Top 10 Best Original Screenplay Oscar Winners
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Top 10 Best Original Screenplay Oscar Winners

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Nick Spake

Almost every great movie begins with a great screenplay. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Best Original Screenplay Oscar Winners. For this list, we're taking a look at the most memorable and well-written original screenplays to take home the Academy Award.

Special thanks to our user masudorex for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at http://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest
Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Best Original Screenplay Oscar Winners

Almost every great movie begins with a great screenplay. Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Original Screenplay Oscar Winners.

For this list, we’re taking a look at the most memorable and well-written original screenplays to take home the Academy Award.

#10: “Good Will Hunting” (1997)

BFFs Matt Damon and Ben Affleck co-wrote and co-starred in this coming of age tale, which initially started out as a thriller. Eventually, “Good Will Hunting” evolved into a deeply emotional and inspiring story about a brilliant young man afraid to unlock his true potential. Their screenplay is as smart as Will Hunting himself and as wise as Sean Maguire, the therapist who helps our protagonist to confront his inner demons, and it made the 25-year-old Affleck the youngest ever winner of the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. The film itself is full of intelligent dialogue and touching moments, but our favorite just might be Sean’s exceptionally written monologue as he gives the cocky Willy a lesson in life, loss, and opening up.

#9: “Her” (2013)

Spike Jonze is one of the most creative storytellers making movies today. And for his first solo screenplay effort, he took home a much-deserved screenplay Oscar for “Her,” a film about an isolated man who falls in love with an operating system. That premise might sound like a joke and “Her” does have its fair share of hilarious moments. On the whole, though, this is a strangely beautiful, identifiable, and even important romance about human communication. A lot of people have formed a strong connection to “Her” and we have a feeling even more audiences will relate to its meaningful themes in the years to come.

#8: “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969)

The success of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” can largely be attributed to the chemistry between its titular characters. While Paul Newman and Robert Redford certainly made for an impeccable on-screen duo, they would’ve had nothing to work with if it weren’t for William Goldman’s sly script. Butch and Sundance work off each other perfectly, cracking jokes and poking fun at each other even when certain death awaits them. Because these characters are so well written, the audience finds themselves cheering for the outlaws. We’d gladly follow these guys to the ends of the earth.

#7: “Lost in Translation” (2003)

Sofia Coppola’s career got off to a rocky start when her father cast her in “The Godfather: Part III.” After getting behind the camera, though, Sofia’s true talents flourished. She wrote and directed her magnum opus with this story of two highly different people who end up having more in common than ever thought possible. Facing lonely periods in their lives, this middle-aged man and younger woman form an unlikely bond against the lively backdrop of Tokyo. While their encounter is brief, the impact they’ve made on each other will last forever. Likewise, this exquisitely written film will stick with audiences for some time.

#6: “Fargo” (1996)

The message of “Fargo” is pretty simple: there’s more to life than a little money. That may not sound like much, but the way Joel and Ethan Coen’s screenplay gets this moral across is nothing short of extraordinary. They accomplish this through clever dialogue, unforgettable characters, and a captivating plot where things just keep spiraling out of control. “Fargo” not only works as a great comedy and great entertainment, but also as a thought-provoking film about humanity. Walking away from it, everyone in the audience will feel the desire to be better people and appreciate the simple things in life.

#5: “Network” (1976)

“Network” came out in 1976, but it just as easily could’ve been released in 2016. The story follows Howard Beale, a news anchor who suffers a breakdown and decides to tell American TV audiences exactly what’s on his mind. Between Peter Finch’s iconic “mad as hell” monologue and Ned Beatty’s haunting “the world is a business” speech, Paddy Chayefsky’s second solo Oscar-winning screenplay makes ingenious commentary on television and the sad truth about society. At the end of the day, everything comes down to the almighty dollar. While “Network” was provocative back in the ‘70s, it’s even more harrowing to watch today and realize that nothing has changed.

#4: “Annie Hall” (1977)

“Annie Hall” could’ve been another formulaic romantic comedy where boy gets girl, boy loses girl, and boy gets girl back. Alvy and Annie’s relationship is certainly a relatable one, but the way Woody Allen portrays their relationship is truly one of a kind – so, it’s no wonder he has the most nominations and wins in the Screenplay category. Utilizing fourth wall breaks, split screens, animation, and witty dialogue that only he could write, Allen crafted a unique romance that examines how love works and how love doesn’t work. His most mature film at the time, “Annie Hall” was a major turning point for Allen, who wrote an equally insightful comedy years later with the Oscar-winning “Hannah and Her Sisters.”

#3: “Pulp Fiction” (1994)

This breakout indie masterpiece is full of homages to Quentin Tarantino’s greatest creative influences. That’s kind of ironic considering “Pulp Fiction” would inspire a new generation of filmmakers and is still dominating our popular culture. In addition to taking us on an entertaining ride filled with drugs, hitmen and a gimp, Tarantino challenged his audience with an unconventional narrative structure and even more unconventional characters. Whether these individuals are talking about pulling off a robbery or a Royale with Cheese, they’re always fascinating to listen to. The real star of “Pulp Fiction” is its screenplay, which doesn’t have a dull line of dialogue in it.

#2: “Citizen Kane” (1941)

Despite often being cited as the greatest American movie of all time, “Citizen Kane” didn’t win the Oscar for Best Picture Oscar, or even Best Director. Fortunately, it did take home one Academy Award for its revolutionary screenplay. Though there was some dispute over writing credits at the time, Orson Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz’s script remains a cinematic landmark, portraying much of Charles Foster Kane’s life through flashbacks and rich symbolism. From its iconic opening line to the remarkable final moment that brings our central character full circle, “Citizen Kane” is a prime example of masterful storytelling that nabbed the second ever Oscar in the category.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)
- “American Beauty” (1999)
- “SUNSET BLVD.” (1950)
- “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (2014)
- “On the Waterfront” (1954)

#1: “Chinatown” (1974)

Aside from being one of the most well written movies ever, “Chinatown” is among cinema’s most absorbing mysteries. Though director Roman Polanski ultimately decided on the ending, Robert Towne’s screenplay won’t disappoint you with its final destination, which brings everything together like a carefully woven blanket. The true genius of “Chinatown,” however, lies in its incredible build-up. Watching this mystery slowly unfold through the eyes of Jake Gittes is simply enthralling. With every new development, you can’t wait to see what shocking, unsettling place the film will take its audience next. What else can be said except, “it’s Chinatown.”

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite original screenplay Oscar winner? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to