As I was without an Internet connection for the past week, I ended up watching a lot of television news. And while hearing about Barack Obama’s every move and every analyst’s baseless prediction of the day is fun for… well, really not all that long, here are some movies about the news are much more entertaining than trying to figure who among Olbermann, O’Reilly, and Lou Dobbs needs to shut up first.
Broadcast News (1987): Nominated for seven Academy Awards, Broadcast News takes a look at the evolution of television journalism and its shift of focus from quality reporting to getting ratings. The vehicle through which writer/director/producer James L. Brooks presents this shift is a love triangle between Jane Craig (Holly Hunter), a passionate producer who cares deeply about the quality of her reporting; Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks), another devoted reporter who wants to be recognized for his hard work; and Tom Grunick (William Hurt), a good-looking new guy who is able to work his way up the ladder of promotion, despite his total lack of knowledge or journalistic skill. As significant changes happen at the network, the relationships between the three reach a climax, allowing the film to shed light on the way news media has shifted today.
All the President’s Men (1976): Based on the book of the same name, the film tells the story of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s investigation into the Watergate scandal that eventually led to the resignation of Richard Nixon. Directed in manner that makes the audience feel like a journalist too, the film is both an exciting thriller and a history lesson. Topped off with perhaps two of the greatest performances by two amazing actors, Robert Redford as Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein, the film is a great for those who like politics, history, the days when the president actually got in trouble for committing crimes.
Sweet Smell of Success (1957): Though media moguls are powerful today, they might have been even bigger in the heyday of sensational journalism… or at least that’s how it appears in Sweet Smell of Success. This film noir focuses on Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), a poor publicist who is intent on garnering the good graces J.J. Hunsecker, an all powerful gossip columnist who can make or break anyone in a single day. As J.J.’s favors become more sinister, they lead Falco into a position to do horrible things all for the pursuit of “success.” Though the film is more a noir thriller than story about journalism, the combination of the two creates an extremely entertaining film and a careful examination of the journalistic profession.
– Brandon Hammer