The Oscars are here and so is a whole new bunch of must-read screenplays for those of you who are aspiring writers. Remember that the best way to learn how to write a screenplay is to read as many of them as possible! This year’s screenplays nominated by the Academy are a varied bunch. Whether you agree with the nominations or not, here is our brief run down of the films nominated at this years Academy Awards for Original and Adapted Screenplay, minus ‘Inherent Vice’ (PTA is a secretive soul).

American Sniper

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Although it may surprise (disappoint, disgust etc.) some of you, Clint Eastwood’s latest film has picked up a number of nominations at this year’s Awards, including one for Best Adapted Screenplay for Jason Hall. The story of U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle, credited with being the deadliest sniper in U.S history, has certainly divided opinion. Some say it is the story of an heroic man who fought to protect his country at whatever cost. Others say it is a piece of right wing propaganda that doesn’t seem to acknowledge the moral dilemmas of war. Take a look at the screenplay and decide for yourselves.

The Imitation Game

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Since receiving a posthumous pardon in 2013, Alan Turing has received renewed interest by the public, both in his work at Bletchley Park cracking Nazi codes during the war and his later conviction of gross indecency and his court-ordered chemical castration. Adapted for the screen by first-time feature writer Graham Moore, the film explores both parts of Turing’s life that are of greatest interest to the audience, as well as briefly looking into his time at school, and the formation of his character. There is some nice character development here, so the screenplay is well worth a look.  

The Theory of Everything

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Another biopic of a famous Brit, in The Theory of Everything famous physicist Stephen Hawking is given the Hollywood treatment. It is rare that a scientist’s life is explored in film, presumably because most of us wouldn’t understand much. Which is probably why, and thankfully so, this biopic chooses to focus on Hawking’s relationship with his first wife, Jane Hawking, and the challenges it, and indeed all aspects of his life, faced after Hawkings was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in his early twenties. Adapted for the screen by Anthony McCarten, from Jane Hawking’s book, this screenplay shines new light onto one of the worlds most famous figures.

Whiplash

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Who knew that the world of jazz drumming was quite so traumatically tense? Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, this drama centres on a promising young drummer, Andrew, who dreams of greatness, yet has gone largely unnoticed at the music conservatory he is enrolled at. That is until the notorious instructor, Fletcher, invites him to play in his jazz band and so begins our hero’s hell. Adapted from Chazelle’s earlier short film, Whiplash questions whether the lengths some go to achieve greatness are ultimately worth it. This is a film about drive, and it moves at a pace to reflect that. Considering it is Chazelle’s first feature script, it should make for some pretty inspirational reading.

Nightcrawler

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In Dan Gilroy’s directing debut he presents us with Lou Bloom, a guy who, to put it mildly, has some issues. After stumbling across a car accident and the freelance TV crew that are looking to profit from the footage, Lou finds his calling. He quickly acquires his kit and begins life as a freelance news cameraman, and with him we go deep into the dark underworld of L.A. crime journalism. Gilroy has been a long established screenwriter so his screenplay should prove to be a very useful resource.

Birdman

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In Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s latest creation, Riggan, an actor once famed for playing an iconic superhero intends to breathe new life into his acting career with a stint in a Broadway show. However, as opening night approaches events fall into place that hinder those plans in the form of newly hired method actor Mike, as well as Riggan’s girlfriend, ex-wife and daughter. An original screenplay that truly earns the term original, it should prove to be an entertaining read.

Boyhood

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Richard Linklater’s latest offering is a gem of a film that has finally given him the attention that, for some, is well overdue. Nominated for best original screenplay, the film tracks the life of Mason, joining him at the age of five, and leaving him after twelve years upon his arrival at college. Unusually, this script was written over the course of the films twelve-year shoot, allowing the life of Ellar Coltrane, who plays Mason, to shape it, as well as rehearsals with the actors, and even in some places being written on set on the day of the shoot. Bare that in mind when reading through this piece.

Foxcatcher

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Writers Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye turned to a bizarre news story from the mid-90s to form this screenplay about the Olympic wrestling brothers Mike and Dave Schultz, and their relationship with millionaire sponsor John E. Du Pont. Having built his own private wrestling facilities on his estate, Du Pont invites both brothers to train with him and Team Foxcatcher, a move that later proves to have disastrous consequences. By focusing on the dynamics between the three men, Futterman and Frye have written a screenplay that is truly gripping. 

Grand Budapest Hotel

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Set, for the most part, in the 1930s, Wes Anderson’s latest film introduces us to Zero, the new lobby boy at the Grand Budapest, and his mentor, devoted concierge Gustave H. Aside from attending to his guests and managing his staff, Gustave takes to comforting the elderly female clientele who flock to the hotel to enjoy his company. However, when one of these ladies dies under mysterious circumstances and bequeaths Gustave a hugely valuable painting, he becomes the chief suspect of her murder. And so begins the adventures of Gustave and Zero as they journey through the fictional republic of Zubrowka, fleeing from the police and attempt to clear Gustave’s name. Anderson is an established and creative writer, so it should prove to be a useful read for many.

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