods from other award-giving bodies.


Another thrilling movie depicting the work of real-life journalists, Spotlight is one of the best biopics about journalists ever made. The movie depicts the story of the Boston Globe‘s “Spotlight” team as they investigated reports of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the Boston area. Their work earned the Spotlight team a Pulitzer prize and opened further investigations into the alleged involvement of figures within the Catholic church on systemic sexual abuse. The cast of the movie, according to Rotten Tomatoes, portray real journalists who worked for the paper: “Led by editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), reporters Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Matt Carroll and Sacha Pfeiffer interview victims and try to unseal sensitive documents. The reporters make it their mission to provide proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.” A highly-celebrated movie, Spotlight earned awards left and right, the most prominent of which is its win of the Academy Awards for Best Picture as well as Best Original Screenplay.

The Killing Fields

The Killing Fields portrays the story of three journalists, Cambodian Dith Pran, Australian Sydney Schanberg, and American Al Rockoff. The three report on the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and their impending takeover of the country. Directed by Roland Joffe in his feature film directorial debut, The Killing Fields stars Sam Waterston as Sydney Schanberg, Haing S. Ngor as Dith Pran, and John Malkovich as Al Rockoff. Ngor, a non-actor who worked as a physician and was a real survivor of the Cambodian genocide, won Best Supporting Actor for his role in the movie at the Oscars. A review of the movie for Vogue wrote: “This is one of the quietest “war” movies ever made; yet, it’s an indelible portrait of the excitement, horror, and confusion with which journalists experience war.”


A mystery thriller movie, Zodiac depicts the work of Robert Graysmith. Originally a cartoonist for the San Fransisco Chronicle, Graysmith eventually becomes involved in the decoding of the cryptic messages of the Zodiac killer. The cast of the movie includes Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith, Mark Ruffalo as Inspector Dave Toschi, Robert Downey Jr. as Paul Avery, Anthony Edwards as Inspector Bill Armstrong, Brian Cox as Melvin Belli, Elias Koteas as Sergeant Jack Mulanax, Donal Logue as Captain Ken Narlow, John Carroll Lynch as Arthur Leigh Allen, and Dermot Mulroney as Captain Marty Lee, among many others. A review of the movie by Roger Ebert wrote: “The film is a police procedural crossed with a newspaper movie, but free of most of the cliches of either. Its most impressive accomplishment is to gather a bewildering labyrinth of facts and suspicions over a period of years, and make the journey through this maze frightening and suspenseful.”

All The President’s Men

Last on the list is All The President’s Men. A movie surrounding the Watergate scandal, perhaps the most notorious political scandal in the United States, the movie depicts the story of the two journalists who broke the story, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. The movie is based on a book of the same name written by Bernstein and Woodward. The cast of the movie includes Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein, Robert Redford as Bob Woodward, Jack Warden as Harry M. Rosenfeld, Martin Balsam as Howard Simons, Hal Holbrook as “Deep Throat”, Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee, Jane Alexander as the Bookkeeper (Judy Hoback Miller), and many others. A review of the movie for Sight & Sound wrote: “A story that has been marshalled with dazzling skill and precision, but lacks the imaginative hooks that might have taken it even further in mood and meaning.” All The President’s Men raked in nominations from the Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director nominations.

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