While Hollywood films are never short of rule breakers, heart breakers and bone breakers, it’s not too often we’re introduced to news breakers.
However, on the rare occasions we are, fireworks are never far away. Be it comedy or drama, indoor broadcast or live from some puddle in the Midwest, watching cinematic reporters perform the dance of the news bulletin is a wonder to behold.
Particularly if these 10 have anything to do with it...
(Images: Rex Features, All Star)
Mike Pomeroy - Morning Glory
Write Morning Glory off as a mere rom-com at your peril. While the schmaltz factor is admittedly high, there’s Harrison Ford, gruffly giving one of his finest performances to date. He plays Mike Pomeroy, a former hard-talking, serious news journalist who reluctantly sells his soul to join Diane Keaton on a fluffy morning show suffering from falling ratings. With a thousand-yard scowl (imagine Hans Solo catching Chewy dropping crumbs in the Millennium Falcon), he dials up the dry and turns in a comedic masterclass.
Edward Murrow - Good Night and Good Luck
Borrowing its title from the pay-off of one heartfelt speech, George Clooney’s 2005 true life-inspired drama follows US broadcast journalist Edward Murrow and his crusade to censure senator Joseph McCarthy during those sketchily patriotic years of the Cold War. Shot in black-and-white, the smokey news rooms and tense score heighten the drama no end, though it was renowned character actor David Strathairn, in his first major leading role as Murrow, who really gives this righteous tussle its collar-tightening authenticity. His performance received an Oscar nomination in 2006, much deservedly.
Howard Cosell - Ali
Still heavily underrated, Michael Mann’s 2001 Cassius Clay biopic punches well above its weight. For one, Will Smith is much better as Ali than he had any right to be, and yet for all the jabs in the ring, all those jogging sessions and sweat-laden montages we're immersed in, it’s the Champ's verbal sparring with sports broadcaster Howard Cosell (a barely visible Jon Voight) that provides the true entertainment. Cosell makes us privy to a relationship deeper than you would expect, asking the tough questions on camera as Ali bats them away in jokey fashion, while administrating advice off camera as dark forces threaten the boxer’s career.
Evan Baxter - Bruce Almighty
Thank God for Bruce Almighty. Without it, we may have never witnessed the Hollywood rise of Steve Carell, who bagged his first sizeable movie role in the film playing Bruce’s rival news reporter Evan Baxter. Having come straight from appearing as a faux news reporter on The Daily Show, Carell was a natural fit as the uptight douchebag who nabs Bruce’s job, and who ultimately gets his comeuppance when 'The Holy One' exacts revenge by tampering with his vocal chords mid-broadcast. The newsroom scenes provide much of the film’s biggest belly laughs.
Howard Beale - Network
The granddaddy of TV news movies this, Sidney Lumet’s highly charged news satire presented us with frazzled, overworked, on-the-edge anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch, who sadly died shortly after wrapping and became the first actor to win an Oscar posthumously). Now of course a pop culture icon thanks to his “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore” speech, it's continually referenced in film and TV, and evoked every time a Premier League football manager loses the plot.
Ron Burgundy - Anchorman
Reeking of Scotch, Sex Panther and rich mahogany, Anchorman’s Channel 4 News Team weren't just the most fragrant news team in all of San Diego. Oh no, Ron Burgundy’s enigmatic front man ensured they were also the most handsome. A macho reminder of the phlegmatic days of ‘70s newsrooms - albeit where urban skirmishes and men getting killed by tridents is an everyday occurance - Burgundy’s brilliance is in his unabashed style, delivering news like he’s making love to the audience with every syllable. It’s enough to make you stay classy forever.
Aaron Altman - Broadcast News
Why is the movie newsroom such fertile ground for love triangles? We’re guessing the aphrodisiac of ratings, but whatever the reason, it works - James L Brook’s 1987 romantic drama Broadcast News finds two reporters, alpha male Tom (William Hurt) and everyman Aaron (Albert Brooks), vying for anchor as well as their producer Jane (Holly Hunter). Such is his talent and earnest nature, we're pretty sure everyone is rooting for Aaron by the final third.
Alison Scott - Knocked Up
She’s not a hard hitting journalist, we’ll grant you that. But as entertainment news reporters go, few lay bare the tribulations and frustrations of working red carpets quite like Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) from Knocked Up. Off camera, we see Alison pulling her face at the mundane nature of collaring celebrities for E!, and when she gets an unexpected pregnancy, her career looks set to be over... until her bosses tell her it could boost her ratings, because pregnant is cute, and like any true professional, she willingly exploits her unborn fetus.
Gale Weathers - Scream series
Clearly defying her parents who mapped her future out as a weathergirl, the unfortunately named Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) went the other route, becoming a fame-hungry news reporter who gets her big scoop when on the scene of some high school slayings. In all honesty, she's a bit of a bitch, and being shot, stabbed and kicked in all four installments of Wes Anderson’s classic teen slasher from 1999 to 2011, she's got every right to be. _______________________________________________________
April O’Neil - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Cheesier than those pizza slices the Ninja Turtles wolf down on a daily basis, this 1990 live-action offering was never going to threaten Oscar night. For those of a certain age, however, there remains something masterful about the film, including April O’Neil (Judith Hoag), that intrepid New York City news reporter found bonding with the mutant samurai like it's totally normal. We can't fault Hoag’s performance, either, and with Megan Fox primed to star as O’Neil in the forthcoming Michael Bay remake, we're confident her legacy is secure.