Films Whose Writer Won the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award

shirley maclaine
Shirley MacLaine

Stellar writing is often key to a film's success, and that's evident when looking at the films whose writer won the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award. Sometimes films have it all, between the acting and the writing, and it's those films that go on to win the Best Picture as well as Best Original Screenplay.

Films That Won Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay

The following is a list of the films that won for both Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, along with the year won and writers' names, and a short description.

  • An American In Paris (1952, Alan Jay Lerner) - This musical about a World War II veteran who winds up in Paris as an expatriate trying to make it as a painter stars Gene Kelly.
  • On the Waterfront (1955, Budd Schulberg) - Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint star in this film based on true stories about mob informers around the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey.
  • The Apartment (1961, Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond) - Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine star in this film that served as a follow-up to writer Wilder's Some Like It Hot.
  • Patton (1971, Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North) - This is a biographical war film focusing on the life of U.S. General George S. Patton during World War II. It stars George C. Scott.
  • The Sting (1974, David S. Ward) - Paul Newman and Robert Redford star as two conmen who choose a mob boss as their next target. It was their first film together since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
  • Annie Hall (1978, Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman) - Allen himself and Diane Keaton star in this film that many assume is loosely based on their real relationship, yet Allen denies this.
  • Chariots of Fire (1982, Colin Welland) - This fact-based story focuses on two athletes competing in the 1924 Olympics, Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, one a Scottish Christian, and the other an English Jew.
  • Gandhi (1983, John Briley) - Ben Kingsley stars as the title character in a biographical film looking at the life and times of Mahatma Ghandi. Kingsley won the Oscar for his role in the film.
  • Rain Man (1989, Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow) - Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman star in this film as estranged brothers who reconnect after the death of their father. Hoffman won the Oscar for his role as a man who has been institutionalized throughout much of his life because of his autism.
  • Shakespeare in Love (1999, Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard) - Gwyneth Paltrow and Judi Dench both won for their roles in this film about a love affair William Shakespeare was in around the time he wrote Romeo and Juliet.
  • American Beauty (2000, Alan Ball) - Kevin Spacey won an Oscar for his portrayal of a middle-aged man who becomes infatuated with his teenage daughter's best friend. Annette Bening co-stars.
  • Crash (2006, Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco) - Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, and Matt Dillon head up this all-star cast in a film about the racial and social problems in Los Angeles. It was inspired by Haggis getting carjacked in 1991.
  • The Hurt Locker (2010, Mark Boal) - This movie without a big name cast focuses on a team that heads to Iraq to dispose of any remaining weapons after the Iraq War.

Films Whose Writer Won the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award

The following is a list of films that won the Best Original Screenplay Award, but failed to cash in and win the Best Picture Award as well.

  • The Great McGinty (1941)
  • Citizen Kane (1942)
  • Woman of the Year (1943)
  • Princess O'Rourke (1944)
  • Wilson (1945)
  • Marie-Louise (1946)
  • The Seventh Veil (1947)
  • The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1948)
  • Battleground (1950)
  • Sunset Boulevard (1951)
  • The Lavender (1953)
  • Titanic (1954)
  • Interrupted Melody (1956)
  • The Red Balloon (1957)
  • Designing Woman (1958)
  • The Defiant Ones (1959)
  • Pillow Talk (1960)
  • Splendor in the Grass (1962)
  • Divorce, Italian Style (1963)
  • How the West Was Won (1964)
  • Father Goose (1965)
  • Darling (1966)
  • A Man and a Woman (1967)
  • Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1968)
  • The Producers (1969)
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1970)
  • The Hospital (1972)
  • The Candidate (1973)
  • Chinatown (1975)
  • Dog Day Afternoon (1976)
  • Network (1977)
  • Coming Home (1979)
  • Breaking Away (1980)
  • Melvin and Howard (1981)
  • Tender Mercies (1984)
  • Places in the Heart (1985)
  • Witness (1986)
  • Hannah and Her Sisters (1987)
  • Moonstruck (1988)
  • Dead Poets Society (1990)
  • Ghost (1991)
  • Thelma & Louise (1992)
  • The Crying Game (1993)
  • The Piano (1994)
  • Pulp Fiction (1995)
  • The Usual Suspects (1996)
  • Fargo (1997)
  • Good Will Hunting (1998)
  • Almost Famous (2001)
  • Gosford Park (2002)
  • Talk to Her (2003)
  • Lost in Translation (2004)
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2005)
  • Little Miss Sunshine (2007)
  • Juno (2008)
  • Milk (2009)

Big Name Stars Plus Stellar Writing Equals Success

With the exception of The Hurt Locker and Chariots of Fire, all of the films to win both Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay had big name actors attached to them. This shows that the films whose writer won the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award, but didn't win for Best Picture, were certainly written well, but that it takes more than that to create a "Best Picture" film.

Films Whose Writer Won the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award