Okay, the Oscars are over. I know we like to be blasé about the glitz and glamor and the fleeting consequence of it all, but guess what — there is a lot you can learn from Academy Award-winning movies. Whether you’re looking for examples of sturdy story structure or great character development, scripts that won big on Hollywood’s biggest stage are a great place to find them.
So, here is every single Academy Award winning movie script that won either Best Original Screenplay or Best Adapted Screenplay since 2000 (except for Talk to Her and Gosford Park). Click on the buttons to download them from The Script Lab for free and start taking notes on what the Academy considers great storytelling.
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Everything Everywhere All At Once
Written by the Daniels (Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert)
Won Best Original Screenplay (2022)
When an interdimensional rupture unravels reality, an unlikely hero must channel her newfound powers to fight bizarre and bewildering dangers from the multiverse as the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
Read More: Script Apart: The Daniels Unpack Everything Everywhere All At Once
Written by Sarah Polley, Miriam Toews
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2022)
The women of an isolated religious colony reveal a shocking secret about the colony’s men. For years, the men have occasionally drugged the women and then raped them. The truth comes out and the women talk about their new situation.
Written by Kenneth Branagh
Won Best Original Screenplay (2021)
A semi-autobiographical film which chronicles the life of a working class family and their young son’s childhood during the tumult of the late 1960s in the Northern Ireland capital.
Written by Sian Heder
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2021)
Ruby is the only hearing member of a deaf family from Gloucester, Massachusetts. At 17, she works mornings before school to help her parents and brother keep their fishing business afloat. But in joining her high school’s choir club, Ruby finds herself drawn to both her duet partner and her latent passion for singing.
Promising Young Woman
Written by Emerald Fennell
Won Best Original Screenplay (2020)
Nothing in Cassie’s life is what it appears to be — she’s wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she’s living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs from the past.
Written by Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2020)
A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
Written by Bong Joon-ho, Han Jin-won
Won Best Original Screenplay (2019)
Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.
Read More: What the Parasite Script Can Teach Screenwriters (And Hollywood)
Written by Taika Waititi
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2019)
Jojo is a lonely German boy who discovers that his single mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his imaginary friend — Adolf Hitler — Jojo must confront his blind nationalism as World War II continues to rage on.
Read More: 10 Pieces of Screenwriting Wisdom from Taika Waititi
Written by Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga
Won Best Original Screenplay (2018)
Dr Don Shirley is a world-class African-American pianist, who is about to embark on a concert tour in the Deep South in 1962. In need of a driver and protection, Shirley recruits Tony Lip, a tough-talking bouncer from an Italian-American neighbourhood in the Bronx. Despite their differences, the two men soon develop an unexpected bond while confronting racism and danger in an era of segregation.
Written by Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, Kevin Willmott
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2018)
Ron Stallworth is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. The detective soon recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman, into the undercover investigation of a lifetime. Together, they team up to take down the extremist hate group as the organization aims to sanitize its rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream.
Written by Jordan Peele
Won Best Original Screenplay (2017)
Now that Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with her parents, Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behaviour as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries leads him to a truth that he never could have imagined.
Read More: 5 Trademarks of a Jordan Peele Screenplay
Call Me By Your Name
Written by James Ivory
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2017)
It’s the summer of 1983, and precocious 17-year-old Elio Perlman is spending the days with his family at their 17th-century villa in Lombardy, Italy. He soon meets Oliver, a handsome doctoral student who’s working as an intern for Elio’s father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of their surroundings, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.
Manchester By the Sea
Written by Kenneth Lonergan
Won Best Original Screenplay (2016)
After the death of his older brother Joe, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is shocked that Joe has made him sole guardian of his teenage nephew Patrick. Taking leave of his job as a janitor in Boston, Lee reluctantly returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea, the fishing village where his working-class family has lived for generations. There, he is forced to deal with a past that separated him from his wife, Randi (Michelle Williams), and the community where he was born and raised.
Written by Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2016)
A look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young black man growing up in Miami. His epic journey to manhood is guided by the kindness, support and love of the community that helps raise him.
Written by Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy
Won Best Original Screenplay (2015)
In 2001, editor Marty Baron of The Boston Globe assigns a team of journalists to investigate allegations against John Geoghan, an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Led by editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), reporters Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Matt Carroll and Sacha Pfeiffer interview victims and try to unseal sensitive documents. The reporters make it their mission to provide proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.
The Big Short
Written by Charles Randolph, Adam McKay
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2015)
In 2008, Wall Street guru Michael Burry realizes that a number of subprime home loans are in danger of defaulting. Burry bets against the housing market by throwing more than $1 billion of his investors’ money into credit default swaps. His actions attract the attention of banker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), hedge-fund specialist Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and other greedy opportunists. Together, these men make a fortune by taking full advantage of the impending economic collapse in America.
Written by Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., Nicollás Giacobone, Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Won Best Original Screenplay (2014)
Former cinema superhero Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is mounting an ambitious Broadway production that he hopes will breathe new life into his stagnant career. It’s risky, but he hopes that his creative gamble will prove that he’s a real artist and not just a washed-up movie star. As opening night approaches, a castmate is injured, forcing Riggan to hire an actor (Edward Norton) who is guaranteed to shake things up. Meanwhile, Riggan must deal with his girlfriend, daughter and ex-wife.
The Imitation Game
Written by Graham Moore
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2014)
In 1939, newly created British intelligence agency MI6 recruits Cambridge mathematics alumnus Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to crack Nazi codes, including Enigma — which cryptanalysts had thought unbreakable. Turing’s team, including Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), analyze Enigma messages while he builds a machine to decipher them. Turing and team finally succeed and become heroes, but in 1952, the quiet genius encounters disgrace when authorities reveal he is gay and send him to prison.
Written by Spike Jonze
Won Best Original Screenplay (2013)
A sensitive and soulful man earns a living by writing personal letters for other people. Left heartbroken after his marriage ends, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) becomes fascinated with a new operating system which reportedly develops into an intuitive and unique entity in its own right. He starts the program and meets “Samantha” (Scarlett Johansson), whose bright voice reveals a sensitive, playful personality. Though “friends” initially, the relationship soon deepens into love.
Read More: 5 Trademarks of Spike Jonze’s Films, TV Series, & Music Videos
12 Years a Slave
Written by John Ridley
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2013)
In the years before the Civil War, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. Subjected to the cruelty of one malevolent owner (Michael Fassbender), he also finds unexpected kindness from another, as he struggles continually to survive and maintain some of his dignity. Then in the 12th year of the disheartening ordeal, a chance meeting with an abolitionist from Canada changes Solomon’s life forever.
Written by Quentin Tarantino
Won Best Original Screenplay (2012)
Two years before the Civil War, Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave, finds himself accompanying an unorthodox German bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) on a mission to capture the vicious Brittle brothers. Their mission successful, Schultz frees Django, and together they hunt the South’s most-wanted criminals. Their travels take them to the infamous plantation of shady Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), where Django’s long-lost wife (Kerry Washington) is still a slave.
Read More: Quentin Tarantino’s Top 10 Rules for Screenwriting Success
Written by Chris Terrio
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2012)
On Nov. 4, 1979, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, taking 66 American hostages. Amid the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge with the Canadian ambassador. Knowing that it’s just a matter of time before the refugees are found and likely executed, the U.S. government calls on extractor Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) to rescue them. Mendez’s plan is to pose as a Hollywood producer scouting locations in Iran and train the refugees to act as his “film” crew.
Midnight in Paris
Written by Woody Allen
Won Best Original Screenplay (2011)
Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is a screenwriter and aspiring novelist. Vacationing in Paris with his fiancee (Rachel McAdams), he has taken to touring the city alone. On one such late-night excursion, Gil encounters a group of strange — yet familiar — revelers, who sweep him along, apparently back in time, for a night with some of the Jazz Age’s icons of art and literature. The more time Gil spends with these cultural heroes of the past, the more dissatisfied he becomes with the present.
Written by Nat Faxon, Alexander Payne, Jim Rash
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2011)
Native islander Matt King (George Clooney) lives with his family in Hawaii. Their world shatters when a tragic accident leaves his wife in a coma. Not only must Matt struggle with the stipulation in his wife’s will that she be allowed to die with dignity, but he also faces pressure from relatives to sell their family’s enormous land trust. Angry and terrified at the same time, Matt tries to be a good father to his young daughters, as they too try to cope with their mother’s possible death.
The King’s Speech
Written by David Seidler
Won Best Original Screenplay (2010)
England’s Prince Albert (Colin Firth) must ascend the throne as King George VI, but he has a speech impediment. Knowing that the country needs her husband to be able to communicate effectively, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) hires Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian actor and speech therapist, to help him overcome his stammer. An extraordinary friendship develops between the two men, as Logue uses unconventional means to teach the monarch how to speak with confidence.
The Social Network
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2010)
In 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) begins work on a new concept that eventually turns into the global social network known as Facebook. Six years later, he is one of the youngest billionaires ever, but Zuckerberg finds that his unprecedented success leads to both personal and legal complications when he ends up on the receiving end of two lawsuits, one involving his former friend (Andrew Garfield). Based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires.”
Read More: How to Write Like Aaron Sorkin
The Hurt Locker
Written by Mark Boal
Won Best Original Screenplay (2009)
Following the death of their well-respected Staff Sergeant in Iraq, Sergeant JT Stanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge find their Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit saddled with a very different team leader. Staff Sergeant William James is an inveterate risk-taker who seems to thrive on war, but there’s no denying his gift for defusing bombs.
Written by Geoffrey S. Fletcher
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2009)
Pregnant by her own father for the second time, 16-year-old Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) can neither read nor write and suffers constant abuse at the hands of her vicious mother (Mo’Nique). Precious instinctively sees a chance to turn her life around when she is offered the opportunity to transfer to an alternative school. Under the patient, firm guidance of her new teacher, Ms. Rain (Paula Patton), Precious begins the journey from oppression to self-determination.
Written by Dustin Lance Black
Won Best Original Screenplay (2008)
In 1972, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) and his then-lover Scott Smith leave New York for San Francisco, with Milk determined to accomplish something meaningful in his life. Settling in the Castro District, he opens a camera shop and helps transform the area into a mecca for gays and lesbians. In 1977 he becomes the nation’s first openly gay man elected to a notable public office when he wins a seat on the Board of Supervisors. The following year, Dan White (Josh Brolin) kills Milk in cold blood.
Written by Simon Beaufoy
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2008)
As 18-year-old Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) answers questions on the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” flashbacks show how he got there. Part of a stable of young thieves after their mother dies, Jamal and his brother, Salim, survive on the streets of Mumbai. Salim finds the life of crime agreeable, but Jamal scrapes by with small jobs until landing a spot on the game show.
Written by Diablo Cody
Won Best Original Screenplay (2007)
When precocious teen Juno MacGuff becomes pregnant, she chooses a failed rock star and his wife to adopt her unborn child. Complications occur when Mark, the prospective father, begins viewing Juno as more than just the mother of his future child, putting both his marriage and the adoption in jeopardy.
No Country for Old Men
Written by The Coen Brothers (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2007)
While out hunting, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) finds the grisly aftermath of a drug deal. Though he knows better, he cannot resist the cash left behind and takes it with him. The hunter becomes the hunted when a merciless killer named Chigurh (Javier Bardem) picks up his trail. Also looking for Moss is Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), an aging lawman who reflects on a changing world and a dark secret of his own, as he tries to find and protect Moss.
Little Miss Sunshine
Written by Michael Arndt
Won Best Original Screenplay (2006)
The Hoover family — a man (Greg Kinnear), his wife (Toni Collette), an uncle (Steve Carell), a brother (Paul Dano) and a grandfather (Alan Arkin) — puts the fun back in dysfunctional by piling into a VW bus and heading to California to support a daughter (Abigail Breslin) in her bid to win the Little Miss Sunshine Contest. The sanity of everyone involved is stretched to the limit as the group’s quirks cause epic problems as they travel along their interstate route.
Written by William Monahan
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2006)
South Boston cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) goes under cover to infiltrate the organization of gangland chief Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). As Billy gains the mobster’s trust, a career criminal named Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) infiltrates the police department and reports on its activities to his syndicate bosses. When both organizations learn they have a mole in their midst, Billy and Colin must figure out each other’s identities to save their own lives.
Read More: The Tender Bar Writer William Monahan Encourages You To Make Your Script a ‘Reading Experience’
Written by Paul Haggis, Bobby Moresco
Won Best Original Screenplay (2005)
Writer-director Paul Haggis interweaves several connected stories about race, class, family and gender in Los Angeles in the aftermath of 9/11. Characters include a district attorney (Brendan Fraser) and his casually prejudiced wife (Sandra Bullock), dating police detectives Graham (Don Cheadle) and Ria (Jennifer Esposito), a victimized Middle Eastern store owner and a wealthy African-American couple (Terrence Dashon Howard, Thandie Newton) humiliated by a racist traffic cop (Matt Dillon).
Written by Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2005)
In 1963, rodeo cowboy Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and ranch hand Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) are hired by rancher Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid) as sheep herders in Wyoming. One night on Brokeback Mountain, Jack makes a drunken pass at Ennis that is eventually reciprocated. Though Ennis marries his longtime sweetheart, Alma (Michelle Williams), and Jack marries a fellow rodeo rider (Anne Hathaway), the two men keep up their tortured and sporadic affair over the course of 20 years.
Read More: Brokeback Mountain Co-Writer Diana Ossana on the Art of Adaptation
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Written by Charlie Kaufman, Pierre Vismuth, Michel Gondry
Won Best Original Screenplay (2004)
After a painful breakup, Clementine (Kate Winslet) undergoes a procedure to erase memories of her former boyfriend Joel (Jim Carrey) from her mind. When Joel discovers that Clementine is going to extremes to forget their relationship, he undergoes the same procedure and slowly begins to forget the woman that he loved. Directed by former music video director Michel Gondry, the visually arresting film explores the intricacy of relationships and the pain of loss.
Read More: 10 Screenwriting Secrets From Charlie Kaufman
Written by Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2004)
Struggling writer and wine enthusiast Miles (Paul Giamatti) takes his engaged friend, Jack (Thomas Haden Church), on a trip to wine country for a last single-guy bonding experience. While Miles wants to relax and enjoy the wine, Jack is in search of a fling before his wedding. Soon Jack is sleeping with Stephanie (Sandra Oh), while her friend Maya (Virginia Madsen) connects with Miles. When Miles lets slip that Jack is getting married, both women are furious, sending the trip into disarray.
Lost in Translation
Written by Sofia Coppola
Won Best Original Screenplay (2003)
A lonely, aging movie star named Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and a conflicted newlywed, Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), meet in Tokyo. Bob is there to film a Japanese whiskey commercial; Charlotte is accompanying her celebrity-photographer husband. Strangers in a foreign land, the two find escape, distraction and understanding amidst the bright Tokyo lights after a chance meeting in the quiet lull of the hotel bar. They form a bond that is as unlikely as it is heartfelt and meaningful.
Read More: 5 Trademarks of Sofia Coppola’s Films
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Written by Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2003)
The culmination of nearly 10 years’ work and conclusion to Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy based on the timeless J.R.R. Tolkien classic, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” presents the final confrontation between the forces of good and evil fighting for control of the future of Middle-earth. Hobbits Frodo and Sam reach Mordor in their quest to destroy the `one ring’, while Aragorn leads the forces of good against Sauron’s evil army at the stone city of Minas Tirith.
Written by Ronald Harwood
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2002)
In this adaptation of the autobiography “The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945,” Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody), a Polish Jewish radio station pianist, sees Warsaw change gradually as World War II begins. Szpilman is forced into the Warsaw Ghetto, but is later separated from his family during Operation Reinhard. From this time until the concentration camp prisoners are released, Szpilman hides in various locations among the ruins of Warsaw.
A Beautiful Mind
Written by Akiva Goldsman
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2001)
A human drama inspired by events in the life of John Forbes Nash Jr., and in part based on the biography “A Beautiful Mind” by Sylvia Nasar. From the heights of notoriety to the depths of depravity, John Forbes Nash Jr. experienced it all. A mathematical genius, he made an astonishing discovery early in his career and stood on the brink of international acclaim. But the handsome and arrogant Nash soon found himself on a painful and harrowing journey of self-discovery.
Written by Cameron Crowe
Won Best Original Screenplay (2000)
Set in 1973, it chronicles the funny and often poignant coming of age of 15-year-old William, an unabashed music fan who is inspired by the seminal bands of the time. When his love of music lands him an assignment from Rolling Stone magazine to interview the up-and-coming band Stillwater — fronted by lead guitar Russell Hammond and lead singer Jeff Bebe William embarks on an eye-opening journey with the band’s tour, despite the objections of his protective mother.
Written by Stephen Gaghan
Won Best Adapted Screenplay (2000)
A look at America’s war on drugs through several interconnected stories: Ohio’s Supreme Court judge is appointed as the nation’s Drug Tsar, unaware that his own daughter is a heroin addict, two DEA agents pursue the wife of a jailed drugs baron who seeks to control his lucrative business, and a Mexican cop takes a lone stand against the powerful cartels in his community.
There are countless examples outside of Academy Award winning movies that demonstrate all kinds of amazing qualities of great storytelling. And no, I’m not just talking about other Oscar nominees, either! I’m talking about stories that fly under the radar, that maybe garnered only a few wins outside of the Oscars, like at Cannes, Sundance, BAFTA, or the Spirit Awards, like In the Mood for Love, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, or Tokyo Story. Even films that receive zero nominations deserve to be analyzed and studied. There are many older titles or low/no-budget movies that are insanely good but don’t hit the festival circuit.
If you want to learn storytelling by reading scripts, you can also just read the scripts of your favorite directors, screenwriters, and movies.
So, hopefully, your hand isn’t tired of downloading yet because The Script Lab has tons of these scripts available to download for free.
Read More: Why Each of the Best Picture Oscar Nominees Deserve to Win
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The post Academy Award Winning Movies You Need to Read From the 2000s appeared first on ScreenCraft.
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Author: V Renée