3. Jaws (1975) - Peter Benchley
There's a reason that Jaws
is still considered to be the greatest blockbuster ever made, despite being the "first" of its kind: the screenplay is about as good as they come. These days, you'll spot a noticeable decline in quality for scripts of the "blockbuster" variety - studios don't seem as concerned with great set-up, characters or exposition, because it's all about the explosions and CGI set-pieces. Take the first four pages, for example, which effortlessly sum up the movie's antagonist, its hero, what's at stake, and the movie's world - most screenplays would take at least 20 pages to do something of that effect, but Benchley lays it out like a pro. Then there's Jaws
' superb take on the three-act structure, which has rarely been bettered. Above all, Jaws
is the perfect tribute to how great writing can transform an iffy idea into a genuine classic. You can read Peter Benchley's screenplay for Jawshere.