What are the 100 Best Screenplays of the 21st Century So Far? (per the WGA)
"We weren't making art, we were making a living" said Julius Epstein of his time working under the early Hollywood studio system. Writers, what, if anything, has changed since then ? Are screenwriters ever allowed to stay true to themselves and their visions, or are we still always at the mercy of the bottom line?
According to journalist Paul Brownfield in his analysis of the WGA's most recent list of 101 best screenplays of the 21st century (*so far), the very concept of writing for the screen is in existential crisis. What do we think of that take here at Script E.R.?
It’s true that the Wild West of Streaming galloped into town quite a few years ago now, upending our old movie-going habits and giving us a bewildering and sometimes exhausting array of choices to click on at home. Exec layoffs abound, buying mandates change seemingly every five minutes, and people call Doomsday on the entire industry a heck of a lot. Not to mention we’re facing another impending WGA strike, which will no doubt be painful, and as usual, the most financially crippling to the least powerful writers in town.
However. As this weekend's uplifting and occasionally charmingly earnest 95th Oscars showed, despite a bunch of relentless behind-the scenes machinations and spin, the magic and allure of cinema shows no sign of dying, and new voices and styles are emerging all the time, and finally being rewarded for their uniqueness.
It was inspiring to watch Cate Blanchett's performance in the best actress category this year for TAR - even if she didn't win, and no matter what you made of Todd Field’s film itself, the fact that cultural mores have now shifted to allow a female performer to fully inhabit a *total* human role - for good, for ill, for ugly, for whatever - is very different to only a decade ago, when women screenwriters in Hollywood were routinely advised to flip the genders in their screenplay if creating a vibrant, self determined female lead with just an ounce of heroism. No joke.
So let's celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of this new WGA list, in the spirit of optimism for the future of our industry.
Read Brownfield’s full piece here ….