UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (2024)

Note: The popularity of this story prompted us to treat it as a dynamic document, adding more reviews as appropriate movies are released or discovered. So what started as “110 Journalism Movies, Ranked” has morphed into “200 Journalism Movies Ranked.”

Hollywood helps define just about everything in America. And journalism is no exception.

From “Citizen Kane” to “The Post” and from “Libeled Lady” to “All the President’s Men,” reporters have clashed with editors, danced on both sides of the ethical line, and otherwise populated hits and duds on the silver screen. They’ve been heroic, dangerous, and sometimes very funny.

In celebration of the 110th anniversary of SPJ, Quill Editor Lou Harry teamed up with the critics from MidwestFilmJournal.com to watch, review and rank 110 journalism-related films. As noted above, we have been expanding the list ever since.

Caveat: To make this ambitious project (relatively) manageable, the list was limited to English-language films that were theatrically released. Trimmed out were flicks where the journalism milieu was minimal (i.e. “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and a load of romantic comedies).

What’s left, we hope, is a list that will spark discussion, encourage debate, and provide you with some ideas for the next time you can’t find anything interesting in your Netflix queue.

Chime in down in the comments section with your thoughts on any of them. And let us know if we’re missing anything.

Reviewers: AC = Aly Caviness, ED = Evan Dossey, LH = Lou Harry, MR = Mitch Ringenberg, NR = Nick Rogers SW = Sam Watermeier

Let’s start at the bottom:

200. Brenda Starr (1989). The comic strip about the gutsy reporter lasted from 1940 to 2011. But after sitting on the shelf for years because of rights issues, the film, starring Brooke Shields, disappeared quickly — with good reason. Bob Mackie’s costumes provide the only interest. (LH)

199. 10 Days in a Madhouse (2015). It opens with a bloody scene out of a grade Z horror film and ends with one of the worst original UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (1)songs ever heard in a movie. In between is an earnest but painfully amateur you-go-girl flick that looks like it was shot by people who couldn’t get work making those bio-docs for the History Channel. Nellie Bly’s pioneering undercover investigation of asylum conditions deserves better than this flop, which barely cracked five figures at the box office. Christopher Lambert and Kelly Le Brock appear, for no clear purpose besides their names, in supporting roles. (LH)

198. Scoop (2006). Upon its 2006 release, “Scoop” was reviewed as one of writer-director Woody Allen’s lesser efforts and time has not been kind. After receiving a tip from a ghost (Ian McShane, a standout), intrepid journalism student Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) attempts to seduce billionaire socialite Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman), who may be a murderer. The ethos “anything for the story” rules, but Allen’s script mostly defines it as Johansson using her looks to get ahead — or not. A nice smattering of screwball comedy presages other, better roles in the actress’s future while the lackadaisical pace and one-note characters also, unfortunately, preview Allen’s later work. Note: The much, much better 2024 film with the same title can be found down in the double digits of this list. (ED)

197. I Love Trouble (1994). Screenwriter Nancy Meyers hit sweet spots before and after with “Baby Boom,” “Father of the Bride” and “The Parent Trap” (which she also directed). But here she can’t create sparks between Nick Nolte and Julia Roberts, nor can she and director Charles Shyer navigate the delicate balance of romance and thrills. Nolte and Roberts play rival reporters at Chicago dailies who collide when covering a train wreck. Their investigations — separately and together — unearth a plot involving, no kidding, bovine hormones. But the test of these sorts of films is whether you want the bickering pair to eventually get together, not whether or not the mystery plot works. In this case, though, both chemical efforts fizzle. (LH)

196. Run This Town (2019). “Run This Town” chronicles the final year of former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s time in office, back when a video of a politician smoking crack cocaine could still derail their career. Robyn Doolittle, the recent university grad who broke the story in real life, is replaced here by a fictional male reporter aimlessly floating about early adulthood —a questionable choice. Without knowing that background, though, “Run This Town” simply comes across like a minor-level attempt at the rhythms of Aaron Sorkin, filled with colorful conversations and walk-and-talk sequences that never feel like more than the sum of their parts. Worth it, though, for character actor Damian Lewis’s fat-suited performance as Ford, almost entirely unrecognizable under the sweat and latex. (ED)

195. The Escort (2015). This film wants to have its cake and eat it too — sharply poking fun at both sex addiction and prostitution, while ultimately aiming to win your affection as a tender drama. Co-writer Michael Donegar stars as Mitch, a sex-addicted journalist who seemingly finds the woman of his personal and professional dreams when he meets Victoria, a Stanford-educated escort. Hoping to earn a job at a high-profile magazine by telling her story, Mitch tags along on her various trysts. Of course, romantic tension ensues. “The Escort” clumsily connects the commodified intimacy of prostitution to that of magazine interviews. And it also stumbles while exploring the idea of reporters falling in love with their subjects. That’s probably because Donegan, co-writer Brandon A. Cohen and director Will Slocombe maintain the breezy tone of a made-for-TNT movie and try to balance the more earnest dramatic moments with awkward strokes of broad comedy, like the casting of Bruce Campbell as Mitch’s rich-hippie father. A great piece of journalism can drum up suspense even in the inevitable, but by the time this film ends exactly as you expect it will, you’ll feel nothing but relief that it’s over. (SW)

194. The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990). Director Brian De Palma’s colossal botching of Tom Wolfe’s decade-defining novel is clear from the opening, a five-minute tracking shot following narrator/tabloid reporter Peter Fallow (Bruce Willis) to an awards ceremony. You may wonder how they did it. By the end, you’re more likely to wonder why. De Palma’s bloated take on Wolfe’s swirling novel — about the downfall of a Wall Streeter (Tom Hanks, miscast) who incites a racial incident — is more cartoonish than crystallized. Upside: It gave us Julie Salamon’s “The Devil’s Candy: ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’ Goes to Hollywood,” one of the best books about making movies. (LH)

193. The Naked Truth (aka Your Past is Showing) (1957). With a concept that sounds more promising on paper than it plays out on film, this British offering concerns a sleazy tabloid publisher (Dennis Price) with a blackmail scheme. His rag, The Naked Truth, will run a friendly profile of a famous person next to a scandalous story about that same person — this time unnamed, leaving it up to the reader to make the connection and absolving him of libel. A politician (Terry Thomas) and media personality (Peter Sellers) join forces with others to fight back but their antics generate few laughs before an absurd — and very welcome — conclusion. For Sellers completists only. (LH)

192. Freelance (2023). It seems rude to have released “Freelance” to theaters before the scent of sage burned to blast bad juju from auditoriums showing “Expand4bles” had cleared. But at least this one has better visual effects … and a journalism angle! John Cena plays a former Special Forces soldier tasked to protect disgraced reporter Claire Wellington (Alison Brie) on a trip to interview a notoriously tight-lipped and iron-fisted South American leader. A one-time winner of the International Journalists and Editors Award — tough statue to get, that very real-sounding award! — Claire has now resorted to celebrity man-cave interviews on a website called Infamous Daily. (Come to think of it, Infamous Daily might be kind of a fun reporter name.) Anyway, Claire thinks the interview will be a ticket back to the big time. Instead, it puts her in the middle of a coup from which only Cena can save her. “Freelance” plays out like a fake movie within a movie that manifested into reality as a tax-shelter scheme for a bunch of fat-cat dolts with no better plan to pay their pipers less. It’s awful, but at least Cena and Brie film their “bold moments of guerrilla journalism” in landscape, which will give those editors at Infamous Daily more options. (NR)

191. The Paperboy (2012). Matthew McConaughey stars in this vile piece of southern exploitation as Ward, a big-city journalist brought home to help exonerate a convicted felon, Van Wetter (John Cusack), at the behest of the murderer’s smitten girlfriend-via-correspondence, Charlotte (Nicole Kidman). There is a lot going on in “The Paperboy,” and although McConaughey plays a good investigative reporter, the rest of the film is buried under grim excess to a comical degree. Zac Efron co-stars as Jack, Ward’s brother, who is smitten with Charlotte — a problematic position to be in given her predicament. At one point, Charlotte has to drop trou to save Jack after a jellyfish attack and, well, that’s about the high point of the story. (ED)

190. City of Lies (2018). “City of Lies” dramatizes the investigation conducted by former LAPD detective Russell Poole (Johnny Depp) into the unsolved murder of the rapper The Notorious B.I.B. Poole’s theory followed that corrupt police officers helped with the crime and his investigation into the LAPD’s involvement led to an early forced retirement. The film tells the story in a perplexingly non-chronological style, with flashbacks to the investigation that ended Poole’s career and a present-day story featuring Poole and investigative reporter Darius “Jack” Johnson (Forest Whitaker) teaming up to discover the truth. The film was shelved in 2018 due to Depp’s legal and personal woes, finally finding a VOD release during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ironically, it’s one of Depp’s more measured performances from that era of his career — which isn’t to say he’s especially good in it, particularly his delivery of one of the most unenthusiastic voiceovers ever recorded. A confusing, confounding mess. (ED)

189. Still Here (2020). Even if you only interned in a newsroom, you’ll see how this well-meaning but woefully inept film gets the details so heinously wrong. Swaggering and smoldering Christian Baker (Johnny Whitworth) writes for the fictitious New York Chronicle and becomes personally invested in a story about a young Black girl’s disappearance. “I wanna know what’s really going on out there,” Baker gnashes before dropping cash to a source for intel. “Something I can sink my teeth into.” After a quick glance at Christian’s incendiary copy that calls out the cops, his editor yells: “F*ck it! Let’s run it!” Perhaps it’s fitting that Whitworth resembles a suaver cousin of “Parks & Recreation’s” Jean-Ralphio Saperstein. As journalism films go, this one’s definitely among the worrrrrrrst. (NR)

188. News of the World (2020). In this dry, dust-choked, Oscar-nominated bit of boredom for all involved, Tom Hanks is Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a Confederate veteran roaming America in the thick of Reconstruction. Kidd’s post-war occupation is gathering newspapers from large cities and international editions, then reading them aloud for paying audiences in small towns. Most of the film is a lazily conceived save-the-girl action-Western, an anodyne anomaly for Hanks and director Paul Greengrass that plays like “Plains, Reins and Wagon Wheels.” It’s an oater offering little journalistic fat on which to chew outside of loud-shouting analogs to a divisive present day and eternally irreconcilable racial animosity. (NR)

187. The Pirates of Somalia (2017). Writer-director Bryan Buckley’s adaptation of Canadian journalist Jay Bahadur’s 2011 book opens on audio of Mario Savio’s “bodies on the gears” speech. It’s ostensibly a mantra for a fictionalized Bahadur, given increasingly loud life by Evan Peters. But “Pirates” regards it like a dorm-room poster, a decoration to moon over for what you think it says about you and look straight past until it’s time to pack up for the summer. The many plights of Somalia —the “somewhere crazy” to which a desperate Bahadur flees after chucking the Canuck life —is similarly filtered through western-world whininess. Bahadur’s endless first-person monologues blame the fourth estate for burying his earliest stories. Those stories are all he has, but are they any good? Throw in romantic grace notes a la “(500) Days of Somalia,” Bahadur’s hypnotized animated visions of piracy set to the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize” and spiral-cut ham interludes from Al Pacino as Bahadur’s mentor, and you’ve got just another flip, touristy and disengaged geopolitical drama — something like “Captain Phillips” made by Todd Phillips. (NR)

186. Richard Jewell (2019). The tragedy of the real-life Richard Jewell is that of an innocent man brought low by a combination of journalistic and governmental malpractice. Jewell was a security guard at the scene of the Centennial Park bombing during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and became the prime suspect in an FBI investigation. It almost ruined his life. Clint Eastwood’s dramatization of the story can’t help but amp up its journalist “villain,” the late Kathy Scruggs, into a slanderous caricature of a real woman. It commits the same affront to truth it tries to unpack. Sometimes reporters make mistakes, but there’s no reason to return such an affront in kind. It’s too bad, as this is otherwise Eastwood’s best film in his later period of “unsung hero” stories, filled with great performances and funny writing. (ED)

185. The Dark (1979). An investigative reporter on a desperate quest to find his daughter’s killer encounters an alien that shoots lasers from its eyes and likes to rip people’s faces off. Director John “Bud” Cardos’s horror / sci-fi film offers a tantalizing premise that unfortunately never comes close to realizing its full potential. This grindhouse also-ran is most notable for almost being helmed by legendary director Tobe Hooper (“The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”) before he was fired after only three days on set. What Hooper might have been able to make of this material is certainly better than what we got — a lot of stiff acting and people standing around arguing with one another and not nearly enough face-ripping. (MR)

184. Perfect (1985). The team behind “Urban Cowboy” (including co-writer and journalist Aaron Latham) attempts a similar feat of cultural anthropology with John Travolta in tow. Here, he plays Adam Lawrence, a Rolling Stone reporter who finds love with a fitness instructor (Jamie Lee Curtis) and journalistic disillusionment while (rather interminably) researching and reporting the 1980s health club craze. It’s surprising that Stone founder Jann Wenner loaned his publication’s name to a film that paints their practices so poorly, doubly so that Wenner essentially plays himself, and triply so for how padded “Perfect” is by extraneous exercise footage (including, yes, an end-credits shot of Wenner in the gym). This DOA romantic drama also delivered the kill shot to Travolta’s flagging career momentum, which didn’t recover until nearly a decade later with “Pulp Fiction.” So drippy here that he can’t even meet Curtis a quarter of the way on chemistry, Travolta fares no better after Adam becomes a First Amendment poster child in a haphazardly handled final act. Turns out “Perfect’s” lone cultural legacy is that well-memed GIF of Travolta thrusting his pelvis in a precariously perched pair of junk-hugging jockeys. (NR)

183. -30- (aka Deadline Midnight) (1959). Fans of old school TV may get a kick out of seeing William Conrad, Joe Flynn, Richard UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (2)Deacon and David Nelson fill out the cast. Plus there’s Miss Arkansas of 1959, Donna Sue Needham (yes, she’s billed in the opening credits that way). But there’s not much to recommend in this look at the overnight activity at a big city daily. Few films on this list spend this much time in the newsroom — or this much time focused on coffeemaking — but the tone is all over the place. Director/producer Jack Webb saddles himself with playing an editor adjusting to the idea of adopting a child. Better known as the title character on the series “Cannon,” Conrad comes across as an unfunny Jackie Gleason (“You had better rustle your bustle, Nellie Bly,” he says when giving a young female reporter an assignment.) An overwrought score punctuates matters throughout, particularly when the drama turns to a kid missing in a storm drain. (LH)

182. How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (2008). If you kowtow to celebrities, your byline will grace the glossy pages of culture magazines but your heart will burn dim. That’s essentially the concluding message of this film, which is sufficient for a soft romantic comedy but disappointing given the sharp source material of controversial British writer Toby Young’s 2001 memoir. Young took a bloody bite out of the Big Apple, shaking things up at Vanity Fair and having disastrous run-ins with Kenneth Branagh, Mel Gibson and Diana Ross, among other celebrities. The film adaptation, in which Simon Pegg plays a stand-in for Young, is surprisingly toothless, eschewing Young’s juicy behind-the-scenes drama in favor of clichéd comic situations, such as an awkward interview in which Pegg’s character asks a musical-comedy star whether he’s gay. The film soon sets up more promising comic targets, including a deliciously douchey director, and Pegg makes you root for Young to take them down. But screenwriter Peter Straughan and director Robert Weide always pull the punches, making the film seem as lily-livered as the starstruck journalists it’s supposedly aiming to satirize. (SW)

181. Up Close and Personal (1996). It’s hard to imagine credited screenwriter and literary journalist Joan Didion approved much of a movie that plays like “Broadcast News” by way of Nicholas Sparks and lacks any of the intimate despair of her best work. What began as a biopic of the late NBC News reporter Jessica Savitch was eventually altered beyond recognition by Touchstone Pictures and released as a saccharine romance vehicle for Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer. Admittedly, it’s impossible for these actors not to be endearing, but they’re trapped in a forgettabls studio vehicle from director Jon Avnet that has as much to say about journalism as “She’s All That.” In fact, Pfeiffer even gets the same makeover treatment here. (MR)

180. The Unseen (1980). With a story credit by makeup maestro Stan Winston and a premise revolving around a basem*nt-dwelling bogeyman, “The Unseen” sounds promising on paper. Unfortunately, what it leaves unseen is an imaginative monster as well as a worthwhile spotlight on journalism. The film follows three TV reporters left stranded on assignment covering the annual Danish festival in Solvang, California. This is a decent setup, but the journalism tie-in ends here. An eccentric museum owner (Sydney Lassick) quickly whisks the women away to his farmhouse, where all hell breaks loose. Rather than relying on their instincts as reporters or turning their cameras on their horrific ordeal, the news team stereotypically stumbles through the nightmare. The film deserves kudos for its depiction of the lead reporter’s ultimate empathy toward the monster, but that feels like too little too late amid this silly mess. As you browse our list of journalism movies, help this entry live up to its title by avoiding it. (SW)

179. Bright Lights, Big City (1988). Casting Michael J. Fox as the co*ke-snorting lead in an adaptation of Jay McInerney’s seminal 1980s novel seemed a bad idea at the time. Viewing it 30 years later, it’s an even worse idea. That being said, it’s one of the only cinematic treatments of the challenges facing fact-checkers — in this case, a hard-partying staffer for a New Yorker-ish magazine. The scenes at the magazine office (where Swoosie Kurtz, Frances Sternhagen and John Houseman lend support) are at least less cringy than the nightlife and domestic-drama scenes. (LH)

178. The Mean Season (1985). Strung-out Miami reporter Malcolm Anderson (Kurt Russell) becomes a serial killer’s public mouthpiece in this nicely shot, thematically daft schlock about the line past which storytellers become the story. Adapted from former Miami Herald reporter John Katzenbach’s novel (and filmed in the Herald’s offices), Phillip Borsos’ 1985 film parks a truck of red herrings to rot in the sweltering Florida heat. Malcolm’s girlfriend, Christine (Mariel Hemingway), exists only for the killer to endanger, after which Malcolm improbably jumps a bridge to save her. Imagine if Jake Gyllenhaal free-soloed Coit Tower to stop the Zodiac Killer. Plus, Malcolm’s paper uses a passive-voice headline when Christine is taken. Poor form, especially on A1. (NR)

177. Teacher’s Pet (1958). Clark Gable is a hardnosed (read: obnoxious) city editor who laments “dames” teaching journalism classes. (“Amateurs teaching amateurs how to be amateurs,” he gripes.) Doris Day is a teacher who believes — and demonstrates — the value of education. He signs on to her class under an assumed name to show her up but is soon smitten. There are plenty of noble speeches and journalistic debates on the way to the revelation of his real identity. Day is charming, particularly when she’s got the upper hand, but Gable’s sexist creepiness hasn’t aged well. (LH)

176. Lions for Lambs (2007). In one of the worst-reviewed films for each of its three major stars, Tom Cruise plays a senator who offers a scoop to skeptical reporter Meryl Streep about military operations in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Robert Redford (who also directed) plays a professor pushing students away from apathy. It’s generally talky and often to its own detriment. But an early scene perfectly encapsulates the largely rocky relationship between politicians and the press. When Streep’s journalist grills Cruise’s senator about the reasoning behind the Iraq War, he fires back, “How many times are you people going to ask the same question?” With utter righteousness, she replies: “ ’Til we get the answer.” Messy as it might be, “Lions for Lambs” reminds us that journalists’ dogged pursuit of the truth is often the only hope we have of cleaning up our government’s messes. (SW)

175. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice: The Ultimate Edition (2016). We’re not arguing that the 183-minute version of Zack Snyder’s infamous title bout between DC Comics’ biggest characters will change the hearts of viewers who found the 151-minute theatrical cut tedious. That would be impossible. However, the half-hour of restored content features one of the best on-screen depictions of Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent, performing his duties as an investigative reporter for The Daily Planet. His topic? Batman’s violent war on crime. His real foe? A newspaper industry that doesn’t care about consequence, only “content.” Although this additional subplot still ends up lost in the bombastic third act, it reminds viewers why journalism is a profession worthy of Superman. (ED)

174. Players (2024). In a romantic comedy this juiceless, you must savor joy as you can — like surprisingly accurate bits about the Kronos Quartet or unexpected focus on the work of a data journalist (Damon Wayans, Jr.). He’s among a group of single Brooklyn reporters whose evenings consist of convoluted cons intended for them all to get lucky — an endeavor of lying both fundamentally antithetical to their careers and almost impossibly expensive for their salaries. (“Fast & Furious” or “Mission: Impossible” heists cost less than these bar tabs.) When a sportswriter (Gina Rodriguez) stuck covering chess-boxing and turtle racing meets a dashing war correspondent (Tom Ellis), she decides she’s ready for long-term love and the group runs its biggest play yet. Unlike the interrogation-room scheme of most streaming romantic comedies, “Players” is lit like a real movie. It’s the nicest thing to say about it, as the exertion Rodriguez and Wayans exhibit to keep this watchable will just make you wish they had different agents. Even less believable than the romantic fantasy: One well-written feature story will save you when the layoffs arrive. (NR)

173. The Shrine (2010). There comes a time in every reporter’s career when they simply can’t resist the urge to investigate a ritualistic cult in a small Polish village, and “The Shrine” is one of the few movies on this list to really explore that journalistic phenomenon in depth. Even if you can overlook the wall-to-wall shoddy acting, this is a rather limp “Evil Dead” knockoff with some passable practical effects and a story that revolves around a thuddingly obvious central mystery. However, if you want to see a movie whose third act is mostly a bunch of Abercrombie models running around in monastery robes, this might be your best bet. (MR)

172. Truth (2015). Short of George Clooney, no heartthrob turned Hollywood royalty has stepped to bat for journalism as readily as Robert Redford. As this list will show, Redford’s average took a ding in recent years. But the star doesn’t even bother to take Wonderboy off his shoulder here, playing Dan Rather in James Vanderbilt’s dim 2015 dramatization of his last days at CBS after an inaccurately reported story regarding George W. Bush’s military service. Even if “Truth” hadn’t opened in the same year as “Spotlight,” its superficial grandstanding about rigged systems and agendas would feel like a production staffed by understudies. (NR)

171. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). James Bond faces off against megalomaniacal journalist Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) in the 18th 007 film. Pierce Brosnan’s Bond outings trended from outlandish to absurd. This is no different, infused with John Woo-inspired gunplay and Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese agent every bit Bond’s equal. Together, they thwart Carver’s plans to monopolize the 24-hour news market by starting World War III. Not one of Bond’s best, but Pryce is memorable as the last traditionally wacky/topical Bond villain. “I have my divisions: TV, news, magazines,” Carver rants. Little does he know Facebook will supplant him in a half-decade. Just don’t pivot to video, Elliot. (ED

170. Greed (2019). “Greed” starts off as a juicy eat-the-rich satire but ultimately dries up into unearned dramatic territory. Steve Coogan stars as retail tycoon Sir Richard “Greedy” McCreadie, a thinly veiled stand-in for British fashion mogul Philip Green, and David Mitchell is Nick Morris, the nebbish journalist/biographer following McCreadie around to ghost-write a flattering memoir. Set during an extravagant party much like Green’s real-life jamborees, the film flashes back to McCreadie’s past as a boarding school brat and traces his rise and fall in the fashion industry. Not until the third act does co-writer / director Michael Winterbottom really focus on the fact that McCreadie’s empire was built on the backs of Sri Lankan women working in sweatshops. The ending title cards aim to shock us with disturbing facts about the fashion industry and the socioeconomic disparity involved, but after 90-plus minutes of Coogan hamming it up for humor’s sake, this information feels like it belongs in a better film. Like Nick, “Greed” commits the journalistic sin of glossing over the victims of a charming devil. (SW)

169. Revenge of the Radioactive Reporter (1990). This Canadian horror-comedy plays like a cross between the ultraviolent Troma shenanigans of “The Toxic Avenger” and the gloopy, radioactive B-horror of “The Incredible Melting Man,” but it never quite captures the micro-budget magic of those accidental masterpieces. “Revenge of the Radioactive Reporter” serves as a harrowing lesson to journalists: Do not stand over a vat of nuclear waste when interviewing an evil head of a nuclear power plant, where he can easily push you in with absolutely no witnesses. In this instance, it causes our heroic reporter, Mike R. Wave (ha!), to return as a disfigured mutant hellbent on revenge — a story we hear about far too often in real-world journalism. (MR)

168. The Last Letter from Your Lover (2021). A silly, if sweet, melodrama about two generations of lovers helping inspire one another to follow their hearts’ true paths. In the 1960s, Jennifer (Shailene Woodley) loses her memory and must use letters to remind herself of the man she loved. In the present day, young journalist Ellie (Felicity Jones) discovers Jennifer’s letters. She’s inspired to find out how the old love story ended and finds herself in a position to write its final chapter. Ellie’s story is the more interesting of the two, particularly because Jones is a far better performer than Woodley and gets to have a lot more fun as an idealistic reporter finally able to sink her teeth into a meaningful story. (ED)

167. Alien Seed (1989). Move over, “Spotlight:” Here’s an even more incendiary tale of investigative journalism and institutional corruption. When Mary (Shellie Block) is inexplicably impregnated by an alien lifeform, no one will believe her … except for daring and roguish newspaper reporter Dr. Stone (Erik Estrada). In this world, reporters have the same level of combat training and espionage skills as James Bond, albeit without even a fraction of the budget. For a movie called “Alien Seed,” there’s very little alien action but plenty of no-budget car chases, clumsy shootouts, blood squibs, government spooks and a bizarre amount of erotic dancers. It’s a low-rent curio that often feels like you’re watching a p*rnographic parody of “The X-Files” on a scrambled channel. (MR)

166. Francis Covers the Big Town (1953). Journalists need sources. In movies they’re usually cops, criminals or spurned wives. It doesn’t matter as long as the information is flowing, right? So what about a talking mule? “Francis Covers the Big Town” was the fourth adventure of the titular talking Army mule and his human pal, Peter (Donald O’Connor), who spent most of the 1950s falling into silly situations together. This time around, Peter brings his four-legged pal to the Big Apple in hopes of finding civilian work at a newspaper. He hopes to land a few big stories and end up becoming part of the newsroom. Soon enough, they find themselves in heaps of trouble. “Francis Covers the Big Town” is silly for what it is, mixing Francis with pretty standard newspaper-drama fare; among fans of this series, it seems to be one of the more well-regarded entries. (ED)

165.The Fifth Estate (2013). Despite being penned by Josh Singer, the screenwriter behind two of this list’s best journalism films (“The Post” and “Spotlight”), “The Fifth Estate” is a scattershot slog. A biographical thriller about the daring feats of the controversial news site WikiLeaks, it ironically grows less interesting as its subject, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch), takes more risks. That’s because the bulk of the film boils down to him butting heads with co-founder Daniel Berg (Daniel Brühl), who’s far more cautious. We get it, Julian, you live on the edge, and that’s why your hair’s lightning-white. Director Bill Condon brings some visual flair to the otherwise tiresome hyped-up letdown. (SW)

UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (3)164. Front Page Woman (1935).Bette Davis and George Brent are rival reporters racing to scoop each other on the salacious murder of a Broadway producer. Being the era it was, they strike a bet in which the wager is Davis’s romantic affection. There’s plenty of snappy patter, Davis brings her signature vulpine physicality, and the hijinks culminate in a slightly amusing “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment. But there are long segments where Davis, easily the main attraction, is scooted to the side in favor of Brent chasing clues, and in regard to the incredibly voluminous sexism, what a difference five years would make between this and “His Girl Friday.” (NR)There’s plenty of snappy patter, Davis brings her signature vulpine physicality, and the hijinks culminate in a slightly amusing “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment. But there are long segments where Davis, easily the main attraction, is scooted to the side in favor of Brent chasing clues, and in regard to the incredibly voluminous sexism, what a difference five years would make between this and His Girl Friday (NR)

163. Dance, Fools, Dance (1931). Rich kids lose their family fortune (and their father) when the stock market crashes in 1929. The sister, Bonnie (Joan Crawford), gets a real job in the predominantly male world of news reporting. Meanwhile, her brother, Rodney (William Bakewell) immediately latches onto a mobster played by Clark Gable, which leads to a litany of crimes and murders … that Bonnie must investigate. This pre-Code tale features such scandalous material as coed parties and clothed night-swimming. Crawford is the best part of the story, with plenty of close-ups that give her the full frame and allow her to tell the increasingly anguished story solely through her expressions. An enjoyable Great Depression-era tale. (ED)

162. He Said, She Said (1991). There’s a moment on this film’s titular man-versus-woman TV debate show in which Lorie Bryer (Elizabeth Perkins) throws a coffee cup at co-host Dan Hanson (Kevin Bacon). But by now we’ve seen far worse. Just three years after the film’s release, NFL quarterback Jim Everett flipped a table on sports host Jim Rome’s talk show. And then there’s that slap during the Academy Awards. While it’s charming to watch this film foreshadow TV’s deep dive into sensationalism, it’s tiresome to see it offer the same shopworn take on the differences between men and women, especially given its novel directorial approach toward shifting perspectives. (Creative and romantic couple Ken Kwapis and Marisa Silver respectively directed the separate male and female sides of the film’s story.) In Dan’s retelling of his romance with Lorie, he is at once sleazy and smooth, selfish and supportive. She plays it cool but ultimately falls for him. In Lorie’s version, though, she is oddly desperate and jealous, and she puts up with Dan’s selfishness and stupidity over and over again. So, sadly, in both accounts, the archetypal piggish newsman comes out on top. That might have been fun to watch in 1991, but now it’s depressing. (SW)

161. Blood on the Sun (1945) The second film from James Cagney’s namesake production company won an Academy Award (for black-and-white art direction), but this vanity project/propaganda piece proved a financial failure. Cagney is Nick Condon, a fictionalized American editor in early 1930s Tokyo seeking proof of the Tanaka Memorial, a real-world document that outlined Japan’s imperial plans for global domination but has since been widely debunked as a forgery meant to foment discord between China and Japan. Before slugging a traitorous colleague in the face, Condon does find time to pen a sandbagging front-page editorial about the guy. But the film generally finds Cagney flirting with Sylvia Sidney’s femme fatale, showing off the judo skills he learned for the role and speaking in occasional Japanese with his “dirty rat” voice. Released on the wane of World War II, “Blood on the Sunfalls in line with its era’s lamentable parlances and yellowface performances, and it uses a pretext of thrills to assure Americans that the atomic bombs dropped on Japan were of material use. Neither is a surprise, but that leans its legacy toward Hollywood indignity rather than journalistic integrity. (NR)

160. Shock and Awe (2017). This film, which is basically director Rob Reiner’s “Spotlite,” follows the Knight Ridder reporting team, which is regarded as the one that called out the lies initiating the Iraq War before anyone else. “Shock and Awe” focuses on reporters Warren Strobel (Woody Harrelson) and Jonathan Landay (James Marsden) as they cut through the web of deception that launched the invasion and eventually uncover the fact that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. It’s a compelling story that’s awkwardly executed. For example, screenwriter Joey Hartstone squeezes in something of a romantic-comedy subplot involving Marsden and Jessica Biel, playing his next-door neighbor who studies up on Iraq to impress him. You can see where this filler came from, as the film mostly just hits the talking points about the Iraq War with which we’re all too familiar by now. “Cheney’s lying!” Strobel and Landay shout simultaneously in the newsroom before high-fiving and hugging each other. Again, awkward. (SW)

159. In the Navy (1941). The second film in a trilogy of pre-World War II Armed Services-set comedies by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello designed to help with the peacetime draft, this adventure follows the duo playing two everyday sailors who get caught up in a celebrity’s attempt to anonymously join the military. Tommy (Dick Powell) wants to leave showbiz to serve his country and Dorothy (Claire Dodd) is the reporter who just won’t let him. Abbott and Costello deliver their classic straight-man/goof routine, with the then-hot Andrews Sisters appearing for some musical numbers thanks to their contract with Universal. (ED)

158. Bruce Almighty (2003). In Tom Shadyac’s comedy, Jim Carrey plays a TV newsman tired of puff pieces who, when passed over for UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (4)an anchorman promotion, wigs out, gets fired and admonishes God. Before you can say “high concept,” he’s given the big guy’s powers. Spiritual enlightenment is served as a side dish to the main course of org*sm and orifice jokes. Steve Carell gets the film’s only good scene, easily YouTubed, with an on-air gibberish seizure Bruce brings on; Carell would reprise his role in an even more dismal sequel, “Evan Almighty.” Mainly, this violates the 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not try to make people forget “Groundhog Day.” (NR)

157. Capricorn One (1978). Peter Hyams’ thriller take on the faked moon landing conspiracy theories concerns three astronauts roped into faking their own journey to Mars and back. An intrepid reporter named Caulfield (Elliott Gould) is the only man capable of uncovering the truth. It’s a post-Watergate story that plays on the late-1970s distrust in American institutions, governmental and journalistic; Caulfield’s editor-in-chief thinks nothing of the attempts on his employee’s life or how the dots connect because the idea feels outlandish to him. A thrilling first two acts give way to a somewhat hokey denouement, though, saved largely by a surprising and colorful cameo. (ED)

156. Continental Divide (1981). Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan conceived it as Mike Royko meets Jane Goodall. But with “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Grand Canyon,” “The Big Chill” and a couple of “Star Wars” films on his résumé, it’s no surprise that many have forgotten this weak attempt to turn bad boy John Belushi into a romantic-comedy hero. Blair Brown fares better. (LH)

155. True Story (2015). Although better known for comedic endeavors, James Franco and Jonah Hill are no dramatic slouches. But these two Oscar-nominated actors bomb fast and hard in Rupert Goold’s overwrought 2015 tale of overreach and deceit that’s hilarious for all the wrong reasons. Fired by the New York Times after a breach of ethics, Michael Finkel (Hill) learns a murder suspect (Franco) has been using his identity and investigates the matter further. Is this film based on Finkel’s book of the same name a meditation on the mindset of fabulists like James Frey or Stephen Glass? A gripping psychological thriller? A takedown of every writer’s dream about a memorable memoir? A good movie? On all counts, “True Story” rings false. (NR)

154. Impulse (2024). There are many films named “Impulse.” But how many feature a dominatrix assassin using intimacy devices in dangerous ways to do the bidding of her Illuminati-ish masters? It’s all part of the “Pizzagate 2.0” rabbit hole down which Globalist News Network reporter Sofia (Dajana Gudić) tumbles in lieu of the travel and leisure beat. “It’s not an obsessive side project,” Sofia scowls. “It’s called investigative journalism.” The trail leads Sofia to both cult figurehead Zane (Nick Cassavetes), whose group knows not of mercy because it is a “loser’s virtue,” and to … OK. Look. “Impulse” is not a good movie in any conventional sense. But it is never once trying to be. Instead, it grafts timeworn traditions of exploitation films onto the sort of contemporary conspiracies people conjure from their pointillist dots of paranoia. It’s also stuffed with dunderheaded diatribes trying to echo the eloquence of “Glengarry Glen Ross,” from-nowhere flashbacks in which characters somehow appear older, jaw-droppingly tasteless narrative developments, and a child actor whose big moment inadvertently channels the “Do the roar!” kid from “Shrek Forever After.” This is nothing but a purposefully crazypants endeavor with an endlessly elastic waistband — albeit one with a moment where multiple media outlets parrot the same lightning-rod talking point to let you know where its head is at and an amusing interpretation on the maxim that if your mother tells you she loves you, check it out. (NR)

153. College Confidential (1960). In the midst of a trial about his student sex survey, college sociology professor Steve McInter asks scribbling reporters why they are “so determined to find dirt.” Of course, his question is targeted more toward the townspeople who attracted the media’s attention. This moment from a 1960 film wouldn’t be out of place today, especially in light of recent international news about an Indiana library censoring material concerning teen sex. However, most of “College Confidential” is hilariously dated, with characters clutching their pearls like the comically sheltered citizens of “Pleasantville.” The screenplay struggles to balance satire and sincerity, and the third act feels far too heavy given the breezy tone of earlier portions. But as Professor McInter, Steve Allen keeps “College Confidential” grounded and engaging. And as the New York Times reporter hot on his trail, Jayne Meadows stirs up suspense about whether he will be “executed in print.” (SW)

152. The Photograph (2020). Michael (LaKeith Stanfield) is a yuppie New York reporter sent to New Orleans to interview residents about life after Hurricane Katrina. While there, he learns about a subject’s long-lost love and sets out to find her. Coincidentally, the lost love’s daughter, Mae (Issa Rae), is determined to learn about her late mother’s past, thanks to photographs left to her in a safety deposit box. Fate brings Michael and Mae together, beautiful people destined for a beautiful union. “The Photograph” is tasteful, sultry Valentine’s Day programming, set in a world where Michael’s work writing about random folks lands him the love of his life and a sweet new job in London. Saxophones and tinkling xylophones play when Michael and Mae make love for the first time; they reprise as Michael sits at his computer looking at a blank page, wondering how to describe it all for an audience of, surely, dozens. (ED)

151. Mad City (1997). Equal-opportunity opportunism abounds in a 1997 drama from Oscar-winner Costa-Gavras (“Z,” “Missing”) too timid to tackle its media machinations or manipulations with thoughtful talk. In a twitchy, unintentionally amusing turn and resembling an “SNL”-skit Wolverine, John Travolta is a laid-off museum security guard who instigates a hostage situation. Dustin Hoffman is the disgraced TV newsman stuck inside who tries manipulating the situation to his advantage. Hoffman is pro-forma fine and Alan Alda’s egotistical-weasel shtick (as a rival news anchor) is always a delight. But this is a 2-7 offsuit hand futilely bluffing its way to an “Ace in the Hole.” (NR)

150. The Shipping News (2001). The Newfoundland locations are more interesting than the quirky characters in an overstuffed literary adaptation about a newspaperman (Kevin Spacey) and his daughter moving back to his ancestral home. The staff at his new paper includes Pete Postlethwaite and Scott Glenn. (LH)

149. Beaks (aka Birds of Prey) (1987). Megavision TV news reporter Vanessa Cartwright (Michelle Johnson) majored in journalism, not animal husbandry. So she’s bummed to be covering animal-based feature stories about … blindfolded men shooting birds (a story during which she deadpans “It’s amazing what people will do for the sheer entertainment of it”). Then again, it’s a seemingly global beat, as Vanessa and cameraman Peter (Christopher Atkins of “The Blue Lagoon”) jet around the world on the company dime. “The world’s got bird fever!” Peter yells. Too bad that’s because our winged friends have taken to random, violent assaults against mankind, most ending with eyeballs plucked from sockets in ways that would do proud Italian gore-meisters like Lucio Fulci. Hailing from noted Mexican exploitation filmmaker René Cardona, Jr., “Beaks” rests somewhere between the intentional amateurishness of the “Birdemic” films and the low-budget schlock of “The Birds II: Land’s End” (a real movie you now know exists). Hazarding a guess, no animal advocacy groups were on set to monitor well-being; otherwise, how could there be so many insane images of fast-moving real-life birds accosting helpless toddlers and heroic elderly men? “Beaks” teases that these birds are reincarnations of Incan warriors or are somehow responding to strange activity along Nazca Lines. What’s the real story? Don’t ask Peter or Vanessa. They are generally too busy getting busy (with body doubles, of course), and their in-the-field ineptitude means their footage is likely terrible. (NR)

148. Bombshell (2019). “Bombshell” tries to be many things at once: a history lesson, a three-lead exploration of cutthroat corporate politics and an exposé on the ever-present imbalance of workplace power between men and women. It doesn’t do any of these particularly well, having bitten off more than it can chew. One scene captures the story’s lack of focused intent: Kayla (Margot Robbie) is asked to do something for Fox News CEO/chairman Roger Ailes. Through camera placement, it also becomes a show for the audience, without the film ever contemplating its own gaze. Are we all complicit in the culture of abuse? Hardly questioned. It’s a #MeToo movie for those who don’t really believe in #MeToo. (ED)

147. Livin’ Large (1991). A harmless bit of nonsense concerning Dexter (Terence “T.C.” Carter), a young man who yearns to be a TV reporter. When a journalist is shot on camera during a hostage crisis, Dexter seizes the moment and wins a spot on the news team. Of course, there can’t be a happy ending after 15 minutes. Problems arise as Dexter’s news director transforms his style into something she sees as more palatable to mainstream audiences. Nothing terribly original here, but the sprightly cast, Herbie Hanco*ck’s score and Dexter’s visions of an increasingly white version of himself (shades of “Get Out”) add some interest. (LH)

146.UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (5)Godzilla: King of the Monsters! (1954). Journalism became the in-story perspective on Godzilla, Japan’s monstrous cultural icon, only when American studios imported Ishirō Honda’s original film, cut it to ribbons and added a white reporter (Raymond Burr) as a Western vantage point on the story. This version had a definitive impact on the character’s further adventures, which frequently returned to reporters and newscasters as its primary human characters. Why not? If you need eyes on the wake of a giant, irradiated lizard stomping through Tokyo, who better to follow than those bravely chasing him for the story? (ED)

145. The Hunting Party (2007). Another journalist melts down. This time, it’s Simon (Richard Gere), who years later teams up with two colleagues (Terrence Howard and Jesse Eisenberg) to track down a war criminal. The opening disclaimer, “Only the most ridiculous parts of this story are true,” gives a clear idea of the tone. (LH)

144. The Soloist (2009). The most surprising thing in Joe Wright’s 2009 drama about the relationship between a Los Angeles Times columnist and a homeless classical musician? Robert Downey Jr. is twice doused in urine. Otherwise, “The Soloist” can’t decide whether it wants to be a musical biopic, sappy drama or social commentary. Disjointed as it might be, Susannah Grant’s screenplay at least captures the peril of a newsroom dwindling in bodies with poignancy and truth — a concern only exacerbated in the ensuing decade. (NR)

143. Veronica Guerin (2003). Meant less as entertainment than a message about the importance of a free press … but at what cost? Cate Blanchett plays the title character, a journalist whose investigations into Ireland’s underground drug trade got her killed in June 1996. Quiet but rarely ruminative, Joel Schumacher’s 2003 film vacillates between ego and altruism as her motivation. The result: An uneasy blend of insanity and martyrdom. At least Blanchett is great. Perhaps the biopic blessing propped up the filmmakers on this one; this same story was done, with names changed and starring Joan Allen, three years earlier as “When the Sky Falls.” (NR)

142. Headline Hunters (1955). A scrappy young writer in over his head and seeking justice via byline. A cynical old reporter who’s seen too much to care. An editor who just wants to get his paper published despite the fevered egos he’s forced to manage. Sound familiar? “Headline Hunters” plays all the genre hits in a tidy tale of two men forced to realize just what it means to be an ace reporter. Recent graduate David Flynn (Ben Cooper) arrives in the big city ready to make a name for himself. He quickly stumbles into a murder conspiracy that goes all the way to the D.A.’s office — but nobody will listen to him! Not even Hugh Woodruff (Rod Cameron), the newspaper’s most celebrated reporter. Can he save the life of an innocent man using the power of words? This is standard fare, but at least it features colorful dialogue like, “We can make an awful lot of noise with a duet — and I’ve brought the music!” (ED)

141. Gaily, Gaily (1969). Theoretically based on the autobiography of Ben Hecht (the reporter who co-wrote “The Front Page”), this Norman Jewison film features newcomer Beau Bridges as a breast-centric rube who moves to Chicago, lands a job at a newspaper and, thanks to a prostitute (Margot Kidder), acquires a notebook with evidence of political bribes and kickbacks. (LH)

140. Hero (1992). In this wannabe Frank Capra-esque misfire, a pickpocket (Dustin Hoffman) looking for loot at a plane crash site rescues a TV reporter (Geena Davis). Her boss (Chevy Chase) offers a reward, a homeless veteran (Andy Garcia) takes credit and, well, you are better off watching “Meet John Doe.” (LH)

139. Street Smart (1987). Christopher Reeve’s 1987 pet project —financed by Cannon Films in exchange for his return to “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace — is best remembered as the film for which Morgan Freeman earned his first Oscar nomination. Jonathan Fisher (Reeve) is a New York freelancer who fabricates a profile of a pimp to save his job. Fast Black (Freeman) is the actual pimp who exploits coincidental similarities in Fisher’s piece to beat a murder rap. Fact checkers will justifiably peace out early on Jerry Schatzberg’s improbable and boring drama that deigns to make Fisher the hero even after he dangles his girlfriend as pimp bait. So should you, as Freeman’s performance doesn’t justify the casual racism that colors the story. (NR)

138. The Rum Diary (2011). Bruce Robinson — the filmmaker behind “Withnail & I,” an uproarious love-letter to degeneracy — should be the perfect choice to adapt Hunter S. Thompson’s purported “lost novel,” and yet “The Rum Diary” never quite comes to life. Johnny Depp, once again playing a Thompson surrogate, is asleep at the wheel here — not once showing any of the manic enthusiasm he brought to “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” 13 years prior (and a few places higher on this list). Only Aaron Eckhart, playing a smarmy real-estate developer, seems to be having any fun with the material. Mostly, the movie just plods along from one limp comic set piece to the next when it should be galloping with drunken abandon. (MR)

137. Quarantine (2008). Every found-footage horror flick needs a reason why its characters would continue filming even as bloody chaos erupts around them. In the case of 2008’s “Quarantine” (a remake of the Spanish-language “REC”), Jennifer Carpenter’s local TV anchor is following firemen on a night shift when an apartment-complex call finds them trapped in a zombie-infested quarantine zone. The news crew’s camera equipment puts this a notch above the grainy handheld footage of that year’s better-received ”Cloverfield.” Most importantly, these journalists show a true knowledge of their craft when one of them uses the station’s camera to bash in a zombie’s brain. (MR)

136. The Interview (2014). Desperate for a story of substance, a vapid TV personality (James Franco) and his producer (Seth Rogen) land an exclusive interview in North Korea with Kim Jong-Un. It would surprise no one that the more serious journalism surrounded the film itself. After release date delays, terrorist threats and hacks that jeopardized the Sony studio, this 2014 comedy (directed by Rogen and Evan Goldberg) was largely scuttled to online rental services. Headlines strained to politicize the film. But it’s merely a crass, caustic comedy whose point of view is to not let cultural coverage brainwash the best out of us — whether it involves human rights or celebrity hairpieces. (NR)

135. Eyewitness (1981). A janitor named Daryll (William Hurt, hot off “Altered States”) who’s infatuated with TV newswoman Tony Sokolow (Sigourney Weaver, hot off “Alien”) misrepresents his view of a murder to get close to her, endangering them both. Peter Yates’ initially promising 1981 thriller becomes a turgid trifle that wastes its ’40s-noir-in-’80s-fashion premise and a who’s-who of supporting players (Christopher Plummer, Morgan Freeman, James Woods, Steven Hill). Tony sleeps with Daryll in pursuit of the story, a decision “Eyewitness” contextualizes only through her wealth and his comparative poverty. The only thing more anemic than this blue-blood commentary? Hurt and Weaver’s sexual chemistry. Film at 11, asleep by 11:30. (NR)

134. Godzilla (1998). Roland Emmerich’s much-derided take on the King of the Monsters hasn’t aged well despite what nostalgic fans might tell you. The front half is fine. The back half, well … let’s just say nobody showed up to “Godzilla” looking for “Jurassic Park,” OK? That said: With hindsight, it’s easier to give Emmerich a little credit for adopting certain hallmarks of the genre, including putting his little cast of human heroes in the most fundamental kaiju-movie roles: brilliant scientist, dogged spy and ace reporter looking for a scoop. Here, the last of those is Audrey (Maria Pitillo), whose arc exemplifies both the classic Toho plot-mover role and the girl-power nature of 1990s blockbuster cinema as she navigates the demeaning behavior of her boss, Charles (Harry Shearer). None of it is great, but it’s a surprisingly beefy part and it’s hard to hate her cameraman, Animal (Hank Azaria). The scene where he’s almost crushed by Godzilla but ends up between the monster’s toes? Classic. (ED)

UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (6)

133. Black Like Me (1964). The premise seems hokey: White journalist undergoes skin pigmentation to experience life in the American south as a Black man. And the makeup job on James Whitmore is distractingly unconvincing. But the treatment — based on the experience of journalist John Howard Griffin — is sincere, the low-budget location shooting gives it a suitable harshness, and strong support from such never-got-their-due actors as Roscoe Lee Browne and Will Geer add gravitas. An oddity for sure, but an interesting one. (LH)

132. Morning Glory (2010). Roger Michell’s “working girl” comedy follows Becky (Rachel McAdams), an ambitious television producer who believes in the power of morning-show programming but can’t quite get her personal life in check. She deals with romantic drama while trying to balance silly segments and actual news. Stop me if you’ve heard this one. What sets “Morning Glory” apart is the presence of Harrison Ford as the curmudgeonly traditional journalist whom Becky forces into the role of a puff-piece presenter on a show he finds beneath him. Nobody plays grumpy like Ford, even when he’s cooking a frittata. (ED)

131. The Pelican Brief (1997). Director Alan J. Pakula’s first appearance on the list is this 1993 adaptation of John Grisham’s bestseller about a beltway reporter (Denzel Washington) and law student (Julia Roberts) investigating the assassinations of two Supreme Court justices. More long than limber, “Pelican” isn’t on par with Pakula’s preeminent paranoid cinema. But depicting a POTUS at odds with his FBI director and creating obstruction of justice concerns aligns it with Pakula’s preternaturally predictive potboilers. Plus, Gray Grantham is a GOAT name for a reporter, and Washington finds sensitivity and humility beneath his bespoke pizzazz. A few reportorial conveniences, but hey: If you’re on the run with a friend, find one with whom to share trauma and a byline. (NR)

130. Blacklight (2022). This AARP “Eraser” represents a ceiling for the action movies Liam Neeson once swore he was done with, benefiting from low expectations and the reasonable simulation of a soul for Neeson’s character – an FBI fixer embroiled in a conspiracy concerning the assassination of an ambitious congressional candidate. He also becomes the proxy protector of Mira Jones (Emmy Raver-Lampmann), the scooter-driving, dog-walking D.C. reporter suspicious of the official story. Points to “Blacklight” for not pushing Mira to the periphery; she’s essentially the film’s co-lead even if she’s reliant more on caffeinated editorial assistants and convenient coincidence than investigative verve. Dings for the narrative muscles pulled to push Mira’s story-stealing soccer-fanatic editor into danger and title-metaphor dialogue in desperate need of a copy desk: “Take note of the obvious and then scrutinize what the obvious obscures, like an ultraviolet light illuminating what the naked eye can’t see.” It’s no “democracy dies in darkness,” but much like “Blacklight,” it ticks the box. (NR)

129. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004). Nobody went to writer-director Kerry Conran’s visually groundbreaking homage to action serials (shot almost entirely in front of a greenscreen) to gauge Gwyneth Paltrow’s embodiment of reportage principles as Polly Perkins, a New York reporter circa 1939. Next to nobody went anyway, consigning this uniquely beautiful curio to cult status as “300” broke the bank with a similar scheme three years later. The only thing more supernatural than “Sky Captain’s” sinister plot hatched at the edge of Shangri-La is how miscast Paltrow is in the film. Angelina Jolie displays more pep, vim and verve in five minutes than Paltrow does in 105, and the extent of Polly’s professional vigor extends to her scolding of a source that she has a deadline to meet. Polly is, um, really good at discovering small, narratively convenient scraps of paper to propel “Sky Captain” to its next plot point. Otherwise, she’s constantly losing her camera, her film and our sympathies throughout. (NR)

128. Welcome to Sarajevo (1997). Early on, there are promising scenes exploring the challenges of reporting on a war that few back home remotely understand, let alone those directly affected. And the rivalry between the British reporter (Stephen Dillane) and a hotshot American (Woody Harrelson) rings true. But the mix of documentary footage and fictional scenes doesn’t gel as the plot rambles into a journalistic-distance-be-damned attempt to rescue a busload of orphans. (LH)

127. Blondes At Work (1938). Torchy Blane (Glenda Farrell) is a hotshot reporter with “ink in her blood and a nose for news.” She always gets the scoop. Always. Until, that is, a police commissioner tired of the trouble her stories make for him orders Torchy’s fiancé, Lt. McBride (Barton MacLane) to stop discussing work with her. “Why don’t you muzzle that girl or marry her?” he screams. One problem: McBride’s investigations rely on her sources as much as hers rely on his. It’s a parallel race between the two of them as they try to solve the murder of a wealthy heir without their usual teamwork. Farrell played Torchy Blane in seven hour-long serials between 1937 and 1939; “Blondes at Work” is often rated near the top of that series, regarded for its sharp dialogue and clever plotting. The hyper-competent Blane disappeared from the serials after ’39, but she inspired an even more iconic fictional reporter: Lois Lane. (ED)

126. Cry Freedom (1987). In this rare Hollywood film looking at apartheid, the first half — focused on the friendship between South African leader Steven Biko (Denzel Washington) and white South African editor Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) — is significantly more relevant and interesting than the second half. That’s when the editor takes center stage in his attempt to cross the border after Biko’s death and the movie becomes another case of forcing a Black story through a white lens. (LH)

125. Rush Week (1989). Journalism and horror genres rarely intersect as they do in “Rush Week,” a reasonably entertaining if not particularly esoteric late-1980s slasher film. Nubile young coeds at Tambers College, home of the Tornadoes, are being slaughtered by a masked, berobed murderer using a double-bladed executioner’s axe. Newly transferred Tori (Pamela Ludwig) is assigned to write about the Greek system’s rush week for the cleverly named “Tornado Watch” student newspaper. Naturally, Tori winds up having to uncover the killer: Is it the perverted photographer? The creepy custodian? The sensitive stud? The dismissive dean? The film is an amusing time capsule of computer technology (oh, those green-screen CRTs!), brick-sized tape recorders and onscreen appearances by Gregg Allman (here as the paper’s faculty advisor, who’s often too busy meditating with topless women to shape a new generation of journalists). It’s so-so sleazy and modestly queasy, but the killer sports a fun ghoulish get-up, the red herrings are robust, there’s even a character named McGuffin. And Tori gets her story! (NR)

124. The French Dispatch (2021). Pop auteur Wes Anderson’s 10th film is a stylish ode to longform magazines like The New Yorker, which fostered its own breed of journalistic reporting in the mid-20th century. Writers such as A.J. Liebling, James Baldwin and Joseph Mitchell are given analogs as Anderson constructs his own visual version of an anthology magazine, each portion of the film taking on its own genre and stylistic sensibility. That was the goal, anyway; given the director’s extreme style, the three stories feel more or less the same, and their focus is on the narration rather than the action and characters onscreen. Despite moments of worth (and an impressive cast), the result is a cold and strangely unaffecting work. The framing device seems like it could’ve been a much more interesting story to follow, as editor Arthur Howitzer (Bill Murray) and his hand-picked staff of writers plan his posthumous final issue. This is an ode to good writing that makes you wish you were reading it rather than watching it. (ED)

123. Each Dawn I Die (1939). James Cagney stars as Frank Ross, a newspaper reporter on the trail of Jesse Hanley, a corrupt district attorney played by Thurston Hall. Hanley tires of Ross’s inquisitive nature and frames him in one of the most unnecessarily elaborate schemes put to the silver screen. Soon enough, our hero is stuck behind bars for the next two decades. His journalistic skills come in handy and he befriends several inmates, including gangster “Hood” Stacy (George Raft). They set out to clear Ross’s name against all odds. The film is predominantly a prison drama with the newspaper stuff only tangentially related to the plot, which ends in a shockingly violent prison riot. It’s an entertaining yarn with a great title. (ED)

122. The Blue Gardenia (1953). The first in Fritz Lang’s “newspaper noir” trilogy, which also includes “While the City Sleeps” and “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.” Here, “The Blue Gardenia” recalls the case of the Black Dahlia with its title and exploration of media sensationalism surrounding murder. The film follows a telephone operator (Anne Baxter) as she tries to piece together a drunken night of debauchery that seemingly finds her making headlines as the titular killer. Richard Conte co-stars as the reckless reporter eager to turn her into “hot copy” for the fictional Los Angeles Chronicle. The film falls flat as it obligatorily creates romantic tension between them. Otherwise, it stands out as a darkly funny, biting satire of people’s hunger for celebrity — or even the most extreme notoriety. A particularly comic scene finds Conte’s character answering dozens of calls from citizens claiming to be the murderer in question. It’s scary what fiction we will cook up to see our names in ink hot off the press. (SW)

121. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016). Unlike cinematic military comedies from Abbott and Costello movies to “Stripes,” this one is based on the memoir of an actual journalist, The Chicago Tribune’s Kim Barker. That lends a bit of authenticity — even though her job is changed from print to broadcast. It’s hard to make a comedy about wartime journalism, particularly one so fraught with political landmines as the war in Afghanistan. Baker represents one of Tina Fey’s more serious turns during her brief moment as a lead actress in this surprisingly funny, never-dismissive look at life inside America’s controversial conflict. Baker brings the audience along on her tour of firefights, conflicting sources and crotchety, unfriendly army commanders. This 2016 film takes an empathetic view of the soldiers and those covering them, if not the war itself. It’s a novel approach for a genre that usually relies on grit and grime to characterize front-line reporting. (ED)

120. Most Wanted (2020). Writer-director Daniel Roby’s Canadian film occasionally resembles a scrappier, grimier, one-nation-north version of “The Insider.” Conveyed in a crosshatched, non-linear style, this true-life tale dramatizes the late-1980s Thailand arrest of Canadian citizen Alain Oliver (fictionalized here and impressively played by Antoine Olivier Pilon as a troubled kid out of options and in too deep). Josh Hartnett plays Victor Malarek, the Globe and Mail reporter who untangled a plot involving overzealous and underhanded cops, as well as a small-time drug dealer (Jim Gaffigan, who brings palpable menace to cognitive-whiplash stunt casting). Roby tries to cram far too much into two hours, but Hartnett propels his portions with a puckish personality, and there are frank, funny and sometimes fraught exchanges with his editor (J.C. MacKenzie). Although it would benefit from a bigger canvas, “Most Wanted” remains a keen, timely treatise on systematic law-enforcement strong-arming tactics and the urgent need to expose them. (NR)

119. Stars at Noon (2022). Director Claire Denis’ “Stars at Noon” — adapted from a novel of the same name by Denis Johnson — is a moody, sensual and deeply cynical portrait of young reporter Trish (Margaret Qualley), who’s stranded in Nicaragua. The country’s upcoming election continues to get delayed, and judging by the ominous presence of state police walking around with machine guns, the nation seems to be on the verge of a fascist takeover. Trish has spent the past several months covering political killings to little interest from her United States employers, and now she’s resorting to sex work to kill time and make some extra cash. Denis’ movie isn’t interested in saying much about journalism, politics or even sex (which Trish has a lot of when she meets a shady British businessman played by Joe Alwyn). Instead, it revels in the moodiness and hopelessness that runs through these characters. For those willing to get on its wavelength, “Stars at Noon” is an intoxicating trip to nowhere. (MR)

118. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (7)Terry Gilliam’s 1998 film has achieved cult status with frat-boy stoners nationwide, primarily for Johnny Depp’s unrestrained performance as journalist Hunter S. Thompson (portrayed earlier by Bill Murray in 1980’s “Where the Buffalo Roam” and by Depp again, in fictitious proxy, for 2011’s “The Rum Diary”). Less discussed, though, is its depiction of anarchic journalism, which is all but dead today. Thompson was an insufferable oaf, but pale imitations of his “gonzo” prose still prevail; check out that Vice article where a young reporter goes to a political convention on mushrooms … or something. Thompson’s madness was the real deal, and Gilliam’s garish lighting and surreal sound design immerse us in his drug-fueled psychosis. The hellish visuals represent the worldview that informed Thompson’s writing: “Look around you. How can you pretend any of this is normal?” (MR)

117. After Office Hours (1935). “Who wants to listen to music? There could be a good murder any second!” That throwaway line of comic relief sums up the tonal clash here between Clark Gable and Constance Bennett’s enjoyable rat-a-tat romance and darker turns into crime and death. Jim Branch (Gable) is a New York editor getting stonewalled on a story about a banker, his bride and the senatorial candidate who may be breaking up their marriage. Sharon Norwood (Bennett) is a socialite who doesn’t need her arts-reporting gig but berates Branch for taking it from her after she gives a Beethoven performance bad marks. When Sharon turns out to be longtime pals with the candidate Jim is chasing, and a murder transpires, Jim seeks hard evidence and his softer side in wooing her. Typical of its time, the film considers journalism as a loop-de-loop of larks and vendettas — more interloping and agitation, less investigation and analysis. To quote a newsroom banner: IS IT INTERESTING? Not really, other than chronological proximity to Oscar glory for Gable, who won Best Actor for “It Happened One Night” days after this film’s release. It’s the sort of vibe for which “I Love Trouble” also aimed decades later with only fair-to-middling results. (NR)

116. The Electric Horseman (1979). Robert Redford is a retired rodeo rider who has resorted to hawking breakfast cereal. Jane Fonda is a TV reporter — on a softer beat than the character she plays in “The China Syndrome” — who tries to track him down after he goes AWOL from a corporate gig. (LH)

115. Ratatouille (2007). The secondary antagonist of “Ratatouille,” Pixar’s tale of a culinarily inclined rat named Remy, is Anton Ego (voiced by the late Peter O’Toole). Ego is a well-respected restaurant critic who knows his profession well enough to call out bad establishments and poor work. His negative marks indirectly cause the death of Remy’s icon (based on a real-life incident of French chef Bernard Loiseau apparently dying by suicide after the toll of bad reviews). Despite his curmudgeonly, critical view, Ego takes his job as a journalist seriously; a journalist, however, cannot control the world’s response to their work. This may seem like a contrarian take on one of Pixar’s most iconic films. But viewing the film from a journalist’s perspective makes it hard to be sympathetic to the rat sullying everyone’s food … even if Ego himself loves it in the end. (ED)

114. Top Five (2014). Chris Rock’s 2014 comedy (which he also wrote and directed) boasts some big laughs and believable vulnerability. But it also has aged faster than Indiana Jones Nazis unable to spot the cup of a carpenter and relies on truly retrograde eye-rolling plot turns about reporters’ motives. Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson) is a New York Times writer profiling actor-comedian Andre Allen (Rock), who has racked up movie millions as a wisecracking bear cop but is now creatively bankrupt. Moments after making out with Andre, Chelsea reveals she’s behind the film-critic alias assailing him and manipulates her profile’s direction by shoving him onstage for a standup set at the Comedy Cellar. Is Rock lamenting devalued standards of civility or ethics in arts commentary and coverage … or just suggesting his critics actually want to sleep with him? (NR)

113. Monolith (2024). A disgraced Australian journalist (Lily Sullivan) tries to salvage her flailing career as the host of “Beyond Believable,” a paranormal podcast attempting to explain the unexplainable. (“I thought you said you were a journalist,” one source tells the unnamed writer upon hearing the word “podcast.” The sting is real.) Following an anonymous tip about mysterious black bricks turning up at random points around the world, the podcast becomes a sensation. But sources tell her “something awful is coming.” Is this pursuit helping to stop whatever that is … or simply facilitating destruction? Subtle tweaks to the sound mix underscore the psychological tension of the unnamed journalist’s ethically dubious sculpting of the story, and Sullivan shines in a one-woman show where she’s supported by voice-only actors. “Monolith” is the platonic ideal of a headphones movie, with only a few modest adjustments from a plausible pivot into an audio-only thriller. Perhaps that would have been the better play for a story that’s at its finest when gazing into the gap between the skills of listening and language and less so when it employs underwhelming visual analogs to stronger science-fiction films of recent years. (NR)

112. I Cover the Waterfront (1933). Ah, the early pre-Code period of talkies when you could feature a nude swimmer, an unmarried couple spending the night together and bodies hidden inside … sharks? This odd mix of newspaper procedural and romance concerns a cynical waterfront reporter who stumbles onto a human-smuggling scheme while falling for the perp’s daughter. A spunky Claudette Colbert proves more fun than the reporter, a blustery Ben Lyon, but his insulting back and forth with his editor is refreshingly blunt. (LH)

111. Vengeance (2022). John Mayer hits the list, not as a journalist but as a wingman to New York writer/podcaster Ben Manalowitz (director, screenwriter and star B.J. Novak, of the U.S. “The Office”). Ben has a New Yorker gig and “the verified check mark” (simpler times of summer 2022) but unexpectedly finds himself deep in the heart of Texas. He travels there after the death of a woman he’d hooked up with a few times — an opioid overdose her family is convinced is more sinister. Naturally, he pitches a new “existential crime story” podcast called “Dead White Girl.” Confronting the inherently messy moral minefield of true-crime podcasting, that title is among few sharp punchlines here. Credit to Novak for smashing some unlikely genres together and in service of a treatise on how malleable, easily manipulated facts in a modern news cycle let lousy people off the hook. But the mystery too often recedes for fish-out-of-water gags that feel like a film version of those voters-in-the-heartland articles, and its left-field climax clangs pretty hard as Ben just finds out there’s no such thing as the real world, just a lie we have to rise above. (NR)

110. Viper Club (2018). Susan Sarandon leads a drama of slowly paralyzing hopelessness as Helen Sterling, a nurse and single mother navigating governmental red tape to secure the release of her freelance video-journalist son, Andrew, from ISIS captivity. The title references a close-knit group of journalistic colleagues that share tips with each other to stay safe in war zones, and the narrative is loosely based on that of slain journalist James Foley, who was the first American citizen killed by ISIS. Sarandon’s compelling performance persuasively illustrates how out of her element Helen feels when courting millionaires for donations of ransom money, and the script draws unexpectedly clean parallels between this luddite nurse who works out to Richard Simmons VHS tapes and the new-media journalist whom she raised. However, the pacing becomes stagnant, the film wallows in repetitive scenes of bureaucratic confrontation rather than character development, and the brief bit of journalistic initiative depicted here by a pair of professionals seems bizarrely low-rent for people who have made it their calling. (NR)

109. The Independent (2022). Remember well-cast, agreeably junky potboilers that pushed off in 1,000 theaters? Such films largely sink on streaming today, and so it goes with Peaco*ck’s “The Independent,” released to the streaming service with zero fanfare. The perfect pick for a Dwayne Johnson proxy, John Cena plays a decathlete turned party-free presidential candidate whose rise threatens the front-running female Republican (Ann Dowd). Brian Cox and Jodie Turner-Smith are, respectively, a lionized political columnist and disgraced reporter at a freshly sold newspaper chasing a state-lottery scandal poised to doom one of the candidates. Even amid a fundamental misunderstanding of editorial chain of command and a visual aesthetic that looks like those movies The Daily Wire funds, “The Independent” boasts a compelling conceit and a cast that carries things … for about an hour, until one big secret is revealed with a simple Google search, many melodramatic subplots converge in clumsy ways, and the conclusion connotes more of a crusading victory for the reporters than seems possible. To go back to what you might find on streaming, consider it “Duplex of Cards.” (NR)

108. Balibo (2009). In 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor (then Portuguese Timor), where occupying forces murdered five Australian reporters who were there to chronicle the political upheaval. Roger East, a fellow Australian, went in search of them and met a similar fate. All of these deaths were subject to massive public controversy — in large part due to cover-ups and the inaction of Australian leadership, which was concerned with angering the Indonesian government. “Balibo” is a graphic, intense depiction of journalists navigating a war zone where, although their credentials are meaningless, they continue to do the best they can. It brims with anger and frustration at the way they were disavowed by their home government and features great performances by Anthony LaPaglia as East and a young Oscar Isaac as future East Timor President José Ramos-Horta. (ED)

107. While the City Sleeps (1958). When a librarian is killed and a lipstick message left behind, the head of Kyne News Service calls it “just another murder.” The wire service is one of three spears in a New York media empire alongside a local paper and a TV station. “I suggest the life of a human being is not beneath your consideration,” the empire’s bedridden namesake snaps back … before excitedly shouting “I want every woman scared silly every time she puts (lipstick) on. Call this baby the Lipstick Killer! Smack across the front page!” A race to identify the killer becomes the impetus of a power struggle among respective editors after the old man croaks and the torch passes to his oafish son (Vincent Price), who loves watching the men who find him foolish still vie for the title of hand of the king. Austrian “Master of Darkness” Fritz Lang leaves behind the expressionistic expanse of earlier work and the pitilessness noir of “The Big Heat” for a film that, in its best moments, finds competitors revealing intimate and innermost fears and secrets a la “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Lang’s framing of people in places of power also emphasizes the dizzying speed with which they rise, fall or simply burrow deeper into the building’s basem*nt bar. Too bad that pulsing, personal urgency leeches as the narrative loses itself in two separate love triangles and a murderer hunt that feels like “Zodiac” with a few chases and dime-store psychoanalysis tossed in. What starts as jolt-awake cynicism akin to the era’s “Ace in the Hole, A Face in the Crowd” and “Sweet Smell of Success” ends with a yawn. (NR)

106. Never Been Kissed (1999). When a Chicago newspaper decides to do a piece on the reality of high school life, its editor turns to a copy editor (played by Drew Barrymore) to go undercover. Barrymore’s charisma, far more than the hackneyed plot, makes this one watchable. (LH)

105. The Good Mother (2023). With an Oscar-winning actress, a murder plot and working-class ennui in a blue-collar town, “The Good Mother” is clearly courting those consumed by HBO’s acclaimed “Mare of Easttown.” (Just don’t confuse this with the 1988 Diane Keaton film.) Marissa Bennings (Hilary Swank) is a fictional journalist at the real-world Albany Times Union whose youngest son, estranged and drug-addicted, is found murdered. Marissa then applies her skills more toward interrogation than investigation of who did it, and trains them on herself as a manner in which to process her grief: “Maybe if I write it,” she says, “I’ll know.” Swank delivers assured and authentic notes of anxiety, the cinematography is appropriately atmospheric, and there is enough winking state-of-the-newsroom humor from Marissa’s editor (the eternally reliable Norm Lewis) about the pursuit of clickable content; “you barely know what the internet does,” he tells Marissa. “The Good Mother” also considers the hidden opportunity costs of chasing that goal of digital journalism, creating a connection between a crumbling infrastructure of information gathering and the well-being of a city’s people. Ultimately, though, the film must sell itself on whodunnitry — collapsing those complexities into the sort of resolution you’ve seen quite often and with an ambiguous final moment that suits neither the story nor Swank’s solid performance. (NR)

104. Line of Fire (aka Darklands) (2023). “My life is not your entertainment!” screams a small-town Australian cop faulted for failing to intervene in a school shooting. She’s bellowing at a past-her-prime blogger who has pushed too hard on both a lucrative interview with the cop and a profitably punitive perspective about her lack of action. That the exclamation comes as the cop ensnares the blogger in a plot of kidnapping and murder and illustrates the film’s interest in exploitative escalation over a story of everyday people faced with awful choices. As sensitive first-act observations shift to supreme outrageousness, it’s like watching “Changing Lanes” morph into “Law Abiding Citizen.” But, as Aussie pulp often does, “Line of Fire” just hits harder, with a commendable commitment to incredibly bleak bits about whether grief finds you falling apart … or pulling together something deeper and darker inside of you. There are also decent-enough hooks about glass ceilings and social expectations for professional women, as well as a dearth of diplomacy in a world of digital-first communication. If it errs anywhere, it’s in a lack of character complexity for the blogger — whose pure profit motives let the cop off the hook for all her dirty deeds by proxy. (NR)

103. Blessed Event (1932). Alvin Roberts (Lee Tracy) is a small-time ad salesman at a newspaper who works his way to the front pages when his gossip column catches fire. He reports on “blessed events,” aka pregnancies (wanted and unwanted), among the high-society set. His devotion to dirty laundry lands him in deep trouble, though, when he starts to dig into the messes of a beloved nightclub singer and, later, a notorious gangster. Roberts has to weather the storm armed with just his wits, words and sheer will to get the story. “Blessed Event” is first and foremost a comedy, so it doesn’t dig too deeply into the way that journalism without a moral compass can ruin the lives of smaller people caught in its wake. But it’s an effective comedy, thanks largely to Tracy’s performance, so the lack of commentary doesn’t really matter. (ED)

102. Newsies (1992). As history, it’s largely nonsense. And it tanked at the box office. But “Newsies” has grown in the popular consciousness since its 1992 release. You can credit that to the rising star power of Christian Bale or the unexpected success of the Broadway musical it inspired, but its earnestness coupled with above-average tunes (by Alan Menken, between penning the scores for “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin”) is what makes it likeable. The plot — very loosely based on a real-life incident — involves a strike by New York newsboys with the primary villain being Joseph Pulitzer. Yes, that Pulitzer. (LH)

101. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947). Although investigative reporter Gregory Peck’s bright idea of posing as a Jewish man at a new job to suffer bigotry for the first time in his life feels immensely naive and unethical today, Elia Kazan’s film does get at the heart of one of America’s ugliest truths: The quiet racism, often from self-described liberals, can burn the most. The kind of systemic racism Peck encounters among his fiancée’s upper-crust social circle enrages him past the limits of his story, a new experience for a veteran reporter. Kazan’s clunkiest social justice picture might also be his most relevant, as he shows definitively that the most privileged and ostensibly progressive people have a willful blind spot when it comes to the plights of others. (AC)

100. Woman of the Year (1942). In the first pairing of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy (a personal and cinematic relationship that eventually covered nine films), she’s a serious international journalist and he’s a sportswriter. Opposites attract, but when she wins the title award, he gets jealous. Apart from the chemistry of the leads and some fun bits, it’s dated stuff. It was followed shortly thereafter by the lesser-known (for good reason) “Keeper of the Flame,” in which Tracy again played a reporter. (LH)

99. Velvet Goldmine (1998). Although mostly remembered now as a faux-biopic loosely based on the life of David Bowie, Todd Haynes’ film is anchored by British journalist Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale) as he tries to figure out why glam-rock icon Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) disappeared from public life following a particularly ill-received stunt. Haynes’ non-linear storytelling and spectacular production belies the reporter’s true motivation behind his investigation: In searching for Slade, Arthur is really trying to find himself — or at least the person he used to be, which is a story that’s much harder to break. (AC)

98. The Front Page (1931). The original silver-screen adaptation of the iconic and arguably quintessential play about journalism, this pre-Code screwball comedy features constant innuendo, a smidge of violence and consistent energy from start to finish. It’s a stagy telling of the story (again, 1931), which features ace reporter Hildy Johnson (Pat O’Brien) tempted away from retirement by the machinations of his editor, Walter Burns (Adolphe Menjou), and one last juicy story — an escaped convict whom they hide from authorities in their office. In this version, the allure of the journalistic ideal (anything to get a story) doubles as a vehicle to show how men find meaning through their work, often at the expense of everyone else — in this case, Hildy’s sweet fiancée, Peggy (Mary Brian). 1931’s “The Front Page” feels like an artifact in light of its superior remakes, 1940’s “His Girl Friday” and 1974’s “The Front Page” (which you’ll find elsewhere on this list). Still, it’s not without its charms. (ED)

97. Down With Love (2003). Peyton Reed’s skillful ’60s-set battle-of-the-sexes comedy is the sort Rock and Doris would’ve made were UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (8)they given more latitude for naughty banter. Renée Zellweger hawks her book about women’s liberation. Ewan McGregor’s magazine-writer lothario tries to take her down by posing as a wholesome astronaut named Zip. Yes, more fake identities and ethical violations that resolve in ways sure to roll HR executives’ eyes out of their sockets. But this 2003 film more than lives up to its lofty memory-lane goals as an alluringly goofy tizzy from start to finish — keying into the idea of an eventual, and welcome, obsolescence for once-popular, now retrospectively regressive, sexual politics. (NR)

96. True Crime (1999). The concept of a reporter possibly saving a death-row convict on the day of his execution is a bit farfetched. But if you suspend your disbelief, Clint Eastwood’s film is an exciting beat-the-clock thriller. Eastwood also stars as Steve Everett, a seasoned journalist infamous for turning every story into a wild goose chase. When he’s assigned a human-interest sidebar on convicted murderer Frank Beachum (Isaiah Washington), Everett ends up racing against time to prove Beachum’s innocence before the deadly stroke of midnight. “True Crime” emerges as an enjoyably idealistic vision of journalism’s life-changing potential. (SW)

95. It Happened Tomorrow (1944). “News is what happens!” a newspaper editor says early in this movie, and that’s about all “It Happened Tomorrow” has to say about the nature of journalism. Instead, this charming fantasy centers around an everyman reporter played by a cheery Dick Powell, who’s given a newspaper that contains tomorrow’s news and uses it to try and win riches and romance. René Clair’s film isn’t some dark parable about greed, however, and is all the better for it. It’s light as a feather and goes down smooth, with a deeply satisfying and clever third-act twist that makes this mostly forgotten United Artists hit worth seeking out. (MR)

94. The Underworld Story (1950). This underseen gem from blacklisted director Cy Endfield has a deeply cynical heart beating at its center that makes Billy Wilder’s “Ace in the Hole” (still a top-15 film on the list) look downright quaint by comparison. The movie follows disgraced reporter Mike Reese (Dan Duryea), who creates mass public hysteria in his sensationalistic coverage of a Black woman falsely accused of murder. Eventually, Reese gets entangled with organized crime and judicial committees, and he’s forced to choose between his own moral redemption or damnation. Some egregiously dated elements aside (including white actress Mary Anderson playing a Black character), this is an engrossing noir whose themes still resonate. (MR)

93. The Public Eye (1992). Joe Pesci is no pugnacious, profane pipsqueak in writer-director Howard Franklin’s drama about Leon “Bernzy” Bernstein, a freelance tabloid shutterbug in 1940s New York whose pictorial prowess on the mean streets sweeps him up in scandal. (Bernzy is based on Arthur “Weegee” Fellig, so nicknamed for seeming powers of premonition to get the best pictures.) Besides Bernzy impersonating a priest to sneak inside a meat wagon, there are no comic moments; even in Pesci’s infrequent bluster, there’s a sense that Bernzy more deeply communes with the dead than the living. Unsurprisingly, this was the lowest-grossing film of the era’s Pescimania, even if the actor was never better until 2019’s “The Irishman.” Instead of a cautionary abyss-staring precursor to “Nightcrawler” (which you can find at #15) “The Public Eye” blends evocative noir with melancholy character study; even the mobsters are sad. Ethics? Bernzy would wave off that notion while dropping the “H” for good measure. “You can’t turn it off,” he says later — specifically about the police-band radio in his car but existentially about the constantly revolving rot at the center of it all. (NR)

92. Scandal Sheet (1952). Tabloid journalism is hot fodder for morality plays. What are the limits of a person willing to bend legal boundaries and their own ethical conscience to get a story? To sell a paper or, these days, a click? “Scandal Sheet” asks that question and answers it with a simple, stunningly strong premise: Editor Mark Chapman (Broderick Crawford) and his ace reporter, Steve McCleary (John Derek), are devoted to hitting their goal of 750,000 copies sold by whatever means necessary. When a Jane Doe is found murdered after their company’s “Lonely Hearts” dance, “Miss Lonely Hearts” and the investigation into her death becomes their top story. Thing is … Chapman’s the murderer! Although the themes of greed and corruption in the newsroom are pretty boilerplate, this is still an engaging and well-paced newsroom thriller. (ED)UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (9)

91. Foreign Correspondent (1940). Alfred Hitchco*ck’s thriller occupies a prescient time in history. Filmed six months after the Invasion of Poland and released three days after Germany began bombing Britain, it addresses American media’s uncertainty in repoely piece of Allied propaganda and crucial depiction of dogged wartime journalism. (It lost the Oscar for Best Picture to another Hitchco*ck film, “Rebecca.”) Bonus: The line “The one thing everybody forgets is that I’m a reporter!” (AC)

90. Runaway Bride (1999). In this spry version of the familiar “journalist falls for his subject” trope, the reporter is Richard Gere, who writes sarcastically — and with factual errors — about the “runaway bride” (Julia Roberts) who has ditched three would-be grooms at the altar. After taking heat for his column, he decides to get the real story by visiting her hometown on the brink of her fourth marriage effort. (LH)

89. The Front Page (1974). Both this version and the 1931 one have been eclipsed by the gender-bent redo, “His Girl Friday.” However, this stagy adaptation of the most iconic, and cynical, play about journalism is, if anything, even more cynical than its predecessors. Headliners Jack Lemmon (as the fed-up reporter) and Walter Matthau (as his anything-for-a-story editor) are joined by a rich supporting cast, including Austin Pendleton, Susan Sarandon, David Wayne and Carol Burnett. (LH)

88. Long Shot (2019). When Seth Rogen ping-pongs off a parked sedan to survive a several-story fall, it’s OK to fear that “Long Shot” is just Rogen’s asinine “Neighbors” with an I Voted sticker. But even with an abundance of bodily fluid gags, “Long Shot” matures into a meaningful political romance that’s worthy of mention beside “The American President.” (The script is from Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah, respective co-writers of listmates “The Interview” and “The Post.”) Rogen is a liberal-minded reporter who resigns on principle after a conservative-media monolith buys his independent newspaper and then begins writing speeches for Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), a POTUS-hopeful Secretary of State on whom Fred harbored a teenage crush. “Long Shot” is foremost an inversion of “Pretty Woman” (soundtrack and all), but Sterling and Hannah infuse journalistic notions of personal integrity and, yes, ideological struggle into Fred and Charlotte’s romance. Fred helps Charlotte understand even the ugliest truths are worth telling. Charlotte helps Fred express himself more meaningfully by shedding his perpetual sarcasm. And the film’s astuteness about Charlotte’s uphill battle for hearts and minds as a woman in politics is less a woke-fiction badge of honor than a believable barometer of real-world pressure. Most of all, “Long Shot” is often laugh-aloud funny, from quick-punch jabs at misogynist morning-show banter to a sublime showcase for Theron during which Charlotte negotiates an international incident while tweaking out of her gourd. (NR)

87. A Flash of Green (1984). This film is notable for deromanticizing the life of a reporter. In Palm City, Florida, Jimmy Wing (Ed Harris) doesn’t wear slick suits and scoop up stories at classy clubs. He sweats out co*cktails at dingy bars and cranks out copy in a cramped, cluttered office. When the county commissioner (Richard Jordan) cuts him in on a real estate deal, Jimmy starts to see his world open up, but he loses sight of his hometown loyalty — especially to his best friend’s widow (Blair Brown), for whom he harbors love. Adapting the novel by John D. MacDonald, writer-director Victor Nuñez seamlessly balances several subplots and maintains slow-burn suspense in his exploration of Jimmy’s double life. Harris effectively conveys the added weight a reporter carries as a resident of a small town where everybody knows your name. “A Flash of Green” takes on shades of noir as shadowy thugs follow him wherever he goes — like manifestations of his guilty conscience. This film shines bright as a hidden gem. (SW)

86. The Big Clock (1948). A stylish film noir with Ray Milland as a harried crime magazine editor trying to track down a killer — only to discover he’s being framed for the crime. Charles Laughton is terrific as his obsessive, demanding publisher — can this be where Austin Powers got his finger-to-the-face tic — and Elsa Lanchester provides comic relief as an artist integral to the case. If some plot details seem familiar, it could be because Kevin Costner’s 1987 thriller “No Way Out” is based on the same source. (LH)

85. Call Northside 777 (1948). The title refers to a classified ad placed by the mother of an incarcerated man who had been found guilty of murder. A reporter (James Stewart) reluctantly checks out the story, leading him to reinvestigate the years-old case. His methods don’t always line up with the SPJ Code of Ethics, but his doggedness is rewarded in this beautifully shot procedural based on a true story. (LH)

84. Philomena (2013). Part odd-couple comedy, part mystery, “Philomena” shows how investigative journalism can forge unlikely bonds and bring justice to decades-old sins. Based on a true story, the film follows former BBC journalist Martin Sixsmith (co-writer/producer Steve Coogan) and an elderly Irish woman named Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) as they search for the son who was taken from her when she was living at a convent 50 years prior. While its humor doesn’t always land smoothly, “Philomena” steadily stirs up suspense. Of course, the resolution of the real-life story is just a Google search away. But like an effective piece of journalism, the film still holds you in its grip. Director Stephen Frears draws great performances out of the two leads. Dench makes Philomena’s desperation our own while Coogan sheds light on how human-interest stories can linger in journalists’ hearts and minds long after they write them. (SW)

83. State of Play (2009). Sometimes, paradoxically, the more weight given to the plot of a movie, the less consequential it seems. Such is the case with this political/journalism thriller, in which a determined old-school reporter (Russell Crowe) teams with a new-school blogger (Rachel McAdams) to sort out the reasons behind the death of a woman who had been having an affair with a congressman (Ben Affleck). Condensed from a six-hour BBC miniseries, it’s fine when it comes to the details — even though it’s a leap of faith that nobody would have a conflict-of-interest concern about a reporter investigating his former college pal. The print/blog battle is little more than a plot device, and McAdams largely takes a backseat to Crowe. In addition, the climax feels machine-tooled rather than organic. But “State of Play” benefits from some insight into the confidence and confusion that can come when additional information makes writers second-guess their own conclusions. Underneath the plot is a worthwhile message about the need for journalists in a world where big money can easily influence important political decisions. (LH)

82. Dawn of the Dead (1978). George A. Romero’s all-time classic zombie film opens with the fall of civilization as seen through the eyes of Fran (Gaylen Ross), a TV news producer. She awakens from a quick nap to find that her studio has become a hectic bustle of panicked staffers, all trying to get out of Philadelphia as the world ends. Fran tries to maintain control, but a cameraman informs her that the emergency stations are taking over. “Our job here is finished,” he deadpans. Fran escapes alongside her traffic-reporter boyfriend and two other survivors, all of whom hole up and make a home in an abandoned shopping mall. Throughout the film, the quartet views or listens to incrementally less informative TV and radio broadcasts from increasingly desperate journalists as their connection to the outside world. Eventually, those broadcasts cease. The world is over. What’s left to report? (ED)

81. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. (2019). For editors, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is the stuff of nightmares. Assigned to write a 400-word puff piece on Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) for Esquire, investigative journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys, as a fictionalized Tom Junod) instead turns in a 10,000-word profile. In the end, though, no one can blame him. Although the profile is superficially about Mr. Rogers as a modern-day hero, the act of writing it gives Lloyd the therapy he’s been denying himself since he was a child. That’s a kind of nightmare in and of itself, but under Marielle Heller’s direction, it never feels anything less than compassionate. Sometimes journalism becomes deeply personal by necessity, and no film illustrates this better than “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” (AC)

80. A Thousand Times Good Night (2013). Juliette Binoche anchors this harrowing, heartfelt film with her poignant performance as Rebecca, a photojournalist dedicated to documenting dangerous war zones. After a near-death experience in Afghanistan, she returns to Ireland, where she’s forced to choose between her family and the journalistic missions from which she may not come home alive again. Fortunately, the film neither condemns Rebecca’s perilous profession nor goes out of its way to glorify the risks she takes. It ultimately shows how, like the best photojournalists, she wields her camera as a weapon for justice, capturing conflicts in the hopes of creating a safer world. The film is a bit clichéd in its depiction of Rebecca’s struggle with adjusting to “normal life,” but that’s a minor nit to pick in an otherwise powerful portrait of a journalist. (SW)

79. Profile (2021). Through his production company Bazelevs, filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov helped pioneer the “screenlife” format, in which events play out entirely in cyberspace, captured on computers, tablets, smartphones and the like. After producing the screenlife films “Unfriended” and “Searching,” Bekmambetov moved into the director’s chair for “Profile,” which makes chilling use of the format by showing just how close journalists’ personal and professional lives come to colliding online. Loosely based on French journalist Anna Erelle’s undercover investigation of ISIS recruiting, “Profile” revolves around London TV reporter Amy (Valerie Kane) as she impersonates a convert to Islam and catfishes ISIS soldier Bilel (Shazad Latif) into reeling her over to Syria, like so many other young European women. The film rushes into this relationship at the expense of Amy’s credibility, as she throws on a hijab and cooks up a backstory mere minutes before her first Skype call with Bilel. Amy’s naïveté and lack of tech savvy make her hard to buy as a journalist, but she’s eerily effective as a representative of lost souls vulnerable to online predators and hate groups masquerading as families. (SW)

78. Doctor X (1932). “Doctor X” has EVERYTHING. Mad scientists! Cannibal killers! Fay Wray serving looks! And yes, a morally questionable protagonist in Lee Taylor (Lee Tracy), a washed-up reporter willing to go to extreme lengths to break the increasingly bonkers story of the Moon Killer. When it comes to Lee’s investigative methods, “tenacious” is a bit of an understatement. Breaking, entering and hiding in a closet full of human skeletons? Pretty tame compared to Lee’s earlier performance as a dead body (complete with toe tag) spying on a top-secret autopsy. Directed in two-strip Technicolor by Michael Curtiz, this pre-Code horror movie eventually abandons Lee’s journalism angle as the story goes full-tilt bananas. At the same time, it’s an integral part of the wild ride. Who better to bear witness to the insanity than the goofy reporter who wants to figure it all out — and to get famous doing it? (AC))

77. Venom (2018) / Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021). “Venom” and its sequel generally exist to let star, producer and co-writer Tom Hardy deliver unexpectedly phenomenal cut-loose comedy a la Bob Hoskins in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” Just as unexpected is the way these films embrace the journalistic profession’s highs and lows at a molecular level. A motorcycle-riding misfit with a Vice-like newsmagazine meant to “piss you off,” Eddie Brock (Hardy) is a hotshot investigative reporter whose ethical indiscretions cause him to lose his job and his fiancée. SIx months later, Eddie gets a tip on dangerous human trials involving San Francisco’s helpless homeless population, for whom he has previously expressed deep empathy. The rejuvenated investigation finds Eddie biologically fused to an alien symbiote named Venom — also voiced by Hardy and, like Eddie, kind of a loser himself back on his planet. The newfound speed, strength and invincibility are great. Venom’s appetite for human brains and organs? Troublesome. Eddie’s journalistic sense of civic duty, the enduring consequences of his unethical behavior, and his compassion for the less fortunate become surprising themes here, even as Venom hilariously threatens to render one bad guy an armless, legless “turd in the wind.” Eddie’s renewed sense of purpose rubs off on Venom in the sequel, too. If Eddie prints serial killer Cletus Kasady’s final message to the world, Kasady will reveal where even more bodies are buried. Venom shares a body with Eddie, but he wants to share a byline, too. So he helps crack the case early — putting Eddie and Venom on a collision course with both a vengeful Kasady (eventually fused to a symbiote himself) and their own unresolved animosity. “Carnage” is more of a one-man rom-com reverie about Eddie and Venom’s rift than a story of collective reportage. But that doesn’t stop Kasady from fuming over bias in Eddie’s writing. “You never asked yourself why, Eddie!” he screams as he pounds on Brock with a sledgehammer. “That’s bad journalism!” (NR)

76. Platinum Blonde (1931). Although the title has everything to do with Jean Harlow’s hair and nothing to do with the plot, “Platinum Blonde” is a journalist’s nightmare disguised as a comedy of the sexes. This pre-Code gem takes Stew (Robert Williams, in his final role) from streetwise reporter to “Cinderella Man” as he becomes embroiled in the scandals of the high-society Schuyler family. Instead of chasing the story, he chases the girl — Anne, played to cool perfection by Harlow — and becomes the story himself. An inverse “Taming of the Shrew,” Frank Capra’s film has less to say about gender roles than it does about class, but Stew bristles against both in his new role as Mr. Anne Schuyler. When Stew becomes the story, he loses sight of himself — his own fault, perhaps — but one can’t help but think a snappy reporter such as Stew should’ve known better in the end. (AC)

75. Office Killer (1997). A campy, bloody ode to a profession that was just beginning to die in the late 1990s, “Office Killer” is all too relevant after our pandemic years. Dorine (Carole Kane), a mousy copy editor at Constant Consumer Magazine, suffers a crisis when corporate downsizing reduces her to a work-from-home part-timer. But then a fatal late-night accident at the office offers Dorine a macabre solution to her lonely woes: Who needs the office when she can bring the dead bodies of her co-workers home with her? The sole cinematic output from artist Cindy Sherman plays with slasher and serial-killer tropes as it simultaneously criticizes corporate culture and gives some twisted humanity to those journalistic professionals left behind at the advent of the digital age. Equal parts grotesque and tragic, Dorine is a copy editor whose hard work you’ll appreciate — or else. (AC)

74. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936). An enterprising reporter (Jean Arthur) pretends to be an exhausted worker to earn the trust of the title character (Gary Cooper), who has inherited $20 million. At first mocking him in her newspaper stories, she, of course, falls in love. Remade as “Mr. Deeds” with Adam Sandler and Winona Ryder. (LH)

UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (10)

73. It Happened One Night (1934). Not just any reporter can claim he changed men’s fashion just by taking off his shirt. That honor belongs to Peter Warne (Clark Gable), a roguish out-of-work newspaperman who stumbles on a story and trades exclusivity for helping that story to its natural conclusion getting socialite Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) back to her gold-digger husband. The sex appeal of Frank Capra’s pre-Code screwball comedy is palpable even before Gable removes his shirt, revealing bare skin instead of the standard undershirt, and it builds and builds until the Walls of Jericho finally come tumbling down. Although the claim that Gable tanked sales of undershirts until World War II is dubious at best, it’s still a legend worth repeating as a testament to this film’s staying power — and the incomparable allure of Gable in his prime. (AC)

72. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011). David Fincher’s remake of the 2009 Swedish film (based on former journalist Stieg Larsson’s bestselling book) opens with the fall of a reporter. Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) finds himself embroiled in a libel suit after writing a dodgy, damaging exposé on the expenditures of billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. Another wealthy businessman, Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), whisks Mikael away to Stockholm, where he offers the disgraced journalist the proper evidence he needs against Wennerström in exchange for investigating his grand-niece’s 40-year-old disappearance and presumed murder. Despite the libel case, Vanger has faith in Mikael and his “keen investigative mind.” But Mikael’s mind isn’t nearly as sharp as that of Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), the titular young woman who becomes his partner. The two couldn’t be more different; Mikael is buttoned up while Lisbeth is tatted out. But they share endearing chemistry, emerging as one of the most engaging journalistic teams in cinematic memory. The film ultimately shows the importance of teamwork in any journalistic endeavor, especially one as dangerous as Mikael and Lisbeth’s thrilling investigation. (SW)

71. The Front Runner (2018). Timing may not be everything, but it certainly didn’t help this examination of the ethical challenges involved in press coverage of Gary Hart’s affair with Donna Rice. In a political world where coverage of personal scandal is a given, the “should we or shouldn’t we” arguments about presidential primary frontrunner Hart can seem almost quaint. But while sometimes seeming like ersatz “The West Wing,” the film remains an insightful look at the humans within a big news story — and the way in which conventional wisdom (political and otherwise) can change in a matter of weeks, days or even hours. Marking a turning point in time where personal lives became an accepted subject for legitimate journalists, “The Front Runner” features a strong ensemble cast, including a subdued Hugh Jackman as Hart, a heartbreaking Vera Farmiga as Hart’s wife, Lee, Alfred Molina as Ben Bradlee, and Sara Paxton as a surprisingly nuanced Donna Rice. (LH)

70. A Private War (2018). “It’s like writing, uh, your own obituary.” Those introductory words haunt every frame of “A Private War” and its story of American journalist Marie Colvin — who, for more than 25 years, covered the Middle East and foreign affairs for London’s The Sunday Times. Per the title, Colvin’s immersion into violent conflicts in Sri Lanka, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria sparked her own battles with alcoholism, intimacy issues and haphazardly managed PTSD. With her tremendous turn as Colvin, Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) further cements her status as one of today’s best actresses working under most people’s radars. Jamie Dornan also delivers a sensitive supporting turn as Paul Conroy, Colvin’s photographic partner, and director Matthew Heineman puts a strong visual stamp on Colvin’s grimly compelling life story without glorifying self-destructive tendencies in the name of journalistic achievements. What’s most disappointing is that Colvin’s complexities are too often pounded into proven biopic parameters, namely in a scene where she self-psychoanalyzes, and that there’s so little shown of her effort to enjoy a second chance at everyday life alongside businessman Tony Shaw (Stanley Tucci). Although not always graceful, “A Private War” remains an unsparing depiction of the suffering Colvin saw, the spirals it created and the atrocities she exposed. (NR)

69. Interview (2007). Steve Buscemi co-writes, directs and stars in this remake of the late Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh’s 2003 film of the same name. Buscemi plays Pierre Peders, a political correspondent tasked with a puff-piece profile of paparazzi target Katya (Sienna Miller), a popular actress. The interview moves from a posh restaurant back to her place, where the conversation grows more intimate and confessional. The pleasure of “Interview” lies in watching Katya punish the prying Pierre by turning the questioning toward him. The film ultimately offers biting commentary on how journalists can be just as vulnerable as the subjects of their interviews. (SW)

68. Boston Strangler (2023). This Hulu thriller may get lost in the endless sea of streaming true-crime content, but it deserves to shine — especially as an empowering piece of women’s history. Keira Knightley stars as Loretta McLaughlin, the Boston Record American reporter who beat her male counterparts to the punch in breaking the story of the titular 1960s murderer. Carrie Coon co-stars as Jean Cole, who joined forces with McLaughlin to track the killer and challenge Boston city authorities along the way. Writer-director Matt Ruskin captures not only the era’s professional tension between men and women but the timeless tug-of-war between journalists and the justice system. Meanwhile, Knightley and Coon poignantly convey the sisterhood they feel between each other and the victims whom they pledge to avenge. Bonus: Chris Cooper delivers a compelling performance as their stern yet supportive editor. “Boston Strangler” borrows a bit from “Zodiac” in its exploration of obsession, but it’s nonetheless effective in knocking the wind out of you when its heroines pursue promising paths only to find dead ends. Sure, as far as true-crime / journalism dramas go, this is well-worn territory. But it’s a good story, well told. (SW)

67. Shakedown (1950). Look no further as to how much journalism has changed in the past 70-plus years than the plot of 1950’s “Shakedown,” which centers on a man (Howard Duff) who gains wealth and notoriety as a *checks notes* newspaper photographer. Because this is a film noir, Duff’s character works his way up the journalistic ladder through grossly immoral means, placing anyone and everyone in danger for a stellar photo opportunity. More than 60 years later, Jake Gyllenhaal would play an even darker and more modernized version of this same character in “Nightcrawler,” but “Shakedown” still manages to shock today with a stark amorality that’s far nastier than your average noir. (MR)

66. Natural Born Killers (1994). Although Oliver Stone’s film came out in 1994, it still feels primed for the current cultural conversation — at a time when true-crime podcasts dig up real trauma for our entertainment. Stone is at his best when he’s angry; here, he lambastes the American media’s commodification of serial killers. Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) are the titular murderers, and their saga is winkingly romanticized as a tale of star-crossed lovers. Plenty of that satire flew over the public’s head, of course, and less-observant critics accused Stone of doing precisely what he’s condemning. The film’s relentless visuals have not aged well, but its teeth remain sharp as ever. (MR)

65. Civil War (2024). A thinly coded right-wing President succeeds at a third term in office and the United States splits into four nebulously defined but heavily militarized factions. Caught in the middle is, well, everyone, including famed photojournalist Lee Smith (Kirsten Dunst) and her fellow reporters trying desperately to chronicle this internecine conflict’s horror and bloodshed. Writer-director Alex Garland’s film screams with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Lee’s compounding trauma from documenting atrocities has left her worn out and she has grown to doubt the meaning of her work. It doesn’t feel like new territory, but Garland imbues it with a senses-shattering level of nihilism that feels natural given the contemporary cultural climate. We’re in a state of profound change and all we can cling to is what we know. But things will soon be different in ways we can’t presently imagine. What use is sacrifice for stories nobody reads? What’s the point of a profession that exists to chronicle truth if no one wants to hear it? (ED)

64. Hustlers (2019). Jessica Pressler’s article “The Hustlers at Scores” is a longform article that seems to have everything — strippers, the 2008 financial crisis, a crime spree and drugs (just a sprinkle!). Lorene Scafaria’s “Hustlers” has even more — female empowerment through friendship, a banging soundtrack and Jennifer Lopez. (Oh, and Usher, too.) As a film about journalism, “Hustlers” sneaks up on you in the same way Destiny (Constance Wu) and Ramona (Lopez) outwit their slimy Wall Street marks. Julia Stiles ostensibly plays Pressler in a framing device about writing Destiny’s story for The Cut, and that device would feel fairly flimsy in a lesser film. In Scafaria’s hands, though, it’s a meta commentary on the insight and power that a female storyteller brings to female stories. “Hustlers” is a wild ride from start to finish, but it’s also one of the most empathetic movies of 2019 — empathy that started with Pressler’s reporting and continues long after the last shot. (AC)

63. Fletch (1985). Chevy Chase is the title character in Michael Ritchie’s 1985 adaptation of Gregory Mcdonald’s reporter/gumshoe. He’s a columnist for The Los Angeles Times with intersecting investigations into beachside drug traffic and murder for hire. As a starring vehicle for Chase (perhaps his best if you discount 1989’s dreadful sequel), “Fletch” inverts the novels’ occasional darkness into a quick-witted quip machine, but that energy feels appropriately extemporaneous here. Fletch spins a whirlwind of words in the wake of which defenses fall or hackles rise; either way, he’ll get the story. And amid the credit-card fraud, novelty teeth and goofy Scotch-Romanian aliases like John Coctoastan, he even squeezes in some righteous civic-service journalism. (NR)

62 Superman (1978). Richard Donner’s film was the first superhero blockbuster and remains one of the best in that genre. The eponymous hero has always been the boy scout, a hero of pure American ideals, and his alter ego, Clark Kent, treats being a reporter for the Daily Planet with no less reverence. Considering Superman represents the best of us, it’s no stretch imagining that he views journalism to be just as sacred as a savior to humanity. In fact, in one of the film’s most iconic scenes, Lois Lane demonstrates the ways in which the press can shape a public figure’s image when she lands an interview with the Man of Steel, giving him his famous moniker. This time, however, it’s not a rising politician looking for votes but an alien from Krypton seeking society’s acceptance. (MR)

61. Park Row (1952). “Park Row” opens with a caption: “This film is dedicated to American Journalism!” It sure is. Samuel Fuller’s film chronicles the ascent of The Globe, a New York City paper founded by honest reporter Phineas Mitchell (Gene Evans) after he’s fired from his previous job at the city’s largest paper. He opposed their scandal-rag tactics that led to an innocent man being killed. The truth, Mitchell believes, is what readers deserve! The movie is named for Park Row, a New York street where newspapers were printed in the “lusty days of the 1880s.” A statue of Ben Franklin overlooks their work, reminding all good newspapermen of their calling. Mitchell faces competition from Charity Hackett (Mary Welch), his former boss and potential love interest. It’s a fun, earnest and sometimes overly idealistic look at the history of American journalism. (ED)

60. She Said (2022). Films that fictionalize factual tales will forever face the question. Would a documentary better serve the story? The answer is almost always “yes,” and “She Said,” which chronicles the New York Times’ exposure of film mogul Harvey Weinstein’s pattern of rape and sexual assault, is not the exception to prove the rule. But there’s a thornier question at its center: If nothing has fundamentally changed about how women are treated in Hollywood circles, what exactly is “She Said” celebrating by dint of existing? It regards the Publish button like a pressed trigger on a package of C4. But what monolith of male misdeeds did Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) topple, exactly? Director Maria Schrader achieves decent propulsion during discussions and dissections of when and how to publish their work. Even though the ensemble (including Andre Braugher as Dean Baquet and Patricia Clarkson as Rebecca Corbett) pales next to the powerhouses on this list, a certain camaraderie sparks to life late. (Be still my heart, there is even a shot of the copy editor deleting an extra space near a comma.) But “She Said” largely amounts ot a slow, steady parade of real women’s words spoken by talented character actresses — taking its title quite literally as a talky, traditional just-the-facts drama. (NR)

59. The Devil Wears Prada (2006). UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (11)Based on the best-selling novel by Lauren Weisberger and inspired by her experience as an assistant to American Vogue editor Anna Wintour, director David Frankel’s 2006 film exposes the ugly side of the fashion journalism world. It follows aspiring journalist Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) as she fetches coffee and serves as a verbal punching bag for Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), the ice queen editor of style magazine Runway. In her Oscar-nominated performance, Streep conveys the urgency with which magazine editors often operate, and Hathaway captures the desperation of young writers who want to climb the ladder but end up stooping low. Although it often seems to celebrate the superficiality of the fashion world, the film is ultimately a testament to maintaining integrity in the face of success. (SW)

58. Bad Education (2020). At a time when bombshell stories drop daily —and the leaders, movers and shakers at their centers continuously, and miraculously, emerge unscathed —“Bad Education” arrived as a refreshing reminder of journalists’ ability to take down the corrupt. When Roslyn School District Superintendent Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) encourages a high-school newspaper reporter (Geraldine Viswanathan) to dig deeper into what she calls a “puff piece” on a school construction project, she uncovers the largest public-school embezzlement scandal in American history. Based on true events and written by former Roslyn middle-school student Mike Makowsky, “Bad Education” aches with authenticity. You can practically smell pencil shavings, feel the heat of fluorescent lights and smell the fear of school administrators come budget season. Rather than simply satirizing Frank as a slick swindler, Makowsky, Jackman and director Cory Finley capture the warm light of a lifelong educator that still flickers in his soul, however faintly. When news surfaces about Tassone’s malfeasance, though, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief at the sight of justice served through journalism. (SW)

57. Newsfront (1978). Reporting may survive, but specific media rise and fall. Such was the case with newsreels, which once provided the general public’s prime access to moving images of events around the world. This Australian film — the feature debut of director Phillip Noyce — episodically and with great affection follows the lives of newsreel photographers whose jobs were eventually rendered obsolete by television. The terrific work of the cast is sometimes undermined by a cheesy score, but the film smartly balances the personal and the professional. Having an ordinary guy (Bill Hunter) rather than a Hollywood glamorous hero at the center of the story gives it a richer, human feel. (LH)

56. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020). Sacha Baron Cohen brought new meaning to “October surprise” with the fall 2020 release of this well-layered, well-lawyered sequel to a film you can find at #32. Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev returns to America with teenage daughter Tutar (Oscar nominee Maria Bakalova) in tow to curry favor with a previous president. The hook? Borat is now too ubiquitous in the United States for blindsiding interviews; he’s even been immortalized in an unlicensed costume called “Stupid Foreign Reporter.” Cohen and crew smartly shift entire segments to Tutar, who’s swiftly bombarded with bad and barbaric ideas from America’s patriarchy about her body and career opportunities in journalism. It builds to an instant-legend climactic sequence with Rudy Giuliani that proved as effective at generating real headlines as “oh-dear-lord-no” laughter. Thankfully Cohen isn’t so naïve to believe cheekiness alone would cut through with any clarity these days. By focusing on Tutar’s pursuit of journalistic values and independence, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” reminds us that strong women are the future we need and will get if we don’t mess it up. (NR)

55. Nothing But the Truth (2008). Director Rod Lurie’s earliest plots felt like wild, politically speculative fantasy only because they’ve still (thankfully) not yet been introduced as acts in America’s governmental circus. Lurie’s strongest civic drama bravely runs its hands along jagged edges of subject matter ripped from headlines. Inspired by the Judith Miller/Valerie Plame controversy, this 2008 film blends John Grisham’s smart pulp and whiplash banter akin to Aaron Sorkin wiht an unexpectedly great turn from Kate Beckinsale as a reporter jailed after refusing to name her source on a CIA exposé. As a rumination on First Amendment attacks and governmental accountability, it’s flawless. Just disregard the eye-rolling “gotcha” twist. (NR)

54. Salvador (1986). Photojournalist Richard Boyle collaborated with director Oliver Stone for this 1986 film about his experiences covering the Salvadoran Civil War. Their Oscar-nominated screenplay follows Boyle (James Woods, nominated for Best Actor) as he’s caught in the conflict between leftist guerrillas and the right-wing military, while also trying to get his girlfriend and her children out of the war-torn country. Throughout the ordeal, he keeps his camera close. In a key scene near the end, we see him and a fellow photographer wielding their cameras like weapons, holding them high as a fighter plane soars overhead. This intense moment captures the death-defying commitment of journalists who go behind the frontlines. As Boyle’s colleague says early on in the film, “You gotta get close to get the truth.” (SW)

53. The Quiet American (2002). Phillip Noyce’s adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel is a stylish, gauzy thriller and a character study of zeal and detachment that meet on the way up and down a scale of idealism. Thomas Fowler (an Oscar-nominated Michael Caine) is a low-output, low-energy London Times reporter covering the waning days of French-occupied Vietnam in 1952. After aw-shucks Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser) shows up, Fowler finds himself back on the beat and tracking a story that will blow apart both the geopolitical world and his own principles of impartial inaction. “One has to take sides if one is to remain human,” a colleague tells Fowler. The idea of “human” isn’t necessarily equated with “good,” and Noyce’s film wrestles with this notion intriguingly if not quite harrowingly. There’s just a tad too much languor, and that in medias res opening crushes too much of the suspense. But the final montage feels like the toll paid for decisions made by both Fowler and the geopolitical machine beyond his control. This version is truer to the book — and the author’s intent — than the 1958 screen treatment. (NR)

52. Shock Corridor (1963). If you think Norman Bates had issues, meet Peter Breck, a reporter obsessed with winning a Pulitzer Prize. He concocts a scheme to get himself committed to an asylum to track down a murderer. No Nellie Bly, he finds the killer but loses his sanity in the process in this oddity that made the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. Samuel Fuller directs, and it’s hard to argue with his unique passion — even as the film makes you wonder if the minds behind the film were as troubled as its protagonist. Question: Would you pretend to be your boyfriend’s sister and claim molestation in order to help him win a big journalism prize? That’s one of the milder questions you’ll be asking after watching this one-of-a-kind flick. (LH)

51. Nothing Sacred (1937). Written by legendary screenwriter Ben Hecht and inspired by his time as a journalist, William A. Wellman’s comedy is a farce in every sense of the word. Reporter Wally Cook falls for a hoax, and in an attempt to redeem himself in the eyes of his editor and his readers, he stakes his reputation on the story of Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard). Hazel makes the news because she’s dying of radium poisoning … except her doctor misdiagnosed her, and by the time Wally reaches her, the misdiagnosis turns into a lie, which grows and grows until it’s too big to ever be revealed. Falling for one hoax is bad enough, but two in a row? Wally might be the worst reporter on this list who’s still actually pretty good at his job. He’s the ultimate sucker for human stories, and Hazel’s is certainly one for the books. (AC)

50. Rosewater (2014). In 2013, Jon Stewart took a three-month hiatus from hosting “The Daily Show” to direct a deeply personal film based on a horrible ordeal tied to the satirical news program. Stewart’s feature debut, “Rosewater,” follows journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael García Bernal), who was imprisoned in Iran just days after appearing in an interview segment on “The Daily Show.” Iranian authorities considered the interview evidence that he was communicating with American spies. On top of that, Bahari filmed the government’s violent response to protestors of Iran’s 2009 presidential election. Most of “Rosewater” takes place in Bahari’s prison cell, where his interrogator (Kim Bodnia) refuses to see the media as anything but a front for espionage. Released in 2014, the film unfortunately remains timely as a portrait of a journalist persecuted for spreading the truth. But it also shows how media attention helped set him free. Like he did on “The Daily Show” and continues to do, Stewart injects hard-hitting news with humor and heart here. (SW)

49. Roman Holiday (1953). Audrey Hepburn made her starring debut in yet another story of a high-profile woman who wants to be left alone and the journalist (Gregory Peck) who deceives her, accompanies her and falls in love with her. Location shooting adds to the charm. (LH)

48. Scoop (2024). Don’t confuse this with the other Scoop” far down this list. This Netflix production skirts past its genericized title to deliver a compelling adaptation of a real-life journalistic coup. A female anchor, editor and booker at the British Broadcasting Corporation pooled their talents to secure a 2019 interview with Prince Andrew concerning his ties to American financier and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. “Scoop” certainly emphasizes the effective, empowering work performed here (as well as the more clearly cutthroat response that would await the team as women had it been bungled). But it also carefully folds in pyrrhic but pragmatic concerns about their victory — that all the oft-retweeted rebukes to the rot they exposed would simply be replaced by something lighter, softer and more easily meme-able after a few days of refreshing Twitter. Propelled by strong performances by Gillian Anderson and Rufus Sewell (almost unrecognizable in prosthetics as Prince Andrew), “Scoop” simultaneously champions journalistic initiative and also considers the palpably human introspection of what that even means anymore in a 24-hour news cycle further sluiced by 24-second attention spans. The film does not insist the court of public opinion is no longer valid. It simply questions, with appropriate skepticism and skillful drama, whether the chirp of an app can match the rap of a gavel. (NR)

47. C’mon C’mon (2021). Joaquin Phoenix is no less magnetic playing a reasonably well-adjusted person in the most clear-headed journey into familial sociology yet from director Mike Mills (“Beginners”). Phoenix plays Johnny, a radio journalist traveling the United States to interview children. He’s querying them for their thoughts on the future in hopes of assuaging his own misgivings about the past and present, which come into stark relief when he must unexpectedly care for his nephew, Jesse (an effortlessly natural Woody Norman) for an extended period of time. “C’mon C’mon” focuses extensively on Johnny’s reportage, rendering it a persistently and persuasively alive ethnography of youthful exuberance; it suggests such feelings never truly disappear if someone’s there to help you recall them. Johnny’s project also offers a deep, unforgettable reminder of the chaos and conviction of feeling for each other that keeps us all going. Onward we press into our human collective of wonderful and terrible stories, whatever they bring, no silence too long or loud to someday bridge. C’mon … C’MON! (NR)

46. Under Fire (1983). “Maybe we should have killed an American journalist 50 years ago.” A Nicaraguan woman utters that chilling line late in Roger Spottiswoode’s vibrant, verité-style 1983 drama, which was inspired by ABC reporter Bill Stewart’s 1979 murder at the hands of Nicaraguan government forces. Attention paid afterward was, of course, based on the assumption America was there to do the right thing — a pipe dream this incendiary film transforms into a pipe bomb. Nick Nolte is a photographer lured by a “neat little war and a nice hotel” who trades objectivity for altruism (or so he believes) to aid the revolutionary cause. Weary and wise about exploring his abandoned impartiality, “Under Fire” understands the ease of editorializing once bodies explode in front of you — and how even that can be part of a practiced, propagandist deception. The less-interesting love triangle that develops among Nolte, Joanna Cassidy and Gene Hackman is but a delivery system for a blunt, effective observation: War’s only objective truth is death. (NR)

45. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (12)Since its 2004 release, Adam McKay’s endlessly quotable film has become a comedic touchstone. The idea of viewing it through a journalistic lens sounds inherently ridiculous, but it’s a sublimely silly spoof of the 1970s aesthetic; the anchors here are treated with all the subtle grace of Burt Reynolds’ Playgirl spread. Protagonist Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is a glorious creation — a boneheaded chauvinist whose penchant for rich mahogany and fine suits remains unparalleled in cinema. This entire premise, of course, is merely a canvas for McKay and Ferrell to crank up their surreal gags. Ron and the Channel 4 News Team show off their flute skills, get in gang fights, overcome their gender biases and aid in the birth of a baby panda. Tom Brokaw could never. A sequel followed in 2013. (MR)

44. The Year of Living Dangerously (1982). Set against a volatile political situation that the American public knew little about, Peter Weir’s drama involves rookie foreign correspondent Guy Hamilton (Mel Gibson) attempting to cover the Sukarno regime in Indonesia in the mid-1960s, assisted by Billy Kwan (Linda Hunt in a gender-jumping performance that won her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar) and a British embassy employee (Sigourney Weaver). (LH)

43. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006). In anyone else’s hands, Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev would’ve been a 150-pound goofball. In Sacha Baron Cohen’s, he’s a 500-pound guerrilla whose journalistic conceit is as much a costume as the suit Cohen is said to have never washed, a pungent way to put unsuspecting (but often deserving) marks on their heels. It’s more than a broken-English malapropism when Borat speaks of the “U.S. and A” in Larry Charles’ 2006 satire. There is a split between how we want to be seen as the United States and what is, at times, truly America at its worst — a sickness made sickly funny in one of the greatest comedies ever made. (NR)

42. Between the Lines (1977). Alt-weeklies don’t get much love in the film world. But there’s plenty tolove in Joan Micklin Silver’s ensemble film about the staff of a Boston paper under threat of losing its counterculture cred thanks to an impending purchase. The cast of now-familiar faces includes: Lindsay crouse as a staff photographer; John Heard as the reporter with whom she’s in an on-again/off-again relationship; Bruno Kirby as a rookie reporter; Jill Eikenberry behind the reception desk; Michael J. Pollard as an overgrown newsboy; Marilu Henner as a stripper; and, perhaps most memorably, Jeff Goldblum as a rock critic who gets to offer perhaps the greatest information-free lecture in the history of arts journalism. A rare 1970s work by a female director, the film’s charm is rooted in the sense that the quirky Back Bay Mainline paper and its real-life alt-weekly brethren across the country are an important part of the character of a city. And there’s something vital missing when those scrappy papers disappear. (LH)

41. Frost/Nixon (2008). Veracity isn’t the thing in Ron Howard’s 2008 biopic about the televised 1977 interviews between deposed President Richard Nixon and British journalist David Frost. No explosive bombshells detonated here, as any admission of Watergate guilt was at best tacit. Instead, it’s a powerful commentary on TV’s power to influence memory and deliver, or deny, success in America. Frost wasn’t Nixon’s foe so much as the red lights of the cameras, which Howard films as a futuristic juggernaut from Nixon’s vantage point (while referencing Nixon’s disastrous, televised 1960 debate). What audiences deduce from one shot can determine how entire eras are remembered and interpreted — a force that easily tops celebrity and presidency. (NR)

40. Broadcast News (1987). James L. Brooks’ transcendent 1987 romantic comedy “Broadcast News” is both the director’s finest hour and a percipient glimpse into the newsroom. Holly Hunter’s idealistic news executive faces a romantic dilemma in choosing between two budding anchors — the talented but unremarkable-looking Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks) and the shallow but charming Tom Grunick (William Hurt). None of these characters is given short shrift, and Hurt’s performance betrays a real kindness in Grunick. Hunter’s struggle might be a genre trope at this point, but it’s given weight here as a metaphor for the battle between ratings and journalistic honesty. Surprisingly, the film’s ending suggests that answer may not be as clear as it seems. (MR)

UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (13)

39. Libeled Lady (1936). Attention, newspaper editors: What do you do if, in your absence, your designated second-in-command runs a front-page story about the indiscretions of an heiress … which you discover to be false? Well, of course, you try to stop the presses. Barring that, you try to recover all copies before they hit the newsstands. So far, so good. But in “Libeled Lady,” the editor (Spencer Tracy) goes a step further. A big step. Faced with a libel suit because 500 copies of the paper went public, he does what is unlikely to be recommended in any J-school: He hires someone to entrap the heiress in a compromising position to embarrass her out of the lawsuit. One of the kicks of this screwball comedy is that there’s no judgment about such actions — even when they involve Tracy encouraging the wedding of his fiancée (a delightful Jean Harlow) to his partner in scheming (William Powell) in order to … well, why go into it? The plot is outlandish, the delights are many, the banter quick and the journalistic lessons nil. (LH)

38. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). Arguably the American western most deeply concerned with journalistic integrity, director John Ford’s black-and-white oater is also among the more chastely cynical films on this list. It insists upon the fourth estate’s influence toward a well-informed electorate and then inverts that with all the violence of a shootout by pinning its cult-of-personality pivot on a newspaper editor himself (perfectly played by Edmond O’Brien). The structural conceit also hinges on what the staff of the Shinbone Star intends to do with a tale told to them by all-star Senator Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) – back in tiny Shinbone for the funeral of a friend (John Wayne) with whom his fate and fame has become more deeply intertwined than anyone suspects. Embodied by the immortal line “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend,” their decision lends a firm, forlorn finality to a western that finds the power of the press on the gut-shot end of a duel for the soul of a nation. (NR)

37. Reds (1981). John Reed, the American famed for “Ten Days That Shook the World” (his account of the Russian revolution), was unlikely fodder for a big-budget Hollywood film. But Warren Beatty’s ambitious biopic managed to be both intimate and epic, garnering praise from some while putting others to sleep. Much of its more-than-three-hour running time is spent on Reed’s relationship with Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton), who would become a war correspondent, as well as encounters with Eugene O’Neill (Jack Nicholson) and Emma Goldman (Maureen Stapleton, who picked up a Best Supporting Actress Oscar). The details of American Communist and Socialist party faction infighting may get a little fuzzy, but it’s hard to deny the power of “the witnesses,” real-life interview subjects whose insights punctuate the film. (LH)

36. Five Star Final (1931). The title expression may be a thing of journalism past, but this drama still packs a punch. Credit that in part to “Five Star Final” being made in that narrow window of time when filmmakers weren’t restricted by Motion Picture Production Code guidelines (which didn’t come into effect until 1934). The lack of censorship shows not just in the sexual references early on but in the denouement, where the bad guys aren’t punished. Edward G. Robinson, fresh from “Little Caesar,” plays a big-city newspaper editor pressured by his publisher and the folks in marketing and circulation who have decided that “our weak spot is the editorial department.” While the editor is resistant, he opts to revisit a 20-year-old story where a woman was acquitted of killing her husband. He puts a team of reporters (including a pre-”Frankenstein” Boris Karloff) on the story and they quickly discover that the woman, now remarried, has kept her identity secret from her about-to-be-wed daughter. A front-page story could wreck the marriage, setting up an ethics dilemma with real human consequences. The result is a muckraking melodrama that shows journalists at their less-than-finest. (LH)

35. Absence of Malice (1981). Nominated for three Academy Awards, Sydney Pollack’s 1981 film immerses viewers in the world of truth and consequences. When a federal prosecutor (Bob Balaban) leaks the investigation of mob heir Michael Gallagher (Paul Newman) for the presumed murder of a longshoremen’s union official, Miami Standard reporter Megan Carter (Sally Field) writes a series of articles that turn Gallagher’s world upside down. Field’s poignant performance makes us feel the enormous weight of Megan’s reporting, while Newman’s Oscar-nominated turn captures the painful desperation of an innocent man living in the shadow of criminals. As their lives collide in disastrous ways, we see how the pen truly can be mightier than the sword. “Absence of Malice” powerfully explores the personal impact of the press and should be on the short list of must-views for journalism classes. (SW)

34. The Paper (1994). As soon as the Universal Pictures logo dissolves into a clock, Ron Howard’s 1994 film establishes itself as a clever and compelling race-against-time story. When two young African-American men are wrongfully accused of murder, the New York Sun’s metro editor (Michael Keaton) embarks on a daylong crusade to prove their innocence and save the paper’s reputation. Through a razor-sharp screenplay by David and Stephen Koepp and Howard’s slick direction, “The Paper” finds suspense and humor in the chaotic nature of a newsroom (sorry for the jabs, columnists, but they are pretty funny) and the rapid-fire reporting it requires to run on time. The ink-stained cast includes Glenn Close, Randy Quaid and Robert Duvall. (SW)

33. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012). “Have you ever stared fear and danger in the eye and said, ‘Yes’?” In Colin Trevorrow’s winsomely low-key romantic sci-fi comedy, it’s an alleged time traveler’s query of an alternative-weekly intern. It’s also the question journalists consider when comforting the afflicted or afflicting the comfortable (or maybe even just falling in love). “Safety Not Guaranteed” tries less to persuade us of time-travel bona fides (or the impartiality of journalists played by Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson and Karan Soni) than clever sincerity. The result is a film that diverges from convention as often as timelines on Doc Brown’s chalkboard while also resisting cheap cynicism. (NR)

32. Meet John Doe (1941). Arguably Frank Capra’s best film (yes, even considering “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”) … up to a point. The problem is the ending. Capra himself said he didn’t solve it. Still, for most of the way, it’s a smart mix of drama, romance and comedy about a reporter (Barbara Stanwyck) who fabricates the story of a down-and-out guy with suicide plans. When the column catches the public imagination, her paper hires a homeless man (Gary Cooper) to play the part, spawning “John Doe” clubs around the country. Of course, the truth must eventually come out, and that’s where the up-until-then expertly made and beautifully shot film starts to wobble. Still, it’s a treat after you’ve hung out with Senator Jefferson Smith and George Bailey one too many times. (LH)

31. Medium Cool (1969). Cinematographer Haskell Wexler’s 1969 debut feature mixes fictional storytelling and documentary footage to capture the incendiary summer of 1968 in Chicago. At the center of it all is hardened TV news cameraman John Cassellis (Robert Forster). After discovering his network is in cahoots with the FBI, he’s embroiled in conflict heating up across the city and nation. The film’s harrowing climax thrusts viewers into the middle of actual riots surrounding the city’s Democratic National Convention. A portrait of a journalist facing harsh realities outside of his camera’s frame, “Medium Cool” is as relevant now as it was 50 years ago. (SW)

30. The China Syndrome (1979).The 1970s served as the golden age of silver-screen journalism, and James Bridges’ film is one of the era’s standouts — beyond the terrifying timeliness of landing in theaters just 12 days before a real-life nuclear accident at Three Mile Island. It’s a harrowing story about two reporters (Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas) wrestling with whether to release secretly captured footage of a nuclear plant control room during a crisis. Is it worth scaring the public? Are they legally within their rights? They disagree, conflict ensues, and things only get worse when the owner of the plant starts making people disappear. Jack Lemmon stars as the plant manager, who has to contend with his job and his secret knowledge of dangerous construction flaws. It’s a gripping story, with real-world corollaries, particularly the presence of a large corporation willing to risk nuclear meltdown for a profit margin. (ED)

29. The Parallax View (1974). The midpoint of Alan J. Pakula’s “paranoia trilogy” (between “Klute” and “All the President’s Men”) is stately and sinister in ways that would earn Hitchco*ck’s nod of approval. Adapted from Loren Singer’s novel, influenced by JFK and RFK’s assassinations and incensed over all they stole, “View” landed weeks before President Richard Nixon’s resignation in Watergate’s wake. Often eclipsing visible light in vampiric shadow, it now feels like a premonitory vision of America at its most dangerously divisive. Using his “talent for creative irresponsibility,” newspaper reporter Joe Frady (Warren Beatty) investigates the Parallax Corporation, which foments violent tendencies to foster assassins. As pulp powered by a charmingly self-aggrandizing (but eventually hardened) journalist, “View” pairs well with “Shock Corridor.” But this is a more mercilessly twisted knife. Unsparingly depicted in an unbroken take, the Parallax conditioning video is among Pakula’s monuments to masterful tension, alongside some Space Needle pandemonium, an airplane bomb scare and a bleak climax. Its unease wriggles into your synapses and its cautionary reverberations (sadly) still register. (NR)

28. A Mighty Heart (2007). At the time of its release, the fate of kidnapped journalist Daniel Pearl was well known. But even with the passing of just a few years, “A Mighty Heart” has shown itself to be far more than just a movie-of-the-week-ish docudrama. It’s a study in patience, diligence and dignity, primarily following the pregnant Mariane Pearl (Angelina Jolie), steadfastly trying to track down her husband’s whereabouts. (LH)

27. To Die For (1995). Back when Gus Van Sant was one of America’s greatest working filmmakers, he took inspiration from the Pamela Smart case that dominated national headlines and crafted this lurid 1995 satire of class and professional drive. Nicole Kidman’s Suzanne Stone dreams of being not just an anchorwoman but a hard-hitting journalist. The problem is she has all the confidence without any of the integrity. Her career aspirations lead her to recruit a couple of vapid high school boys in a murder plot, all while hoping to climb the ladder at a local news station. Kidman plays Stone like Elle Woods from hell — bubbly, primped and devoid of a moral compass. “To Die For” ultimately offers more insight about class and privilege than it does journalism, but Stone’s middling rise and steep plummet goes to show that it takes much more than blind ambition to make it in the biz. (MR)

26. Capote (2005). As this film tells it, Truman Capote’s reportage of “In Cold Blood” — his landmark long-form about the Clutter murders and their perpetrators — knocked him flat. But you wouldn’t feel compelled to help him up. Some biopics are warts and all. In Bennett Miller’s film, the warts are all in what remains Philip Seymour Hoffman’s finest, bravest work (and, next to “Infamous,” the better Capote biopic). Hoffman blends flamboyant mannerisms and towering reputation with subtle menace and crumbling composure. Capote shifts from comic raconteur to puppet master to, finally, the loser in a Faustian bargain. Against conventional biopic structure, hell pulls at Capote from all sides and wins out. (NR)

25. Spider-Man (2002). Is there any fictional editor more instantly recognizable than J. Jonah Jameson? UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (14)As embodied by J.K. Simmons in director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films (first here in 2002, then twice more), Jameson’s signature cigar-and-mustache bluster is often played for laughs. But his crusade to constantly depict Spider-Man as a menace to society — despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary — reveals something darker about journalism’s nature: For better or worse, the editor decides what version of the truth sells the most papers. In a way, this makes Jameson a minor villain for Peter Parker. Complete with cartoonish cackles, his is a moderate evil we can’t help but love. (AC)

24. Origin (2023). We’re used to movies about an intrepid journalist trying to track down a story. But here comes one where a journalist is trying to hone a thesis. If that sounds like a drag, well, writer-director Ava DuVernay proves otherwise. “Origin” tracks real-life Pulitzer Prize-winner Isabel Wilkerson (expertly played by Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor) through an intermixed professional and personal journey. While dealing with the sudden loss of her husband and mother, Wilkerson searches for a link between American slavery, the Holocaust and the plight of Dalits – once labeled “untouchables” – in India. No surprise that what she finds is caste, given that that’s the title of Wilkerson’s book that is the basis for the film. What’s surprising is that a film about ideas can be this personal and this powerful. Uniquely, the film portrays a journalist with a full, complicated life who still, steadfastly and with curiosity and warmth, gets the job done. “Origin” refuses conventional Hollywood beats, instead mixing a dramatization of the author’s personal struggles with both the ideas and the lives of those she researches. It adds up to a thoughtful and compelling film that refreshingly respects the intelligence and curiosity of its audience. (LH)

23. Almost Famous (2000).The goofy giggles of the “I am a golden god!” speech. The unfairly maligned “Tiny Dancer” scene, which underscores an unabashedly sincere communal apology. Penny Lane (Kate UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (15)Hudson) twirling in a concert’s afterglow to the sounds of Cat Stevens’ “The Wind.” Sure, Cameron Crowe’s quasi-autobiographical look at his tenure as a 15-year-old Rolling Stone stringer leans heavily on “quasi.” But whether sadness or euphoria, its observations are trenchant. Instinct is your greatest asset when idols let you down. That first gulp of passion in a profession you love can quench you for years. Sometimes the bassists and drummers don’t have much to say. And as Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Lester Bangs says: “The only true currency you have in this bankrupt world is what you confess to each other when you’re uncool.” (NR)

22. The Philadelphia Story (1940). Jimmy Stewart is a reporter assigned to cover the wedding of a Philadelphia socialite (Katharine Hepburn in her comeback film after a slump where she was labeled box-office poison). But soon — along with her fiancé (John Howard) and her ex-husband (Cary Grant) — he becomes romantically entangled with her in this classic comedy. It was later musicalized, to lesser effect, as “High Society” with Frank Sinatra in the reporter role, along with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. (LH)

21. The Killing Fields (1984). Dread drives Roland Joffé’s Oscar-winning biographical drama from 1984 about Cambodian journalist Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor) and his American friend Sydney Schanberg (Sam Waterston) on the ground at the start of the Cambodian genocide. Their disparate stories speak to the way that horrifying moment in time was experienced by the people who lived it versus the reporters who regularly flew in and out. Local reporting is an element of war correspondence sometimes ignored in a genre filled with tales about international journalist derring-do. Here, it’s the lens through which the horror builds. Mike Oldfield (of “The Exorcist” fame) provides a score that is an intense, instant-classic accompaniment as things fall apart around our heroes — and then between them. (ED)

20. Kill the Messenger (2014). In 1995, San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb uncovered connections between the CIA, the Contras in Nicaragua and Los Angeles drug dealers. His subsequent “Dark Alliance” series suggested the CIA covered up a flooding of the United States with cocaine, as long as enough profits were funneled back into Nicaraguan rebels’ fight against communist rule. Michael Cuesta’s 2014 dramatization of Webb’s reportage evokes the detailed energy and ennui of enterprise work, and thanks to Jeremy Renner’s best performance outside “The Hurt Locker,” Webb comes across as a more meaningfully complex character than most comparable crusaders, real or fictitious. Sure, the second half takes a more predictable descent into doubt over Webb’s reporting from menacing government spooks, jealous colleagues, nervous editors and his weary wife (Rosemarie DeWitt). But it’s the rare journalism film to nail the details of desk messes and disturbed consciences, and the even rarer one to prominently feature the SPJ logo. (NR)

19. Ernie Pyle’s Story of G.I. Joe / The Story of G.I. Joe (1945). The downtime, the bitterness and humiliation of defeat and the constant state of anxiety experienced by soldiers at war upstage conventional Hollywood in this World War II film. “We’re just the mugs along for the ride,” says a soldier early on. And while war correspondent Ernie Pyle (Burgess Meredith) is also along for the ride, there’s a strong underlying sense we wouldn’t know these intimate aspects of the soldiers if it weren’t for the guy with the typewriter and the eye for detail who bravely joined the combatants into hell. (LH)

UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (16)

18. The Post (2017). When a news truck speeds into the frame like Hans Gruber’s van full of terrorists rolling up in “Die Hard,” welcome to the hands of a master like Steven Spielberg. For a film as far from his more financially fruitful fantasy lands as possible, “The Post” is among his most visually deft — with a smorgasbord of spatial and geometric symbolism that separates its characters and, at times, minimizes or magnifies them. Throw in a killer cast (that lets you know Spielberg watched great TV at the time and pulled the best people from those shows) and perfect pacing to boot. Like “Spotlight” (with whom it shares screenwriter Josh Singer), the film is a mea culpa for cajoling with those whom you might cover on your beat. But by intertwining history’s annals and apprehension for the future (in a stunning visual of the press run as DNA), “The Post” offers its own meaty, momentous meditation on the here and now. (NR)

17. The Insider (1999). Michael Mann’s only film not predicated on physical violence, but no less ferocious than his other work — UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (17)especially given the dubious appetites with which corporations gobble up media today. To dramatize the story behind a controversial “60 Minutes” segment about Big Tobacco’s culpability in cultivating addiction, Mann cast Russell Crowe as whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand and Al Pacino as CBS News producer Lowell Bergman. Crowe’s Oscar might say “Gladiator” on it, but residual goodwill from what remains his finest performance certainly helped — a man confronting flaws and failures with an almost invasive introspection and finding a path to humility that hurts and helps in equal measure. Mann also manipulates Pacino’s clockwork bellowing into a progression of pyrrhic victories, reversed only in the 11th hour. In its second half, this tale of legacy, integrity, ego and bravery amplifies the siege against journalistic probity against the backdrop of a lucrative CBS corporate sale that this story could jeopardize. The shining armor with which print saves as TV caves has a bit more tarnish these days. “You won,” Lowell is told. “Yeah? What did I win?” he replies. Indeed, holding off barbarians at the gate is noble until you need to sell them the gate to fund the fight. Far more portentous and infuriating today than in 1999, “The Insider” conveys the suspense between breath and blown whistles as well as somber realities of the modern news landscape. (NR)

16. Nightcrawler (2014). Tony Gilroy’s thriller follows Jake Gyllenhaal’s iconic sociopath Louis Bloom as he rises up the local-news food chain as a late-night accident chaser. Car accidents, home invasions, domestic violence — nothing is too grisly for Bloom’s eye. The pursuit of scoops — and the network ratings that accompany them — soon see him going to darker lengths to get the stories. The 24-hour news market requires personalities willing to go the distance in service of their craft. As Louis is fond of saying: “If you want to win the lottery, first you have to make the money to buy the ticket.” (ED)

15. A Face in the Crowd (1957). It’s hard to believe “A Face in the Crowd” was initially met with mixed reception given that, in the half-century since its release, it looks more and more prescient, if not optimistic compared to where American society has ended up. Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal) is a radio journalist who meets Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes (Andy Griffith), a charming drunken drifter whose powerful presence on the public stage brings him tremendous success. One problem: He’s an egomaniacal madman whose grasp on power can only lead to devastation, especially as he becomes involved in the political realm. Is it even necessary to state the contemporary corollary? “Crowd” feels like prophecy, but it’s also a biting indictment of how proximity to fame and power can corrupt the ideals of the journalistic endeavor. In the end, the ideals of honesty help save the day … if only it were so simple these days. (ED)

14. Good Night, and Good Luck (2004). Edward R. Murrow didn’t live to see it, but the CBS newsman foretold it in 1958, warning that TV’s use only to distract, delude, amuse or insulate — and not also illuminate or inspire — would be its undoing. Director/co-writer UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (18)George Clooney’s docudrama chronicles Murrow’s commentaries about Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s destructive anti-Communist crusades of the 1950s. The film wisely refuses to simplify Murrow as a conquering hero. Instead, David Strathairn’s expert performance lets us see him work through plenty of trepidation — rising above personal attacks, political bluster and corporate pressure to persuade his viewers that lines had been crossed. For all its serious subject matter, Clooney and Grant Heslov’s screenplay isn’t without time-capsule chuckles, Dianne Reeves’ silken singing voice, snappy newsroom banter or nick-of-time levity. Robert Elswit’s ravishing black-and-white cinematography also savors the era’s ducktails, pomades and smoke. But without responsible information, TV is “merely wires and lights in a box.” The titular signoff begins as Murrow’s trademark and ends as a challenge to an entire medium — one sadly too often unmet today. (NR)

13. Ace in the Hole (aka The Big Carnival) (1951). Billy Wilder’s pitch-black noir stars Kirk Douglas as maybe the most morally reprehensible journalist ever put to celluloid. Washed-up reporter Chuck Tatum spots an opportunity for fame when he hears of a small-town man trapped under debris in a cave. In true Wilder fashion, “Ace in the Hole” goes to some shockingly dark places as it reveals the depths of Tatum’s cynicism. He exploits just about every angle of the tragedy, from prolonging the rescue attempts to capitalizing on people’s fear of a local Native American tribe. Most significantly, however, the film is a cry against people’s desire to witness human suffering and the media’s willingness to deliver it as sensationally as possible. (MR)

12. The End of the Tour (2015). James Ponsoldt’s 2015 film presents Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky’s (Jesse Eisenberg) five-day UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (19)interview with the late author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) as a journalistic journey of self-discovery. Rolling Stone paid for, but never published, the interview; Lipsky later turned his transcripts into a best-selling book that became the basis for the movie. Given the Wallace estate’s disavowal of the film, it becomes a question of whether the film’s depiction of the author is true to his person or the persona created and embraced by millions of readers who wished for an author who felt as if he jumped straight out of his novels. Likely the latter, but “Tour” embraces that dichotomy — Lipsky himself searching for the answer to that question and finding himself, and the audience, humbled by the humanity of a man who left us with unforgettable insights.(ED)

11. Deadline USA (1952). “A free press, like a free life, is always in danger.” In perhaps cinema’s most quotable journalism movie, Humphrey Bogart plays a newspaper editor trying to land a big story about a mob boss even as his paper faces acquisition from a rival, who plans to fold it. The film spends more time in the newsroom than most of its ilk, adding an air of authenticity and showing a world beyond just publisher/editor/reporter. The supporting cast — including Kim Hunter as the editor’s ex who knows she’ll always play second fiddle to the presses and Ethel Barrymore as the widow of the former owner — is first rate. (LH)

10. Groundhog Day (1993). Thanks to Harold Ramis’s 1993 film, the phrase “Groundhog Day” is now ingrained in the global lexicon with political figures, military personnel, theologians and others referencing it to describe seemingly unending situations like the one inUPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (20) which Bill Murray’s character finds himself. When TV weatherman Phil Connors covers Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, for the fourth year in a row, he relives the day over and over in a time loop, providing a fitting metaphor for the constant-content world of daily news, but it’s also something deeper. Through this high concept, Ramis and co-writer Danny Rubin portray a man finding magic in the mundane. By switching up his attitude and routine, Phil doesn’t just become a better journalist. He eventually embraces the little town on which he reports every year and emerges as a better person. “Groundhog Day” is a great romantic comedy, but it’s also a beautiful — and very funny — love letter to life itself. (SW)

9. Christine (2016). Investigative reporter Christine Chubbuck became the first person to commit suicide on live TV — a drastic action that should have changed broadcast television forever but yet somehow remains a footnote in the history of journalism. Directed by Antonio Campos, “Christine” takes the real story and transforms it into an utterly devastating portrait of a woman’s final days as she is undone by a deadly combination of earnestness and ambition. Rebecca Hall plays Chubbuck to quiet perfection, portraying her as a victim of her own mental illness as much as the media’s growing tendency to emphasize blood and guts over compassionate and informative stories. In the film, the abrasive Christine battles both ratings and her own insecurities while trying desperately to rise above what she views as inferior news coverage. Even an attempt to play the game gets her nowhere and pushes her to that dreadful final act. “Christine” is a reflection of the smaller tolls the Watergate era had on the media as journalists struggled to find their place in a changing world. Sadly, Christine never found hers. (AC)

8. Network (1976). Sidney Lumet’s Oscar winner brutally satirizes nearly all of society’s ailments, but the exploitation of Peter Finch’s mentally deteriorating news anchor remains its most memorable and for good reason; his “mad prophet of the airwaves” is an UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (21)unfortunately prescient example of the outrage machine that too often dominates both aisles of corporate media. Today, Finch’s character would probably face a Twitter ban and spout troubling anti-immigration rhetoric, all while drumming up a considerable fanbase. Like most targets skewered in Paddy Chayefsky’s script, the characters running the UBS network aren’t so much mad as hell; they’re bitter, sad and morally bankrupt. (MR)

7. Sweet Smell of Success (1957). Movies don’t get much more cynical than this noir classic in which a sketchy press agent (Tony Curtis) does whatever it takes to get in the good graces of a career make-or-breaker gossip columnist (Burt Lancaster). Penned by playwright Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman and shot in glorious black and white by James Wong Howe, it’s packed with dialogue that’s simultaneously unnatural (“You’re a cookie full of arsenic”) and just right. (LH)

6. Zodiac (2007). The still-unidentified Zodiac, a serial murderer who made Northern California his own private ant farm from 1968 to 1969, had but five confirmed kills. He also had a few living victims: Robert Graysmith, Paul Avery and David Toschi — respectively, a UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (22)code-breaking cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle, that newspaper’s crime reporter and the San Francisco police inspector who became intertwined with both of them. David Fincher’s epic drills into the dark pathologies of each man’s process — anxiety, compulsion, uncertainty, miscommunication, territoriality. Through those power dynamics, “Zodiac” becomes a spine-tingling evocation of how a desperation for definitive answers can obscure personal danger — how discovery and understanding can come to supersede sanity, safety, justice or even reason. So insistent, and successful, is it at duplicating that hyper-vigilancethat, by film’s end, you may try writing a “k” in two, not three, strokes to see the difference. (NR)

5. Shattered Glass (2003). Most journalists know the story of Stephen Glass, the star reporter at The New Republic who fabricated most of what he wrote for the prestigious publication in the mid-1990s. Screenwriter Billy Ray’s 2003 directorial debut breathes new life into the scandal, keeping us on the edge of our seats as it builds toward Glass’s inevitable fall from grace. Hayden Christensen’s performance stirs up a surprising amount of empathy for the deceitful writer, but Ray wisely focuses on his editor, Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard). When Forbes Digital Tool reporters question Glass’s article on computer hackers, Lane unravels a web of lies that opens his eyes to the cracks in the fact-checking system — and how reporters can charm their way through them. Sarsgaard makes the editor’s anxiety and frustration our own as he’s forced to resist Glass’s manipulation and answer to staff members who love the young writer. “Shattered Glass” is a suspenseful, inspiring exploration of what journalism is all about — searching for the truth, no matter what the cost. (SW)

UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (23)

4. Citizen Kane (1941). Orson Welles’ legendary 1941 pseudo-biopic combines the lives of numerous yellow journalists from the turn of the 20th century into one of the most magnetic characters in cinema history. Welles used cutting-edge techniques to tell the swift rise and crushing fall of his titular character, Charles Foster Kane. From the mysterious first utterance on his deathbed — “Rosebud” — back to his tragic boyhood, his first newspaper and his attempt at politics, the audience knows Kane and comes to understand his overriding desire to be loved. Most of all, Welles explores the way in which the early newspaper tycoons — such as William Randolph Hearst or Joseph Pulitzer — used their control to push their own agendas and fulfill their own desires. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and no power is greater than that of the storyteller. When that power is lost, however, Welles makes sure we still empathize with a man whose “greatness” was never good enough for him. The greatest American film of all time? Surely among them, it’s a time capsule to an era of journalism that continues to define where the profession remains to this day.(ED)

UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (24)

3. His Girl Friday (1940) Featuring one of the all-time great duos of the silver screen, Howard Hawks’ comedy stars Rosalind Russell as Hildy Johnson, a feisty reporter on the verge of retiring to get married, and Cary Grant as Walter Burns, Hildy’s headstrong editor and ex-husband, who will do whatever it takes to keep her on the job. (Sound familiar? It’s a gender-tweaked version of “The Front Page.”) Luckily for Walter, the politically motivated execution of a man who may have been railroaded provides Walter with the opportunity to give Hildy one last job and convince her this fast-paced, gonzo career isn’t one she can give up for good. “His Girl Friday” is simultaneously a love letter to — and an indictment of — reporters who will resort to anything, including bending the rules, to get to the truth. The additional layer of Hildy being the star reporter in a time when female journalists were often relegated to the society pages makes “His Girl Friday” a rarity during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Hildy could easily have been a joke, but the movie adores her as much as Walter does. She is, after all, a woman who tackles and tricks her way to truth — a morally ambiguous editor’s dream girl, if there ever was one. (AC)

UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (25)2. All the President’s Men (1976). Removed from the immediacy of its subject matter — Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s reportage that ultimately undid Richard Nixon’s presidency — this remains a vigorously entertaining pursuit of accuracy and accountability. Revisited today, it’s easy to see now just how much inspiration David Fincher took from this for “Zodiac” in terms of the natural ebb and flow of not just investigative journalism but workplace dynamics. For those eager to watch all the dominoes fall, screenwriter William Goldman’s ending will undoubtedly feel anticlimactic. Journalists will walk away satisfied knowing they’ve seen the first one tip and amazed by the shoe leather and sweat equity expended to get there. Director Alan J. Pakula and inimitable cinematographer Gordon Willis concoct any number of astonishing visual compositions, but two stand out. The first is Woodward (Robert Redford) hurtling down a dark street lit thinly at its end by a streetlight when he’s late for his climactic meeting with his covert source Deep Throat — as if the window of opportunity is narrowing behind him. The last is the closing dioptic shot of Woodward and Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) pounding away at their typewriters once they’ve put the pieces together while Nixon’s reelection inauguration plays in the foreground. It’s easy to gaze upon the murk up front. Bless those who continually throw their hands into it to dig deep for truth and consequences. (NR)

1. Spotlight (2015). Universally acclaimed for both the important story it tells and the way it showcases the relentless research that goes into such far-reaching investigative stories, this Oscar-winning Best Picture also earned kudos for its ensemble cast, which includes UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (26)Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams (who, in one scene, perfectly conveys the “did he really say that?” moment many journalists have experienced on lesser stories). But, like a good newspaper team, “Spotlight” is never about one person. Rather, it’s about the relentless search for the truth, in this case regarding child abuse in the Catholic Church investigated by the Boston Globe Spotlight team of reporters. Wisely, director/co-writer Tom McCarthy and co-writer Josh Singer avoid cluttering the film with subplots and unnecessary background on the news team. This is a film that trusts its audience ot care about what’s important and to respect the work involved in uncovering it. (LH)

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UPDATED: 200 journalism movies, ranked (2024)


What was the greatest year of movie making according to many film historians? ›

Many critics, film historians and movie buffs view 1939 as the single greatest year in the history of cinema.

What is the movie about journalists investigating? ›

"Nightcrawler" (2014) explores the darker side of journalism. Additionally, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (2011) intertwines investigative journalism with mystery. These films highlight the dedication, courage, and ethical dilemmas faced by investigative journalists.

What is the most analyzed film of all time? ›

Here are ten movies that were made to be overanalyzed.
  • 8 Predestination (2014) ...
  • 7 Memento (2000) ...
  • 6 Inception (2010) ...
  • 5 Vertigo (1958) Alfred J. ...
  • 4 Fight Club (1999) Fox 2000 Pictures. ...
  • 3 Donnie Darko (2001) Flower Films. ...
  • 2 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Focus Features. ...
  • 1 Persona (1966) AB Svensk Filmindustri.
Jan 6, 2023

What is known as the greatest movie of all time? ›

Citizen Kane (1941) stood at number 1 for five consecutive polls, with 22 votes in 1962, 32 votes in 1972, 45 votes in 1982, 43 votes in 1992, and 46 votes in 2002. It also topped the first two directors' polls, with 30 votes in 1992 and 42 votes in 2002.

What is the movie about the journalist who lost her eye? ›

In 2018, a film based on Colvin's life, A Private War, directed by Matthew Heineman, written by Arash Amel, and starring Rosamund Pike as Colvin, was released, based on the 2012 article "Marie Colvin's Private War" in Vanity Fair magazine by Marie Brenner.

What is the movie about a journalist in a mental hospital? ›

Shock Corridor is a 1963 American psychological thriller film starring Peter Breck, Constance Towers, and Gene Evans. Written, directed and produced by Samuel Fuller, it tells the story of a journalist who gets himself intentionally committed to a mental hospital to solve a murder committed within the institution.

What is the greatest year in film history? ›

Film historians often rate 1939 as "the greatest year in the history of Hollywood". Hollywood studios were at the height of their Golden Age, producing a number of exceptional motion pictures, many of which became honored as all-time classic films.

What was the golden age of film production? ›

Classical Hollywood cinema, or the Golden Age of Hollywood, is defined as a technical and narrative style characteristic of American cinema from 1913 to 1962, during which thousands of movies were issued from the Hollywood studios.

Why was 1999 the best year for movies? ›

DETROW: In 1999, old masters like Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick were still putting out provocative work, while new masters like David Fincher and Paul Thomas Anderson were pushing the boundaries of narrative and cinematic form. And of course, 1999 was also the year that "Star Wars" returned to the big screen.

What is the greatest era of cinema? ›

Some will contend the best years for movies came in the 1990s, with the explosion and mainstream success of independent film. Others will point to the great generation of filmmakers that emerged in Hollywood in the 1970s. While some will look to the Golden Age of Hollywood in the '30s.

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