What do we remember about movies? Some very good movies are visually stunning, others packed with action or suspense, but what sets some apart as great? It’s the story. The words. The lines… Great screenplays engage our intellect, tug at our emotions and pull us into the story. When they’re over, they keep us thinking about them. Two from 2004 I’m still thinking about just won Best Screenplay Oscars. If you haven’t seen them, check out:
Best Original Screenplay
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman
The entire script is on the writers website, but here’s a sample:
in some vague rendition of my old man
self. I imagined looking back with a
tremendous hole of regret in my heart.”
Best Adapted Screenplay
Sideways, Screenplay by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
Here’s a scene from Sideways:
Miles Raymond: Well, the world doesn’t give a shit what I have to say. I’m not necessary. Had. I’m so insignificant I can’t even kill myself.
Jack: Miles, what the hell is that supposed to mean?
Miles Raymond: Come on, man. You know. Hemingway, Sexton, Plath, Woolf. You can’t kill yourself before you’re even published.
Jack: What about the guy who wrote “Confederacy of Dunces”? He killed himself before he was published. Look how famous he is.
Miles Raymond: Thanks.
Jack: Just don’t give up, alright? You’re gonna make it.
Miles Raymond: Half my life is over and I have nothing to show for it. Nothing. I’ma thumbprint on the window of a skyscraper. I’m a smudge of excrement on a tissue surging out to sea with a million tons of raw sewage.
Jack: See? Right there. Just what you just said. That is beautiful. ‘A smudge of excrement… surging out to sea.’
Miles Raymond: Yeah.
Jack: I could never write that.
Miles Raymond: Neither could I, actually. I think it’s Bukowsky.