Sunday, April 16, 2006

My 25 Favourite Screenplays.

The Writer’s Guild of America compiled their ultra-shoddy “Best Screenplays” list last week. What amuses me is how they have piled on all the popular “Good” films such as Casablanca and The Godfather, as well as giving high positions to films that are well-loved (including my masterful Shawshank), despite the fact that, in 1995, they awarded Best Adapted Screenplay to Forrest Gump, which gets a much lower rating. Anyway, the Writer’s Guild don’t know a damned thing – they always just follow the popular choice and they’ve given Best screenplay to the likes of Lost in Translation, Crash, and Lord of the Rings in the past, three films I abhor. Which are badly written.

So, I decided that should show them how it’s done. A few health warnings about my list:

a) shortage of “Art” films in favour of emotional epics. Apologies to all the cold “objective” film fans, you are given permission to advert your eyes.
b) A lot of the screenplays really sung out to me. I don’t expect everyone to agree.
c) No Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Lost in Translation, Pulp Fiction, Crash, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, etc.

So, without further ado, the list: (NB: Have borrowed the “for” device from Stale Popcorn & the Oscars goes to. It was just too good to resist, guys!)

01. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Screenplay by Frank Darabont. Based on the short story "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" by Stephen King

Image hosting by Photobucket

For Andy’s enigma and Red’s wisdom, for creating a beautiful platonic friendship that sings out to the audience, for iconic moments such as when Andy plays the Sull’Aria, the escape, the ending. For Red’s monologues, which never feel overdone. For Brooks. For Red. For Andy. For teaching us to believe in life. For teaching us to hope.

02. Some Like It Hot (1959)

Image hosting by Photobucket

Screenplay by Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond. Based on "Fanfare of Love," a German film written by Robert Thoeren and M. Logan
For being one of the funniest films of all time. For giving Lemmon and Curtis opportunity to go all out in comedic heaven. For the oft-quoted one-liners.

03. Manhattan (1970)
Written by Woody Allen & Marshall Brickman

Image hosting by Photobucket

For being apparent in the author’s love of his topic and his women. For the food. For the many different characters switching partners. For the prose flowing like modern art.

04. The 400 Blows (1959)
Written by François Truffaut
For Antoine Doinel’s naughty doings never seeming naughty. For creating a film that all teenagers can connect with. For the moral ambiguity. For the underlying emotion of sadness, and for epitomizing New Wave.

05. The Apartment (1960)
Written by Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond.
For C. C. Baxter’s liveliness and loveliness. For the perfect blend of comedy and drama. For making something seemingly sleazy sweet and compassionate. For the happy ending.

06. All About Eve (1950)
Written by Joseph L. Mackiweisz. Adapted from the story "The Wisdom of Eve" by Erich Kastner & Mary Orr
For the women. For the smarts. For being ahead of its time. For, “Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!”

07. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Written by Diana Ossana & Larry McMurtry. Adapted from the short story "Brokeback Mountain" by E. Annie Proulx
For Ennis del Mar. For Jack Twist. For a gorgeous love story. For every second and unspoken word being so rich with tenderness. For the sexiness.

08. On the Waterfront (1954)
Screen Story and Screenplay by Budd Schulberg. Based on "Crime on the Waterfront" articles by Malcolm Johnson

Image hosting by Photobucket

For the unforgettable, life affirming scene in the car. For the power of redemption. For Terry Malloy’s inarticulacy evolving into someone else for love.

09. American Beauty (1999)
Written by Alan Ball.
For a modern, humane take on the Lolita tale. For several messages that sing out to a variety of different people. For suburbia never seeming cooler. For the stinging humour, blended with freezing sadness.

10. Casablanca (1942)
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

Image hosting by Photobucket

For “Play it Again, Sam.” For “Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time.” For the countless lines of dialogue that have improved with age.

11. Finding Nemo (2003)
Written by Andrew Stanton & Bob Peterson.

Image hosting by Photobucket

For the smartest anthropomorphism to be committed to celluloid. For humour that branches out to adults and children. For Dory. For the in jokes. For being so sweet, it made me cry. For showing the importance of family.

12. King Hearts & Coronets (1949)

Image hosting by Photobucket

Written by Robert Hamer & John Diton. Based on the novel “Israel Rank” by Roy Horniman
For the family of D’Ascoynes in Guinness’ hands. For the weird but great premise. For a deadbeat, ironic ending.

13. The King of Comedy (1983)
Written by Paul D. Zinnerman.
For Rupert Pupkin, priceless in his irritation. For allowing de Niro to showcase a comic masterclass. For letting Pupkin be so desperate we feel sorry for him, yet still laugh cruelly.

14. The Closet (2001)
Written by Francis Veber.
Image hosting by Photobucket
For its unrestrainable heart. For some of the funniest moments in cinematic history. For Autiel’s character. For telling us to be true to ourselves.

15. Get Real (1998)
Written by Patrick Wilde. Based on his play.
For it’s sweet central character, for the believable, candid heart, for the rather sad denouement that shows us we can’t always get what we want. For the air of Oscar Wilde in lower class.

16. Brief Encounter (1945)
Written by David Lean, Anthony Allan and Ronald Neame. Based on the play by Noel Coward.

Image hosting by Photobucket

For Laura telling us story with heartbreaking quiet despair, for two potentially humdrum characters who shine. For the tension, which can easily be cut with a knife.

Annie Hall (1977)
Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman.
For razor-sharp deconstruction of why a relationship fails, for Alvy Singer’s neuroses, and the hilarious one-liners. For Annie Hall and her trouser-wearing individuality.

18. Thelma & Louise (1991)
Written by Callie Khouri.
Image hosting by Photobucket
For two female leads that are every bit as human and brilliant as each other. For letting us in on the amazing ride. For the unforgettable ending.

19. Capote (2005)
Written by Dan Futterman. From the biography of Truman Capote by Gerald Clarke.
For its balanced look at a difficult man, for sensitively letting Perry Smith speak for himself; for singing the words of Truman Capote with New Yorkian wit.
Image hosting by Photobucket

20. The Man in the White Suit (1951)
Written by John Dighton and Alexander MacAndrick. Based on the play by Roger MacDougall.
For the characters still ringing true today. For Guinness’ crazy little invention. For being quintessentially British. For inspiring Wallace and Gromit.

21. Dead Man Walking (1995)
Written by Tim Robbins. Based on the book by Helen Prejean.

Image hosting by Photobucket

For its subtle relationship from two very different leads. For using the prison backdrop well. For the mouthing “I love you.” For making me cry.

22. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Written by Billy Wilder & Harry Kurnitz. Based on the book by Agatha Christie.
For being the best adaptation of Christie. For making the twists surprise, even for those who have read the book. For giving Christine appropriate iciness.

23. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Written by Paul Thomas Anderson.

Image hosting by Photobucket

For creating a hero in Barry. For allowing us into his crazy mindset. For the weird set-up, which plays out perfectly. For that dance.

24. The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Written by Billy Wilder and George Axelrod. Based on the play by George Axelrod.
For being shamelessly risqué and inconsequential, but funny with it. For being utterly enjoyable. For the scenes between Ewell and his psychiatrist.

25. Cinema Paradiso (1989)
Written by Giuseppe Tornatore & Vanna Paolo.
For its moist-eyed nostalgic look at films and adolescence, for its sweetness and humility, for its beautiful storytelling.

Image hosting by Photobucket

5 comments:

MysticFist said...

You left. Bored. So here's my 10, in case anyone cares.

01, Cinema Paradiso, 1989
For being about me and for being a valuable source of inspiration all my life. No other screenplay comes close.

02, Rocky, 1976
An inspirational fairy-tale and a beautiful love story about two people who truly need each other in order to succeed in life. Its carefully balanced sentimentality has always astonished me.

03, Dead Poets Society, 1989
The obvious wrap-up to my top three. I love every little thing about it, from how the subplots are built, to the impressive character development... and Williams' impression of Brando.

04, The Shawshank Redemption, 1994
The script to this film is perhaps the most uplifting thing to ever grace Earth. Life wouldn't be the same without it.

05, Brokeback Mountain, 2005
Again, I relate to everything you said... expect the sexiness! "For every second and unspoken word being so rich with tenderness." - yes, yes, yes.

06, Blue Velvet, 1986
Perhaps the wildest cinematic ride of all time for me. It's not "emotional" in the classic sense of the word, but it packs a punch like no other film does. It both repulses me and fascinates me; it's hard not to like a film when it has such a powerful, everlasting effect on me.

07, Big Wednesday, 1978
It perfectly captures the spirit of an era and it makes me feel nostalgic for a time and place I've never even came close to experiencing. And it just might be the truest film ever made about friendship and growing up.

08, Punch-Drunk Love, 2002
Charming, funny, dramatic, and romantic. No other film makes me laugh as hard as this one. Oh yeah, and that dance!

09, Casablanca, 1942
Impressive, I have five of your twenty-five picks on my top ten. Casablanca is an obvious mention, as nothing would be the same without the script. It's like 90% of its charm.

10, Collateral, 2005
Vincent is one of the very best fictional characters ever created; his background is subtly explored, and his exchange with Max is priceless. I also love the final third (unlike most people) and the way it reflects one of the film's themes.

I'd post more, but... enough, I guess.

jason said...

I have an imdb account now. Sent you a Pm.

My five:
1 - All About Eve
2 - Manhattan
3 - Sideways
4 - Collateral (sorry)
5 - YourShank

Emma said...

My Shank indeed.

Save Collateral, excellent list.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful and informative web site. I used information from that site its great. film editing schools

Joanne said...

Manhattan yes, but please not Annie Hall - Woodie Allen varies so much between brilliant and awful (my opinion).

dog life jacket