There are few masters of the written word as most of us experience it, in screenplays and movies. At the top of that list in our time at least, has to be writer, producer, director, actor, Aaron Sorkin. Most of his movies and shows are highly treasured and some are well known. He writes in a heady style with wit and humor that intelligent people will love, and find refuge in stories where the audience isn’t treated like idiots and addicts who need high doses of action, apocalypse or drama. Sorkin is known for bringing out a full range of interesting issues, drama, and emotion from situations and environments that are mundane or often taken for granted. Here’s the essential Sorkin WatchList that will keep you watching over and over and over.
The following playlist has been put in order of recommended first. If you like what you see, continue on through the many seasons of shows and films Sorkin has made happen.
1. The NewsRoom
The NewsRoom is a drama surrounding the new media monster, and seeking to preserve some semblence of integrity, discernment, and the duty to inform, in a media climate that has abandoned it for clicks and ratings. The opening scene sets the tone – watch it all the way through and if it doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.
2. The West Wing
This show about an American presidency, has been recently given new life and fame courtesy of Netflix. The series takes you through the always-on-the-go, good, bad and ugly of politics, leadership, patriotism, and the staff that sacrifices their lives to get shit done. Critics loved the show, though it was not without the naysayers who complained about it depicting a Democrat and not a Republican. No matter which side of the isle you sit on, I think there’s a lot to love, learn and model from the show.
3. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
4. Sports Night
Imagine the drama behind the scenes of a major sports network – and thus you have Sports Night.
5. Steve Jobs
Despite all the worshipers who bad-mouthed the movie for portraying their god in a not so nice light, the movie itself is quite good. It is a flavor of Jobs put together in 3 acts and is fast paced, quick witted, and showed some of quirkiness of Jobs. In my opinion, he was still played out way nicer than he actually was, but you still get a sense of the legend in this film.
6. Social Network
A movie about Mark Zuckerberg and how Facebook came to be, and the people he burned along the way. Years after this film, I think you can safely say money washes away most sins, because the media, the fans and people in general have long forgotten how it all started. Very few people are endowed with the gift to tell truth to power. Even now, just as with Jobs, the media puts on kid gloves when taking on Silicon Valley moguls. Short of overt acts of racism, sexism, discrimination or murdering a spouse, society lets these guys skate. This movie provides a great place to pause and reflect about what we give up in our quest for fortune and glory, and hints at how we compromise our values, just in case future opportunities to work with moguls come our way.
A clip that captures a bit of the dasturdly side of the Zuck, is when he intentionally waters down the stock of his one of his partners.
7. The American President
Way back in the 90’s, before the world was on fire and on it’s way to doom and the zombie apocalypse, their was a hopeful world where wit, intelligence, elegance and charm were all the rage, and social issues were tackled with tact and taste. In this film, watch an American President, fall in love while running for re-election. You’ll see many ingredients for The West Wing, and many of the cast members as well!
8. A Few Good Men
You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth! You may have forgotten or never heard of this movie, but Tom Cruise in uniform as an attorney defending two marines accused of murder, and his famous entanglements with their commanding colonel, played by Jack Nicholson steal the show. Here’s a t
Oh and more good news! Apparently a TV series based on the film is being made by Sorkin.
9. Charlie Wilson’s War
If you ever wonder how Al Qaeda was armed in the first place, you can thank Charlie Wilson, and his efforts to stop the Soviets from taking over in the Middle East. Before Kevin Spacey and House of Cards, there was Charlie Wilson.
Why This Matters
On the quest to fill your life with the best stuff, Sorkin’s work provides some of the most inspirational and thought provoking work out there. And while he hasn’t done a show about zombies yet, his work is well worth your binge time.