Inspiration station: Download the best Cannes movie screenplays for free
The simplest way to learn about the craft is from the work of other screenwriters. There are endless sources of inspiration that can be found by studying and analyzing the traits and stylistic techniques of your favorite artists, helping you to fine-tune your script and discover new ways to make it stand out from the crowd. Check out our list of the best Cannes movie screenplays from over the years.
Screenplay by Damien Chazelle
Writer and director Chazelle (La La Land) triumphed with his 2014 music-themed epic, receiving rave reviews after screening in the Directors’ Fortnight at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. Starring Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now) as a promising young drummer who enters a cutthroat music conservatory and becomes the student of an even more cutthroat instructor (J.K. Simmons), the script is filled with as much energy as Teller’s climatic performance.
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Screenplay by Woody Allen
Controversy aside, Allen (Annie Hall) is a talented screenplay writer, which can be seen in his script for Hannah and Her Sisters featuring a balanced blend of comedy and heavy existential themes. The film itself tells the intertwined stories of an extended family over two years that begins and ends with a Thanksgiving dinner and was lauded at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival where it screened in the Out Of Competition category.
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
Screenplay by Steven Soderbergh
The innovative director made his provocative feature debut at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival, simultaneously blowing audiences away, snatching the prestigious Palme d’Or, and ushering in a new wave of indie cinema. Just another day in the life of one of Hollywood’s most innovative auteurs! A monumentally important screenplay, Soderbergh’s script is an elegant, witty portrayal of contemporary perversity and is well worth a study.
No Country For Old Men (2007)
Screenplay by Joel & Ethan Coen
The Coen brothers (True Grit) are always a good foundation from which to study. If you haven’t already, check out their script adaptation from Cormac McCarthy’s same-name novel that sees violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon more than two million dollars in cash and a drug deal gone wrong.
The neo-western / neo-noir thriller premiered in competition at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and went on to win four honors at the 80th Academy Awards – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and (what we’re here for) Best Adapted Screenplay.
It Follows (2014)
Screenplay by David Robert Mitchell
Writer-director Mitchell debuted his supernatural thriller at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where it was well-received by audiences and critics alike. The first film in quite some time to offer a unique imagining of the ghost-story genre, the premise is as original, terrifying, and inspiring as its script. Horror writers, take note!
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie
The screenplay for this masterfully complex story was developed from one of McQuarrie’s previously unproduced scripts and boy, was it worth the effort. The neo-noir crime thriller – which was shown Out Of Competition at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival – is a masterclass in intricate storytelling, weaving the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle, which began when five criminals met at a seemingly random police lineup.
Screenplay by Dan Gilroy
An unfinished version of Nightcrawler was screened at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival where it was well received and sparked a bidding war between several distribution companies before gaining acquisition from Open Road Films. According to Script Reader, Gilroy had the idea for the film way back in 1988, but spent years developing the story. “In order to break with stereotype, though, he finally hit upon the idea of creating an ‘anti-hero success story’ and the result is this exceptional (slugline free) screenplay.”