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The Top 25 Best Original Screenplay Winners So Far (Updated)

Yes, this particular article series is starting up again at Awards Radar! After a short Oscar related break, I’m ready to kick it into gear. 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!

Once again, 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 Promising Young Woman win, with recent winners also including ParasiteGet OutherManchester by the Sea, and Spotlight. This year, Kenneth Branagh joined their ranks for Belfast. Those of you who remember last year will know it’s not much of a spoiler to say that Fennell is high on my list today, as are several of the aforementioned scripts. The list itself does include Branagh’s new one, for those curious. Read on to find out just where Belfast wound up placing…

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

Courtesy of Neon

25. Belfast (Kenneth Branagh)

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: American Beauty (Alan Ball), 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.
1 month ago

I love that you brought this back. I’m curious if you revisit it completely every year or do you slot the recent winner in (or not if it doesn’t make it) from your list last year. I know I did most of these after you posted articles last year just as a fun exercise. I have no idea my order from last year. But I started from scratch and I’m sure it’s changed based on recent things I saw again or just how I feel today about a movie as opposed to yesterday. My top 20 – 30 are so close that I’d bet my list is very different. Especially in a category like this where there were so many amazing winners. I’d be shocked if my top two were different but after that who knows. So I was curious about that as far as your list goes. Thanks for bringing this back and great list.

1.      Chinatown
2.      Annie Hall
3.      Pulp Fiction
4.      Apartment, The
5.      Almost Famous
6.      On the Waterfront
7.      Fargo
8.      American Beauty
9.      Dead Poets Society
10.  Citizen Kane
11.  Sunset Boulevard
12.  Sting, The
13.  Manchester by the Sea
14.  Good Will Hunting
15.  Moonstruck
16.  Producers, The
17.  Dog Day Afternoon
18.  Spotlight
19.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
20.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
21.  Milk
22.  Network
23.  Parasite
24.  Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
25.  Hannah and Her Sisters
H/M – Belfast, Birdman, Django Unchained, Get Out, Gosford Park, Hurt Locker, Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, Lost in Translation, Melvin and Howard, Midnight in Paris, Pillow Talk, Promising Young Woman, Usual Suspects

Kellie
Kellie
17 days ago
Reply to  Joey Magidson

This list is fluid as I need to rewatch a several of my choices ( and non choices ) . There are also a few I have yet to see.

1 . Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2. Get Out
3. Little Miss Sunshine
4. Moonstruck
5. The Red Balloon
6. Spotlight
7. Her
8. Parasite
9. Django Unchained
10, Network
11. Fargo
12 The Apartment
13. Citizen Kane
14. Pulp Fiction
15. Dead Poets Society
16. Promising Young Woman
17. Milk
18. The Piano
19. The Producers
20. Pillow Talk
21. Thelma and Louise
22. Shakespeare in Love
23. Good Will Hunting
24. Melvin and Howard
25. Ghost

Honorable mentions – Birdman , Hannah and Her Sisters, The Kings Speech,

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Written by Joey Magidson

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