The Oscar for the Best Screenplay: It Will Look Good on Your Shelf


They have occupied this place and they are not willing to leave. They have taken all of the free space and they are driven by the most eager motivation possible – to become rich and famous. They are a subject of jokes of standup comedians, they are in the memes, but it never actually bothers them. They are making their way to fame and wealth.

So, who are they, you`d ask? They are the stack of aspiring scriptwriters you can see in every Starbucks all over the world. If you`ve ever been to Los Angeles, you must have noticed those species: they come to Starbucks early in the morning with their laptops, charges, and notebooks. Sometimes they would take backpacks full of some stuff with them. It basically looks like they are moving. And they order only one cup of coffee and sit there the whole day long struggling to make it in Hollywood.

It`s understandable that they want to get their own place in the sun. Those novice scriptwriters already imagine themselves coming up the stairs and reach out to that Oscar. But the industry is rather hectic and cruel. The film critics have pointed out some patterns of which movies usually get the honor from the Academy. Is not a panacea, but those characteristics might be potentially useful for your story.

Minority Is Bigger

The Oscar is hands down the most respectable and prestigious award in the movie industry. An actor, a director or a scriptwriter receiving an Oscar takes an elevator to the success instead of using a staircase to get there step by step. No matter how professional the committee who chooses the nominees and the winner is, there is always a place for speculation, controversies, and criticism.

Among the recent tendencies in the Oscar`s family is preferring the movies with a deeper look into the life of minorities. The fight for equal rights of gay people, the ethical problems of transgenders, harassment as a part of daily routine of people of color. These are the topics of latest movies, which caught the biggest attention from the Academy.

I believe that it happens because the Academy wants at some point to encourage writers and directors to make those movies. They point out serious problems of modern society. The art of cinematography is one of the most approachable. The mere fact of getting an Oscar nomination is putting a film under a close scrutiny.

People will want to watch this motion picture at least out of curiosity. ‘Why did this film get a nomination?’ It never happens that everybody likes a certain movie, it never happens that all the people are absolutely content with the plot twists.

But they will remember a film with a powerful message and hopefully, it will get them thinking about the society in general and the problems of people in society who are not like everybody else. And guess what, it`s fine! “Moonlight” is a 2017 Oscar winner which better than any other movie represents those patterns.

Internal Battle of Troy

 Dallas Buyers Club Poster

It`s also about people who don`t feel like they really fit in the conventional group of people, but in most cases, it`s their fault. They are struggling with this life being absolutely sure that the destiny is being unfair to them. Those are the people who have certain addictions.

If you look through the movies which have won an Oscar or at least got the nomination, you`ll definitely see a pattern: drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, psychopaths. It may be physical addiction or a mental struggle. Anyway, those films show us the ugly side of the human nature.

Nobody`s perfect and everybody`s broken from the inside but in their own unique way. Some people stop fighting and just go with the flow and they create the prototypes for movie characters. If you look even closer, in a lot of cases those characters don`t have the leading part of the script. They are sidekicks or just the random guys with 2-minute screen time. But they will catch your attention on a deep subconscious level. They will get to that hollows of your brain and you will not be able to get them out anytime soon.

These movies might be dark and they are definitely the worst choice for a romantic night out, but they teach you to keep fighting, they show what`s going to happen if you stop appreciating the life. Those movies will punch right in the face, then they will wait till you get on your feet, and they will punch you one more time, so you remember.

One of the brightest examples – “Dallas Buyers Club”. It has everything listed above and, yes, it got 6 Oscar nominations in various categories.

Being a Kid Is Tough

Harry Potter Poster

Nah, it`s the most blessed period of your life, so try to keep it that way. But the scriptwriters need drama and the best way to show it? To create unbearable conditions for your characters while they are growing up! Seriously, remember all the Hollywood classics. Let`s start with the cartoons. Where the moms of Cinderella, Ariel, Rapunzel, Snow White are? They are mentioned in the story, but they are never where for their kids to love and support them.

Naturally, this has a major impact on the characters. This situation may turn them into strong personalities who know that they have only themselves to rely on in this cruel world. Or kids may become full-of-hatred, super-villain-attitude sociopaths.

Mostly, in fairy tale based stories the first variant is preferable because nobody wants to scare the children. There is an alternative version of perception of Harry Potter series, by the way. Some of the dedicated fans claim that this whole School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was just a projection of the brain of a poor orphan. He was in his room underneath the stairs all this time and it all was the work of his imagination.

There is no strict pattern which you have to follow if you want to write a story which is going to turn into a major hit. There would be no diversity in movies in that case. Comedies, horror movies and action movies are among those who get the nominations the least. The story has to crawl into the hearts of the audience and stay there forever. This is the main characteristic of an Oscar-worthy script.

This article was written by Ian

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