Every Aaron Sorkin Movie Ranked Worst To Best

One of the most prolific screenwriters in film and television, Aaron Sorkin has a clear and distinctive voice that is impossible to miss. His work is nonetheless surprisingly divisive: Some consider him a genius, while others have heard his "one egg is un oeuf" joke way too many times to be impressed. But regardless of whether you find his unique affectations endearing or self-indulgent, his impact over the past few decades is undeniable.

Having begun his career as a playwright, with 1989's "A Few Good Men" marking his first foray onto Broadway, Sorkin would later transition into film and television. Developing a reputation for scripts that were intelligent and politically erudite (if occasionally overwrought), he would become famous for the "walk and talk" where characters engage in fast-paced dialogue while zipping down a hallway, especially on his hit television show "The West Wing."

As a film writer and occasional director, he has collaborated with some of the most talented actors and filmmakers working in the industry. Sorkin has four Oscar nominations and one win to his name (Best Adapted Screenplay for "The Social Network" in 2011), enough to cement his status as one of the most acclaimed A-list screenwriters in modern American cinema.

10. Malice

Part of the neo-noir movement of the 1990s, "Malice" was Aaron Sorkin's first attempt at an original screenplay, in collaboration with fellow ace writer Scott Frank. It stars Nicole Kidman and Bill Pullman as a couple whose decision to rent part of their home out to a mysterious young surgeon (Alec Baldwin) leads to a disturbing web of secrets being exposed. 

Sorkin was famously discontented with his contributions to the film, balking at director Harold Becker's idea of writing a more risqué sex scene between Kidman and Baldwin, which was ultimately drafted without Sorkin's help. He said of the film to IndieWire, "Early on in my career, I wrote a movie that I'm not very proud of at all, it just turned into a mess." Despite Sorkin's qualms, "Malice" went on to become a modest success: Although it received middling reviews, it earned $46 million, more than doubling its initial budget.

9. Charlie Wilson's War

The last film directed by Mike Nichols ("The Graduate," "Primary Colors") before his death, "Charlie Wilson's War" is a mish-mosh of different genres, combining a modern biopic with dark comedy that leans into Aaron Sorkin's interests in government and politics. It stars America's dad Tom Hanks as the titular Charlie Wilson, a gregarious U.S. senator who becomes involved in a CIA program during the early 1980s to support the mujahideen (freedom fighters whose number included Osama bin Laden) amidst the Soviet-Afghan War. 

As one might expect, it suffers from tonal uncertainty: It doesn't know if Wilson is a hero or villain, and it doesn't seem to care. It attempts political commentary while maintaining a fence-sitting approach, doggedly refusing to have much of an opinion on anything. "Charlie Wilson's War" is a pleasant enough film, cleverly hiding the fact that it's empty calories, tricking the audience into thinking they've absorbed something that actually has a point of view.

8. Being the Ricardos

When you want to do a biopic of someone as iconic as Lucille Ball, your first step is probably going to be finding an actress who even remotely resembles her, either in appearance or personality. However, if you are third-time director Aaron Sorkin making "Being the Ricardos," you simply nab the biggest name you can find in Nicole Kidman.

"Being the Ricardos" features a tumultuous week in the life of celebrity power couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem), where they grapple simultaneously with Lucy's new pregnancy, allegations of Desi's cheating, and the recent revelation that Lucy registered as a member of the Communist party decades earlier. There's a lot going on, and it allows Aaron Sorkin to give in to some of his worst excesses as a screenwriter.

It does sparkle whenever they're on the set of "I Love Lucy," where the delightful supporting cast is allowed to liven things up a bit. While Kidman and Bardem give it their all, it's difficult to overcome the feeling that they are both fundamentally miscast. Perhaps worst of all, you start to get a niggling feeling that Sorkin doesn't actually find Lucy all that funny, which sinks the film before it's even properly begun.

7. Steve Jobs

Five years after making "The Social Network" about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Aaron Sorkin would once again tackle the biopic of a tech giant, this time focusing on Apple founder Steve Jobs. Helmed by "Slumdog Millionaire" Oscar-winner Danny Boyle, "Steve Jobs" stretches over a considerable portion of the innovator's professional life, covering some 14 years amid the '80s and '90s when Apple was rapidly staking its claim in the computer business. Michael Fassbender plays Jobs as a complicated figure: Although he doesn't come across as a villain, per se, there's a coldness to his character that makes it clear that he will pursue his vision at all costs.

"Steve Jobs" underperformed at the box office, earning back just slightly more than its $30 million budget, yet it fared considerably better amongst critics and the awards community. Fassbender and his co-star Kate Winslet were both honored with Academy Award nominations, for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.

6. The Trial of the Chicago 7

It's the summer of 1969, and America is embroiled in a protest movement that will go on to define the latter half of the decade. Aaron Sorkin is entirely in his element in "The Trial of the Chicago 7," getting the opportunity to wax poetic about politics while also returning to the courtroom dramatics that first established his writing career. But Sorkin also directs this film (after originally developing it for Steven Spielberg), and it's clear that pulling double duty allows him to get more than a little self-indulgent. 

His writing is snappy, as always, but it also has a tendency to get cute, and he ends his film in one of the most overwrought court sequences in recent memory. He misjudges when to go for a grand emotional overture, creating a finale that is almost laughable in its operatic high drama. Nevertheless, he does get strong performances out of his main cast, with special attention paid to Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, who received an Academy Award nomination for his work in "The Trial of the Chicago 7."

5. Molly's Game

For "Molly's Game," Aaron Sorkin would venture into his only project that would revolve entirely around a female lead. Based on the memoir of Molly Bloom and exploring her secret career as the host of an underground ring of high-stakes poker games, "Molly's Game" stars Jessica Chastain in the titular role. Although Sorkin had been working in Hollywood for over 15 years at this point, this would serve as his directorial debut. 

As a first-timer he fares remarkably well here, giving Chastain one of the rare parts in her career that truly utilizes her talent. She is the main attraction, imbuing Molly with a crackling energy, although Idris Elba's performance as Molly's lawyer is also intensely charismatic. "Molly's Game" would remain an underseen gem of 2017, advocated for by critics but largely ignored by general filmgoing audiences. Surprisingly, Chastain was not nominated for an Academy Award for her performance, although Sorkin would receive a nod for Best Adapted Screenplay.

4. The American President

If there's one thing that we all know about Aaron Sorkin by this point, it's that he has a fondness for politics —especially the office of the presidency— that borders on an obsession. A few years before he wrote "The West Wing," the television show that would define his career, he would first visit another romanticized version of the Oval Office with "The American President." 

It stars Michael Douglas as fictional president Andrew Shepherd, a lonely widower who holds the highest office in the country but has no one to share it with. Enter Annette Bening as Sydney Ellen Wade, an environmental lobbyist who dives headfirst into a relationship with the president as the two struggle to navigate the natural inconveniences that such a high-profile romance entails. Sorkin's reunion with "A Few Good Men" director Rob Reiner, "The American President" did well enough at the box office, earning a little over $100 million on a $62 million budget, but its legacy has grown in stature over the years. It was even included on the American Film Institute's list of America's Greatest Love Stories.

3. Moneyball

A sports movie, for the man who lives and breathes cerebral drama? Baseball at first seems an odd choice for Sorkin, but 2011's "Moneyball" actually makes a lot of sense. As far as sports go, baseball is romantic and distinctly American, which is entirely in Sorkin's wheelhouse. The film also gives him the opportunity to focus on the intellectual side of baseball via the groundbreaking introduction of statistical analysis into the scouting process, which would allow teams to identify less-than-perfect players with a massive potential upside. 

Directed by Bennett Miller, who took over from Steven Soderbergh with Sorkin rewriting, "Moneyball" stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the manager of the Oakland A's, who is faced with the all-too-common problem of trying to field a competitive team on a limited budget. Together with Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) he would develop a revolutionary process of finding undervalued ball players so that the organization would get the most bang for their buck. Both actors would receive Academy Award nominations for their performances, along with the four others that the film earned, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

2. A Few Good Men

It's not overstating things to say that "A Few Good Men" is the piece of writing that made Sorkin's entire career possible. Beginning as Sorkin's very first play to hit the Broadway stage (followed in more recent years by "The Farnsworth Invention" and "To Kill a Mockingbird"), "A Few Good Men" was adapted for the screen in 1992, a high-profile project that would star Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and Jack Nicholson. It was directed by Rob Reiner, who at the time was in the midst of an eight-year-long hot streak. 

Hence, people expected big things of this dramatic story of military intrigue, and "A Few Good Men" delivers in every conceivable way. The courtroom scenes are a masterclass in building narrative tension, and although Nicholson's surprise outburst on the witness stand is bombastic in a way that should be ridiculous, it works because of how well the dramatic arc has been slowly building up to such a moment. Audiences responded by turning Nicholson's "You can't handle the truth!" into one of the most quoted lines of the '90s, while "A Few Good Men" earned four Oscar nominations including Best Picture.

1. The Social Network

Some of Aaron Sorkin's writing, especially when he delves into sociopolitical commentary, has a tendency to come across as dated. Not necessarily in a bad way: It can just feel as though he's writing for a different, perhaps more idealistic, time. Yet "The Social Network" has become, if anything, more relevant since its initial release in 2010. It stars Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, who develops the idea for Facebook (then called "the Facebook") while studying at Harvard University. Its rapid success is overwhelming for Zuckerberg, who struggles with his own insecurities, ambitions, and proclivity for underhanded dealings. 

At the time, Facebook was at the height of its popularity and Zuckerberg was heralded as a genius, which makes Sorkin and director David Fincher's choice to make "The Social Network" a less-than-glowing portrait all the more prescient. Eisenberg and his costar Andrew Garfield have magnificently tense chemistry together, with their relationship as friends and business partners becoming increasingly fraught. "The Social Network" would be nominated for eight Academy Awards, ultimately winning three, including Sorkin's sole Oscar win for Best Adapted Screenplay.