Best Screenplay

[10] The day before her second wedding, a priggish socialite (Katharine Hepburn) entangles with her ex-husband (Cary Grant) and a tabloid journalist (Jimmy Stewart), causing an identity crisis that threatens to derail the ceremony. Does she really want to marry a man who sees her as an infallible goddess? Or does she want someone who will let her put her hair down and love her …

[7] Director Adam McKay (Vice, Don’t Look Up) adapts Michael Lewis’ bestselling novel about the men who predicted the 2008 mortgage implosion and near-collapse of the world economy. If this sounds like dreary, heady, political stuff, that’s because it is. But McKay tackles the material with enough irreverence and off-beat humor to make it palatable… or as palatable as the triumph of capitalist greed can …

[9] Chinatown is the name of the movie, but only a short final scene takes place there. One could argue the film is a journey to its namesake, but even that’s not enough to explain the title. In a rare intimate scene in the film, Jack Nicholson tells Faye Dunaway about his time as a cop working in Chinatown. He tried to help a woman, …

[7] Katharine Hepburn had never acted with Henry Fonda before, and Fonda had never acted with his daughter Jane. On Golden Pond united the three screen legends for their first and only film together. Hepburn and the elder Fonda play an old couple vacationing at a rustic lake cabin. Fonda has had heart problems and is preoccupied with his own mortality, while Hepburn enjoys picking …

[8] Socially-conscious filmmaker Stanley Kramer (Inherit the Wind, Judgment at Nuremberg) made an impact early in his directing career with this dramatic chase story of two escaped convicts evading authorities while chained together at the wrists. The twist? One prisoner’s white and the other’s black. This poetic plot point allows The Defiant Ones to address racism in America while also delivering as a tense cat …

[8] Writer/director Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt) takes us on a trip through California wine country with two middle-aged college buddies in Sideways, based on a novel by Rex Pickett. Paul Giamatti plays a divorced junior high school teacher suffering from depression and anxiety whose dream of becoming a published author is about the only thing keeping him going. Thomas Haden Church is a somewhat …

[6] George Cukor directs Katharine Hepburn as Jo March in one of the earliest screen adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, a chronicle of the lives and loves of four sisters growing up in New England during the Civil War. There’s intrinsic nostalgia and sentimentality to the storytelling, but Cukor never lets the film become maudlin. That’s largely owed to Hepburn’s contribution. The then-controversial …

[8] Stanley Kramer (Inherit the Wind, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner) directs an impressive roster of talent in this dramatization of four Nazi judges on trial for war crimes in occupied Germany. Spencer Tracy leads the cast as the American judge summoned to preside over the case. While considering passionate arguments from the prosecution (Richard Widmark) and defense (Maximilian Schell), he spends his evenings developing …

[8] Jimmy Stewart gives a career-defining performance in this Frank Capra classic about a celebrated boy scout leader (Stewart) who gets chosen to fill a deceased senator’s seat in the U.S. congress. His party assumes Stewart will be a doting yes-man, seriously underestimating his sense of duty and patriotism. When he introduces legislation that conflicts with a corrupt land deal, the party tries to take …

[8] Joaquin Phoenix stars in writer/director Spike Jonze’s sci-fi romance about a divorced man who falls in love with a computer operating system. Her takes place in a not-so-distant future in which society has become increasingly reliant on technology to fulfill our emotional needs. Phoenix’s operating system, named Samantha and voiced by Scarlett Johansson, is constantly evolving. Like a human being, she learns from trial …

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