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The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

Updated September 23, 2019 5.3k votes 416 voters 22.0k 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.
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  • 1
    Dog Day Afternoon is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed bySidney Lumet

    Frank Pierson
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  • 2
    Juno is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays
    124
    36

    Juno

    2007

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

    Directed byJason Reitman

    Diablo Cody

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  • 3
    Pulp Fiction is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays
    130
    56

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

    Directed byQuentin Tarantino

    Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary

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  • 4
    Splendor in the Grass is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed byElia Kazan

    William Inge

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  • 5
    Chariots of Fire is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed byHugh Hudson

    Colin Welland

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  • 6
    The Usual Suspects is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed byBryan Singer

    Christopher McQuarrie
  • 7
    Good Will Hunting is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed byGus Van Sant

    Ben Affleck, Matt Damon
  • 8
    Fargo is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays
    82
    31

    Fargo

    1996

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

    Directed byEthan Coen, Joel Coen

    Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

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  • 9
    Chinatown is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays
    73
    24

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

    Directed byRoman Polanski

    Robert Towne
  • 10
    Get Out is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays
    127
    70

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

    Directed byJordan Peele

    Jordan Peele 

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  • 11
    Citizen Kane is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays
    80
    33

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

    Directed byOrson Welles

    Herbert J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles
  • 12
    Hannah and Her Sisters is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed byWoody Allen

    Woody Allen

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  • 13
    The Crying Game is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed byNeil Jordan

    Neil Jordan

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  • 14
    The Piano is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays
    55
    18

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

    Directed byJane Campion

    Jane Campion

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  • 15
    Woman of the Year is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed byGeorge Stevens

    Michael Kanin, Ring Lardner Jr.
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  • 16
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotle is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed byMichel Gondry

    Charlie Kaufman, Pierre Bismuth, Michel Gondry
  • 17
    The Candidate is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed byMichael Ritchie

    Jeremy Larner

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  • 18
    Django Unchained is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed byQuentin Tarantino

    Quentin Tarantino
  • 19
    Sunset Boulevard is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed byBilly Wilder

    Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, D.M. Marshman, Jr.

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  • 20
    Little Miss Sunshine is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

    ActorsSteve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Toni Collette, Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin

    Directed byValerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton

    Michael Arndt
  • 21
    Rain Man is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays
    60
    33

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

    Directed byBarry Levinson

    Ronald Bass, Barry Morrow
  • 22
    American Beauty is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed bySam Mendes

    Alan Ball

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  • 23
    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed byGeorge Roy Hill

    William Goldman

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  • 24
    Dead Poets Society is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays

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

    Directed byPeter Weir

    Tom Schulman
  • 25
    Gosford Park is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Screenplays
    45
    19

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

    Directed byRobert Altman

    Julian Fellowes
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