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By David Young · January 29, 2024
The 2024 Oscar nominees are here, and these are some doozies. You’re guaranteed to cry a bit, laugh a bit, and squirm in your seat. After all, what is the point of a good movie if it doesn’t make you a little uncomfortable? Whether you want to read the best historical dramas of the year or you’re looking for something with more strangeness and whimsy, you’ll find what you’re looking for in these 2024 Oscar-nominated screenplays.
In the famously ironic veins of movies like The Producers and Bamboozled, we get another view of how life for an artist becomes a twisted version of what they want. In American Fiction, a Black author (Jeffrey Wright) is disillusioned by the expectations of “Blackness” and tries to poke at this pigeonhole with some satire and a pseudonym.
Unfortunately, he starts seeing success after pandering with this stereotypical “Black” entertainment, begging the question of where the responsibility with art really lies—its audience, its creators, or somewhere in between.Download the script!
We default to believing what we see a lot of the time. In Anatomy of a Fall, what we hear that matters most when we don’t see something happen. When Sandra (Sandra Hüller) learns that her husband Samuel (Samuel Theis) has died, she claims that it must have been a fall. That version of events starts sounding less convincing as circumstantial evidence mounts.
With her blind son as her chief witness, Sandra faces possible consequences of something much more sinister. After the events of recent days start to become clearer, hearsay and Daniel’s (Milo Machado Graner) pursuit play an even larger part in the investigation.Download the script!
When someone has an existential crisis, they often experience a lot of doubt and start seeing problems with the world they’ve built around them. Imagine that happening to a doll whose identity has been sold globally for decades. Now, you’ve got Barbie in a nutshell.
In Barbie Land, expectations are pretty cut-and-dry, and the Barbies that run this world have the highest standards to live up to. When Barbie (Margot Robbie) starts to notice changes in herself, she begins to spiral and question everything she has ever known. When she and Ken (Ryan Gosling) visit the human world for answers, they find themselves extraordinarily out of their element in different ways.Download the script!
It’s not every year that a Christmas movie makes it to the Oscars, but this period-based dramedy captures a lot of depth and purpose amid some of the usual hijinks that a boarding school comedy might include.
Paul Giamatti’s performance as Paul Hunham in The Holdovers is powerful but relatable, presenting a 1970s history teacher whose blunt methods and personal hang-ups earn him no love among the students. Forced to remain at boarding school over the Christmas break, he gets to know his fellow holdover, Angus (Dominic Sessa), as the story explores ideas like blame and honesty—including knowing when it’s better to withhold the truth.Download the script!
Another historical biopic, Maestro brings to life Leonard Bernstein (Bradley Cooper) from the moment he fell for Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan) to the end of her life. A romance steeped in hefty drama, this movie carries an intimate view of artistic success pitted against things like devotion, addiction, and the flaws a deep love tends to highlight.
Through it all, we see the birth of a few Broadway musicals underway as Leonard and Felicia find themselves at odds, making this film a captivating sensory experience.Download the script!
Cinema pushes boundaries. There is no question about that. But with May December, the boundaries pushed are on all sides. Actress Elizabeth (Natalie Portman) is hired to portray an old tabloid encounter: a 36-year-old (Julianne Moore) caught molesting a teenage boy (Charles Melton).
The two people, now married with children, face Elizabeth’s questions and mounting morbid interest as the story crystallizes in her mind. On top of that, this film in the making might be adding more pressure to the tenuous relationship built over the past 20 years since these two made the news.Download the script!
J. Robert Oppenheimer was already a well-known name before Christopher Nolan opted to capture the man’s life and legacy on screen. As one of the minds bringing nuclear warfare into the world, Oppenheimer is as multifaceted as any of the geniuses of the mid-20th century.
In the Oscar nominated film, Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) moves from academic circles into Los Alamos before eventually seeing some of his past used against him. Though his concerns are often dismissed by those in power, Oppenheimer’s anxieties about his creation solidified his place as one of the most important scientific figures in American history.Download the script!
Past Lives is a star-crossed story of a different kind. Circumstance forces Nora Moon (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) apart. Though they wanted to be together, each went about their lives without meeting again. By the time they finally see each other in person, it feels like it might have been too late.
In a complex unpacking of affection, these two contemplate how their lives might have intertwined in past lives and how they might do so again in another one.
Science fiction always has an unconventional place in the world of romance, and Yorgos Lanthimos’s latest Oscar nominated piece is no exception. Poor Things is a thought-provoking, uncomfortable, mesmerizing narrative set in Victorian London. On the back of the kind of technology seen in Frankenstein, we find Bella (Emma Stone), a woman who has committed suicide, brought back to life with a child’s rapidly growing brain.
With fresh eyes and a fresh mind, Bella’s impulses fly in the face of well-accepted oppressive norms until she takes up a new mantle with her newfound knowledgeDownload the script!
Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest takes us into the darkest moments of the 20th century through lens of a Nazi commandant’s family. As they meticulously craft a picture-perfect domestic life in their home adjacent to Auschwitz, the film confronts the unimaginable horror unfolding just beyond their manicured lawn.
As Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel) continues facing the effects of this decision, hearing gunshots and finding bodies where his kids like to swim, he is soon promoted and forced to leave his family while regularly ordering the deaths of thousands. The toll of his success becomes somewhat scrutable when the price of his freedom—the return to his family—feels more real than ever.Download the script!
While winning takes the cake, having an Oscar nominated script means your work was in the running and that’s no small feat! This is a great list if you need inspiration for what your screenplay should aspire to.
And remember, the good stuff comes in different shapes, sizes, and genres. There is something here for everybody, winners aside.