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7 Underrated Screenplays that Deserve More Recognition

As great as it is to analyze the countless acclaimed and notable screenplays of the world, sometimes it’s worth diving into the nitty-gritty to find some true hidden gems. In this sense, I figure it’s worth highlighting seven underrated screenplays that deserve more recognition.

Although there are countless screenplays that fall under this realm, these are some of my personal favorites that no matter your script or film preference, you can learn something from it. Don’t let this article be your only spot to analyze these films, but remember to watch, read, and check out these films to learn more.

Still from 'We Need To Talk About Kevin' (2011). Photo credit: Pera Museum

Logline - The alumni cast of a space opera television series have to play their roles as the real thing when an alien race needs their help. However, they also have to defend both Earth and the alien race from a reptilian warlord.

Galaxy Quest is a classic Sci-Fi comedy that takes everything there is to love about comedies with some Sci-Fi tropes to tag along with it. Starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, and Daryl Mitchell, the film is a parody of and a tribute to science-fiction movies and TV shows, with a special focus on Star Trek and its dedicated fan base.

It tells the story of the actors from a fictional cult TV series called Galaxy Quest, who unexpectedly find themselves embroiled in a genuine interstellar conflict. The catalyst for this extraordinary situation is a group of real extraterrestrial beings who mistakenly believe that the television show is a factual documentary. The writing is simple, to the point, and is a great family film, no matter your age.

Logline - Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband and father questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself.

On a more serious note, Take Shelter is a hyper-serious psychological thriller film that stars Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain in lead roles. The story revolves around a young man who is married and has children and becomes tormented by a series of unsettling visions that hint at an impending apocalypse.

As he grapples with these haunting visions, he finds himself torn between protecting his family from an impending storm or shielding them from his own deteriorating mental state, as he becomes increasingly concerned about the possibility of having paranoid schizophrenia. The film’s a great example of how to write a serious storyline without drilling it to the point where it’s lousy.

Logline - Kevin's mother struggles to love her strange child despite the increasingly dangerous things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be beyond anything anyone imagined.

Going back to back with serious storytelling, we have We Need to Talk About Kevin, a film that touches on a mother struggling to love her sociopathic son. It’s a daunting film that isn’t for the faint of heart and touches on themes that few films would ever dare to consider.

Logline - An unlikely friendship between two misfit neighbors becomes an unexpectedly emotional journey when the younger man is diagnosed with terminal cancer.

As great as Paddleton is with its leads being Mark Duplass and Ray Romano, few films achieve the depths of emotional influence and tragic humor than Paddleton. The writing is brilliant, allowing the serious parts to breathe while letting the situational comedic parts to blossom at ease.

Logline - An awkward seventh-grader struggles to cope with inattentive parents, snobbish class-mates, a smart older brother, an attractive younger sister and her own insecurities in suburban New Jersey.

If you’re in the indie space, you’ve definitely heard of Todd Solondz. Solondz has made quite a few films over the years, with Welcome to the Dollhouse being one of his best. What makes this film so special is its ability to be sprawling yet not daunting in the slightest. You’re interested in every character’s story and that’s what makes it so special writing-wise.

Logline - Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment embark on a week-long road trip through California's wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle.

Sideways is a classic case of a film that reached great heights around its release but isn’t as notable in a contemporary setting for whatever reason. The film is one of the best dark comedies ever made and showcases the proper way to have two conflicting characters around each other at all times.

Logline - Nicky is on the run from the mob, and he turns to old pal Mikey for help.

Without good dialogue, your film is nothing (unless it’s silent of course). Mikey and Nicky has brilliant dialogue that moves the story ahead and creates the case for why characters are so notable in film. Dialogue is important so don’t forget about it!


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