Entertainment

The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays  

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5.5k votes 398 voters 21.4k views 76 items

List Rules Vote up the best screenplays that have won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay

What is best Oscar-winning screenplay? This list includes every film that has won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, with titles such as “Her,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Annie Hall,” and “Good Will Hunting.” The Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay was created in 1940, first presented at the thirteenth Academy Awards.

Movies have the ability to make us feel. They make us want to believe, be inspired, and live vicariously through the stories we see on screen. It all begins with the words written on the page. Without dialogue that grabs us and an enchanting story, movies fall flat, even with the best actors and directors. The best of these screenplays are often bestowed with an Academy Award nomination, and those that are truly the best take home the Oscar.

Screenplays have the ability to take us places, into the lives of those we’ve never imagined. Screenplays give directors and the actors the framework in which to work. These best Oscar-winning screenplays provide the kind of emotional connection that filmmakers hope people seek in entertainment. They are moving, saddening, and romantic. These screenplays vary in their genre but they all equally fascinating.

Vote up the best Academy Award-winning screenplays below and see how these Oscar winning scripts rank.
list ordered by
1
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1994
Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American crime film directed by Quentin Tarantino. The lives of two mob hitmen (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta), a boxer (Bruce Willis), a gangster's wife (Uma ...more

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#37 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimefeaturing Genius Fan Theories About What's In The Briefcase In 'Pulp Fiction'listed on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

2
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1974
Robert Towne Chinatown is a 1974 American neo-noir mystery film, directed by Roman Polanski from a screenplay by Robert Towne, starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. The film was inspired by the ...more

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#67 of 258 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #1,098 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
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1996
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen Fargo is a 1996 American neo-noir dark comedy crime film written, produced, edited, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars Frances McDormand as a pregnant Minnesota police chief who ...more

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#82 of 258 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Timefeaturing Theories About Why The Coen Bros. Had Marge Gunderson Go On A Date In Fargolisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
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1941
Herbert J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film produced by, co-written by, directed by and starring Orson Welles. The picture was Welles's first feature film. The film was nominated for Academy ...more

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#352 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #56 of 125 Movies That Should Never Be Remadelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

5
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1994
Christopher McQuarrie The Usual Suspects is a 1995 German-American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Bryan Singer and written by Christopher McQuarrie. It stars Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio del ...more

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#9 of 258 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #179 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
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1997
Ben Affleck, Matt Damon Good Will Hunting is a 1997 American drama film directed by Gus Van Sant, and starring Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver and Stellan Skarsgård. Written by Affleck and ...more

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#67 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #13 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

7
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2017

Jordan Peele 

Get Out is a 2017 American horror film directed by Jordan Peele. A young African-American (Daniel Kaluuya) visits his white girlfriend's parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness ...more

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#141 of 719 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Rankedfeaturing Things You Didn't Know About The Making Of Jordan Peele's 'Get Out'listed on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

8
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2012
Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained is a 2012 American revisionist Western film directed by Quentin Tarantino. With the help of a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz), a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) sets out to ...more

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#8 of 719 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #545 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #63 of 396 The Best Western Movies Ever Made

9
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1969
William Goldman Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 American Western film directed by George Roy Hill and written by William Goldman. Based loosely on fact, the film tells the story of Wild West ...more

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#156 of 304 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time #848 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

10
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1988
Ronald Bass, Barry Morrow Rain Man is a 1988 American drama film directed by Barry Levinson and written by Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass. It tells the story of an abrasive and selfish yuppie, Charlie Babbitt, who ...more

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#68 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #320 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

11
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1991
Callie Khouri Thelma & Louise is a 1991 American film, written by Callie Khouri and directed by Ridley Scott. It stars Geena Davis as Thelma and Susan Sarandon as Louise, two friends who embark on a road ...more

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#118 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimefeaturing Behind-The-Scenes Stories From The Making Of 'Thelma & Louise'listed on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

12
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1976
Paddy Chayefsky Network is a 1976 American satirical film written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet, about a fictional television network, UBS, and its struggle with poor ratings. The film stars ...more

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#656 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #757 of 1,204 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

13
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2004
Charlie Kaufman, Pierre Bismuth, Michel Gondry Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic science-fiction comedy-drama film about an estranged couple who have each other erased from their memories, written by Charlie ...more

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#56 of 258 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #98 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

14
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1950
Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, D.M. Marshman, Jr. Sunset Boulevard—stylized onscreen as SUNSET BLVD.—is a 1950 American film noir directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, and produced and co-written by Charles Brackett. It was named after the ...more

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#111 of 125 Movies That Should Never Be Remade #50 of 111 The Best Movies That Pass the Bechdel Testlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

15
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2006
Michael Arndt Little Miss Sunshine is a 2006 American comedy-drama road film and the directorial film debut of the husband-wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The screenplay was written by ...more

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#162 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #478 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
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1960
I.A.L. Diamond, Billy Wilder The Apartment is a 1960 American comedy-drama film produced and directed by Billy Wilder, which stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray. It was Wilder's next movie after Some ...more

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#266 of 1,204 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #44 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

17
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1977
Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman Annie Hall is a 1977 American romantic comedy film directed by Woody Allen. Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer (Allen) falls in love with the ditzy Annie Hall (Diane Keaton).

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#297 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #1,331 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

18
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1973
David S. Ward The Sting is a 1973 American caper film set in September 1936, involving a complicated plot by two professional grifters to con a mob boss. The film was directed by George Roy Hill, who had ...more

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#393 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #288 of 1,204 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

19
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1989
Tom Schulman Dead Poets Society is a 1989 American drama film written by Tom Schulman, directed by Peter Weir and starring Robin Williams. Set at the conservative and aristocratic Welton Academy in the ...more

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#79 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #36 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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1982
John Briley Gandhi is a 1982 epic biographical film which dramatises the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the leader of India's non-violent, non-cooperative independence movement against the United ...more

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#37 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies #305 of 582 The Greatest Film Scores of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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1999
Alan Ball American Beauty is a 1999 American drama film directed by Sam Mendes. An advertising executive (Kevin Spacey) has a midlife crisis when he becomes infatuated with his teenage daughter's best ...more

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#26 of 59 Every Movie Coming To Netflix In January 2020 #168 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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1967
Mel Brooks The Producers is a 1968 American satirical dark comedy film written and directed by Mel Brooks. The film is set in the late 1960s and it tells the story of a theatrical producer and an ...more

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#637 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Moviesfeaturing Every Song in The Producers, Ranked by Singabilitylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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1975
Frank Pierson Dog Day Afternoon is a 1975 American drama film directed by Sidney Lumet, written by Frank Pierson, and produced by Martin Bregman and Martin Elfand. The film stars Al Pacino, John Cazale, ...more

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#787 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #22 of 591 The Best '70s Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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1970
Francis Ford Coppola, Edmund H. North Patton is a 1970 American epic biographical film about U.S. General George S. Patton during WWII. It stars George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates and Karl Michael Vogler. It was directed by ...more

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#11 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #5 of 220 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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1954
Budd Schulberg On the Waterfront is a 1954 American drama film about union violence and corruption amongst longshoremen. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon ...more

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#601 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #30 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever