ScreenplayLists.com celebrates the art of screenwriting by showcasing the best movie scripts in all genres and categories. Dedicated to those who write screenplays and also to those who love to read the works of the best storytellers of our time!
Tonight is the 90th Academy Awards ceremony and like most of us here, we were especially jazzed for the screenplay category! Jordan Peele won the award for best original screenplay for his film, "Get Out." This is a crucial and amazing win, as he is the first black screenwriter in history to win this award. Peele has stated that the film almost didn't get made, but we are beyond thrilled that it did. The writing fits into a category of its own by being a blend of thriller-meets-horror-meets satirical humor.
If you haven't seen this film yet, now is the perfect opportunity. The script is full of complex and nuanced conversations about liberal racism, social constructs, and systemic oppression. Peele's writing is so timely at pointing out the deep layers of our society's underbelly that often don't get written about. In an interview, he stated, "Being a black filmmaker almost seems like an impossibility at times. ... Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule, but we as a society have done a systemic disservice to young, black filmmakers by essentially saying that your vision won’t be accepted in Hollywood."
Moments after winning the award the screenwriter tweeted,
Screenwriters are a diverse bunch, but they all have two things in common: they like to write, and they like movies. The best gifts for screenwriters are relevant to at least one of these--ideally both.
If you're stumped about what to get for the screenwriter in your family or friend's group, hopefully the list below will serve as a basic guide. We'll assume Leonardo DiCaprio's yacht is out of the question. So, beyond that, here are a few ideas:
1. Subscription to a Filmmaking or Writing Magazine
Getting serious about screenwriting means getting connected to the film industry. An easy way to get something a sneak peak behind the camera is to subscribe to an industry magazine like Variety or the Hollywood Reporter. You may also consider a subscription to more writer-focused like Writer's Digest or even something literary like McSweeney's Quarterly Concern.
Reading screenplays is a pastime almost exclusively enjoyed by those who write screenplays. But it's also a necessary pastime for anyone trying to write a great script. Classic screenplays can often be purchased used for a few bucks on Amazon. For classic scripts, we recommend starting with The Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction, Annie Hall, or anything by David Mamot or Billy Wilder. For newer scripts, consider, perhaps, Napoleon Dynamite or Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
3. Books for Screenwriters (Beyond the Obvious Ones)
Ideas often come from dreams--especially lucid dreams. Apparently these lucid dream masks help facilitate that particularly creative state. Who knows, maybe this mask could help someone develop the next great high concept film idea?
If you have a somewhat larger budget for gifts, consider getting the screenwriter in your life some new filming equipment. Often the difference between a screenwriter and a filmmaker is simply a matter of access to a nice camera.
Sitting too long, they say, is the new smoking--it's bad for your health. Too much sitting is also a killer of creativity. Thankfully there's an easy solution: a standing desk. A low-end but highly functional laptop table (like the one pictured) goes for about $30. The great thing about these is that they're portable and easy to fold up and store. Full standing desks are a bit pricier and take up much more space.
If you truly care for the screenwriter in your life, don't let them drink cheap beer or bottom shelf wine. Get them a nice bottle of booze. A nice bottle of bourbon is fine, but since you're buying gifts for a writer, after all, there's really no better choice than a good old fashioned bottle of absinthe. We recommend getting your hands on St. George Absinthe, if possible (because it's delicious).
Tangerine is one of those films where the moment you start watching it, you immediately think: "Okay, what's going on here? This is amazing! Who wrote this?!"
Meet Sean Baker, director and co-writer of Tangerine. His latest film, The Florida Project, just saw a limited release on October 6th. For anyone who follows screenwriters, these two films make a strong case that Sean Baker is the new guy to follow.
In an interview with Film Courage, Baker named Harold and Maude as one of his favorite films. This turns out to be a pretty solid reference point for his work, given the elements running through the classic 70s dark comedy: social commentary, playful rebelliousness, strong characters experiencing a sense of destiny, memorable symbolism...
While Baker's latest filmmaking work follows in the tradition of older comedies, he's definitely charting his own territory, takings risks, and exerting his artistic vision with force and some measure of calculated chaos. Tangerine, for example, isn't really an update to the tradition of Harold and Maude -- it's like Harold and Maude directed by a young Harmony Korine. It's got all the grit and nuttiness of Korine's Gummo, but with a coherent screenplay.
To get a true introduction to the work of Sean Baker, start by watching Greg the Bunny, a humorous TV show Baker co-created in the early 2000s. It's not the world's best television, but it shows Baker's knack for comedy and controlled chaos.