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Correction appended.

Journalism movies have fared well in the 90 Academy Awards ceremonies since the award show first began, with at least 33 films and documentaries in the genre receiving at least one nomination. 

The 33rd film to be added to the list is Steven Spielberg’s The Post, which is nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Picture, but the odds of it winning the night’s top award are slim.

Journalism movies are relatable and often reveal some social or political wrongdoing, which is why they’re are appealing to the masses, Kelee Riesbeck, editor of Ohio Today and ohiotoday.org, said.

Movies that follow journalists uncovering inconsistencies hidden from the public eye are referred to as superhero journalist movies. Tom McCarthy’s Best Picture winner Spotlight fits in the parameters of the subgenre. The film focuses on the Boston Globe’s investigative team as it researches sexual assault cases within the Catholic Church. 

“These plotlines generally expose some type of government problem,” Riesbeck, who is also the director of content for advancement communication and marketing, said. “It exposes some type of social or political cover up or gaffe.”

Leah Nutter, a junior studying integrated media and Spanish, liked Spotlight because she thought it was cool to learn how investigative journalism worked and how hard it is.

Even though she liked the film, Nutter said films tend to glamorize professions, especially journalism.

“It’s back-breaking work, and they make it seem super fun,” Nutter said.

Despite the allure surrounding journalists in film, it is good to show the press in movies because people care about journalism and it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, Nutter said.

“If people didn’t care about it, they wouldn’t make movies about it,” she said. 

Alexandra Kamody, director of The Athena Cinema, thinks journalism films are important because they highlight the freedom of the press.

“A lot of the times we just think of the media and press as a negative,... but I think it’s great to see these movies of the press championing social issues,” Kamody said.

Spotlight is one of three journalism films to win the statue for Best Picture after a nearly 70-year dry spell following the 1947 award-winning Gentleman’s Agreement

Movies about journalism are not always the most glamorous and are not a big spectacle like other Best Picture nominees, which could contribute to the few wins the genre has received, Kamody said.

When the Academy votes for the Best Picture winner, Riesbeck said she thinks the body of voters look at every component of the film — from cinematography to the cast — and not just the storyline. 

“They look at it as more of an art form as opposed to a (Pulitzer) Prize in Journalism, which is really more about content than how it looked on the page,” she said.

Films like Spotlight and All The President’s Men had captivating storylines and a certain energy to them that made them deserving of the attention they received, Riesbeck said. Even though Riesbeck found The Post to be entertaining, she doesn't believe it should have been nominated for Best Picture, citing the politics behind the decision. 

“It’s a Spielberg picture that has Meryl Streep, whom I love, and that’s what gets nominated,” Riesbeck said. “It’s just automatic.”

Here are all the films we found that were nominated for an Academy Award:

Absence of Malice

Ace in the Hole

*All the President’s Men

Broadcast News


The China Syndrome


*Citizen Kane

Cry Freedom

Five Star Final

Foreign Correspondent

The Front Page (1931)


**Gentleman's Agreement

*The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Good Night, and Good Luck

The Insider

**It Happened One Night

It Happened Tomorrow

*The Killing Fields

*La Dolce Vita



The Paper

The People vs. Larry Flynt

***The Post




Under Fire

Wag the Dog

War Photographer

*The Year of Living Dangerously

*denotes films that won at least one Academy Award

**denotes films that won Best Picture

***denotes the film nominated this year



Correction: A previous version of this report misspelled Kelee Riesbeck's name. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information. 

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