This year there are more writer/directors than there have been in a long while. Scripts, original and adapted, usually power the engine that makes a great movie great. All of the wonderful writing in the world, however, can’t save a film that a director, producer or studio has strangled within an inch of its life. One decision can completely derail the best screenplays, just as a minor change can sometimes mean the difference between a good movie and a great one; we tend to think always of Roman Polanski and Robert Towne on Chinatown, still one of the best films ever made and much of that is due to Polanski’s singular decision to change the ending, to not give it a happy one. Chinatown would probably not be considered the masterpiece it is today without that significant change. It’s hard to imagine a studio taking such a gamble now, as films cost too much money to take such a risk. At that time, though, it seemed that they were more concerned about making a great film than they were about how much money that film would make. Priorities have shifted as the cost to make big Hollywood movies has soared. Making something more palatable for audiences, though, can often detroy the film’s intent. Witness the end of Charlie Wilson’s War as written by Aaron Sorkin versus the glossed over, neutered ending that the Mike Nichols film ultimately delivered. The whole point of the film was lost with that one decision. But it’s like William Goldman wrote, nobody knows anything, and in truth, you make your best call and let the chips fall where they may.