After having made a name for himself as an outstanding playwriter in the 1980s, Aaron Sorkin began writing screenplays in the 90s, a move that later proved to be a very good decision as it led to the creation of scripts for some critically acclaimed, highly awarded, and commercially successful movies. The New York-native’s work has not been limited to the big screen as he has also created some very successful TV shows, such as Sports Night, The West Wing, and The Newsroom. He has further been able to add producer and director to his list of titles to cement his legacy in the movie-making business.
9 Greatest Aaron Sorkin Movies Ranked From Best To Worst
1. The Social Network (2010)
Ranking as the best movie from Aaron Sorkin’s long list of works is the biographical drama film, The Social Network. The screenwriter adapted it from Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book, The Accidental Billionaires, which looks at how popular social media site Facebook was founded, as well as the resulting lawsuits that came about as a result of it.
The film, which stars Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, and features other actors like Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, and Max Minghella, was released to considerable critical acclaim and box office success as it made $224.9 million from a production budget of $40 million. It further received numerous awards, with Sorkin taking home an Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Critcs’ Choice Movie Award for best screenplay.
2. The American President (1995)
The American President is a romantic comedy-drama film that follows a widower president who tries to balance his romantic and political aspirations at the same time. While attempting to win the passage of a crime control bill during a re-election year, the president also pursues a relationship with an environmental lobbyist who just recently moved to the Washington, D.C. area.
Directed by Rob Reiner, the film which Sorkin wrote the script for featured actors like Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Martin Sheen, Michael J. Fox, and Richard Dreyfuss. Douglas and Bening both received Golden Globe Award nominations for best actor and best actress for their performances.
Following the release of the film, Sorkin and the Writers Guild of America were sued by filmmaker William Richert who claimed that the screenplay of the movie was “a thinly veiled plagiarism” of his 1981 screenplay, The President Elopes. Upon further review, however, Sorkin was awarded full credit as The American Film Institute ranked The American President on its list of America’s Greatest Love Stories.
3. Moneyball (2011)
Moneyball makes the list of Aaron Sorkin movies even though its script was a joint effort between him and Armenian-American filmmaker Steven Zaillian. The sports film was adapted for the screen from Michael Lewis’s 2003 nonfiction book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. The story follows an Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager, Billy Beane, who managed to assemble a competitive team for the 2002 season despite being on a limited budget. He was able to do this by recruiting undervalued talent through the use of a sophisticated sabermetric approach to scouting and analyzing players.
Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, and Chris Pratt, the Bennett Miller directed film was released to wide critical acclaim and box office success. It further received six Academy Awards nominations, including for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor (Pitt) and Best Supporting Actor (Hill).
4. Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)
Charlie Wilson’s War is a biographical comedy-drama movie that Aaron Sorkin adapted for the screen from journalist George Crile III’s 2003 book, Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History. The film is based on the efforts of real-life 12-term U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson and CIA operative Gust Avrakotos, who both came up with and facilitated the CIA program, Operation Cyclone, which aimed to arm and finance the mujahideen in Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan War.
Directed by Mike Nichols, the film featured actors like Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. From a budget of $75 million, it raked in $119 million and received positive reviews from critics. It was further nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, but failed to win any.
5. A Few Good Men (1992)
A Few Good Men is a legal drama film that revolves around two court-martialed U.S. Marines and the troubles of their lawyers as they prepared a case to defend their clients. The marines stand accused of murdering a fellow marine at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. The film has Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore in starring roles while actors Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollak, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Kiefer Sutherland appear in supporting roles.
The film, which grossed $243.2 million from a budget of $33 – $40 million, and received five Golden Globe and four Academy Awards nominations, was adapted for the screen by Aaron Sorkin who originally wrote a Broadway play of the same name in 1989. The story was based on events that took place at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in July 1986, however, a few details were changed for dramatic purposes.
6. Molly’s Game (2017)
After so many years of writing scripts and creating different plays and TV series, Aaron Sorkin moved to add director to his list of titles as he got his directorial debut in the biographical crime drama film, Molly’s Game, which he also provided the script for. The film is based on the memoir; Molly’s Game: The True Story of the 26-Year-Old Woman Behind the Most Exclusive, High-Stakes Underground Poker Game in the World! by American entrepreneur Molly Bloom.
The film follows the titular character Molly, an Olympic ski aspirant who injures herself and has to end her career as a result. She then moves to Los Angeles to work as a waiter before later running an underground poker empire for Hollywood celebrities, athletes, business tycoons, and the Russian mob, making her the target of an FBI investigation.
Upon release, Molly’s Game received positive reviews from critics who lauded stars Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba‘s performance, as well as Sorkin’s screenplay. For her performance, Chastin earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress – Drama, while Sorkin himself earned Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Writers Guild of America Awards, and BAFTA Awards nominations for his screenplay. The film further raked in $59.3 million from a budget of $30 million.
7. Steve Jobs (2015)
This Aaron Sorkin written movie was adapted from the 2011 authorized self-titled biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Sorkin also took into consideration a number of interviews he had held with key figures in the life of the personal computing innovator and Apple Inc. co-founder when producing the screenplay.
Directed by Danny Boyle, the film, which is structured into three acts, focused on Jobs in the times leading up to the launch of key products – the Apple Macintosh, the NeXT Computer and the iMac, by the company. While the film received criticism for some inaccuracies in the storyline, its actors received praise for their performances in a movie that only managed to make $34.4 million from a production budget of $30 million.
Michael Fassbender played the title roles while other actors like Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, and Jeff Daniels appeared in supporting roles. Fassbender received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance. Winslet, who was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards, went on to win a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award for her performance. Sorkin himself took home the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay.
8. Malice (1993)
Malice is a neo-noir film in which Sorkin co-wrote the story the film was adapted from. He also co-wrote the screenplay of the film, which many critics have pointed out as what was wrong with the film. This, however, did not stop it from making a profit in the box office as it earned $46 million in the U.S. alone from a production budget of $20 million.
Directed by Harold Becker, the movie, which stars Alec Baldwin, Nicole Kidman, and Bill Pullman, follows a newlywed couple; Andy and Tracy Safian, who want to have children and start a family. Their lives are, however, upturned after they rent part of their Victorian home to a surgeon named Jed, who had performed an emergency surgery to save Tracy’s life but also removed her ovaries.
9. Bulworth (1998)
Even though he was uncredited for his work on the script, Bulworth appears on this list of Aaron Sorkin movies as his worst work till date. As the story goes, the famed filmmaker had collaborated on a couple of scripts with fellow filmmaker Warren Beatty, one of which was this political satire comedy film that starred Beatty himself alongside other A-list actors like Halle Berry, Oliver Platt, Don Cheadle, Paul Sorvino, Jack Warden, and Isaiah Washington.
The film follows the title character, a fictional California Senator named Jay Billington Bulworth, who tries to avoid an assassin he hired to kill himself as he runs for re-election. Like most of Sorkin’s other work, the film received generally positive reviews and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Commercially, however, it did not do so well as it only managed to rake in $29.2 million from a production budget of $30 million.