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In the spring I'm going to be teaching an Intro class on screenwriting and am thinking about what screenplays would be good ones for my students to read (to acquaint themselves with the medium and to learn how to effectively write dialogue, narration, scene shifts, etc.) Any ideas? I'd love to hear them.
A great one is Robert Benton's Kramer Vs. Kramer. The scene where Dustin Hoffman is making breakfast for his son right after Streep leaves is a great one to explain the different types of conflicts.
If I remember correctly...
Man vs. nature: Dustin trying to cook without really knowing how, so he is battling the pots, pans, etc.
Man vs. Man: Dustin is fighting with his son who wants to know why Mom isn't there. And...
Man vs. Self: Dustin is fighting himself by pretending all will be fine.
SOMETHING LIKE THAT...I haven't looked at it in years but it is a great scene to teach the conflicts. Take a look at that one.
Glengarry Glen Ross
The Shawshank Redemption
more contemporary ones I can think of are
American Beauty Sideways
How about the list of Academy Award winning screenplays?
Casablanca L.A. Confidential The Usual Suspects Fight Club The Matrix
Goodfellas The Godfather A Clockwork Orange Raiders of the Lost Ark Romancing the Stone
Annie Hall is a good one, not only for the story but also because it involves a lot of different aspects: Talking directly to the audience Animation Split-screen Subtitles complementing the dialogue Annie Hall leaving her body and both the real and the ghost talking to Alvy.
"Thank You For Smoking" has become a new favorite of mine.
The ones already listed (American Beauty is one of the most well-written I've ever read, although Drama is not my genre of choice).
You may also want to include a couple that made lots of money for the writer: Lethal Weapon, Basic Instinct, Sixth Sense (any by Shane Black, Joe Esterhaus, or M. Night Shamalan). My spelling is probably off on the names.
Thanks to everyone for all of the ideas. I'm thinking about throwing in a quirky, nonlinear script as well, maybe something by Charlie Kauffman or Taratino (seems Pulp Fiction would be the obvious choice).
Any genre ideas? For comedy, romantic comedy, horror, action? Depending on what the students want to write, I was thinking about requiring them to read a screenplay from the grenre they've chosen to work in.
Thanks again to everyone. Your suggestions have been a great help! (BTW--what about something like "Good Will Hunting"?)
I haven't read the script but the movie for Memento was very good if you want non-linear.
One of the best teachers is to read a scene from the script and watch how the scene was shot. A while ago an instructor showed Chinatown. I was so confused because there was a blond when i remembered a brunetter, a character standing to the left of the car when I remembered to the right,.... he assured me that there was only one Chinatown. I then realized that the movie I was refering to was the one I had created and watched in my head when I read the script the first time.
Thomas, yes, use "Pulp Fiction," definitely, and/or "Crash." Make your students get a copy of Victoria Schmidt's "Story Structure Architect."
Use any of M. Night Shyamalan scripts after "The Sixth Sense" as examples of how NOT to write a good screenplay.
I would point out that "Good Will Hunting," just because it's a coming of age story about giving your life direction, is rather relatable for many young people, but it actually has a pretty weak and slightly incredible (not in the good sense) resolution. Linda Segar nails the problem with that movie's ending in her book, "Advanced Screenwriting."
Dont' forget Lethal Weapon.
That was one of the best scripts I've ever read.
Ooops! Somebody already mentioned it.
21 by Allan Loeb is phenomenal.
Death to Smoochy by Adam Resnick
Confidence by Doug Jung
Fallen by Nicholas Kazan
Diner by Barry Levinson
The Verdict starring Paul Newman. Intense Pheonix like rise of alcaholic, ambulace chaser, attourny against impossible odds. Five academy awards. Have used it extensively in classroom.
"It's a Wonderful Life"
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