Project: Best Screenplay Oscar winners

[Post updated 2/27/17]

BEST SCREENPLAY WINNERS
Ben Hecht, Underworld (1927, Josef von Sternberg)
Hans Kraly, The Patriot (1928, Ernst Lubitsch) [LOST FILM]
Benjamin Glazer, 7th Heaven (1927, Frank Borzage)
John Monk Saunders, The Dawn Patrol (1930, Howard Hawks)
Frances Marion, The Big House (1930, George W. Hill)
Frances Marion, The Champ (1931, King Vidor)
Howard Estabrook, Cimarron (1931, Wesley Ruggles)
Robert Lord, One Way Passage (1932, Tay Garnett)
Edwin Burke, Bad Girl (1932, Frank Borzage)
Vistor Heerman & Sarah Y. Mason, Little Women (1933, George Cukor)
Arthur Caesar, Manhattan Melodrama (1934, W.S. Van Dyke)
Robert Riskin, It Happened One Night (1934, Frank Capra)
Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur, The Scoundrel (1935, Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur)
Dudley Nichols, The Informer (1935, John Ford)
Pierre Collings & Sheridan Gibney, The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936, William Dieterle)
William A. Wellman & Robert Carson, A Star Is Born (1937, William Wellman)
Norman Reilly Raine/Heinz Herald/Geza Herczeg, The Life of Emile Zola (1937, William Dieterle)
Dore Schary & Eleanore Griffin, Boys Town (1938, Norman Taurog) [cap]
Cecil Lewis/W. P. Lipscomb/Ian Dalrymple/George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion (1938, Anthony Asquith & Leslie Howard)
Lewis R. Foster, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939, Frank Capra)
Sidney Howard, Gone with the Wind (1939, Victor Fleming)
Benjamin Glazer & John S. Toldy, Arise, My Love (1940, Mitchell Leisen)
Donald Ogden Stewart, The Philadelphia Story (1940, George Cukor)
Preston Sturges, The Great McGinty (1940, Preston Sturges)
Sidney Buchman & Seton I. Miller, Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941, Alexander Hall)
Herman J. Mankiewicz & Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941, Orson Welles)
Emeric Pressburger, 49th Parallel (1941, Michael Powell)
Arthur Wimperis/George Froeschel/James Hilton/Claudine West, Mrs. Miniver (1942, William Wyler)
Ring Lardner Jr. & Michael Kanin, Woman of the Year (1942, George Stevens)
William Saroyan, The Human Comedy (1943, Clarence Brown) [cap]
Julius J. Epstein/Philip G. Epstein/Howard Koch, Casablanca (1942, Michael Curtiz)
Norman Krasna, Princess O’Rourke (1943, Norman Krasna)
Frank Butler & Frank Cavett, Going My Way (1944, Leo McCarey)
Lamar Trotti, Wilson (1944, Henry King) [cap]
Richard Schweizer, Marie-Louise (1944, Leopold Lindtberg)
Charles G. Booth, The House on 92nd Street (1945, Henry Hathaway)
Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder, The Lost Weekend (1945, Billy Wilder)
Muriel Box & Sidney Box, The Seventh Veil (1945, Compton Bennett)
Clemence Dane, Vacation from Marriage (1945, Alexander Korda)
Robert E. Sherwood, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946, William Wyler)
George Seaton, Miracle on 34th Street (1947, George Seaton)
Sidney Sheldon, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947, Irving Reis)
Richard Schweizer & David Wechsler, The Search (1948, Fred Zinnemann)
John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948, John Huston)
Douglas Morrow, The Stratton Story (1949, Sam Wood) [cap]
Joseph L. Mankiewicz, A Letter to Three Wives (1949, Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
Robert Pirosh, Battleground (1949, William Wellman)
Edna Anhalt & Edward Anhalt, Panic in the Streets (1950, Elia Kazan)
Paul Dehn & James Bernard, Seven Days to Noon (1950, John & Roy Boulting)
Charles Brackett/Billy Wilder/D.M. Marshman Jr. Sunset Blvd. (1950, Billy Wilder)
Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve (1950, Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
Michael Wilson & Harry Brown, A Place in the Sun (1951, George Stevens)
Alan Jay Lerner, An American in Paris (1951, Vincente Minnelli)
T.E.B. Clarke, The Lavender Hill Mob (1951, Charles Crichton)
Frederic M. Frank/Theodore St. John/Frank Cavett, The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
Charles Schnee, The Bad and the Beautiful (1952, Vincente Minnelli)
Dalton Trumbo, Roman Holiday (1953, William Wyler)
Daniel Taradash, From Here to Eternity (1953, Fred Zinnemann)
Charles Brackett/Walter Reisch/Richard Breen, Titanic (1953, Jean Negulesco) [cap]
Philip Yordan, Broken Lance (1954, Edward Dmytryk) [cap]
George Seaton, The Country Girl (1954, George Seaton)
Budd Schulberg, On the Waterfront (1954, Elia Kazan)
Daniel Fuchs, Love Me or Leave Me (1955, Charles Vidor)
Paddy Chayefsky, Marty (1955, Delbert Mann)
William Ludwig & Sonya Levien, Interrupted Melody (1955, Curtis Bernhardt) [cap]
Dalton Trumbo, The Brave One (1956, Irving Rapper) [cap]
Albert Lamorisse, The Red Balloon (1956, Albert Lamorisse) [SHORT; see below]
James Poe/John Farrow/S.J. Perelman, Around the World in Eighty Days (1956, Michael Anderson)
George Wells, Designing Woman (1957, Vincente Minnelli)
Pierre Boulle, The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957, David Lean)
Nedrick Young & Harold Jacob Smith, The Defiant Ones (1958, Stanley Kramer)
Alan Jay Lerner, Gigi (1958, Vincente Minnelli)
Russell Rouse/Clarence Greene/Stanley Shapiro/Maurice Richlin, Pillow Talk (1959, Michael Gordon)
Neil Paterson, Room at the Top (1959, Jack Clayton)
Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond, The Apartment (1960, Billy Wilder)
Richard Brooks, Elmer Gantry (1960, Richard Brooks)
William Inge, Splendor in the Grass (1961, Elia Kazan)
Ennio de Concini/Alfredo Giannetti/Pietro Germi, Divorce Italian Style (1961, Pietro Germi)
Abby Mann, Judgment at Nuremberg (1961, Stanley Kramer) [cap]
James R. Webb, How the West Was Won (1962, John Ford/Henry Hathaway/George Marshall)
Horton Foote, To Kill a Mockingbird (1962, Robert Mulligan)
John Osborne, Tom Jones (1963, Tony Richardson)
S. H. Barnett/Peter Stone/Frank Tarloff, Father Goose (1964, Ralph Nelson)
Edward Anhalt, Becket (1964, Peter Glenville) [cap]
Frederic Raphael, Darling (1965, John Schlesinger)
Robert Bolt, Doctor Zhivago (1965, David Lean)
Claude Lelouch & Pierre Uytterhoeven, A Man and a Woman (1966, Claude Lelouch) [cap]
Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons (1966, Fred Zinnemann)
William Rose, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967, Stanley Kramer)
Stirling Silliphant, In the Heat of the Night (1967, Norman Jewison)
Mel Brooks, The Producers (1968, Mel Brooks)
James Goldman, The Lion in Winter (1968, Anthony Harvey)
Waldo Salt, Midnight Cowboy (1969, John Schlesinger)
Francis Ford Coppola & Edmund H. North, Patton (1970, Franklin J. Schaffner)
Ring Lardner Jr., MASH (1970, Robert Altman)
Paddy Chayefsky, The Hospital (1971, Arthur Hiller)
Ernest Tidyman, The French Connection (1971, William Friedkin)
Jeremy Larner, The Candidate (1972, Michael Ritchie)
Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather (1972, Francis Ford Coppola)
David S. Ward, The Sting (1973, George Roy Hill)
William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist (1973, William Friedkin)
Robert Towne, Chinatown (1974, Roman Polanski)
Francis Ford Coppola & Mario Puzo, The Godfather Part II (1974, Francis Ford Coppola)
Frank Pierson, Dog Day Afternoon (1975, Sidney Lumet)
Lawrence Hauben & Bo Goldman, One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest (1975, Milos Forman)
Paddy Chayefsky, Network (1976, Sidney Lumet)
William Goldman, All the President’s Men (1976, Alan J. Pakula)
Woody Allen & Marshall Brickman, Annie Hall (1977, Woody Allen)
Alvin Sargent, Julia (1977, Fred Zinnemann)
Nancy Dowd/Waldo Salt/Robert C. Jones, Coming Home (1978, Hal Ashby)
Oliver Stone, Midnight Express (1978, Alan Parker)
Steve Tesich, Breaking Away (1979, Peter Yates) [cap]
Robert Benton, Kramer vs. Kramer (1979, Robert Benton)
Bo Goldman, Melvin and Howard (1980, Jonathan Demme)
Alvin Sargent, Ordinary People (1980, Robert Redford)
Colin Welland, Chariots of Fire (1981, Hugh Hudson)
Ernest Thompson, On Golden Pond (1981, Mark Rydell) [cap]
John Briley, Gandhi (1982, Richard Attenborough)
Costa-Gavras & Donald Stewart, Missing (1982, Costa-Gavras) [cap]
Horton Foote, Tender Mercies (1983, Bruce Beresford)
James L. Brooks, Terms of Endearment (1983, James L. Brooks)
Robert Benton, Places in the Heart (1984, Robert Benton) [cap]
Peter Shaffer, Amadeus (1984, Milos Forman)
Earl W. Wallace/William Kelley/Pamela Wallace, Witness (1985, Peter Weir)
Kurt Luedtke, Out of Africa (1985, Sydney Pollack) [cap]
Woody Allen, Hannah and Her Sisters (1986, Woody Allen)
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, A Room with a View (1986, James Ivory) [cap]
John Patrick Shanley, Moonstruck (1987, Norman Jewison) [cap]
Mark Peploe & Bernardo Bertolucci, The Last Emperor (1987, Bernardo Bertolucci)
Ronald Bass & Barry Morrow, Rain Man (1988, Barry Levinson)
Christopher Hampton, Dangerous Liaisons (1988, Stephen Frears) [cap]
Tom Schulman, Dead Poets Society (1989, Peter Weir) [cap]
Alfred Uhry, Driving Miss Daisy (1989, Bruce Beresford)
Bruce Joel Rubin, Ghost (1990, Jerry Zucker) [cap]
Michael Blake, Dances with Wolves (1990, Kevin Costner)
Callie Khouri, Thelma & Louise (1991, Ridley Scott) [cap]
Ted Tally, The Silence of the Lambs (1991, Jonathan Demme)
Neil Jordan, The Crying Game (1992, Neil Jordan)
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Howards End (1992, James Ivory) [cap]
Jane Campion, The Piano (1993, Jane Campion)
Steven Zaillian, Schindler’s List (1993, Steven Spielberg)
Quentin Tarantino & Roger Avary, Pulp Fiction (1994, Quentin Tarantino)
Eric Roth, Forrest Gump (1994, Robert Zemeckis)
Christopher McQuarrie, The Usual Suspects (1995, Bryan Singer)
Emma Thompson, Sense and Sensibility (1995, Ang Lee) [cap]
Joel & Ethan Coen, Fargo (1996, Joel Coen)
Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Blade (1996, Billy Bob Thornton)
Ben Affleck & Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting (1997, Gus Van Sant) [cap]
Brian Hegeland & Curtis Hanson, L.A. Confidential (1997, Curtis Hanson)
Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard, Shakespeare in Love (1998, John Madden)
Bill Condon, Gods and Monsters (1998, Bill Condon)
Alan Ball, American Beauty (1999, Sam Mendes)
John Irving, The Cider House Rules (1999, Lasse Hallstrom) [cap]
Cameron Crowe, Almost Famous (2000, Cameron Crowe)
Stephen Gaghan, Traffic (2000, Steven Soderbergh)
Julian Fellowes, Gosford Park (2001, Robert Altman) [cap]
Akiva Goldsman, A Beautiful Mind (2001, Ron Howard)
Pedro Almodovar, Talk to Her (2002, Pedro Almodovar)
Ronald Harwood, The Pianist (2002, Roman Polanski)
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation (2003, Sofia Coppola)
Frances Walsh/Philippa Boyens/Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003, Peter Jackson)
Charlie Kaufman/Michel Gondry/Pierre Bismuth, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)
Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, Sideways (2004, Alexander Payne) [cap]
Paul Haggis & Robert Moresco, Crash (2004, Paul Haggis)
Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain (2005, Ang Lee)
Michael Arndt, Little Miss Sunshine (2006, Jonathan Dayton & Valerine Faris)
William Monahan, The Departed (2006, Martin Scorsese)
Diablo Cody, Juno (2007, Jason Reitman) [cap]
Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men (2007, Joel & Ethan Coen)
Dustin Lance Black, Milk (2008, Gus van Sant)
Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire (2008, Danny Boyle)
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker (2008, Kathryn Bigelow)
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious (2009, Lee Daniels) [cap]
David Seidler, The King’s Speech (2010, Tom Hooper)
Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network (2010, David Fincher)
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris (2011, Woody Allen) [cap]
Nat Faxon/Alexander Payne/Jim Rash, The Descendants (2011, Alexander Payne)
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained (2012, Quentin Tarantino)
Chris Terrio, Argo (2012, Ben Affleck)
Spike Jonze, Her (2013, Spike Jonze)
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave (2013, Steve McQueen)
Alejandro G. Iñárritu/Nicolás Giacobone/Alexander Dinelaris, Jr/Armando Bó, Birdman (2014, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu) [cap]
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game (2014, Morten Tyldum) [cap]
Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, Spotlight (2015, Tom McCarthy) [cap]
Adam McKay & Charles Randolph, The Big Short (2015, Adam McKay) [cap]
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea (2016, Kenneth Lonergan) [cap]
Barry Jenkins & Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight (2016, Barry Jenkins) [cap]

***

Despite all the amputations — life interference, an overhaul of the format and procedures here, etc. — we’ve completed a fourth viewing project. It’s headed “Best Screenplay” as shorthand; this actually lists every winner of any kind of a writing Oscar, including the defunct “Best Story” category. The project began with a screening of Underworld on July 7, 2013 and finally ended the morning of April 19, 2015 with the most recent winner, The Imitation Game. While this was a much more sprawling project than the two previous Oscar-related initiatives, it took a lot longer than it should have (I was shooting for a little over a year) mostly because 2014 was a chaotic year for various reasons and, especially in the summer and fall, I slowed down to a crawl in watching and writing; since I’m no longer doing long reviews for most films and other things have settled down, I don’t forsee similar problems holding us back for the next job.

Now it’s time for math. By my count, 183 films have received Oscars for screenwriting of some sort. One of these, Ernst Lubitsch’s The Patriot (1928), is officially classified as a lost film — the trailer exists, but that’s it. So we can only really count 182 winners as available to us. One of those, 1956’s The Red Balloon is a short film; it’s also a masterpiece, available (last time I checked) streaming on Netflix, though if you took any French classes you’ve undoubtedly seen it. (It was first shown to my class in fourth grade.) It’s a thoroughly disarming portrait of childhood wherein a little boy experiences a bond with a seemingly sentient balloon. To see it is to return momentarily to the wonder and magic of being a kid, and the photography of Paris is sumptuous. Because the film is a 34-minute short, it doesn’t fit the parameters of this blog’s general index, but it is a Best Screenplay winner and it’s important we emphasize to you that it’s tremendous and, by the usual standards here, qualifies as an “A+ film.” It’s also available in a lavish DVD edition from Criterion.

This leaves 181 surviving feature films for us to consider. Prior to beginning with this gargantuan list of movies, we’d already explored and written up the winners of the Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards. Of the 181 writing winners, 66 also won one or both of those categories. (In fact, it’s somewhat unusual for a Best Picture winner not to acquire one of the writing awards.) So disregarding those, we were left with 115. There’s also the matter of the AFI 100 list, another project here that was completed around the time we started this one. The other two completed Oscar categories take care of most of the overlap, leaving 13 AFI listees that won screenplay awards, knocking our count down to 102 films. Then there’s the concurrent unrelated project, the IMDB Top 250, which includes 3 films that were taken care of before we got to them here; that makes 99. Another eight films were reviewed here already for various other reasons, mostly because I saw them theatrically.

Therefore, we entered this project in 2013 with 91 feature-length movies to investigate. 68 of those were completely unseen by me and thus new to our database. The remaining 23 I had seen before but they had never been addressed here. That’s considerably more to discover than Picture or Director offered, and I’m happy to say the results were orders of magnitude more rewarding. I discovered many, many films doing this that have become favorites — including several forgotten obscurities (the Screenplay Oscar doesn’t prevent movies from slipping into margins, it seems) that I’m now thrilled to champion.

For illustrative purposes, here is a ranking of the 68 films that were new to me. [Note: This does not include films that won after I completed this project, starting with the 88th Academy Awards.] Please consider each of the top ten in particular (but really all of the A-range titles) to be wholeheartedly recommended and see them in any way at any time you can. Keep in mind this isn’t an exhaustive ranking of the Oscar films honored for their writing. Nearly indisputably, the best movie ever to receive one of these things is Citizen Kane and the worst is probably Crash, but we’ve been over all that.

I promise it’s a coincidence that my two favorite new films from this goround share a director (Elia Kazan); it’s worth noting that I’ve never previously cared much for his work.

(A/A-)
01 Splendor in the Grass
02 Panic in the Streets
03 Darling
04 Vacation from Marriage *
05 The Scoundrel #
06 Love Me or Leave Me
07 The House on 92nd Street
08 The Dawn Patrol *
09 Room at the Top
10 Seven Days to Noon %/@
11 Tender Mercies
12 Underworld
13 Manhattan Melodrama
14 49th Parallel
15 One Way Passage *
16 The Big House *
17 Princess O’Rourke *
(B+/B)
18 Thelma & Louise
19 Woman of the Year
20 The Candidate @
21 Elmer Gantry
22 The Champ
23 The Country Girl
24 Marie-Louise #
25 Arise, My Love %
26 Here Comes Mr. Jordan
27 Designing Woman
28 The Bachelor & the Bobby-Soxer
29 A Star Is Born
30 The Bad and the Beautiful
31 Missing
32 Howards End
33 The Seventh Veil %/$
34 The Great McGinty
35 The Brave One
36 The Search *
(B-/C+)
37 Battleground
38 Breaking Away
39 Gosford Park
40 Dangerous Liaisons
41 the Lion in Winter
42 Little Women
43 Divorce Italian Style
44 A Room with a View
45 Father Goose
46 The Story of Louis Pasteur $
47 Good Will Hunting
48 On Golden Pond
49 The Stratton Story
50 Precious
51 How the West Was Won
52 A Man and a Woman
53 Boys Town
54 Becket
55 The Cider House Rules
56 Broken Lance
(C/C-)
57 The Hospital
58 The Human Comedy *
59 Witness
60 The Imitation Game
61 Interrupted Melody *
62 Moonstruck
63 The Defiant Ones
64 Places in the Heart
65 Pillow Talk
(D+/D/D-/F)
66 Julia
67 Midnight Express
68 Wilson $

Now for a note on availability, something that became a slight inconvenience with the Best Director project and became vastly more so here. In the ranking above I’ve noted which films are in some manner or another not easy to see in the United States. I define “easy to see” as being a film that is either widely available on the well-known streaming services (iTunes, Amazon, Youtube, Google Play, Netflix, VUDU) or at some point has been commercially released on a DVD that’s generally stocked by Netflix mail order, by Amazon or by libraries. If a disc is out of print and extremely difficult to come by, I wouldn’t qualify it as an option — that particular problem didn’t haunt me this time. (A few of the films above are only available in boxed sets, which I once would have pointed out, but those tend to be so inexpensive now that it isn’t really worth the designation.)

Instead, several of these Oscar-winning films can’t be found by traditional methods, a group overwhelmingly (indeed, entirely) included in those released prior to 1960. Interestingly, the exiled group of 15 only includes two color films (Interrupted Melody and Wilson). Happily, Warner’s Archive division has made several of them (noted with an asterisk above) available as on-demand DVDR titles; a few also exist as online rentals but there are some caveats. Warners’ digital platform is still far from perfect. They cycle available titles regularly. And some of those that they license to other sites like VUDU are compromised. I’m the oaf who rented Interrupted Melody for $5 only to find it was a Cinemascope film matted to HDTV-sized 1.78:1.

So the best way to assure quality on the WAC titles is to actually pick up their DVDRs, which I know is a bit of an annoying investment for films you’re not sure about. There are other options; enterprising individuals sometimes post these movies in poor quality to various low-grade streaming sites if you’d like to preview them, though I’d encourage you to then spend the money for those you like. If that sounds like too much trouble — and frankly, I concur — I can unreservedly recommend The Dawn Patrol and Vacation from Marriage as films that are completely worth the money and that I can’t imagine disappointing someone with reasonable expectations. I’d say the same, slightly tempered, for The Big House if you’re interested in film history and like prison stories; One Way Passage if you like romantic pictures as it’s a truly lovely, elegant one; and Princess O’Rourke if you want to laugh and don’t mind something a bit silly. Do steer clear of Interrupted Melody unless you have an uncontrollable itch to do the exact same project I just did.

Three films above designated by a “$” were released by their respective studios on VHS at one point; your library may have these. Actually, your nearest high school is very likely to have The Story of Louis Pasteur on videocassette in its science library; as of just a few years ago it was still being regularly screened for early chemistry and biology students. Warner owns this particular film now but they report that the elements are severely damaged and a long-term restoration precludes its release on DVD. Fox owns Wilson, and they can keep it. (It’s also on Youtube in complete form.) The Seventh Veil is in some sort of limbo; it’s possible that it’s part of the Samuel Goldwyn library that’s changed hands approximately 800 times in the last thirty years. It’s also out on DVD in non-U.S. territories. I had a hell of a time tracking this one down and ultimately paid for a bootleg DVD; it’s a decent film but unless you can find an easier way to see it, probably not worth the trouble.

Like The Seventh Veil, Arise, My Love and the rogue nuclear bomb thriller Seven Days to Noon have both been released on DVD elsewhere in the world (marked with “%” above). Arise is a curio now owned by Universal that would surely have been put out by now if it were in Warners’ hands; it’s a likely candidate for licensing but for now I found it easiest to get a TCM-ripped bootleg. Seven Days to Noon is a brilliant film in desperate need for better treatment. Not only is it only commercially available in Europe, the current transfer is compromised — shot like nearly all films at the time in Academy ratio, it was “enhanced” (read: cropped) to 1.78 for its DVD release. I don’t know where the rights sit but this film would work beautifully with modern audiences and cries out for a restoration and rerelase. If you snoop around enough online you can find a rip of the cropped version, which sucks but is at least good enough to understand why it’s such a ripe candidate for rediscovery. Seven Days incidentally isn’t the only film on this list only circulating in a compromised print; oddly enough, the Robert Redford vehicle The Candidate was only ever issued on DVD in an open-matte edition. Because of the way the film was shot, it’s not a severe enough problem to prevent you from seeking out the disc, but I would imagine WAC will fix this before much longer.

Lastly, two of these movies with a “#” next to them — The Scoundrel and Marie-Louise — have never been released on any home video format. Given the quality of the bootlegs I was able to acquire, it’s unclear whether they — the latter especially — have even been broadcast on television in the last few decades. These are the most esoteric of an esoteric group; both deserve to be moved out of this hole. The Scoundrel is a stunner, Marie-Louise historically important. Thankfully, neither is impossible to locate, but you have to move into illegal channels to do so. (And I’m afraid I can’t help you find them, but Google is your friend.)

***

One thing worth noting about the writing Oscar winners as a whole is that writing is in and of itself very rarely what’s exceptional about them. For instance: The Red Balloon has virtually no dialogue; Lost in Translation is an inarticulate buzz based wholly on feeling. What must these films look like on a printed page? It’s long been suspected that the Screenplay category was more than anything a catch-all for good films the Academy felt were too eccentric, radical or artistically adventurous to nominate or reward for bigger categories. Looking down the list, this doesn’t play out as consistently as one might hope, but there certainly are a larger number of emotionally genuine and unorthodox titles than on either of the other Oscar projects I’ve completed. Eventually my plan is to attempt (with probably a lot of obstacles, given the above) to see all of the films that were merely nominated in these categories; because of the number of terrific movies I first saw thanks to this project, I now look forward immensely to that one.

But I know you’re on the edge of your seat to hear what’s next, and it likely won’t surprise you. Best Actor is the next Oscar down the pipeline. (The Projects page will be updated by Monday morning to reflect this.) Out of 88 films, we’ve already tackled all but 40 here, 30 of them (!) unseen by me. I’m banking on knocking this one out in six months and have already started tracking down the early hard ones. I don’t plan to start this until May, but you’ll be hearing all about it then I’m sure. Thanks as always for reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed going on this long trip with me. Longer ones are still to come.

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