We asked our screenplay contest readers to name their favorite scripts and tell us what it is about these scripts that spark their admiration.
What is immediately clear is that script readers like reading scripts that have a deep and lasting authenticity. That fundamental feeling of truth may come from the characters’ voices, or the characters’ actions, or from the deep and lasting reality of the world the writer has conjured for the audience to spend time within.
Another screenwriting skill that frequently catches their eye is a mastery of the craft and a willingness to play with conventional expectations. Non-linear story structures that still make perfect sense. Series pilots that manage to introduce a story world alive with possibility and which foreshadow the conflicts to come. Genre-bending elevated tales that mix and match with aplomb. All lashed together with continual escalating conflict and plenty of pace.
Below we have brought together a unique collection of 15 film and series scripts that demonstrate the professional writing expertise that our readers love to read. We hope that reading them gives you unique insights into how the various elements of some top-ranking screenplays come together, to produce exciting and engaging professional reads.
Check out our Coverage Service to find out more about how our readers can give you feedback on your screenplay.
ALIEN | 1979
After a space merchant vessel receives an unknown transmission as a distress call, one of the crew is attacked by a mysterious life form and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.
ALIENS | 1986
Fifty-seven years after surviving an apocalyptic attack aboard her space vessel by merciless space creatures, Officer Ripley awakens from hyper-sleep and tries to warn anyone who will listen about the predators.
ARRIVAL | 2016
A linguist works with the military to communicate with alien lifeforms after twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world.
CARNIVAL ROW | 2019
A human detective and a fairy rekindle a dangerous affair in a Victorian fantasy world, where the city’s uneasy peace collapses when a string of murders reveals an unimaginable monster.
HER | 2013
In a near future, a lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with an operating system designed to meet his every need.
I, TONYA | 2017
Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.
MR ROBOT | 2015
Elliot, a brilliant but highly unstable young cyber-security engineer and vigilante hacker, becomes a key figure in a complex game of global dominance when he and his shadowy allies try to take down the corrupt corporation he works for.
ONCE UPON A TIME | 2011
A young woman with a troubled past is drawn to a small town in Maine where fairy tales are to be believed.
PARASITE | 2019
Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.
PRECIOUS | 2009
In New York City’s Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
SOME LIKE IT HOT | 1959
After two male musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.
THE BIG SICK | 2017
Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family’s expectations, and his true feelings.
THE OTHERS | 2001
A woman who lives in her darkened old family house with her two photosensitive children becomes convinced that the home is haunted.
Article by Long Le.
Currently, a film student at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, Long Le utilizes his directing, producing, and screenwriting skills to make impactful films and stories that advocate for Asian Pacific Islander representation within mass media and art. His abilities have been recognized by film festivals and media companies, such as Jubilee Media, where he was a film producer during their Fellowship Class of 2019.