Wordplay is a 2006 documentary film directed by Patrick Creadon. It features Will Shortz, the editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle, crossword constructor Merl Reagle, and many other noted crossword solvers and constructors. The second half of the movie is set at the 2005 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT), where the top solvers compete for a prize of $4000. Wordplay was the best reviewed documentary film of 2006, according to Rottentomatoes.com
The movie focuses on the following crossword solvers:
The film contains appearances by many celebrity fans of the Times puzzle, including Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Jon Stewart, Ken Burns, Mike Mussina, Daniel Okrent, and the Indigo Girls.
A 2008 episode of The Simpsons, "Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words", is based on the film. James L. Brooks got the inspiration for the episode after watching Wordplay. "We felt both Will and Merl were very compelling, off-the-beaten-track personalities [in Wordplay], who would fit into our universe very well", Brooks said. The episode was written by Tim Long, and directed by Nancy Kruse, and guest-starred crossword puzzle creators Reagle and Shortz as themselves.
Wordplay features a theme song, "Every Word", written and performed by Gary Louris of The Jayhawks. The Wordplay DVD features a music video of "Every Word".
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Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards
Critics Choice Award
Best Documentary Feature
Central Ohio Film Critics Association
Online Film & Television Association
OFTA Film Award
Best Documentary Feature Film
National Board of Review, USA
Top Five Documentaries
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
Best Documentary DVD
Sundance Film Festival
Grand Jury Prize