Journalism, at its best, is an ethical vehicle for relaying facts and revealing the truth. Films about journalism can highlight the struggles that reporters go through to bring their work to light. All too often, however, there are people behind the scenes that would prefer that the facts be buried, and that, too, can make for a captivating movie.
To determine the best journalism movies, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of August 2022, weighting all ratings equally. Only movies that center on a journalist protagonist or deal with journalism as a theme were included in the resulting ranking. (Documentaries were not considered.)
Political spectacles dominate the films, from the sex scandal cover-up in “Wag the Dog” to the dismantling of Mccartheyism in “Good Night and Good Luck.” Multiple films explore the Watergate scandal, including “All the President’s Men,” and “Frost/Nixon,” the latter directed by famous child actor-turned-director Ron Howard. (Here are the best and worst movies directed by famous actors.)
Multiple films are dramatizations of the struggles of real-life war correspondents, including Sydney Schanberg, who covered the Cambodian Civil War, and Richard Boyle, a photojournalist who reported on the civil war in El Salvador. Another war film, “Reds,” recounts the romance between Louise Bryant and John Reed, two U.S. radicals who documented the Russian Revolution.
Journalists may come up against attempts to silence them – sometimes from within their own networks, as dramatized in “The Insider,” which stars Al Pacino as Lowell Bergman, a 60 Minutes producer who battled CBS and the tobacco industry to air his story.
Some films portray unscrupulous reporters that use deception for personal or political gain. The neo-noir film “Nightcrawler,” for example, follows a sociopathic stringer who goes too far in order to obtain shocking crime footage. While many of the movies are biographical or historical dramas, the films also include thrillers, satire, romance, and comedy. (Here are the 25 best political comedies in movie history.)
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