Oscars The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays  

Ranker Film
4.7k votes 294 voters 19k 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.

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Pulp Fiction 1994 Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American black comedy crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, from a story by Tarantino and Roger Avary. The film is known for its eclectic dialogue, ironic ...more

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Chinatown 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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Get Out 2017

Jordan Peele 

Get Out is a 2017 satirical horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele. A young African American man visits his white girlfriend's family estate where he learns that many of its residents, ...more

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Fargo 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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Good Will Hunting 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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The Usual Suspects 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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Citizen Kane 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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Rain Man 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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The Sting 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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Django Unchained 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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The Apartment 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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Network 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

The Worst Oscar-Winning Actors Ever

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 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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Gandhi 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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Patton 1970 Francis Ford Coppola, Edmund H. North Patton is a 1970 American epic biographical war film about U.S. General George S. Patton during World War II. It stars George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates and Karl Michael Vogler. It was ...more

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

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Dead Poets Society 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

The Best Cate Blanchett Movies of All Time, Ranked Best to Worst

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Little Miss Sunshine 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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The King's Speech 2010 David Seidler The King's Speech is a 2010 British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler. Colin Firth plays King George VI who, to cope with a stammer, sees Lionel Logue, an ...more

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Annie Hall 1977 Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman Annie Hall is a 1977 American romantic comedy directed by Woody Allen from a screenplay he co-wrote with Marshall Brickman. Produced by Allen's manager, Charles H. Joffe, the film stars Allen as ...more

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The Producers 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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On the Waterfront 1954 Budd Schulberg On the Waterfront is a 1954 American crime 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

The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies

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Sunset Boulevard 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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Dog Day Afternoon 1975 Frank Pierson Dog Day Afternoon is a 1975 American crime 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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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 1967 William Rose Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a 1967 American comedy-drama film produced and directed by Stanley Kramer and written by William Rose. It stars Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine ...more

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American Beauty 1999 Alan Ball American Beauty is a 1999 American drama film, directed by Sam Mendes and written by Alan Ball. Kevin Spacey stars as Lester Burnham, an office worker who has a midlife crisis when he becomes ...more

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 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

The Greatest Hollywood Comebacks of All Time

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Splendor in the Grass 1961 William Inge Splendor in the Grass is a 1961 Technicolor romantic drama film that tells a story of sexual repression, love, and heartbreak, from which the character Deanie suffers. Written by William Inge, ...more

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Juno 2007 Diablo Cody Juno is a 2007 Canadian-American comedy-drama film directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody. Ellen Page stars as the title character, an independent-minded teenager confronting an ...more

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Witness 1985 William Kelley, Earl Wallace, Pamela Wallace Witness is a 1985 American thriller film directed by Peter Weir and starring Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis. The screenplay by William Kelley, Pamela Wallace, and Earl W. Wallace focuses on a ...more

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Ghost is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays
Ghost 1990 Bruce Joel Rubin Ghost is a 1990 American romantic fantasy/crime thriller film starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Tony Goldwyn, and Whoopi Goldberg. It was written by Bruce Joel Rubin and directed by Jerry ...more

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Almost Famous 2000 Cameron Crowe Almost Famous is a 2000 comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit. It tells the fictional story of a teenage journalist ...more

The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances

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Birdman 2014 Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo Birdman or, commonly referred to as Birdman, is a 2014 American black comedy-drama film co-written, produced, and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. It stars Michael ...more

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Her 2014 Spike Jonze Her is a 2013 American romantic science fiction comedy-drama film written, directed, and produced by Spike Jonze. The film's musical score was composed by Arcade Fire, with the cinematography ...more

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The Defiant Ones 1958 Natan E. Douglas, Harold Jacob Smith The Defiant Ones is a 1958 black and white film which tells the story of two escaped prisoners, one white and one black, who are shackled together and who must co-operate in order to survive. It ...more

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Titanic 1953 Charles Brackett, Richard Breen, Walter Reisch Titanic is a 1953 American drama film directed by Jean Negulesco. Its plot centers on an estranged couple sailing on the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic, which took place in April 1912.

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Coming Home 1978 Robert C. Jones, Waldo Salt, Nancy Dowd Coming Home is a 1978 drama film directed by Hal Ashby and starring Jane Fonda, Jon Voight and Bruce Dern. The screenplay by Waldo Salt and Robert C. Jones was from a story by Nancy Dowd. The ...more

Things You Should Know How to Do Before You Turn 30

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The Hurt Locker 2008 Mark Boal The Hurt Locker is a 2008 American war film about a three-man Explosive Ordnance Disposal team during the Iraq War. The film was produced and directed by Kathryn Bigelow and the screenplay was ...more

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An American in Paris 1951 Alan Jay Lerner An American in Paris is a 1951 American musical film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guétary, and ...more

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Chariots of Fire 1981 Colin Welland Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British historical drama film. It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of ...more

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Manchester by the Sea is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays
Manchester by the Sea

 Kenneth Lonergan

Manchester by the Sea is a 2016 American drama film directed and written by Kenneth Lonergan. After the death of his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is shocked to ...more

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Woman of the Year 1942 Michael Kanin, Ring Lardner Jr. Woman of the Year is an American romantic comedy-drama film starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, written by Ring Lardner, Jr., Michael Kanin and John Lee Mahin, directed by George ...more

The Best Dressed Oscar Winning Ladies of the Millennium

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Moonstruck 1987 John Patrick Shanley Moonstruck is a 1987 American romantic comedy film directed by Norman Jewison and written by John Patrick Shanley. It stars Cher, Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello, Vincent Gardenia, and Olympia ...more

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Milk 2008 Dustin Lance Black Milk is a 2008 American biographical film based on the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California, ...more

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Hannah and Her Sisters 1986 Woody Allen Hannah and Her Sisters is a 1986 American comedy-drama film which tells the intertwined stories of an extended family over two years that begins and ends with a family Thanksgiving dinner. The ...more

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The Piano 1993 Jane Campion The Piano is a 1993 romantic drama film about a mute female piano player and her daughter. Set during the mid-19th century in a rainy, muddy frontier backwater on the west coast of New Zealand, ...more

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The Candidate 1972 Jeremy Larner The Candidate is a 1972 American satirical comedy-drama film starring Robert Redford and Peter Boyle, and directed by Michael Ritchie. The screenplay, which examines the various facets and ...more

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Gosford Park 2001 Julian Fellowes Gosford Park is a 2001 British mystery film directed by Robert Altman and written by Julian Fellowes. The film stars an ensemble cast, which includes Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, ...more

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Tender Mercies 1983 Horton Foote Tender Mercies is a 1983 American drama film directed by Bruce Beresford. The screenplay by Horton Foote focuses on Mac Sledge, a recovering alcoholic country music singer who seeks to turn his ...more

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Midnight in Paris 2011 Woody Allen Midnight in Paris is an American 2011 romantic comedy fantasy film written and directed by Woody Allen. Set in Paris, the film follows Gil Pender, a screenwriter, who is forced to confront the ...more