As a Film/TV major who’s dabbled in journalism throughout my time at BU, a good historical drama based on real-life journalistic triumphs never fails to get my heart pounding. And if you’re like me, you’ve probably lost your patience with media coverage a time or two in the last few months. So if you need a boost of passion about the importance of the fourth estate, here’s a list of films for you.
Shattered Glass tells the story of Stephen Glass, a New Republic reporter from the late ‘90s. This movie is the ignored middle child of the historical journalism drama genre and I can’t figure out why. At risk of giving too much away, all I’ll say is that Hayden Christensen is a monster in this film. It’s completely underrated and the plot really sneaks up on you. I’m putting it at the top of the list so you’ll take it seriously for the masterpiece that it is.
Want to honor your COM heritage? Check out Spotlight. The protagonists of this film are COM alums themselves. Go check the Pulitzer wall if you don’t believe me. Heard of this movie? Of course you have: it won the Academy Award for Best Picture back in 2016. One of the most well-known films of the genre, this movie is beautifully written and produced. And it’s set right here in Boston.
All The President’s Men
When you think of political journalism at its finest, you probably think of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and the downfall of Richard Nixon. Made in 1976, this movie is genre-defining. Scratch that–it’s genre-creating. As we navigate the current era of political corruption, you’ve got to check this one out.
All these films about Nixon, and this is the only one that has him as an actual character who interacts with the protagonists in any kind of significant way. This movie is also neglected in the name of its more popular peers (notably Spotlight and All The President’s Men). In spite of this, it’s deeply relevant, another must-see in these unprecedented times. The most famous line? “When the President does it, that means it’s not illegal.” Bone-chilling, right?
By now you might be rolling your eyes and thinking to yourself, ugh, is this another movie about Watergate? Well, not exactly. This film tells the story of the Pentagon Papers, and how Katherine Graham launched The Washington Post into the big leagues. Also, unlike the rest of the films on this list, this one’s got a female protagonist.
You don’t have to be a journalism student to love these movies. Not a film fanatic? Try one or two of them; they just might surprise you.