Monday, April 10, 2006

Yet another list to nitpick

It's a surprisingly disappointing selection, even by the dubious standards of the list-mania that's been prevalent since the AFI started churning them out. Many, many obvious choices, with a whopping two foreign films getting a nod (Renoir's Grand Illusion and Fellini's 8-1/2, #85 and #87, respectively), with no respect whatsoever paid to Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, John Sayles, Francois Truffaut, Pedro Almodovar, Werner Herzog or Richard Linklater, writers all whose work put story and character first.

It's more of a celebration of LA-style studio filmmaking, as opposed to screenwriting. Casablanca, for example, was, at the time of its making, considered a run-of-the-mill studio installment, the script of which was cobbled together by a handful of writers, some credited, some not. Most of the scripts on the list feature more than one writer, and many of those had work done on them by writers who went uncredited (Tootsie being the most notorious example). It is nice, however, to see Groundhog Day get a nod, as well as Memento, Harold & Maude and The Wild Bunch.

Of course, the very nature of moviemaking makes the presentation of a singular point of view difficult, if not altogether impossible. Filmmaking is a collaborative effort, especially within the studio system, and the WGA's list reflects that attitude. Still, their choices and omissions are surprising, and not in a good way.

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