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The Top 25 Best Original Screenplay Winners So Far

Time for another new article series to begin at Awards Radar! Continuing a tradition I’ve been keen on for years, I’m ranking the new crop of Academy Award winners. For nearly all of the Oscar categories, you’ll see me list the top 25 recipients of that prize. Sometimes, our newest winner will appear. Other times, they’ll be relegated to the Honorable Mention category. Who knows, maybe one or two won’t even make the cut? It’s a list series that I’ll do each and every single year, in the weeks after the ceremony concludes. So, while this is a fun way to think about the Oscars in the aftermath of the latest telecast, it’s also a beginning for another column here on the site. Of course, definitely show us your own lists as well, in the comments section below. We’re definitely keen to know what you think!

I’m kicking things off with Best Original Screenplay. This category has often been very good to film fans, with some real creative cinema emerging victorious. Last year saw Parasite win, with recent winners also including Get Out, her, Manchester by the Sea, and Spotlight. This year, Emerald Fennell joined their ranks for Promising Young Woman. It’s not much of a spoiler to say that Fennell is on my list today, as are all of the aforementioned scripts. The 2020 slate of nominees, as well as the main contenders for nominations, even, were some all-timers, so the winner this year was always going to be contending for a spot on the list. Read on to find out just where Promising Young Woman wound up placing…

Here are what I consider to be the 25 best winners of the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, to date:

Courtesy of Neon

25. American Beauty (Alan Ball)

24. Little Miss Sunshine (Michael Arndt)

23. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer)

22. Dog Day Afternoon (Frank Pierson)

21. The Hurt Locker (Mark Boal)

20. Dead Poets Society (Tom Schulman)

19. Hannah and her Sisters (Woody Allen)

18. Milk (Dustin Lance Black)

17. Chinatown (Robert Towne)

16. On the Waterfront (Budd Schulberg)

15. The Apartment (I. A. L. Diamond and Billy Wilder)

14. Juno (Diablo Cody)

13. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)

12. Network (Paddy Chayefsky)

11. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)

10. Parasite (Bong Joon Ho and Jin Won Han)

9. Good Will Hunting (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon)

8. Citizen Kane (Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles)

7. Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell)

6. her (Spike Jonze)

5. The Producers (Mel Brooks)

4. Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe)

3. Annie Hall (Woody Allen)

2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Pierre Bismuth, Michel Gondry, and Charlie Kaufman)

1. Pulp Fiction (Roger Avary and Quentin Tarantino)

Honorable Mention: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (William Goldman), The Candidate (Jeremy Larner), Get Out (Jordan Peele), Pillow Talk (Clarence Greene, Maurice Richlin, Russell Rouse, and Stanley Shapiro), and The Usual Suspects (Christopher McQuarrie)

Stay tuned for another category later on this week or early next week!


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Brian H.
Brian H.
2 years ago

Love that you’re doing these. Great list. A few surprises. Fargo, The Sting, Sunset Blvd and Dog Day Afternoon aren’t even honorable mentions? I have to admit this was very hard to do….a lot of my favorite films of all time won this award. My 2 cents are below. I’m leaving Promising Young Woman off…I think it’ll be there, probably between 15-25 but I want to give it a second watch. Loved the movie and win. I loved my honorable mentions a lot so this was tough leaving those off. Could have went 50+ deep with great Original Screenplays.

1. Chinatown
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Annie Hall
4. Almost Famous
5. Fargo
6. On the Waterfront
7. Sting, The
8. Apartment, The
9. Manchester by the Sea
10. American Beauty
11. Sunset Blvd.
12. Dog Day Afternoon
13. Citizen Kane
14. Milk
15. Moonstruck
16. Network
17. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
18. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
19. Good Will Hunting
20. Juno
21. Producers, The
22. Spotlight
23. Dead Poets Society
24. Hannah and Her Sisters
25. Usual Suspects, The

HM’s – Birdman, Defiant Ones, Django Unchained, Get Out, Gosford Park, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Little Miss Sunshine, Lost in Translation, Melvin and Howard and Parasite

Brian H.
Brian H.
2 years ago

Understandable…before starting to do it if you would have told me Parasite and Lost in Translation wouldn’t get into my top 25 I would have told you there’s no chance of that happening. They picked a lot of great winners over the years.



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