10. The Killing, Stanley Kubrick, Jim Thompson, 1956
If you’re thinking about writing a heist screenplay, you must watch this film. The screenplay is based on Lionel White’s novel “Clean Break” and it is film noir at the height of the genre’s power. The story is similar to “Ocean’s Eleven,” an ex-con gathers a group of guys together to pull off one last heist before the ex-con settles down, but while Ocean’s makes us laugh, this one brings the existential dread. The script shows events from multiple perspectives and jumps around in time, but it’s never confusing and the tension never relents. You’ve probably read about directors who have borrowed from this film, but after watching it you’ll realize how many screenwriters have done the same.