Best Writing | The Best of 2015

More than any other category, the Bit Players had trouble coming to define the terms that would guide the best writing of 2015. So much goes into what makes a screenplay good: dialogue, plot, characters, pacing, and more. Even editing and acting play a huge role in what from the page ultimately makes it onto the screen, but we tried to consolidate all of those written elements that we could best deduce having read exactly zero words of an actual screenplay, combined. Therefore, our best writing of 2015 is purely speculative, assumed, and could very well be entirely wrong, but it’s more about the essence of a story and screenplay that can more than likely be presumed to be true. We did our best (if you don’t count reading as being our best)!

More than any other category, the Bit Players had trouble coming to define the terms that would guide the best writing of 2015. So much goes into what makes a screenplay good: dialogue, plot, characters, pacing, and more. Even editing and acting play a huge role in what from the page ultimately makes it onto the screen, but we tried to consolidate all of those written elements that we could best deduce having read exactly zero words of an actual screenplay, combined. Therefore, our best writing of 2015 is purely speculative, assumed, and could very well be entirely wrong, but it's more about the essence of a story and screenplay that can more than likely be presumed to be true. We did our best (if you don't count reading as being our best)!

Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer
5. Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer
Spotlight

"We got two stories here: a story about degenerate clergy, and a story about a bunch of lawyers turning child abuse into a cottage industry. Which story do you want us to write? Because we're writing one of them."
A good screenplay can make or break a film like Spotlight. So many gripping premises have been completely ruined by execution: for every one Spotlight there are at least six Sums of All Fears (coincidentally also starring Liev Schrieber), so the nimble and fast-paced portrayal of the infamous exposure of the Boston Archdioceses and Catholic Church as a whole could have gone a whole other way. Writer/director Tom McCarthy and his partner Josh Singer handle the source material with care and admiration for the Spotlight News Team, and their screenplay never lets up for a second, much like the tenacious team themselves. – Jeff Pearson
David Robert Mitchell
4. David Robert Mitchell
It Follows

"When I was a little girl my parents would not allow me to go south of 8th mile. And I did not even know what that meant until I got a little older. And I started realizing that. That was where the city started and the suburbs ended. And I used to think about how shitty and weird was that. I mean I had to ask permission to go to the state fair with my best friend and her parents only because it was a few blocks past the border."
The way It Follows so pithily and expertly sets up its mythology alone makes it some of the best horror writing in recent memory, but David Robert Mitchell's film as a whole is among a select group of films that is serving to reinvent an entire genre of film, so long maligned for poor writing and filmmaking. He's helped make horror smart, and more importantly, he's helped make horror art. – JP
Alex Garland
3. Alex Garland
Ex Machina

"Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters. It's a movie, man. You don't know that movie? A ghost gives Dan Aykroyd oral sex."
Alex Garland has been cranking out sci-fi masterpieces for a long time now, and Ex Machina is no exception. Not only does the film feature incredibly sharp dialogue between two braniacs Caleb and Nathan (Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac, respectively), the story is endlessly twisting and turning and tense, leaving you on the edge of your seat and exasperated until the very end. It's a story that offers the most surprises and philosophical conundrums of the year; in other words, it's peak Garland. – JP
Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen
2. Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen
Inside Out

"I say we lock ourselves in our room and use that one swear word we know. It's a good one!"
In a year with so many great movies derived from previous work, the most original and brilliant screenplay is even more apparent. But this writing would shine in any year. Inside Out is the perfect combination of heartfelt and hilarious. It’s also refreshing to be reminded why we hold Pixar in such high esteem. This is storytelling at its finest. – Jarryd Baxter
Aaron Sorkin
1. Aaron Sorkin
Steve Jobs

"If a fire causes a stampede to the unmarked exits, it'll have been well worth it for those who survive."
How did this guy not get an Oscar nomination for his Steve Jobs Screenplay? Aaron Sorkin is probably the MVP of the movie with his writing and is an MVP candidate in most movies he is a part of. The dialogue in this movie is engaging and a pleasure to listen to. It is fast paced, funny, and smartly written, not to mention uniquely structured. Steve Jobs is split into several product launches where Jobs is thrown into relational turmoil with his wife and daughter, his old partner (Seth Rogen), his boss, and his personal assistant. There is a lot packed into this movie but it is very well paced and ties up all its loose ends. This is not normally the type of movie I enjoy rewatching, but there’s just so much to absorb in this movie with every conversation and confrontation and several multifaceted characters. If Sorkin does not paint an accurate picture of Steve Jobs, he at least successfully paints an emotionally satisfying picture of a complex and ultimately sympathetic character. – Anders Oster
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