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The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

Updated September 23, 2019 5.5k votes 420 voters 22.1k views76 items

List RulesVote 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.
  • Dog Day Afternoon1

    ActorsAl Pacino, Carol Kane, Charles Durning, Lance Henriksen, John Cazale

    Directed bySidney Lumet

    Frank Pierson
    Dog Day Afternoon is a 1975 American drama film directed by Sidney Lumet, written by Frank...  more
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  • Juno2



    ActorsJennifer Garner, Ellen Page, Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, J.K. Simmons

    Directed byJason Reitman

    Diablo Cody
    Juno is a 2007 Canadian-American comedy-drama film directed by Jason Reitman and written by...  more

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  • Pulp Fiction3

    ActorsJohn Travolta, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Walken

    Directed byQuentin Tarantino

    Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary
    Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American crime film directed by Quentin Tarantino. The lives of two mob...  more

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  • Splendor in the Grass4

    ActorsNatalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle, Sandy Dennis, Gary Lockwood

    Directed byElia Kazan

    William Inge
    Splendor in the Grass is a 1961 Technicolor romantic drama film that tells a story of sexual...  more

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  • The Usual Suspects5

    ActorsKevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin, Giancarlo Esposito

    Directed byBryan Singer

    Christopher McQuarrie
    The Usual Suspects is a 1995 German-American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Bryan...  more

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    #5 of 12 Movies Where The Cast And Crew Disagreed About Its Meaning#131 of 549 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

  • Chariots of Fire6

    ActorsStephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm, John Gielgud, Richard Griffiths

    Directed byHugh Hudson

    Colin Welland
    Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British historical drama film. It tells the fact-based story of two...  more

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  • Fargo7



    ActorsSteve Buscemi, William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Bruce Campbell, Peter Stormare

    Directed byEthan Coen, Joel Coen

    Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
    Fargo is a 1996 American neo-noir dark comedy crime film written, produced, edited, and...  more

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  • Good Will Hunting8

    ActorsBen Affleck, Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Minnie Driver, Casey Affleck

    Directed byGus Van Sant

    Ben Affleck, Matt Damon
    Good Will Hunting is a 1997 American drama film directed by Gus Van Sant, and starring Matt...  more

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  • Get Out9

    ActorsDaniel Kaluuya, Catherine Keener, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones

    Directed byJordan Peele

    Jordan Peele 

    Get Out is a 2017 American horror film directed by Jordan Peele. A young African-American...  more
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  • Citizen Kane10

    ActorsOrson Welles, Alan Ladd, Agnes Moorehead, Joseph Cotten, Arthur O'Connell

    Directed byOrson Welles

    Herbert J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles
    Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film produced by, co-written by, directed by and...  more

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  • Chinatown11

    ActorsJack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, Roman Polanski, John Huston, Diane Ladd

    Directed byRoman Polanski

    Robert Towne
    Chinatown is a 1974 American neo-noir mystery film, directed by Roman Polanski from a...  more

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  • Hannah and Her Sisters12

    ActorsJulia Louis-Dreyfus, Woody Allen, Carrie Fisher, Michael Caine, Mia Farrow

    Directed byWoody Allen

    Woody Allen
    Hannah and Her Sisters is a 1986 American comedy-drama film which tells the intertwined...  more

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  • The Crying Game13

    ActorsForest Whitaker, Jim Broadbent, Miranda Richardson, Stephen Rea, Ralph Brown

    Directed byNeil Jordan

    Neil Jordan
    The Crying Game is a 1992 British psychological thriller drama film written and directed by...  more

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  • The Piano14

    ActorsAnna Paquin, Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, Cliff Curtis

    Directed byJane Campion

    Jane Campion
    The Piano is a 1993 romantic drama film about a mute female piano player and her daughter. Set...  more

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  • Woman of the Year15

    ActorsKatharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, William Bendix, Fay Bainter, Reginald Owen

    Directed byGeorge Stevens

    Michael Kanin, Ring Lardner Jr.
    Woman of the Year is an American romantic comedy-drama film starring Spencer Tracy and...  more
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  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind16

    ActorsKate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Carrey, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood

    Directed byMichel Gondry

    Charlie Kaufman, Pierre Bismuth, Michel Gondry
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic science-fiction comedy-drama...  more

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  • Sunset Boulevard17

    ActorsWilliam Holden, Buster Keaton, Gloria Swanson, Yvette Vickers, Cecil B. DeMille

    Directed byBilly Wilder

    Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, D.M. Marshman, Jr.
    Sunset Boulevard—stylized onscreen as SUNSET BLVD.—is a 1950 American film noir directed and...  more

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  • The Candidate18

    ActorsRobert Redford, Natalie Wood, Peter Boyle, Melvyn Douglas, Michael Lerner

    Directed byMichael Ritchie

    Jeremy Larner
    The Candidate is a 1972 American satirical comedy-drama film starring Robert Redford and Peter...  more

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  • Dead Poets Society19

    ActorsRobin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Lara Flynn Boyle, Jamie Kennedy, Josh Charles

    Directed byPeter Weir

    Tom Schulman
    Dead Poets Society is a 1989 American drama film written by Tom Schulman, directed by Peter...  more

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  • Django Unchained20

    ActorsLeonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Foxx, Quentin Tarantino

    Directed byQuentin Tarantino

    Quentin Tarantino
    Django Unchained is a 2012 American revisionist Western film directed by Quentin Tarantino....  more

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  • Thelma & Louise21

    ActorsBrad Pitt, Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen

    Directed byRidley Scott

    Callie Khouri
    Thelma & Louise is a 1991 American film, written by Callie Khouri and directed by Ridley...  more

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  • Rain Man22

    ActorsTom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman, Valeria Golino, Bonnie Hunt, Barry Levinson

    Directed byBarry Levinson

    Ronald Bass, Barry Morrow
    Rain Man is a 1988 American drama film directed by Barry Levinson and written by Barry Morrow...  more

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  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid23

    ActorsPaul Newman, Robert Redford, Cloris Leachman, Sam Elliott, Katharine Ross

    Directed byGeorge Roy Hill

    William Goldman
    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 American Western film directed by George Roy Hill...  more

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    #9 of 400 The Best Western Movies Ever Made#4 of 175 The Best Movies Of The '60s

  • Gosford Park24

    ActorsHelen Mirren, Clive Owen, Maggie Smith, Ryan Phillippe, Stephen Fry

    Directed byRobert Altman

    Julian Fellowes
    Gosford Park is a 2002 British mystery film directed by Robert Altman and written by Julian...  more
  • American Beauty25

    ActorsKevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Mena Suvari, Allison Janney, Chris Cooper

    Directed bySam Mendes

    Alan Ball
    American Beauty is a 1999 American drama film directed by Sam Mendes. An advertising executive...  more

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