The 1977 Woody Allen movie “Annie Hall” was recently voted the funniest screenplay of all time by the Writers Guild of America West and the Writers Guild of America East. The movie stars Allen as Alvy Singer, who embarks on a romance with the title character (Diane Keaton).
Close behind it at number two was the 1959 film “Some Like It Hot,” which stars Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as two musicians who dress as women to escape the Mob, and 1993’s “Groundhog Day,” which came in at number three and stars Bill Murray as a weatherman who finds himself living the same day over and over.
1980’s “Airplane!,” 1982’s “Tootsie,” and 1974’s “Young Frankenstein” followed behind at fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively.
“Groundhog” is by far the newest film in the top 10 funniest screenplays as named by the WGA groups. Five out of the top 10 screenplays were released in the 1970s, with other ‘70s films to have made the top 10 cut including “Blazing Saddles,” “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” and “National Lampoon’s Animal House.”
The WGA groups named 101 films in all and the highest-ranking new movie was the 2011 film “Bridesmaids,” which stars Kristen Wiig as Annie, whose best friend (Maya Rudolph) becomes engaged and becomes closer to another friend as Annie is struggling with unemployment.
The next-newest is the 2009 comedy “The Hangover,” which centers on a group of men who travel to Las Vegas for a bachelor party.
What causes so many films from the 1970s to appear in the top 10 list? Part of this is the dominance of certain personalities during the decade. Director and writer Mel Brooks released “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles” during that time. Meanwhile, Harold Ramis wrote both “Animal House” and “Groundhog Day” and directed “Groundhog.” This is when all-time greats were releasing films.
The list also shows how comedy has changed across the decades. It’s hard to imagine, for example, the “Bridesmaids” scene involving bathroom humor or the film’s many instances of language appearing in 1959’s “Some Like It Hot.”
And of course, the list shows that classics will stand the test of time. Writers at the WGA groups have certainly not forgotten films that were released decades ago like 1933’s “Duck Soup” (ranking seventeenth) and 1940’s “His Girl Friday” (coming in at number 21).
Here’s the full list in case you’re looking for inspiration for your next lighthearted movie night.