Sunday, July 26, 2015

by Janet Lawler 

This week the BBC conducted a new poll asking what are the 100 greatest American films. You might be surprised and shocked that many Oscar winners for Best Picture and Nominations didn't make the cut. The Deer Hunter?  Nope. Sorry.

Which movies are your favorites?  I've highlighted my picks. These movies impacted my life.  Probably did yours too.  Certain movies stick with you for a lifetime or remind us where we were when we first saw them.  I'm sure your list will be different than mine, but that's because different stories speak to different audiences.  Maybe you're a Billy Wilder fan, or a Alfred Hitchcock aficionado, or a lover of Sci-Fi.
 But, seriously, how could they leave The Sound of Music off this list?

The 100 greatest American film

100. Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)
99. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
98. Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980)
97. Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)
96. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
95. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
94. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
93. Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)
92. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
91. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
90. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
89. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
88. West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961)
87. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
86. The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994)
85. Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, 1968)  This movie terrified me as a kid!
84. Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)
83. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
82. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
81. Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991)
80. Meet Me in St Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)
79. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
78. Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)
77. Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)
76. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)
75. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)
74. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)
73. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)   Sidney Lumet is one of my favorite directors.
72. The Shanghai Gesture (Josef von Sternberg, 1941)
71. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
70. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)
69. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982)
68. Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)
67. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
66. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)
65. The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1983)
64. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)
63. Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)
62. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
61. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
60. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Miloš Forman, 1975)
58. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)
57. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989)
56. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
55. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)   Mrs. Robinson... you know the rest.
54. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
53. Grey Gardens (Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, 1975)  Can't turn away.
52. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
51. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
50. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)  LOVE Rosalind Russell!
49. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
48. A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951)
47. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)
46. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)   Speaks to my soul!
45. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962) John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, and a spectacular Lee Marvin as the meaner than mean Liberty Valance.  Rent it!
44. Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924)
43. Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948)
42. Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
41. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)
40. Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)
39. The Birth of a Nation (DW Griffith, 1915)
38. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)  Changed the movie business and summer movies. Love it!
37. Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)
36. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)   What can be said that hasn't already?  Theme song still gives us chills.
35. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)
34. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)  Come here, my pretty!
33. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)  Now that's a thriller.
32. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
31. A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)
30. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)  "Well, nobody's perfect."  Amen to that!
29. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980) 
28. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994) Had me scratching my head the first time I saw it, but then I came to admire every aspect of this film.
27. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)
26. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978)
25. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)  Unfortunately, still relevant for our times.
24. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)  Shirley MacLaine stole hearts.
23. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)   Ah, New York.
22. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924)
21. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
20. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)    "I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh."
19. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)  "You talkin' to... " you know the rest.
18. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
17. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)
16. McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
15. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)
14. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)
13. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)
12. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)  Screenwriter's bible
11. The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)
10. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)   "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." Michael Corleone
9. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
8. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)   Still makes me shower with one eye open!
7. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)
6. Sunrise (FW Murnau, 1927)
5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972) "It's not personal, Sonny, it's strictly business."
Don Corleone: Tell me, do you spend time with your family?
Johnny Fontane: Sure I do.
Don Corleone: Good. Because a man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man.
1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

Until next time. 

You can follow The NY Screenwriting Life on Facebook.  Janet Lawler's debut novel From the Ground Up is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


I often ask myself, "Self, what ever made you want to become a screenwriter?"

Self only has one good answer -- you love movies!

Today, the Academy of Motion Pictures moved me a tad closer to my life-long dream with this e-mail about my script placing in the 2015 Nicholl Fellowship for Screenwriting:

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

July 17, 2015

Dear Janet,

Congratulations!  You have advanced to the Quarterfinal Round of the 2015 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.  By doing so, yours is one of only 375 entries to escape the First Round.

With 7,442 scripts entered, the initial round was extremely competitive and made the selection of quarterfinalists a difficult task.  You may already have an inkling of the quality of this year’s screenplays if you’ve been following the reader comment excerpts posted on the Academy Nicholl Facebook page.  

To give you an idea of the selection process, The Tenant was evaluated by three judges drawn from a diverse group of film professionals.  After the top three scores were tallied, the highest scoring scripts advanced to the Quarterfinals.

During the Quarterfinal Round, your script will be read by at least two additional judges.  As was the case in the First Round, these judges will read the scripts without seeing application forms, log lines or prior scores and comments; they will know nothing about you and your script other than what is on your script’s pages.  We expect that about 150 of the Quarterfinalist screenplays will advance to the Semifinal Round.

If earnings greater than $25,000 have recently made you ineligible, please let us know as soon as possible via email to

Watch for a follow-up email regarding Quarterfinalist Contact List information and your log line. That will be sent in about a week or so.
Good luck through the remainder of the competition.

Greg Beal
Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting

BREAK OUT THE CHAMPAGNE!  Congratulations to ALL the Quarter Finalists. This is a great honor.  I'd like to thank the Academy... oh, and of course, my mother. Now fingers crossed for the semifinals round.

Until next time,

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Lucious and Cookie

The TV Academy won't have to deal with Cookie Lyon's wrath.  Although they snubbed her hit TV show EMPIRE for an Emmy nom, the actress Taraji P. Henson received one for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.  

Taraji delivers the heat and the best lines on the FOX show every week.  Unfortunately, Terrence Howard (EMPIRE) was overlooked for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.  The TV Academy may not want to diss Lucious Lyon next year.

Other Noms for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series include: Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Kyle Chandler (Bloodline), Kevin Spacey (House of Cards), Jeff Daniels (Newsroom), Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan and Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill.  Pretty tough competition.


There are the usual suspects for Outstanding Comedy Series: PARKS AND RECREATION, VEEP and MODERN FAMILY (that show gets funnier each year).  The fabulous Amazon show TRANSPARENT received a nod, as well as LOUIE, SILICON VALLEY and UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT.
Creator Jill Solloway and Cast of Transparent
  Outstanding Lead Actresses besides Taraji P. Henson in EMPIRE include Claire Danes in HOMELAND, Robin Wright in HOUSE OF CARDS, the amazing Tatiana Maslany in ORPHAN BLACK (who plays six characters on the show); MAD MEN's Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson and Viola Davis for HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER.

The Emmy Awards air on the FOX on Sept. 20th.  More categories below.   

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
black-ish • ABC • ABC Studios
Anthony Anderson as Andre Johnson

Episodes • Showtime • SHOWTIME Presents, Hat Trick Productions, Crane Klarik Productions
Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc

House Of Lies • Showtime • SHOWTIME Presents, Crescendo Productions, Refugee Productions, Matthew Carnahan Circus Products
Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan

The Last Man On Earth • FOX • 20th Century Fox Television
Will Forte as Phil Miller

Louie • FX Networks • Pig Newton, Inc. and FX Productions
Louis C.K. as Louie

Shameless • Showtime • SHOWTIME Presents, John Wells Productions, Warner Bros. Television
William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher

Transparent • Amazon Instant Video • Amazon Studios
Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
The Comeback • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Michael Patrick King Productions, Is or Isn’t Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television
Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish

Grace And Frankie • Netflix • Skydance Productions for Netflix
Lily Tomlin as Frankie

Inside Amy Schumer • Comedy Central • Jax Media
Amy Schumer as Amy

Nurse Jackie • Showtime • SHOWTIME Presents, Lionsgate Television, Jackson Group Entertainment, A Caryn Mandabach Production, Clyde Phillips Productions
Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton

Parks And Recreation • NBC • Deedle-Dee Productions, Fremulon, 3 Arts Entertainment and Universal Television
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope

Veep • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Dundee Productions
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as President Selina Meyer

Until next time.