10 best screenplays, selected by our screenwriting tutors

A good script is the heartbeat of a film, shaping its narrative, characters and our emotional relationship with it.

The writer of a script takes the role of creating the universe of that film, laying the foundations of the entire filmmaking process, that guides directors, actors and crew. Without a strong script, even the most talented cast and crew may struggle to create a memorable cinematic experience. In essence, a good script is the soul of a film, dictating its success and resonance with viewers.

To celebrate our new Screenwriting courses launching in 2024, we caught up with three tutors in our School for Film & Visual Media. Screenwriting tutor Katerina Gerothanasi, Film Production Programme Lead Leandro Goddinho and Film Production tutor Filipe Matzembacher share their top ten screenplays. Dive into their recommendations of scriptwriting genius.

Mulholland Drive (2001), directed by David Lynch

Chosen by Katerina

"A true cinematic experience and deep delve in the subconscious. This film presents a seemingly incomprehensible structure, but once the puzzle pieces are put together, the result is one of the best stories in cinema history."

Watch the trailer for David Lynch's surrealist neo-noir mystery, starring Naomi Watts and Laura Harring.

The Hours (2002), directed by Stephen Daldry

Chosen by Leandro

"The film is a beautifully crafted drama that weaves together the lives of three women in different time periods, connected through Virginia Woolf's novel "Mrs. Dalloway." Its non-linear structure and portrayal of complex, nuanced characters captivate me and showcase the power of well-crafted storytelling."

Watch the trailer for Stephen Daldry's psychological drama, starring Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman.

Funeral Parade of Roses (1969), directed by Toshio Matsumoto

Chosen by Filipe

"The structure of this film is a miracle. Political, clever, metalinguistic, sumptuous and cool. A mastery of writing and cinematic language in every aspect that manages to make a subversive reading of the Oedipus King myth, but this time situated in the queer Japanese underworld."

Check out the trailer for Toshio Matsumoto's surreal queer film, starring Peter (Pîtâ).

Notes on a Scandal (2006), directed by Richard Eyre

Chosen by Leandro

"Notes on a Scandal is a gripping psychological thriller that centres on the relationship between two female teachers. The film's sharp dialogues and brilliantly portrayed characters keep the audience on the edge of their seats, challenging our moral values and delving into the complexities of human behaviour."

Watch the trailer for Richard Eyre's psychological drama, starring Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett.

Under the Skin (2013), directed by Jonathan Glazer

Chosen by Katerina

"An eerie, mysterious and captivating masterpiece from the POV of an alien. This movie describes very well what visual storytelling is!"

Watch the trailer for Jonathan Glazer's science fiction film, starring Scarlet Johansson. You can also check out this video on IMDB to understand some core ideas that went into the filming of Under the Skin and some techniques that bought the story to life.

A Woman Under the Influence (1974), directed by John Cassavetes

Chosen by Filipe

"In this essential film in cinema history, Cassavetes writes a mundane and impossible love relationship. Mundane because they are real characters, close to our everyday life, but impossible precisely because of their problems, because of the society they live in. What remains is conflict, love and an unforgettable protagonist."

Watch the trailer for John Cassavetes' drama, starring Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk. Or (if you've 2 and a half hours spare), you can watch the full film on the internet archive.

All About My Mother (1999), directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Chosen by Leandro

"As a fan of Pedro Almodóvar's work, I find both All About My Mother and Talk to Her to be masterpieces of scriptwriting. All About My Mother explores themes of identity, family, gender, and sexuality. I'm particularly passionate about how Almodovar blends elements of drama, tragedy, comedy, melodrama, thriller and all genres in the same story with geniality."

Watch the trailer for Pedro Almodóvar's comedy-drama starring Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Candela Peña, Antonia San Juan, Penélope Cruz and Rosa Maria Sardà.

First Reformed (2017), directed by Paul Schrader

Chosen by Filipe

"A film that is somewhere between a film of overwhelming faith and one of the most blasphemous films of recent years. Written by Schrader (also known for writing Taxi Driver), First Reformed tells the story of a priest who is in crisis with his faith. The priest approaches a couple obsessed with the climate crisis, the outcome is a miracle."

Watch the trailer for Paul Schrader's psychological drama, starring Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried and Cedric the Entertainer (aka Cedric Kyles).

Natural Born Killers (1994), directed by Oliver Stone

Chosen by Leandro

"Natural Born Killers is a film that has inspired me with its non-linear narrative and unique stylistic techniques. A controversial satirical take on media culture and violence in America. Its fragmented structure and use of various cinematic techniques create a sense of disorientation and chaos, making it a standout example of unconventional storytelling."

Watch the trailer for Oliver Stone's hallucinatory road-movie starring Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis.

The Lobster (2015), directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Chosen by Katerina

"Lanthimos manages to create a unique and absurd world. A funny, dark and pretty cynical story that touches upon central issues in human relationships."

Watch the trailer for Yorgos Lanthimos' surreal drama, starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz.

Katerina Gerothanasi

Katerina teaches screenwriting on our Screenwriting, Acting and Film Production BA courses. She guides students through how to build stories, characters and dialogues, as well as more demanding skills like effective self-expression through film and TV.

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About Catalyst Berlin Film Production Tutor Katerina Gerothanasi

Leandro Goddinho

Leandro is a writer, director, editor and producer as an independent filmmaker. He is the Programme Lead on our Film Production BA, teaching the Development workshop during the 2nd year and Major Project Supervision in the 1st year. He teaches on the Comparative Auteurs, Modern Cinematic Perspectives and Project Supervision modules on our Creative Production (Film) MA.

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About Catalyst Berlin Film Production Tutor Leandro Goddinho

Filipe Matzembacher

Filipe is a tutor on the Film Production BA course, where he leads workshops in screenwriting, directing, acting and film history. He draws from his experience as a screenwriter and director of award-winning feature films to guide students in both theory and practice.

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Study Screenwriting at Catalyst

At Catalyst, you'll learn the tools and techniques to bring your stories to life and apply them to the demands of writing or producing for the media industries. We value the inherently creative process of storytelling, both on the dedicated Screenwriting BA programme and across the programmes taught at all of our Schools. What better place to grow as a creative than one in which you are within arm's reach of broad-minded musicians, talented visual effects specialists, up-and-coming filmmakers and actors ready to step onto the set.

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