185515919This actor dropped 50 pounds to get ready for his role in my favorite script of the year!

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time to reflect on the happiest moments of 2013. Like Kim Kardashian getting engaged again. And N’Sync reuniting on stage for all of 43 seconds. I still remember where I was during those moments. You?

Okay let’s be honest. I don’t pay attention to anything unless it has a .PDF extension at the end of it. If I’m not reading, I’m sleeping. So truthfully, I don’t know who Kim Kardashian is (although I was recently told she waxed her baby’s eyelashes, whatever that means).

During all that reading, I found ten scripts that I haven’t been able to forget. Whenever I do these lists, my ranking doesn’t always reflect my Top 25. That’s because some screenplays, just like some movies, improve with time – they dig into you like a tick and stay with you. So with that piece of knowledge, here are my 10 favorite scripts of the year. Afterwards, let me know your favorites!

(Note: The lack of review links is due to most of these scripts being reviewed in my newsletter. To get future reviews not posted on the site, make sure to sign up!)

NUMBER 10
Title: Transcendence
Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller
Writer: Jack Paglen
Premise: An epic love story set in a time where a dying scientist is able to upload his consciousness into the internet and, facing its global implications, must fight against the forces who are actively working against the existence of a singularity.
Thoughts: Loved this because it felt like a good old fashioned blockbuster. It didn’t carry all the baggage your typical IP comic book or childhood toy does. The story and the mythology came solely from the writer, Paglen, and he knew how to have fun with it. This script taught me that once you have your high-concept idea, make sure to mine it for all it’s worth. Anything less and you’re cheating yourself (and your chance for a sale!).

NUMBER 9
Title: Marshal of Revelation
Genre: Western
Writer: Jon Favreau
Premise: The story of a deceitful town marshal who saved the town of Revelation, Wyoming with the help of a mysterious Jewish gunman.
Thoughts: Wow, what a surprise this was. Here’s the thing about Westerns. Despite having one big advantage over their present-day counterparts (the lawlessness, which creates tons of drama), they’re potentially boring as hell. Because the world was so slow back then, Western screenplays can move at a glacial pace, which is where most wanna-be Westerns go to die. How do you prevent this? Character character character character, then character again. Just like its distant screenplay cousin, Django Unchained, Marshal of Revelation has two unforgettable characters. We have the talkative car salesman-like Isaac, and the cool as a cucumber gunslinger, “The Jew.” Sometimes as a writer, you hit on two characters who complement each other so well (so as to provide the most conflict, drama, and entertainment) that the story actually takes a back seat to them. Favreau achieved that here.

NUMBER 8
Title: Shut In
Genre: Horror
Writer: Christina Hodson
Premise: A young woman who takes care of her comatose teenaged son at home begins to believe she’s being visited by the ghost of a young runaway boy.
Thoughts: This script was just spooky. No, it was more than that. It was uncomfortable. I think whenever you write a script, you’re trying to make the reader FEEL something. The problem is, readers read so many scripts, they become numb to feeling. So you have to hit on something so intense, the reader can do nothing BUT feel it. Hodson did that with this ongoing feeling of discomfort. When the mother is bathing her teenage son and he gets an erection, I got that icky chill all over. And while it may not have been a feeling I was thrilled to have, it was A FEELING nonetheless, and it kept happening again and again in this screenplay. If a writer can make me feel something that consistently, they’ve done their job.

NUMBER 7
Title: Peste
Genre: Horror (found footage)
Writer: Barbara Marshall
Premise: A young suburban girl documents her family during the outbreak of a deadly virus that turns its hosts into monsters.
Thoughts: They say that the best horror scripts/films revolve around family (and that family trying to stave off a threat). There’s something about keeping the family unit in one piece that’s easy to root for. Peste proves how effective this approach can be when done well. There are a few truly terrifying scenes in this script, such as our family needing to steal food from the neighbors, who have already transformed into “pestes,” and also the sounds of a transformed daughter eating her mom behind closed doors. This script starts too slowly for its own good, but once it gets going, it really gets going. I don’t meant to be a pest, but read this if you can.

NUMBER 6
Title: Chef
Genre: Drama/Comedy
Writer: Jon Favreau
Premise: A talented chef loses his job after a bad online review, leading him to open a food truck.
Thoughts: Well shucks, Mr. Favreau. I wasn’t so sure about you after Cowboys and Aliens. But it turns out Favreau has a little self-awareness left in him. This upcoming writing-directing effort, while tackling a sell-out celebrity Chef who goes back to his roots and starts a food truck, is clearly an exploration of the mistakes Favreau’s made as a director. This is an incredibly talented writer we’re talking about here and what I really love about him is he doesn’t seem to follow the traditional three-act structure everybody else does. He’s got his own mysterious formula that steers each of his stories into an unfamiliar kalediscope of time and space where you don’t know which way is up or down or sideways. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But there’s something different about his stories that makes you feel like you’re always reading something fresh. For example, the food truck stuff here doesn’t happen until the final act! I don’t know many writers who would’ve made that choice as the food truck is the hook here! Why would you ignore it for 75% of your story? But Favreau does. And it works!

NUMBER 5
Title: Draft Day
Genre: Drama/Sports
Writers: Rajiv Joseph & Scott Rothman
Premise: A football GM finds his personal and professional life falling apart on the biggest day of the year, draft day.
Thoughts: I love love love when writers recognize that the genres they’re writing in are hard sells, and so curtail their screenplay in some way to negate that. If this would’ve been about a long drawn out season where the General Manager evaluates his life through his team, we would’ve gotten, no offense, Moneyball 2 (which, come on, in retrospect was pretty boring). But instead, they focus on a single day, one of the most important days for a football organization, the day they draft six players who will determine their future as a team. Because it all happens in a single day, there’s a sense of urgency that you’ve never seen in a sports movie before. This is such a great script!

NUMBER 4
Title: The Story Of Your Life
Genre: Sci-Fi
Writer: Eric Heisserer (based on a short story by Ted Chiang)
Premise: When alien crafts land around the world, a linguistics expert is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat.
Thoughts: I love this idea so much that I’ve forgotten about the problematic climax. I guess you could say I’m looking at “Story of Your Life” through rose-colored glasses. But I just love what Heisserer did with this story. He took what could’ve potentially been a very slow script, with a linguist chatting with aliens, and turned it into an intense pressure-cooker (via a race between all nations to get a super-weapon from the visitors). No surprise that a Scriptshadow favorite term – ticking time bomb – is the key ingredient for making this and Draft Day so good. Whenever time’s running out for your characters, everything’s ramped up a level.

NUMBER 3
Title: Monster Problems
Genre: Insanity
Writer: Brian Duffield
Premise: In a future where the world has been overrun by monsters, a young man risks his life to get to the woman he’s fallen in love with.
Thoughts: I don’t get star struck. But I would probably get star struck if I met Brian Duffield. As soon as one of this guy’s quirkier scripts hits the big screen, I think his voice is going to help define this generation of screenwriters. Monster Problems is the embodiment of that. It’s a John Hughes-like approach to a monster movie. I love how Duffield is so casually able to jump back and forth between personal dramatic moments and big huge actions scenes, never once losing control of his tone. Very few writers can pull that off. I just loved this script.

NUMBER 2
Title: Where Angels Die
Genre: Drama/Thriller
Writer: Alex Felix (based on the novel “In the Place Where Angels Die” by Richard Seal)
Premise: A suspended inner city social worker tries to protect a young girl and her mother from the girl’s father, a psychotic killer who’s just been released from prison.
Thoughts: I’m not sure I can say anything more about Angels than I already have. But I will say that Alex and I recently discussed the difficulty of writing drama specs in today’s spec market, and how, knowing that, he emphasized the crime/thriller element of his story to give it a better shot. If you want to write a dramatic character piece, like Alex has, look to explore genre elements in your script, even if it’s only partially. This is the exact same approach Ben Affleck took with The Town. He wanted to write a love story, but knew nobody would see it if he did. So he emphasized the heist genre element to make it marketable. – Anyway, some great things are happening with Angels. If only I could tell you what’s happening behind the scenes, you’d be so excited! But I have to let the process play out.

NUMBER 1
Title: Nightcrawler
Genre: Crime/Thriller
Writer: Dan Gilroy
Premise: A Los Angeles drifter with big dreams finds himself drawn into the world of “nightcrawling,” a practice where independent videographers search out violent crimes and sell them to news shows.
Thoughts: This script has stayed with me more than any other script I read in 2013. Why? Put simply, it had the best character I’ve read all year. I think if there’s a lesson here, it might be that instead of always coming up with a story concept first and trying to infuse characters into that story, maybe you should come up with a great character first, then build a story around him.  I know this is how Wes Anderson works, for example.  I don’t know if that’s what happened here or not, but the protagonist is so amazing in Nightcrawler, he essentially becomes the concept anyway.

  • lesbiancannibal

    Read 1969 A SPACE ODYSSEY OR HOW KUBRICK LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LAND ON THE MOON – Stephany Folsom – it’s genius.

  • andyjaxfl

    I didn’t read a ton of new scripts this year, but I did get a chance to read a lot of unproduced classics, so my list may seem a bit dated…

    10. Your Bridesmaid is a Bitch AND Monster Problems by Brian Duffield
    9. Captain Blood by Jonathan Hensleigh and Frank Daranbont
    8. Passengers by Jon Spaihts
    7. The Wolf of Wall Street by Terrence Winter
    6. When the Streetlights go On by O’Keefe & Hutton
    5. Interstellar by Jonathan Nolan
    4. At The Mountains of Madness – Benicio Del Toro
    3. Gates of Fire by David Self
    2. Smoke & Mirrors by The Batchlers
    1. A Killing on Carnival Row by Travis Beacham

    Special mention to Gladiator 2 by Nick Cave which was so freaking bizarre but I couldn’t put it down.

    • Alex Palmer

      I’ve also been cycling through those classics. If I compiled a top 10 list, numbers 1), 6), 8) and 10)b would be on there.

      By the way, would you be able to send me Interstellar, please? My email is anotheralexpalmer @ gmail.com

      • andyjaxfl

        On vacation this week with no computer but will send when I get back in a week.

        • Alex Palmer

          Thanks. Have a nice Christmas break!

        • Tyler

          I would REALLY appreciate it if you sent me Interstellar as well. Could you, please? ( brandontj82@live.com )

    • ChristianSavage

      Nice list! Read Carnival Row for the first time a couple years ago, and it’s still my #1 unproduced script. It’s just a great piece of work. Passengers is in my all-time top 5, as well. You have some pretty good taste! :-)

      • andyjaxfl

        Carnival Row is in my top 3 for favorite unproduced. Great storytelling start to finish.

    • Poe_Serling

      If you’re looking to catch up on some script reading over the holidays, I agree your list is a rock solid place to start. I really enjoyed Captain Blood, At the Mountains of Madness, Smoke & Mirrors, and A Killing on Carnival Row.

      One quick note: The version of At the Mountains of Madness that I read was credited to Guillermo Del Toro & Matthew Robbins. ;-)

      • andyjaxfl

        I have same one but couldn’t remember his co-writer’s name. I hope someone steps up and gives him the $150 million he needs to make it

      • Frankie Hollywood

        Hey Poe, any chance you could send me, At the Mountain of Madness?

        dogbarks @ live .com

        I also wrote an expedition/adventure/hieroglyphics/monster movie and would love to see how it stacks up against a pro like Guillermo.

        And, Smoke & Mirrors too (please).

        Thanks!

    • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

      Hey, could you send me those scripts? Particularly Monster Problems and Interstellar… but all would be cool. Thanks!

      screenwriter@cheerful.com

    • Nathan Labonté

      If possible, would you be able to send me the screenplay for Interstellar? I would be delighted to read that if you are able to send it.

      labonath151@gmail.com

      Thank you.

  • Alex Palmer

    Given that I’ve only really been reading scripts seriously this year, I’ve been concentrating on old staples.

    That said, Monster Problems was definitely my favourite script of the year. It was a blast.

    By the way, I’m currently working through the 2013 black list. Does anyone have any particular suggestions?

    So far, my favourite script on there is Faults. The logline jumped out at me.

    • hickeyyy

      Holland, Michigan has been a very fun read for me. I’d check that out.

      • Alex Palmer

        Will do.

    • lonestarr357

      GAY KID AND FAT CHICK.

      You’re welcome.

      • Alex Palmer

        Read it. :)

        I found it fun, even if it never really rose above its “Kick-Ass meets Easy A” premise.

    • Jim Dandy

      My favourite so far has been Faults too. I should add that I’ve only read a dozen of the Black List scripts so far. Section 6 was the biggest disappointment, by the way.

      The problem I had with Faults was the predictable nature of the ending. I clocked it less than half-way through the script. It just seemed so obvious that the ending was going to happen. However, with better misdirection the ending could still work.

      • ChristianSavage

        What didn’t you like about Section 6? All things considered, I thought I was really well done.

        • Jim Dandy

          There were lots of problems with Section 6. The dialogue was terrible, on-the-nose, cliched, and lacking subtlety. The characters are mostly British public school types who were educated in the late nineteenth century, yet they speak like modern Americans in the script. There was the line, “It’s a pile of driftwood the ocean spit out.” The British use “spat” as the past tense of “spit”. Do you really think Winston Churchill would have said, “Strangely all the pages had been…redacted”? Or the term “stubborn sonuvabitch”?

          The overall tone shifts from serious at the beginning to tongue-in-cheek later on. What is this movie – a serious examination of the origins of MI6 or a James Bond spoof? There are moments of cheesiness (“License to kill”- uggh!). The ending was more like an episode of MacGyver. I found some of the scenes derivative – for example the recruitment scene reminded me of The Dirty Dozen.

          I really wanted to like this script, but it’s just so cheesy.

          • ChristianSavage

            You definitely have some good points. Section 6 seems to have been written by an American, for modern American audiences.

            The writer probably chose to go the commercial, ‘James Bond’ route, instead of being more grounded, like ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.’ If I were Aaron Berg, I would’ve made the same choice. I’ve heard ‘TTSS’ is excellent, but Skyfall made more than 10 times the money.

            And I’ll say this about the dialogue. I’ve defended being on-the-nose in the past, and I’ll do it again. On-the-nose isn’t a bad thing, if it’s done well. Every good script I’ve read uses it at one time or another. If all you have is subtext, you end up with Cormac McCarthy’s The Counselor, which was awful partly because it was almost impossible to understand the characters’ motives, let alone understand the story as a whole.

            Of course, nuance and subtlety are important qualities for any accomplished script to possess. Every screenwriting guru will tell you that people don’t say what they mean… except when they do. I’ve never met anyone in my life who beat around the bush 100 percent of the time. Sometimes people say what’s really on their mind. And that’s when things get juicy.

            Even the main character in Nightcrawler, Carson’s #1 script of the year, speaks on-the-nose almost exclusively. Admittedly, the guy’s a sociopath with no filter, but the point is that on-the-nose can work, as long as it’s rooted in the character, the situation, or both. Section 6 takes place in a time of political upheaval, so maybe it was easier for me to forgive plainspoken characters.

            And sure, the recruitment sequence was derivative, but that’s because it’s the type of scene that almost always works. I’d argue that true originality is rare. Everything’s been done. All a writer can do these days is try to put their own stamp on familiar story choices.

            But, I do appreciate that you demand a lot from movies. The best ones feel like genuine reflections of ourselves. So, it can definitely be disappointing when that reflection doesn’t feel like the truth to you.

          • JakeBarnes12

            A friend of mine just asked me on Facebook if he should wait until Christmas Eve to go shopping in downtown SF.

            I wrote back, “No problem. Bring your sword.”

            Now I could have written “There are going to be a lot of people trying to buy gifts and you’ll have a hard time pushing through the crowds to get to what you want.”

            But that would have sucked.

          • ChristianSavage

            Your line was good. It’s also on the nose. :-)

          • JakeBarnes12

            You’re a nice guy, Christian.

          • ChristianSavage

            Had to think about that one for a second. Now that’s subtext!

          • Jim Dandy

            Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is far from excellent. It’s plodding and exposition-laden, and just plain incomprehensible in the middle (I’ve seen it three times and still can’t figure out the middle bit). It doesn’t offer any suspense in its vast plane of flatness. It’s definitely not something to emulate.

            I don’t take issue with on-the-nose dialogue. As you point out, it is legitimately used most of the time. The problem with Section 6 is that most of the dialogue is exposition and a bunch of hokey statements. The action is serviceable, but I can’t imagine the dialogue is going to win any friends.

            Everything has not already been done. That’s Surrender Monkey talk. Whenever I see a Coen Brothers movie I see sparkling originality. If you take the view that “everything’s been done” then you give up and retreat into the arms of cliche. So many of the scripts on the Black List had scenes or characters that were obvious ripoffs of recent movies. If the writers had taken the time to ask themselves what the characters or scenes were trying to accomplish, then thinking of original ways of achieving those aims, then their writing would be much better. I get the sense that writers sometimes say to themselves, “This worked really well in [insert name of another movie], so we’ll use it here.” I’d like to see more adventurous writing where cliches are subverted on principle.

          • Jim Dandy

            “Even the main character in Nightcrawler, Carson’s #1 script of the year, speaks on-the-nose almost exclusively.”

            I just read Nightcrawler. The dialogue is brilliant, as is the rest of the script. On-the-nose is the last way I would describe it. It’s zingy, sharp, witty, elusive, oblique, spunky, but never on-the-nose. It’s a thrill to read something so good. Compared to Section 6, Nightcrawler is Shakespeare.

      • Alex Palmer

        I guess you’re a more perceptive reader than me, because I didn’t. My main gripe was the whole Jerry subplot had a disappointing resolution.

        Also, Mike (AKA The Intimidating Man) was way too similar to Mike from Breaking Bad.

    • ripleyy

      I read “Tchaikovsky’s Requiem” the other day and I thought it was really, really well done. I usually don’t like reading scripts like that, but damn. That script was so original!

    • walker

      I was disappointed by the top two, Holland, Michigan and Section 6. But I found Pox Americana to be excellent.

      • Mike.H

        oh yeah, with TED’s boston accent regarding Holland M & Sect 6.

        TED: “OH YEAH!”. :)

    • Nate

      Diablo Run is the funniest script I’ve ever read (Monster Problems originally held that accolade). It had a few fucked up moments but it was pretty funny.
      The Politician follows right behind it. I kept picturing Robert Downey Jr as the main character and I’m not quite sure why.
      The Civilian was a good action script. Could be the next Safe House.
      The Crown was a good thriller but you could see a few of the plot twists coming a mile off. Still worth a read though.
      Capsule was actually the script that surprised me the most. I didn’t think it sounded that interesting from the logline but it was really good. It reminded me of Limitless.
      Half Heard in the Stillness was pretty dark and depressing. I agree with what Carson said about it being Prisoners 2.
      Beast was also quite dark but it was a good story about a father trying to repair his relationship with his son.

      • AJ

        I would love to read a copy of Diablo Run if you don’t mind sending it my way. m03109263 AT gmail dot com. Thanks!

      • Alex Palmer

        I already was planning on moving on to Capsule next, especially hearing a positive verdict.

        Originally, I wasn’t interested in giving Diablo Run a look (thought it sounded generic) but I’ll throw myself at it if it’s anything like Monster Problems.

  • thedudespeaketh

    Me is thinking that Jake Gyllenhaal’s six degrees of separation would start and end with Scriptshadow.

  • ChristianSavage

    Nightcrawler’s my #1 script this year, too. Lou, the main character, is just so odd and memorable. And the writing itself is a master class in gorgeous brevity. I probably read the thing three times this year. It hit a sweet spot for me that few scripts do.

    Also on my list are Story of Your Life, Monster Problems, and Draft Day. A lot of skill is on display in those scripts. All three of them prove that a strong sense of urgency is an awesome story driver.

    A couple others I would add are Gates of Fire by David Self and Holland, Michigan by Andrew Sodroski.

    Gates of Fire is ‘Gladiator meets 300,’ with one of the best first pages I’ve read in a while. The rest of the script is impressively epic, as well.

    And Holland, Michigan, of course, was this year’s top-voted choice on the Black List. It’s a quirky genre-bender that reminds me a lot of the Coen brothers’ work – especially Fargo. The story spins out of control in a wonderful way, and, for me, it has the best final image of the year.

    A lot of great stuff to read lately. And I can’t wait to see the stories that come out of the Scriptshadow community in 2014!

  • nawazm10

    Most probably missed a few but here goes a few of my favourites. Had to settle with eleven. They all had a certain quality to them and have pretty much stayed with me since I read them. Not in any real order except Sugar, a hidden and daring gem that deserves a read.

    1. Sugar in my Veins
    When the Streetlights Go On
    Seuss
    The Days Before
    Glimmer
    Nightcrawler
    Extremely Wicked Shockingly Evil and Vile
    Heart of the Monstyr
    Passengers
    All You Need Is Kill (Edge of Tomorrow)
    Transcendence

    • Michael Z

      Hey, could you please pass along a copy of Transcendence. I promise to make an offering to the karma gods in your name.

    • Michael Z

      Guess I should have included my email. Mzombie@mac.com. Thanks.

  • Poe_Serling

    Hey Carson-

    Just curious if you’re planning to do a Top Ten List of some of your favorite projects that were featured on Amateur Friday, Amateur Smackdowns, and through your consulting service? I’m pretty sure you did something like that in the past.

    I always feel the aspiring screenwriters of these projects really benefit from the additional exposure on the SS site.

  • craze9

    Anyone have a pdf of Nightcrawler? Would be grateful if you could send. Thanks!

    craze9 AT hotmail.com

    • Mike.H

      I thought someone had forwarded me a copy but I’m mistaken. please send to May1msg AT gmail dot com. Happy holidays.

      • AJ

        If anyone’s come up with it please send my way. m03109263 AT gmail dot com. Thanks in advance!

        • Alex Palmer

          Sent. (To all on this thread)

  • Mike.H

    I agree with Carson’s list. Happy holidays,

    if you have Nightcrawler or Transendence, please forward to: May1msg AT GMAIL DOT COM. Merry ‘xmas.

  • fragglewriter

    I haven’t read most of the scripts but great to see a combination of horror/drama/thriller.

    What movie is Jake appearing in?

    If anyone has the script for “Nightcrawler” I would greatly appreciate to receive it at fragglewriter at yahoo dot com.

    • Eddie Panta

      will send it…

      • MrTibbsLive

        Would love a copy of “Nightcrawler” as well. Mrtibbs00 at live dot com. Thanks.

    • bluedenham

      Would love to get Nightcrawler as well.. smythdenham@hotmail.com . Thanks.

  • Frankie Hollywood

    If anyone could find it in their heart to send me Monster Problems (and/or Nightcrawler) I would be forever grateful. dogbarks @ live .com

    I’ll make sure Santa puts a little something extra in your stocking (don’t wanna brag, but we’re kinda tight).

    Thank you advance.

    • Alex Palmer

      Sent.

      • Wes Mantooth

        I’d also greatly appreciate it if you could send me Monster Problems. Thank you much. cutter1701 at yahoo dot com

    • Frankie Hollywood

      Already done — GREAT community.

      Thanks a ton Mr. A

  • JW

    It should be illegal to have this much talent in one family! Tony & Dan Gilroy (not to mention John & Frank), you bastards!!! (PS. keep up the tremendous work!)

  • tobban

    Jake G dropped 50 for that role. Matthew Mc dropped 50 too. Christian Bale put on 60 for American Hustle.
    Coolest movie this year: A Texas Love Story.
    Some new, some old favorites this year:
    Django Unchained
    The Great Gatsby
    Gravity
    Dallas Buyers Club
    The Disciple Program
    Saving Mr. Banks
    Drive
    Chinatown ( about time they do a remake of this, starring Jake G.)
    Deliverance ( this one too )
    Sunset Boulevard

  • Citizen M

    My list of best scripts read this year in date order would be: Gangster Squad, To Catch A Thief, The Conjuring, Evil Dead, Misery, Where Angels Die, Fathers and Daughters, Reservoir Dogs, Chronicle.

  • Andrea Moss

    Just read The Golden Record from this year Black List. Highly recommendable. A beautiful love story, a look inside one of most daring projects of human history and a poignant portrait of astronomer and sci-fi writer Carl Sagan.

  • Bfied

    Hey all,

    I’ve been trolling pretty hard lately, been staying busy with work/writing and such.

    Thank you Carson for the ’13 BL scripts; you didn’t have to do it but it was very kind and I’m sure I speak for all us when I say it’s greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    Secondly, I hope everyone has a good holiday. That is all!

  • gazrow

    “Paul Clark, Poe Serling, Kirk Diggler, these are people that genuinely care about storytelling and can make astute commentary on scripts without devolving into hooting chest thumping primates.”

    Agreed! Citizen M also deserves a special mention imo. The guy knows story and regularly (as in every week without fail!) contributes to Amateur Offerings Weekend!

  • fragglewriter

    I’ve read 30 pages of Nightcrawler so far, and I can’t understand how it made your list Carson. Lou, is interesting but where is the story? Driving around Hollywood searching for violent stories to sell to news shows? What about the story clicked.

    I’ll read hopefully until page 50, if I don’t fee asleep, but if this is what will be put on the screen, I would even waste a Redbox coupon on it.

    • Acarl

      i felt similar to you at about this point and let me say – keep reading. The ending alone makes it all worth it.

      • fragglewriter

        Is this the movie Jake Gyllenhal is the lead?

      • fragglewriter

        So I skipped to page 79. I skimmed through the detective, and skimmed more to the ending. So what is it about the ending that is so good? It just seemed so blah.

      • Jim Dandy

        I thought Nightcrawler was stunning, UNTIL the ending. What annoyed me about the ending was its perfunctory nature. Everything the main character had done up to that point was carefully planned. However, he didn’t plan for dealing with the cops, which logically he should have. His reaction was very passive, which took the energy out of the story. The other subplots – especially the relationship with the news editor woman – were not fully explored, and left dangling. The story would have ended better if all the story elements had been incorporated into the final ten pages. And a twist of irony at the resolution would have been nice. The whole thing built to a crescendo and then just fizzled at the end. I think all the ingredients are there for the writer to tweak the ending and make it spectacular.

  • Breezy

    Can you send me Monster Problems?
    rumandwords@hotmail. com
    Much appreciated, thanks!

  • JakeBarnes12

    Just read the first thirty of “Nightingale.”

    Fuck me. This is good.

    Vivid images that SHOW a fast developing story. Compelling protagonist whose actions reveal his character.

    And here’s the funny thing. Yeah, Gilroy goes all “experimental” dropping the “INT” and “EXT” but when you get down to it, he hews close to classic screenplay structure.

    And why wouldn’t he? He has such a juicy hero and specific world that he doesn’t need to mess with that.

    And laced through every dynamic moment pushing this story forward is Gilroy’s confidence; not the fake confidence of the insecure, but the real confidence of the professional who knows exactly where he’s going and knows exactly how to take us with him.

    In an arena full of big talkers, here’s to the real thing.

  • lonestarr357

    Sweet Lord, I thought I was crazy pills. I haven’t read those, but I have read YOUR BRIDESMAID IS A BITCH, which shared the same ‘whisper of a story’ issue that you describe. Why are we supposed to genuflect before this Duffeld guy again?

  • Midnight Luck

    Anyone else see AMERICAN HUSTLE or / and SAVING MR. BANKS (which the script was reviewed here)?

    I did (and also was dragged to ANCHORMAN 2, against my will, and it was as bad as I thought it would be, it could have been mistaken for an Adam Sandler vehicle) and was interested in others opinions of it. I enjoyed Mr. Banks, but could tell the audience was so uncomfortable with the slow pace and the fact it was a Drama / Character piece, I could feel them wanting to get up and leave. It definitely was a subject that showed how difficult it was to pull off a story like this. But I enjoyed it, but then again I enjoy Dramas, and they did a good job with it.

    Now, as for American Hustle, I was so looking forward to this. I loved Three Kings, and really loved The Fighter. Hustle though, even for all the love it is getting from everyone, kind of ended up being a jumbled mess. All the actors were great, and I am sure that is why it is getting so much love, but the story got confused and didn’t make much sense for a long part in the end of act 2, beginning of act 3. I know the story was very convoluted and complex, but for how good the director has been, he should have found a way to tell the story that made more sense. The whole movie and complexity and story made it feel to me like Russell was trying to make his version of Boogie Nights, but did not pull it off as seamlessly or well as PT Anderson did. Too bad, it could have been awesome, but turned out a bit less than just OK. (For me)

    • Kirk Diggler

      I think the jumbled, convoluted nature of the ‘sting’ operation that Cooper’s character was running was the whole point. It didn’t make any sense.

      He originally reeled in a Bale’s small time bank fraudster, but that wasn’t enough for the ego of Cooper’s ambitious FBI guy. So he goes after the Mayor of shithole Camden NJ. for corruption, but again, that isn’t enough.

      So he tried to reel in ever bigger sharks (senators, mobsters) with his entrapment scheme. It pretty much spun out of control and no longer made much sense, since all the players were just playing a game that’s been played for centuries. And in the end, a few politicos go to jail for a year and a half while the big time criminals swim away. It was senseless, I believe Russel is acknowledging the absurdity of it all.

  • Frankie Hollywood

    I just finished Monster Problems, you’re right, the ending is WTF? I’m not even sure what really happened. And how did some kid whose 5’7″ 145 lbs do something other grown, grizzled men couldn’t (against a HUGE monster)? And what exactly did he do — so easily? Still not sure.

    The character stuff was great (I’m impressed and jealous). But the story, monsters, action, and reason for it all could use some tweaking.

    Brand spanking new trailer for Draft Day.
    http://movies.yahoo.com/video/draft-day-trailer-221050432.html

    Kevin Costner also has a new trailer for Three Days To Kill. Did he blow through the Billion dollars he earned from Dances With Wolves, and now he’s out of (semi)retirement?

    • Wes Mantooth

      Glad I’m not the only one who had that reaction to the ending of MP. I actually had to go back and reread, because I thought I must have missed something. Did the kid sprout superhuman powers all of a sudden? Very goofy climax to what was quite an imaginative odyssey. Loved the C-Rex.

  • jaehkim

    about the 2013 BL link, the file ‘the boy and his tiger’ by dan dollar is an early draft. dan shared his latest draft. here is the link

    http://www.sendspace.com/file/5uchx1

    • Midnight Luck

      hey thank you so much

  • Malibo Jackk

    Would love me some Interstellar for Christmas.

    malibujackk at gmail dot com

    • Malibo Jackk

      Cool.

      There is a Santa Claus.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Well, fuck me with a rusty chainsaw.

    Just finished Dan Gilroy’s “Nightcrawler.”

    And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how you write a screenplay.

    No, wait, let me be more precise.

    THAT is how you write a spec script that will attract a major fuckin’ MOVIE STAR who will then ensure your opus is RUSHED into production, thus ensuring that YOU have a writing career and a lot of fuckin’ money in your bank account.

    Sure, Dan Gilroy is already well-established. But he’s still written a great SPEC, by which I mean a script that a Hollywood nobody could send around and it would still get snatched up and made.

    This is inspiring.

    Here’s to much more reading and discussion of PROFESSIONAL screenplays next year.

    • Michael Z

      Hey, Jake. Could you pass along a copy to me, please? I’ve been looking for this script. I don’t have much to offer, but I know a hooker who owes me a favor, if you’re into that sort of thing.

    • Michael Z

      Forgot to send my email. Mzombie@mac.com.

  • ernstdegeer

    I too would love a copy of Nightcrawler!

    ernstdegeer at gmail dot com

    Thanks and merry christmas!

  • lonestarr357

    Read a mix of stuff from here and TB. My thoughts:

    - ECHOVAULT and IN THE FLESH (despite their downbeat conclusions) were effective contained thrillers.

    - THE DEVIL’S JOKEBOOK was pretty good, its strength lying in the relationship between Michael and Hannah.

    - THE FRIENDZONE wasn’t terribly groundbreaking, but the character of Carson Carson (no, seriously, this is his name) was a riot. They nail the casting, this is a must-see.

    - FRAME-UP and DETENTION benefitted from good writing and likable female protagonists.

    - GAY KID AND FAT CHICK was a delight. Again, if they nail the casting (I’m leaning toward Ezra Miller for Alex), it’s a winner.

    - ABRACADABRA and SUPER GEEKS still need work, but quite decent.

    - SECOND PLACE HERO was well-done, though in need of some tweaking.

  • Leon Trinidad

    Guys I’m new and confused. Where can I find any of these scripts from the top 10? Anyone can email me some direct at (leon_trinidad @ yahoo dot com ) The underscore in my email is part of it.

  • blueiis0112

    Saw the dwarves and the dragon this afternoon. I did not think that the pub scene was too long. I found the battle in the mine at the end to be a little much. Peter has been carte blanche with filming and it seems he can’t cut a battle scene down properly. So, Hobbitans, how are the dragon’s eye connect to Sauron? No, I have not read the books. “The Hobbit” was too wordy for me to get through

  • Raúl

    I’d really appreciate if anybody could send to my mail the script of Nightcrawler. It’s rlosaestrada@gmail.com

    Thanks in advance!!

  • andyjaxfl

    It’s tremendous, right? My favorite of all-time is Crusade by Walon Green, but Carnival Row is #2 without a doubt. I read some time ago that the Carnival Row rewrite took away everything that was special about Beacham’s draft. A shame, but hopefully when it finally gets make they go back to the original.

  • QuestionMarkMan

    I liked the format a lot too. Made it hard to put the script down (i.e. close the browser). Flowed nicely. But most readers would probably be peeved by this format. Gilroy directed his own script so he can write it how he wants. But if any of us ‘amateurs’ used this format, it’d probably get tossed, no?

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