Home > Film & stuff > My 10 Favorite Screenplays from the WGA’s List of the 101 Greatest

My 10 Favorite Screenplays from the WGA’s List of the 101 Greatest

Lists may be arbitrary, but they’re also a lot of fun. They’re also quite difficult to form for anyone who has a real passion (e.g. movies) and the listing process turns into an arduous affair consisting of many drafts.

For the past eight years, the Writer’s Guild of America has been collecting top 10 lists from its members in order to compile the 101 Greatest Screenplays. It’s one of the more enjoyable lists I’ve read because my favorite films are typically ones which I think are expertly written, which is why I’m generally bored by comic book films and anything that Michael Bay puts out with Shia LaWhateverHisNameIs. A well written film should not only be great to watch but great to just listen to as well. For instance, I’d love listening to Manhattan on my iPod, but Independence Day would be insufferable on my car stereo while driving cross country.

Many of the screenplays on the WGA’s list are utterly brilliant and I don’t take issue with many. I do question a few inclusions, such as Field of Dreams (too sentimental), Star Wars (just stop it already), Ordinary People (too melodramatic), and Do the Right Thing (too… Spike Lee). I think there are some more deserving films that should have made the cut, but the list is still quite strong. I have come up with my own ten favorite screenplays using only the 101 films on the list. As with my past lists of various favorites (here and here and here and here and here and here), I’m not saying these are the best– I just like them the most… but I’m right.

  1. Chinatown – written by Robert Towne
  2. Pulp Fiction – written by Quentin Tarantino. Stories by Quentin Tarantino & Roger Avary
  3. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb  screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Peter George and Terry Southern. Based on novel Red Alert by Peter George
  4. Casablanca – screenplay by Julius J. & Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch. Based on the play “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison
  5. Network – written by Paddy Chayefsky
  6. Crimes and Misdemeanorswritten by Woody Allen
  7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – screenplay by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman. Based on the novel by Ken Kesey
  8. Goodfellas – screenplay by Nicholas Pileggi & Martin Scorsese. Based on book Wise Guy by Nicholas Pileggi
  9. Manhattan – written by Woody Allen & Marshall Brickman
  10. Dog Day Afternoon – screenplay by Frank Pierson. Based on a magazine article by P.F. Kluge and Thomas Moore

Ooph. I’m second guessing myself already. But with the list of 101 provided, nearly any combination of ten is a winner. And perhaps the best news of all… no Oliver Stone to be found! Maybe humanity isn’t totally doomed.

What are your favorite screenplays? Tell me below, email shortcomments@gmail.com, or tweet me (@cinejordan).

  1. March 19, 2013 at 4:10 am

    Not a bad list at all.

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