The films maybe be great, and it’s easy to see why when you’ve read ’em in black and white.
1. GOOD WILL HUNTING – Ben Affleck & Matt Damon
All you need is drama. Initially Damon & Affleck had Will.. ‘Hunting’ in the thriller genre with a CIA sub-plot, but as screenwriting guru Billy Goldman showed them, good drama is all you need. With superb characters that literally leap off the page, a simple coming of age narrative was all the script required to become a timeless piece of cinema.
2. AMERICAN BEAUTY – Alan Ball
Character Arc. Could have been an addition to the ‘found footage’ sub-genre if early drafts went before the cameras, but Ball’s skill and elegance in capturing & exposing the ‘darker’ side of American Suburbia is bitterly beautiful. A brilliant character arc is what really sets Ball’s script apart and catapulted Mr. Spacey into super-stardom.
3. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND – Charlie Kaufman
Dialogue. Originally the film had a sc-fi twist, but even in it’s early drafts, Kaufman showed incredible control over his fractured narrative and none more so than in his use of dialogue. First rule of ‘script school’ avoid talk, yet Kaufman goes completely against that (especially in early drafts) and it pulls it off perfectly. Most notably in Winslet’s character. When she talks (& boy does she natter) it never, once feels forced, and almost becomes comforting for Carrey’s character. It serves the story and character perfectly.
4. SEVEN – Andrew Kevin Walker
Time. It’s something that seems to have been lost in American film lately but Seven remains a superb exercise is precise and patient storytelling. Character investment is absolutely essential to great pay-off’s, and AKW’s unforgettable climax never would have worked on such an emotional level if we didn’t have the sequence in which Freeman, visits Pitt & Paltrow’s ‘shaky’ house for dinner.. we felt invited into these characters lives. We ate with them, shared stories and ultimately felt for them.
5. THE BOURNE IDENTITY – Tony Gilroy.
Pace. Never read a Gilroy script? For shame. As this is a real master of the craft, and a writer that relies on pace. Which after-all is what a good action/thriller demands. Rumour is Damon threatened to leave the film if Gilroy’s script wasn’t used and it’s easy to see why. Simple,effective and blistering storytelling.