10 Best Movie Screenplays Since 2010

Screenwriters unchained.

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They say behind every good man is a good woman. Well, that's probably true, but behind every great film there is a great screenplay. That is certainly true.

Screenplays are the blueprint for the finished film, they are the architectural plans on which the filmic house is made. True, they aren't as glamorous as the actors who stroll down the red carpet to take the adulation of the fans, nor do they receive the acclaim novels do (The Great American Screenplay isn't a term bandied around too often) but true film fans love them for the thankless modesty.

There have been some outstanding screenplays since 2010, represented in practically every genre, from horror to sci-fi, from comedy to thriller. Tellingly, most of them combine genres in successful and inventive ways and subvert the readers' expectations. What unites the screenplays on this list is that they all took chances and they were all deeply memorable.

So, from Box Office hits to as yet unproduced screenplays, let's shine a light on those screenplays since 2010 that absolutely rocked.

10. Draft Day (2012)

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Genre: Drama/Sports Writers: Rajiv Joseph & Scott Rothman

The story of a single hectic day, the eponymous Draft Day of the NFL, was a surprise hit in the screenwriting community, indeed, becoming the number one script of 2012's Black List, a listing of the best unproduced screenplays of the year.

Its focus on deadline day was a novel approach to the sports drama genre, imbuing the script with an immediacy and urgency we hadn't seen before. Everything happened at a million miles an hour in this script, every decision was made in relation to a ticking clock, the frantic backroom panic was visceral and credible.

Draft Day Movie Poster

Everything that can go wrong does go wrong for our poor beleaguered coach, Sonny Weaver Jnr, general manager of the declining Buffalo Bills and son to the beloved Sonny Weaver, the talismanic icon of the Buffalo's, whom Sonny Jnr fired-talk about a gutsy call! Worse, Sonny's dad's just died today, which coincides with the day all hell breaks loose on the trading floor that is the drafting system of NFL-in short, it's a tough day for Sonny Jnr to navigate.

The reason Draft Day works so well as a script is it follows one of the central tenets of screenwriting which is, 'thou shalt make things as hard as possible for your protagonist.'. Sonny Jnr is hit with setback after setback; he's a laughing stock, the players are against him, the fans are against him, he's being outmanoeuvred by rival clubs, he's forced to take wildly risky chances on superstar players. In one instance he 'trades up' for superstar Bo Callahan, sacrificing his team's first round picks for the next four years, and then doubts whether Callahan is the man for the team after all.

Draft Day reads like it's set in a warzone, and shines a light on the frenzied backstairs machinations that besets the NFL on transfer day. Some of this high-octane drama was lost in the screen translation, which is a shame, since the script is as good as it gets.


David Hynes is a freelance writer, working in print, online, on stage and for screen. A film and book enthusiast, he has just finished his first novel.