I felt a bit deflated, frankly, after Thursday night’s “101 Greatest Screenplays” tribute at the Writers Guild theatre in Beverly Hills. It was nice to be there, and the WGA staffers were gracious, and I spoke to some good people during the pre- and after-parties (screenwriters mostly…Larry Karaszewski, Holly Sorenson, L.M. Kit Carson, Brian Herzlinger). But the the film clips were all AFI-level mainstream groaners. (I’m going to lose it if I see a clip of Marlon Brando‘s Terry Malloy lamenting his squandered boxing career one more time.) And the “101 Greatest” list is basically the same oppressive “best films of all time” list we’ve all been beaten over the head with for decades. It’s not that these screenplays aren’t crackerjack…of course they are…but there’s something oppressive about the same movies being toasted again and again, decade after decade. Who wouldn’t agree that Casablanca is a beautifully written work, but screenwriting instructor Robert McKee pounded this into my head 20 years ago (and probably a lot of other people’s heads) and I’m sensing a knee-jerk consensus. That and typically lazy choice-making. Paddy Chayefsky‘s script of The Hospital is a distinctly finer script than Network…less grandiose, funnier, more down-to- earth, a better ending…but Network has the money lines and has gotten much more hype over the years, so naturally it wins out. And like I said in yesterday’s lead piece about Zodiac, the bypassing of Andrew Kevin Walker‘s Se7en — the greatest cop-hunt movie of the last 15 years, and a major groundbreaker in that genre — wasn’t right. Why wasn’t Walter Newman, Lesser Samuels and Billy Wilder‘s Ace in the Hole on the list? It’s nice that the WGA membership saluted the relatively recent Sideways , Memento, Adaptation and Being John Malkovich… ahhh, forget it. I’m sweating this too much.