The Road To Oscar: Best Original Screenplay


The hardest thing to write and get made these days is an original script. Here are the five nominees for Best Original Screenplay and a bit about how their screenwriters got the films made.

Hell or High Water

Taylor Sheridan comes to screenwriting after acting professionally for twenty years, most notably as Deputy Chief David Hale on Sons of Anarchy. His most previous film credit is the acclaimed indie Sicario. Here’s an article on how Sheridan came to write Hell or High Water at IndieWire.

Ben Foster and Chris Pine in Hell or High Water. Photo courtesy CBS Films.

La La Land

Harvard graduate Damien Chazelle is a writer/director whose previous films include Whiplash and 10 Cloverfield Lane. Key to his success are two short films one of which is an earlier version of Whiplash. Also a drummer, Chazelle’s films often have strong musical elements. Here’s an NPR article about his longtime friendship with La La Land’s composer.

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in the contemporary musical La La Land. Photo courtesy Lionsgate.

The Lobster

Writers Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou are both Greek and frequent collaborators, The Lobster is their third film together. Filippou is also a novelist and playwright, while Lanthimos studied filmmaking and is a writer/director. He has a few short films to his credit as well as his films with Filippou. Here’s an interview with writer/director Lanthimos at the Washington Post.

The Lobster starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz. Photo courtesy of BFI.

 Manchester By the Sea

Kenneth Lonergan is writer/director with an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU. He is also a noted playwright. He has been working in film since the early nineties. Notable projects include You Can Count on Me, Analysis This and Gangs of New York. Check out Lonergan’s interview with the WGA.


Michele Williams and Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea. Photo courtesy Amazon Studios.

20th Century Women

Mike Mills began his journey to becoming a writer/director by studying graphic design and art at Cooper Union in New York. After college, he did extensive commercial work and then graduated to music videos. His film work began with a short film, Architecture of Reassurance, at Sundance. His previous film is Beginners which garnered an Oscar for Christopher Plummer. Here’s an interview with Mills on the personal nature of his film at NPR.

Annette Bening and Lucas Jade Zumann star in 20th Century Women. Photo courtesy of A24.

So, were you able to pick out this year’s winners? Which of the nominated films were your favorites?




Marshall Thornton has an MFA from UCLA in screenwriting. He spent ten years writing spec scripts and has been a semi-finalist or better in the Nicholl, Samuel Goldwyn, American Accolades, One-In-Ten and Austin Film Festival contests. As a novelist, he writes the Lambda Award-winning Boystown Mysteries. The eight book series follows the cases of a gay detective in turbulent 1980s Chicago. Marshall has also been known to write the occasional romantic comedy. You can find him online at You can follow him on Twitter: @mrshllthornton

3 Replies to "The Road To Oscar: Best Original Screenplay"

  • comment-avatar
    Molly February 24, 2017 (6:20 am)

    It must be Hell or high water. It is simply entertaining.

  • comment-avatar
    Sallie jhall February 25, 2017 (4:50 am)

    would any one be interested in a screen play the worst school bus disaster in US History an original, one owner.

  • comment-avatar
    David Mendelsohn March 6, 2017 (4:12 pm)

    i have a screenplay i would like to sell. This can win best picture and best actor awards. any advice?

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