On Thursday, the Writers Guild of America unveiled its list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays.
For those too lazy to click through immediately, the Top 10 is tough to argue with:
2. "The Godfather"
4. "Citizen Kane"
5. "All About Eve"
6. "Annie Hall"
7. "Sunset Boulevard"
9. "Some Like It Hot"
10. "The Godfather II"
I've already written a commentary on Zap2it noting certain obvious flaws in the list -- the paucity of foreign language offerings, family films and certain obvious missing writers.
The think I find interesting is how the WGA is embracing the idea that Writers Films are at least somewhat different from Directors Films. If you polled the DGA in a similar fashion for the 101 Greatest Directing jobs ever, I would guess that probably five of the Top 10 films would remain the same, but there'd be an awful lot of shuffling. You'd see the Spielberg and Scorsese films move up. You'd see the Wilder films move down. Some Robert Altman films would probably appear, as would Oliver Stone. I'd also imagine that a greater number of foreign language films would suddenly appear. Clearly Writers Guild members are intimidated by projects in languages they don't speak, while the Directors Guild would just recognize that visual language is universal. That would probably only mean, say, five or six foreign films out of 101, but you'd totally get a little Kurosawa or something.
For the Writers Guild membership: If "Yojimbo" and "Seven Samurai" aren't two of the greatest scripts ever written WHY DO YOU KEEP RIPPING THEM OFF? Just curious.
The problem is that the Writers Guild leadership has never actually figured out how to make average people understand what it is that writers do. One minute they're saying, "Oh, writing is more than just witty dialogue." The next minute they're putting up billboards around Los Angeles reminding drivers which scribes wrote their favorite lines of dialogue. Thus, a writer goes, "You know, I don't remember a single clever thing that the characters in "Yojimbo" said." So he fills out his Top 10 with banalities like "The Six Sense" and "Forrest Gump" and then goes back to his cool new crime spec in which a stranger comes into town and pits two opposing crime lords against each other.
In my commentary, I only mentioned a couple films I'd have liked to see on the list, but since I'm sitting at my desk looking over my own DVD collection, here are some of the movies I own because I love their scripts. Obviously, there wouldn't be room for all of them, but maybe one or two?
"Jackie Brown," "The Manchurian Candidate," "Chasing Amy," "Almost Famous," "Rushmore," "Something Wild," "Bringing Up Baby," "Alien," "Election," "Spinal Tap," "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and "The Truman Show."
That's just what I can see from my chair.
Anybody reading is encouraged to contribute their own missing favorites...