1. “America Isn’t the Greatest Country in the World”
Sorkin’s latest rant is gaining a lot of attention from bloggers and members of the media, and seems to have actually sparked a debate in some circles if the central thesis of the speech (America is no longer the greatest country in the world) is true. While The Newsroom has gotten decidedly mixed reviews, there’s no denying that the opening monologue, delivered by Jeff Daniels, is fantastic television.
2. “Do I Have a God Complex?”
In this clip, from Sorkin’s second feature film, Malice, which shows his love of courtroom drama (something revisited in The Social Network), Alec Baldwin is asked if he has a “God complex”. Baldwin lists his credentials in typical Sorkin fashion, then comes to the only possible conclusion: He is God.
3. “When the President Stands, No One Sits”
Sure, for the most part this is a reworked internet chain e-mail that someone forwarded to Aaron Sorkin. That said, Sorkin puts some nice touches (for example, she is eating crabcakes—a shellfish), and the ending line which completes a very nice scene from The West Wing and a blistering critique of anti-gay activists in the United States.
4. “I’d Like to Take a Moment to Review the Several Ways in Which You Are a Douchebag”
In Charlie Wilson’s War Philip Seymour Hoffman plays CIA Agent Gust Avrakotos. Sorkin recycles the “hardly ever sick at sea” line from Malice, but to great effect as Hoffman rails against the politics that dominated the CIA and cost him a position he had been training for.
5. “Change the Channel”
There are some similarities between Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and The Newsroom. Both shows open with a scene that first lets us feel comfortable, then launches into a rant that attacks the very things that made us comfortable in the first place. On Studio 60 Sorkin called in a favor and brought Judd Hirsch on to deliver a blistering critique of network television in what was become the series high point.
6. “You Can’t Handle the Truth”
Sorkin’s most famous speech is probably from A Few Good Men, and is one of the most quoted and parodied speeches in movie history. Jack Nicholson delivers a blistering truth that proves that sometimes Sorkin’s words are most effective when defending something that maybe doesn’t need to be defended.
7. “I’ve Got a Straight, You’ve Got Three Sevens”
Even on his first television program, Sorkin couldn’t resist an opportunity to speechify. On Sports Night he put Joshua Malina’s Jeremy in a situation where he was trying to reason with his girlfriend, Sabrina Lloyd’s Natalie. While supposedly about a hand in poker, the scene is tense and funny, and completely undermined about 15 seconds after it ends, but it’s still a fantastic piece of writing.
8. “You Still Wired In?”
In The Social Network Andrew Garfield’s Eduardo Saverin is given a fantastic rant that, when contrasted with the court room hearing, reenforces Sorkin’s knack for layered storytelling. By choosing to have Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker respond, instead of Jesse Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg, it gives Sorkin the chance to completely undermine Parker at the end of the rant. While this probably isn’t how things went down at facebook, it is fantastic cinema.
9. “This is a Time for Serious People.”
For the entirety of The American President Michael Douglas’ President Andrew Shepherd has refused to address the critiques of his relationship with his new girlfriend. He is finally, in the closing minutes of the movie, convinced to do something about it and delivers one of Sorkin’s finest monologues where tears apart his opponent while avoiding falling into the mud with him. It’s a fantastic scene and set the tone for The West Wing’s first four seasons.
10. “You Get Hoynes”
This list would not be complete without this speech. So much focus goes to Sorkin’s talent for words that occasionally his talent for developing characters is lost. Yet, his finest speech is delivered entirely in Latin, with no subtitles. It’s a rare case of a television program not talking down to its audience, and instead presenting something real and raw. You can enter this scene knowing absolutely no Latin and still understand and appreciate the scene. And, should you know the Latin, it remains a powerful questioning and rejection of God by the most powerful man in the world.