Aaron Sorkin is a scriptwriter known for his punchy dialogue that at its best elevates the project and at its worst draws unnecessary attention to itself at the expense of the project as a whole. From countless episodes of The West Wing (which he also created) to his recent directorial debut Molly’s Game, Sorkin crafts scripts which always act as the driving force for the plot and are often extremely memorable. For all the acclaim that is lauded upon him, it is surprising to find out that Sorkin has only scripted eight feature films; this is a credit to his ability to make his scripts stand-out from the crowd. So here they are, Aaron Sorkin’s finest works in film.
5. Steve Jobs (2015)
This Danny Boyle-helmed film follows the events surrounding three product launches during Steve Jobs’ career. The script is definitely one of Sorkin’s quieter outings but the way in which it runs seamlessly with the directing and acting is to be applauded; never is there a hint of the script getting in the way of the story it is telling. It does a fantastic job of introducing the character of Jobs efficiently to the audience, as it does with its secondary characters too, who are given limited screen time to make an impact.
4. Molly’s Game (2017)
Sorkin’s directorial debut is here and it’s solid. Predictably the script is the star here, giving Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba the opportunity to show off their quick-talking dialogue chops. The story, based on Molly Bloom’s autobiography of the same name, follows Molly’s life as a ‘poker princess’, running games of poker for the wealthiest people in town. The slower moments feel a little uneven (something for Sorkin to work on directing-wise) but the overall fast pace is extremely engaging as long as you’re not put off by the technical lingo within the first of many hardcut montages.
3. Moneyball (2011)
Oscar Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay
Based on Michael Lewis’ book of the same name, Moneyball charts the attempts of Billy Beane to implement statistical analysis into his method for crafting a baseball team. It stars Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill and a script that applies Sorkin’s style to the world of sport beautifully. As he does in all of these milieu, Sorkin deals with the sports and stats world by delivering its its technical language in understandable chunks and uses it to drive the story forward. It is not as reserved as Steve Jobs in its flair and panache but it does exhibit people talking at a normal pace. Turns out Sorkin can do that as well.
2. The Social Network (2010)
Oscar Winner for Best Adapted Screenplay
Perhaps the script Sorkin is best known for, The Social Network is the story of Facebook’s inception and the man (or men) behind it. It is here where the clickety-clack of Sorkin’s dialogue really came to the fore, with a career-defining lead performance from Jesse Eisenberg. His delivery and voice intonations so suit Sorkin’s style, it is surprising they have not worked together again since. Powerful and understandable in its conveyance of technical jargon, the script is the drivechain to this Fincher gem and thoroughly deserves the Oscar it received.
1. A Few Good Men (1992)
This Rob Reiner-directed courtroom drama is one of the very best scripts in a genre full of greats like 12 Angry Men and To Kill a Mockingbird. Starring an ensemble cast for the ages, the script has everything from quiet moments of reflection to the scene-stealing angry outburst lines of dialogue delivered with aplomb by Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise. The story starts slowly and then gradually gathers pace throughout and it is to the script’s credit that the film never feels at a loss – it always feels like you’re getting somewhere whether or not it’s where the characters want to go. The writing also builds characters really well, particularly Cruise and Demi Moore’s characters. Their arcs always feel authentic, as does their relationship, and Sorkin proves that he doesn’t need to base his characters on real people who are in the public eye (like the other four films on this list); he builds the characters without the aid of public perception and the film benefits all the more.