Well, it's official. The Writers Guild of America is going on strike tomorrow. Here's hoping the strike ends quickly and that all parties come away happy. And writers? Use this time off to study my choices for the seven best screenplays of the 2000's:
The 40 Year Old Virgin by Judd Apatow & Steve Carell
The blending of improvisation and the written word gives Apatow's two classic comedies -- Knocked Up would be the other -- a feeling of authenticity that is all too rare in today's film world. Apatow takes the strategy of writing for specific performers and their strengths, and it really pays off. Scoff if you want at a sex comedy making the list, but for a movie to be this incredibly funny -- while keeping an oddly touching romance and a spot-on character study afloat -- the screenwriters deserve high praise.
About Schmidt by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
One of the saddest comedies ever made, and one of the most truthful and painful portraits of old age. Payne and Taylor specialize in scripts about people on the verge of cracking, depressed souls who tend to find the smallest redemption possible. Payne/Taylor characters never go from Point A to Point B over the course of the screenplay, they go from Point A to Point A.1. The small, gradual changes in their characters are reflective of the way actual humans (as opposed to movie humans) work. Warren Schmidt's personal growth is so minor that it is confined to the last thirty seconds of the film, but when it comes it's an emotional punch in the gut.