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The Top 25 Best Original Screenplay Winners So Far (Updated for 2023)

Some of you have been asking, so let me oblige. After a longer than usual break, I’m ready to kick it into gear. Yes, at the start of June, this particular article series is starting up again 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!

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. Last year, Kenneth Branagh joined their ranks for Belfast. This year, it was The Daniels for Everything Everywhere All At Once. Those of you who remember two years ago 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 the newest one, for those curious. Read on to find out just where Everything Everywhere All At Once 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. Little Miss Sunshine (Michael Arndt)

24. The Hurt Locker (Mark Boal)

23. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer)

22. Dog Day Afternoon (Frank Pierson)

21. Milk (Dustin Lance Black)

20. Dead Poets Society (Tom Schulman)

19. Hannah and her Sisters (Woody Allen)

18. Juno (Diablo Cody)

17. Chinatown (Robert Towne)

16. On the Waterfront (Budd Schulberg)

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

14. Everything Everywhere All At Once (The Daniels)

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), Belfast (Kenneth Branagh), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (William Goldman), The Candidate (Jeremy Larner), Get Out (Jordan Peele), and Pillow Talk (Clarence Greene, Maurice Richlin, Russell Rouse, and Stanley Shapiro)

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


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Robert Hamer
3 months ago

When looking at this list, it struck me that if I had to come up with my own, I would swap Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters almost exactly from your ranking. No shade on Annie Hall; it’s terrific, it’s influential, it’s endlessly quotable and memorable. But Hannah and Her Sisters is one of a tiny handful of film screenplays I have ever seen that I would describe as truly perfect.

3 months ago
Reply to  Joey Magidson

Awesome ! I am rewatching a lot so my list may be somewhat different this time .I saw a few movies for the first time.

  1. The Apartment (I.A.L. Diamond and Billy Wilder )
  2. Little Miss Sunshine (Michael Arndt )
  3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind( Charlie Kaufman,Pierre Bismeth ,Michel Gondry)
  4. Moonstruck ( John Patrick Shanley )
  5. Spotlight ( Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy)
  6. Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen)
  7. Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell)
  8. Everything Everywhere All At Once (The Daniels)
  9. Fargo (The Coen )
  10. Get Out (Jordan Peele)
  11. Good Will Hunting (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon )
  12. Network (Paddy Chayefsky)
  13. Thelma and Louise (Callie Khouri)
  14. Parasite ( Bong Joon Ho)
  15. Her ( Spike Jonze )
  16. Citizen Kane ( Herman J Mankiewicz and Orson Wells)
  17. The Producers (Mel Brooks )
  18. Shakespeare In Love ( Marc Norman & Tom Soppard)
  19. Milk ( Dustin Lance Black )
  20. Melvin and Howard (Bo Goldman)
  21. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino )
  22. Chinatown (Robert Towne )
  23. Dead Poet’s Society (Tom Shulman )
  24. Witness (William Kelley,Earl Wallace ,Pam Wallace)
  25. Ghost ( Bruce Joel Rubin)

HM Manchester By The Sea (Kenneth Lonergon ),Dog Day Afternoon(Frank Pierson),The Red Balloon (Albert Lamorisse ),Coming Home (Robert C.Jones ,Waldo Salt,Nancy Dowd)

3 months ago
Reply to  kellie

One more I forgot to add Belfast ( Kenneth Branagh )

Brian H.
Brian H.
3 months ago

Great list. Really hard one to do for me. I watched a lot of these again over the last 12 months for one reason or another. Some are my favorite movies of all time so that’s one reason. I’m sure my list changed from last time. I didn’t want to look before I did it how I ranked them last year. 1-25 are so close for me it’s really nitpicking problems with placement. It was also hard to leave off the 10 in my honorable mention. The academy made a lot of great choices.

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



Written by Joey Magidson

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