She Said is an impactful and thought-provoking new film garnering a lot of awards buzz. Starring Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan, Maria Schrader‘s film depicts the New York Times investigation of sexual misconduct in Hollywood that jump-started the #MeToo movement. Journalism matters at any moment in history, but investigative and writing methods have changed and redeveloped over time. That’s likely the reason why stories about dedicated and relentless investigative journalists are rare nowadays.
From modern-day and decades past, there are movies about journalist individuals and teams that would stop at nothing to find out the truth. These were often biographical movies inspired by real-life events. For everyone who loved the dedication and performances in She Said, there may be other movies of interest.
‘She Said’ (2022)
She Said covers the investigation behind the Harvey Weinstein accusations. Two brave journalists, Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) embark on a heart-wrenching journey of finding out all they possibly can about the first few victims of Weinstein’s assaults, including the deals made with them.
As Twohey and Kantor dive deeper into the matter, their emotions start to get the best of them. Mulligan’s and Kazan’s portrayals carry a lot of emotional weight; in the movie, their characters both have daughters and sympathize with the women they interview. This strong piece of film has also brought Carey Mulligan her well-earned Best Actress nominations in numerous award shows.
Spotlight was the Best Picture winner at the 2016 Oscars, which rattled the public after winning against some strong movies like The Revenant and Room. Despite these two features garnering more audience views, Spotlight delves into serious true events that shook the public when they were first learned about.
The movie revolves around the journalist Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) and his colleagues from The Boston Globe, digging into the cases of child abuse in the Catholic Church. In Spotlight, Rezendes tracks down former abuse victims, attempting to get them on the record to talk about what had happened to them. He and his team uncover decades of systemic abuse, opening the eyes of the public and bringing the issue under the spotlight.
‘All the President’s Men’ (1976)
Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman star in the intense and gripping drama-thriller All the President’s Men as reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in pursuit of details regarding the Watergate scandal. They’re reporters for The Washington Post, and first notice something wrong after a break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters.
After diving deep into the matter, Woodward and Bernstein discover they may have opened a Pandora’s Box of secrets regarding the election. Alan J. Pakula in the director’s chair brought magic to the silver screen as none could at the time; his direction of Redford and Hoffman displayed fantastic chemistry. The intensity of the story makes this film a cult classic, but also a historical proof of seeking justice.
‘The Post’ (2017)
Steven Spielberg always manages to bring different worlds and times to life, but with The Post, he also helped viewers to see how the revelation of the Pentagon Papers came to be. Not only did he use some real-life documents and voice tapes, but he rushed to film and edit the movie in 2017 when the US (and global) political climate stood on shaky legs.
In The Post, the fantastic Meryl Streep plays The Washington Post’s first female director, Kay Graham; alongside her, the journalist in charge of uncovering the papers, Ben Bradlee is played by none other than Tom Hanks. This isn’t just an exciting story about an event that changed American democracy; it’s also an acting and directing masterclass in many ways.
‘Live from Baghdad’ (2002)
Live from Baghdad covers the story behind CNN’s live reporting from Iraq in the 1990s. A CNN editor and reporter, Robert Wiener (Michael Keaton) convinces his superiors to let him travel with a team of journalists to Iraq and cover the events and breaking news.
This move by Wiener solidified CNN as a respectable investigative establishment at the time, but the movie itself didn’t rely on picking sides. Live from Baghdad stands out as a feature that shows not only the events between the two countries but the reporters’ struggle to adapt to a different culture and live through historic moments by staying neutral.
‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ (2016)
This Tina Fey feature is a clever mix of comedy and drama, although the events in the movie are based on real life. The journalist Kim Barker wrote a memoir, which was developed into a feature film in which Tina Fey plays her. Barker reported from Afghanistan in 2003, during the war, and spent three months on the field.
The story doesn’t only tackle spending time in a war-torn territory; it also shows how far dedication goes and what it does to a person. In the movie, viewers can see Fey’s character start to lose touch with her old life and home, while simultaneously getting overly drawn into her reporting. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot dives into comedy wisely and subtly, making the entire journey more interesting rather than less serious.
‘The Killing Fields’ (1984)
Sam Waterston and Haing S. Ngor play an American and Cambodian journalist team reporting on Pol Pot’s tyranny during the Cambodian Civil War. This heavy drama depicts the events of the Khmer Rouge regime, but interestingly, the supporting actor, Haing S. Ngor isn’t a professional. Moreover, he had direct experience with the Civil War and fled when it happened.
It is said that Ngor had several terrifying flashbacks during filming, and his portrayal of the real-life reporter Dith Pran is one of the most powerful on film. Besides him and Waterston, the stellar cast includes John Malkovich and Julian Sands. The Killing Fields remains among the most impactful journalism movies, and unofficially among the best war movies of all time.
This intelligent, well-written, and fantastically performed movie revolves around the real-life interview between the British television host David Frost (Michael Sheen) and former US President, Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). It’s one of the best portrayals of historic events, packed into a rather tense and thought-provoking 120 minutes.
Frost/Nixon depicts Richard Nixon’s resolve to appear before the public and answer every burning question about his presidency. However, he sets the conditions and decides that his journalist of choice is the British showman David Frost. Since Frost wasn’t used to such content, the public, including Nixon, didn’t expect much from the interview. However, Frost came prepared, and Michael Sheen delivered one of his strongest silver screen performances to date.
‘The Insider’ (1999)
In one of the most crucial stories of all time, Jeff Wigand, played here by Russell Crowe, becomes a whistleblower, revealing that tobacco companies always knew about the dangers of smoking. Wigand is at first reluctant to talk, but with some persuasion from the intelligent journalist and producer Lowell Bergman, played by Al Pacino, Wigand finally decides to appear on 60 Minutes.
The movie displays how Jeff Wigand’s life got upturned by coming out with the truth. Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine a pack of cigarettes without a warning attached to it, but back then, this was a well-hidden secret. Interestingly, when Wigand agreed for Michael Mann to direct his story, he requested that no cigarettes appear in the movie as one of his conditions for cooperation.
One of David Fincher‘s most critically successful features is also not what many would expect out of his work. Although Zodiac directly tackles the hunt for the Zodiac killer, who terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1960s/early 1970s, it’s not about showing gruesome, blood-curling murders.
Zodiac is, in fact, a tense and ominous thriller about journalists (Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.) joining forces with the police to unravel the killer’s identity. This long but gripping movie portrays a fantastic dedication to getting justice. Interestingly, the investigation regarding the Zodiac killer was re-opened after the movie’s release; besides that, Fincher and his team investigated the case for 18 months before starting filming.