Films

By Alexa MacKie

Freedom of the press is the reason that most of the news we consume is made available to us. Throughout history, journalists have strived to write, share and expose the world’s biggest stories and many have even risked their lives in the process. [Editor’s note: This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to two journalists, in recognition of their essential role in uncovering truth.] Their efforts have been depicted in films for years and the art of journalism has also been shown in a fictitious form. These films are broad and engaging. They manage to bring attention to the dwindling industry of newspapers, as well as to encapsulate the modern-day consumption of media. Here are some top picks in journalism films to honour the art of journalism throughout history:

Bombshell – director Jay Roach

One of the more recent films on the list, Roach’s Bombshell was released in 2019. It tells of events beginning in 2016 at Fox News and how its CEO, Roger Ailes, was exposed for sexual harassment of female employees. Workers begin to fight back against his crimes, risking their careers with every step they take. Bombshell shows the harsh reality that too many women face: being sexually harassed in the workplace. However, it’s an important topic to discuss, especially given the recent wave of sexual-assault victims bravely sharing their stories.

Spotlight – director Tom McCarthy

Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards, McCarthy’s Spotlight depicts The Boston Globe’s team of investigative writers who uncover the crimes of one of the world’s most trusted and long-lasting institutions, the Catholic Church. It features an ensemble cast including Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Michael Keaton, and it received widespread critical praise for its acting, accuracy and writing. The determined minds on the “Spotlight” team are stellar examples of just how important journalists are to our society. They amplify the voices of those who have a story to tell, which can ultimately serve the public’s favour and protect people from similar problems in the future.

Zodiac – director David Fincher

One of America’s most notorious, unidentified serial killers is the Zodiac, active in San Francisco from the 1960s into the early 1970s. Fincher’s Zodiac stars Marvel-familiar faces as the group of journalists and cops involved in the manhunt for the murderer. However, instead of staying in the shadows, the killer regularly contacts journalists by sending cryptic messages and bloodstained clothing, making the case all the more intriguing and hauntingly suspenseful. Zodiac is historically accurate and demonstrates the drive and ambition of a journalist willing to find the story no matter what the cost.

Nightcrawler – director Dan Gilroy

Neo-noir revives the genre of film noir and hardly any film accomplishes this as well as Nightcrawler. Gilroy’s directorial debut stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, a stringer who records violent incidents in LA during the middle of the night, then sells them to television news channels. Lou hires a partner, Rick, and together they embark on dangerous (as well as unethical) endeavours to get the biggest stories they can find. In a true anti-hero fashion, Lou’s greed and overwhelming ambition slowly spirals to make him a danger to himself and others, which only makes the film more interesting.

Almost Famous – director Cameron Crowe

Before he was a director, Crowe started writing for Rolling Stone magazine when he was 16. He toured and interviewed rock acts including Led Zeppelin, Rod Stewart and Fleetwood Mac. Almost Famous is a semi-autobiographical telling of his adventures on the road and some of the fictitious characters are said to be based on some of rock and roll’s most familiar faces. William Miller, a 15-year-old writer, is recruited by Rolling Stone to tag along with the band members of Stillwater. Along the way, he meets an eclectic group of die-hard fans known as “Band Aids,” and he unmasks a portion of what is behind the curtain of fame. “Famous people are just more interesting” – Almost Famous is the perfect film that demonstrates just that and more.

All The President’s Men – director Alan J. Pakula

Unlike the fictitious story of Nightcrawler, All The President’s Men is noted for being one of the most historically accurate films of all time, based on the book of the same title written by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. Perhaps this is because the story itself is so interesting that Hollywood didn’t find the need to add its usual dramatic embellishments. It follows Washington Post journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward as they uncover Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Woodward regularly meets with White House insider, Deep Throat, who provides limited knowledge into one of the biggest presidential scandals in history. For a story that’s not only accurate but also gripping and devastatingly eventful, All The President’s Men is a safe movie choice for celebrating the freedom of the press.

Alexa MacKie is a Glebe Collegiate Institute student in Grade 12 who has been a leader in the school’s newspaper, the Glebe Gazette.

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