Top 10 Best Original Screenplay Winners According to IMDb

The cinema is filled with such beautiful images and actors that it’s easy to forget all the hard work that went into writing the screenplay. In fact, no film would exist without some form of script, and if done correctly, the reader can feel like watching the film fly off the page.

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Many directors and actors love to improvise on set, but chances are some of your favorite movies will have a great script before the cameras even hit the record. As the 2023 Oscars draw closer, it’s a good time to take a look back at the highest-rated Best Original Screenplay winners in history, according to IMDb.


1 Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary—”Pulp Fiction” (1994)

John Travolta and Uma Thurman dance in Pulp Fiction

IMDb rating: 8.9/10

May be Quentin Tarantinois the best work, pulp Fiction, earns its place at the top for its inventive style and culmination of four distinct vignettes. Few other films have so many iconic elements, like Mia Wallace’s (Uma Thurman) milkshake, by Vincent Vega (John Travolta) the obsession with “Cheese Royal” and Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny’s (Amanda Plumer) restaurant robbery.

The film earned just one of its seven Oscar nominations, losing Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor among others. The script and final cut contain a tremendous amount of profanity, violence, and absurdity, but the film is preserved in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress for its innovation and overall masterpiece.

2 Christopher McQuarrie – “The Usual Suspects” (1995)

The usual suspects

IMDb rating: 8.5/10

This unconventional thriller is the pinnacle of plot twists and misdirection and is a must-watch for any avowed movie buff. The usual suspectsis a 1995 hit depicting a twisted story of five criminals and their efforts to outsmart the terrifying, sinister and unidentifiable Keyser Soze.

The film was nominated for just two Oscars, both winning Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Kevin Spacey). Fans will recognize Christopher McQuarrierecent scenarios of Top Gun: Maverick, Mission: Impossible – Falloutand edge of tomorrow.

3 Quentin Tarantino – ‘Django Unchained’ (2012)

Django Unchained - 2012

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

“The ‘D’ is silent.” Jamie Foxx2012’s role as one of Quentin Tarantino’s deadliest characters, Django, was a gift in itself, but the film shines even more in the story and dialogue. Once again, Tarantino takes audiences on a journey that’s both classic and fresh, and the film has earned itself a place among Western must-haves for the rest of time.

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This Period Revenge Movie Was Pinned Against Worthy Opponents Moonrise Kingdom and zero dark thirty, Django Unchained won Best Original Screenplay alongside Christopher Waltz‘s wins Best Supporting Actor as Dr. King Schultz, who helps Django save his wife from cruel plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

4 Alan Ball – “American Beauty” (1999)

american beauty

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

Originally intended to be a play, american beauty was the last winner for Best Original Screenplay of the 20th Century and features a star-studded cast of Kevin Spacey as leader Lester Burnham, Annette Benning like Carolyn Burnham, Wes Bently, Pierre Gallagher, Scott Bakulaand much more.

A strange romantic fantasy film, american beauty revolves around Lester and his growing obsession with his daughter’s best friend. Add to that a rocky marriage and an unstable job, and Sam Mendes-the directed piece is a true predecessor of Alan Balllater work on true blood and Here and nowwhich also incorporate themes of dreamlike romance and family drama.

5 Matt Damon and Ben Affleck – “Good Will Hunting” (1997)

Goodwill hunting

IMDb rating: 8.3/10

Their very first film, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon went down in history as two of the youngest people to ever win the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. After writing the screenplay in college, it took the acting couple five years to get this film produced and approved by numerous studios before securing a deal with Miramax.

This movie about a young math whiz was also nominated for Best Picture alongside Titanic, LA Confidentialand As good as it gets. The end Robin Williams won Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film, and Damon was almost Best Actor. If you haven’t seen Goodwill huntingthat’s your sign to do it.

6 Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth – “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey in

IMDb rating: 8.3/10

The same spirit behind Hollywood gems Being John Malkovich, Adaptationand I’m thinking of ending thingswriter Charlie Kaufmanweaves a melancholic story of dreams, memories and romance in Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. Confusing in a cool way, this unique story puzzled and amazed audiences, winning the well-deserved Best Original Screenplay Oscar.

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Realizing he made a terrible mistake, Joel (jim carrey) is on a mission to recover the memories of his true love, Clementine (Kate Winslet), after volunteering for a memory-wipe procedure following their breakup. The plot unfolds forward, backward, and sideways as the audience learns the truth about Joel’s reality.

7 Tom Schulman – “Dead Poets Society” (1989)

Robin Williams in

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

“O Captain! My captain ! This award for best original screenplay marks the pinnacle of the screenwriter’s success Tom Schulmanalso known for his work on Honey, I reduced the children, Me, myself and Ireneand Indecent Proposal. A moving film about the importance of expressing yourself and achieving your dreams, Dead Poets Societylooks like nothing else.

Although it missed out on winning Best Picture, Dead Poets Society got Best Original Screenplay in an appropriate way, as the film itself deals with the importance of written work, especially poetry. Schulman said his experiences at boarding school inspired the script, and it’s considered an essential film that every aspiring writer should see.

8 Ethan Coen and Joel Coen – ‘Fargo’ (1996)

A policewoman closes one eye while pointing her gun
Image via Gramercy Pictures

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Pregnant Sheriff Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) aims to solve the mystery behind three snowy murders in this dark comedy based in Minnesota. Fargois one of many films by the Coen brothers to be considered a masterpiece and won two Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress in a Leading Role.

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Famous critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert appointed Fargo the best film of 1996, thoroughly enjoying the film’s camp and mystical sensibility despite being set in a sleepy winter town. A popular urban myth claims Fargo is based on a true story, but the two Coens have refuted this idea, reaffirming that this William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi the movie is as original as it gets.

9 Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy – “Spotlight” (2015)

Michael Keaton, Brian d'Arcy James, Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery and Rachel McAdams in
Image via Participant/First Look Media

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Depicting one of the trickiest issues in modern history, Projectorworks to uncover allegations of actual sexual abuse and misconduct against Catholic priests from the early 2000s and before. Screenwriters Joe Singer and Tom McCarthy went to great lengths to accurately portray those involved, earning the film the first-ever Veritas Award from the Los Angeles Press Club.

Featuring Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Marc Ruffalo, this biographical article focuses on the Boston Globe and the team of reporters who sought to publicly expose the Church’s many cover-ups. fans of Projector can find Singer and McCarthy’s work spread across The west wingby Pixar Up, first manand Still water.

ten Spike Jonze – ‘Her’ (2013)


IMDb Rating: 8/10

Still poignant ten years later, Heris a complicated love story between Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and an artificially intelligent operating system named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). The film is a pleasant surprise Spike Jonzewhose main Hollywood imprint lies in reality television with Donkey and The Late Show with Stephen Colbertand documentary hits such as History of the Beastie Boys.

Her is a commentary on people’s relationship with technology and the growing use of virtual reality. Theodore’s loneliness leads him into a fake romance with Samantha, an addiction that only hurts Theodore in the midst of his real-life divorce from Catherine (Rooney Mara). It’s Jonze’s only Oscar win, but it’s essential for Gen-Zers born in the tech age.

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