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Which Film Topped the WGA's List of 101 Greatest Screenplays of the 21st Century?

by David Young on December 10, 2021

There is real power in storytelling, and even in film, it all starts with the blueprint: a screenplay.

As the 21st-century rolls on, we have seen some phenomenal stories — and storytellers — speak to our changing times. We can see this on full display in the WGA's recently released 101 Greatest Screenplays of the 21st Century, a list voted on by a host of industry writers in film and television. This is truly something to marvel at: a pure and unadulterated finger on the pulse of the industry as decided by guild members from all over.

There's a little bit of everything here: a myriad of genres, styles, and subjects, but the common thread among each selection is the impact they've made on us over the past two decades. In fact, many writers have actually made their impressions on us more than once. Alfonso Cuarón, Quentin Tarantino, Greta Gerwig, Charlie Kaufman, and Paul Thomas Anderson all have repeat screenplays in this list, but Joel and Ethan Coen show up a whopping four times, proving they've got a presence in cinema these past 21 years that can't be denied!

This list features some great groundbreaking narratives, as well as those that are truly heartwarming, but one has proven to be a favorite of the most voters — a number one screenplay to stand above the rest. We'll let you get to Number One on your own, but a fair warning: if you want to read the winner for yourself, you probably shouldn't do so in the dark.

Okay, let's get to it!

The WGA's 101 Greatest Screenplays of the 21st Century (*so far)

  1. Get Out
  2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  3. The Social Network
  4. Parasite
  5. No Country for Old Men
  6. Moonlight 
  7. There Will Be Blood
  8. Inglourious Basterds
  9. Almost Famous
  10. Memento
  11. Adaptation
  12. Bridesmaids
  13. Brokeback Mountain
  14. The Royal Tenenbaums
  15. Sideways
  16. Lady Bird
  17. Her
  18. Children of Men
  19. Lost in Translation
  20. Michael Clayton
  21. Little Miss Sunshine
  22. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  23. Promising Young Woman
  24. Juno
  25. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  26. The Dark Knight
  27. Arrival
  28. Jojo Rabbit
  29. Inside Out
  30. The Departed
  31. Spotlight
  32. Whiplash
  33. Up
  34. Mean Girls
  35. WALL-E
  36. Pan's Labyrinth
  37. Inception
  38. Slumdog Millionaire
  39. Before Sunset
  40. In Bruges
  41. Mulholland Dr.
  42. A Serious Man
  43. Amélie
  44. Toy Story 3
  45. The Favourite
  46. Zodiac
  47. Gladiator
  48. The Incredibles
  49. Knives Out
  50. Ex Machina
  51. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  52. The Lives of Others
  53. Nightcrawler
  54. 12 Years a Slave
  55. The Big Short
  56. Moneyball
  57. Black Panther
  58. You Can Count on Me
  59. Boyhood
  60. Finding Nemo
  61. The Hurt Locker
  62. Roma
  63. The Wolf of Wall Street
  64. Hell or High Water
  65. Manchester by the Sea
  66. A Separation
  67. Spirited Away
  68. Mad Max: Fury Road
  69. Booksmart
  70. City of God
  71. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  72. Inside Llewyn Davis
  73. The King's Speech
  74. Django Unchained
  75. Ocean's Eleven
  76. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  77. Shaun of the Dead
  78. Erin Brockovich
  79. Call Me by Your Name
  80. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  81. The Lobster
  82. The Prestige
  83. Midnight in Paris
  84. The Master
  85. Argo
  86. Y tu mamá también
  87. Phantom Thread
  88. Superbad
  89. Little Women
  90. BlacKkKlansman
  91. The Farewell
  92. La La Land
  93. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  94. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
  95. Ratatouille
  96. Lars and the Real Girl
  97. Nomadland
  98. Winter's Bone
  99. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  100. Legally Blonde
  101. Silver Linings Playbook

David Wayne YoungDavid Wayne Young is an independent film producer and screenwriter with years of experience in story analysis, even providing coverage for multiple international screenwriting competitions. David's obsessions include weird fiction and cosmic horror, and he's formally trained in the art of tasting and preparing gourmet coffee in various worldly traditions, from Turkish coffee to hand-tamped espresso — all enjoyed while writing, of course.

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