Continuing our discussion of the last decade, Sunrise and I move on to the best writers ofthe decade. To reiterate, instead of making a definitive list, we have opted to simply name a person we think is deserving, and discuss their competition and why they came out on top.
The term “best of the decade” should be defined. We are not just looking for someone whose creative output was particularly impressive over the last 10 years. Instead, in all the categories we discuss we are looking for someone who is the best for the decade, someone who was as important to the aughts as the aughts were to him/her.
The best way to explain is to tell you who our Best Writers of the Decade are (sorry, Sunrise and I couldn’t agree so there are two), since I absolutely despise one of the writers we chose. But it’s not about me, it’s about all of us.
Paul Haggis does not make movies the candler blog enjoys, and we are particularly upset about Crash’s pop status. However, he has had an impressive decade, snagging two Oscars and garnering tons of attention for projects. Seemingly overnight he became an A-list scribe, tapping into the most insecure bits of the American subconcious. It was eerie how close Million Dollar Baby’s release was to the Terri Schiavo ordeal in the news. He was raised almost to shaman status for bringing one of the country’s hottest controversies to the screen. He remade James Bond in his own image this decade, introducing is to a darker, more homoerotic version of the 1960s über spy. In other words, he successfully moved him into our time.
For all his transgressions, Paul Haggis has that rare talent of making us prick up our ears and listen to what he has to say. A gifted, if formulaic, storyteller, it is difficult to ignore the massive impact he has had throughout the 2000s.
Our other choice for best writer is Tony Gilroy, who has become one of the hottest new directors as we close out the aughts. Although he is no stranger to penning scripts, he really moved his career in a new direction this decade when he adapted Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity to the big screen. Although the first film in the series, directed by Doug Liman, packed a powerful oomph for a Hollywood unsure of how to make an action film after 9/11, but it wasn’t until the subsequent sequels, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum that we really saw something very special come together. The two films, but written by Gilroy and directed by Paul Greengrass, stand out as major progressions in action filmmaking, essentially creating a new mold for a 21st century action hero.
Also moving into the directing field, Mr. Gilroy got a Best Director nomination for his first outing at the helm with Michael Clayton, a brilliant legal thriller starring George Clooney. Though he didn’t win, he came back very strong this year with Duplicity, a screwball thriller that really wowed me back when it came out. In both cases, the stories are very simple and classical, but the context is wholly 21st century, which is where Tony Gilroy’s gift lies. Not afraid to bring current geopolitical trends into even his most mundane of projects, his work never crosses the line into preachy (unlike our other best of the decader). We truly can’t wait to see where he takes things in the next decade.
In the recording, Sunrise and I mention many other notable writers, but two that are worth mentioning as our runners up are Jim Jarmusch and Judd Apatow. Sunrise states that Jarmusch is consistently left out of such discussions, especially as a writer since he is know mostly for his directing, because his films aren’t successful enough. The growth of Jarmusch’s narrative structure over the last 10 years is, perhaps, more notable than any other working writer. The other person of note is Judd Apatow, who went from being a failed television producer to the most powerful name in Hollywood in the 2000s. Keeping his growing gang of followers close to him, one can’t go more than 3 months without seeing a film that his pen touched anymore. Love him or hate him, his brand of comedy/masculine self-discovery has changed the way an entire generation of filmgoers look at funny movies.