Following a vintage year for original and adapted screenplays, Screen canvassed leading industry figures and our own critics to find out which screenplay has impressed them most over the past decade

Meta Louise Foldager, Zentropa, Denmark

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind [Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth]. I admired the mind that created that script. It felt like the writer was guiding — or luring — me gently through an imaginative, clever and unpredictable treasure hunt, with food for thought as the ultimate reward.”

David Linde, Focus Features, US

“Because they gave the audience a riveting communal experience, for very different reasons, Inception [Christopher Nolan] and Four Lions [Chris Morris, Simon Blackwell, Sam Bain, Jesse Armstrong] get my vote today.”

Philippe Rousselet, Vendome Pictures, France

The Social Network [Aaron Sorkin]. A great script. So well written, so clever and so entertaining.”

Clare Stewart, Sydney Film Festival

“I heart Me And You And Everyone We Know because Miranda July’s vision is both uncompromising and accessible. The script is idiosyncratic and particular while the film’s scope is universal. The syncopated dialogue exposes absurdity and humour in everyday life and is penned with a romantic heart and because it loves people of all ages and is true to their inner secrets and impulses.”

Rebecca O’Brien, Sixteen Films, UK

“I’m always attracted to stories which subvert the medium. For that reason I’d go for Memento or Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and probably, on balance, Memento [Christopher Nolan]. I still don’t know how it really works apart from going backwards, but it had my brain in knots for days and the tension of being away from the familiar and genuinely not knowing how it could end was incredibly effective. Such a brilliantly simple concept and yet such a brain-scrambler.”

Patrice Theroux, Entertainment One, Canada

Memento is told in the most innovative way. Summit organised a screening for us just prior to the Toronto film festival. We had many of our distribution execs in attendance and one walked in late, 20 minutes into the film. He sat down and asked, ‘What did I miss?’ The conclusion: don’t show up 20 minutes late to a film by Chris Nolan!”

Jeremy Thomas, RPC, UK

The Diving Bell And The Butterfly by Ronald Harwood. It turned the impossible into reality, with Julian Schnabel’s artist’s touch.”

Cameron Bailey, Toronto International Film Festival

“Steve McQueen’s Hunger [Enda Walsh, McQueen]. This is a movie that knows when to shut up and when to talk. It does both brilliantly.”

Ashok Amritraj, Hyde Park Entertainment, US

“My pick would be Memento. The screenplay by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan was extremely original. It was a high concept, commercial idea which also translated to festival fans.”

Eric Lagesse, Pyramide Films, France

A History Of Violence [Josh Olson]. That script allowed David Cronenberg to make a 100% David Cronenberg movie. This is what I loved. A History Of Violence is a mix of all genres — comedy, cartoon, drama, pathos, thriller and psychological thriller… and it jumps from one genre to the other without any shock, just naturally.”

Bonnie Arnold, producer, US

“Simple stories, complex characters and smart dialogue are the qualities of my favourite films. Nick Hornby’s screenplay for An Education achieves all that and more. A great script that works on many levels.”

Duncan Kenworthy, Toledo Films, UK

Toy Story 3 [John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich, Michael Arndt] is one of those perfect films that holds you with its storytelling skills and moves you at the same time… And does it all with toys, drawings, humour, great characters and a clever story. Brilliant.”

Cameron McCracken, Pathé UK

“I read Brokeback Mountain [Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana] before the film was made. Though I, wrongly, didn’t believe a film based on that script could work commercially, I thought it was a brilliant adaptation. I knew Annie Proulx’s short story, so I appreciated the skill with which such a simple, devastating tale had been evolved into a fully fleshed drama without obscuring its emotional truth. It was incredibly delicate and incredibly moving.”

Noah Cowan, Toronto International Film Festival

“I admire films which are really careful about how words are deployed, which give performance, effects and camera the room to breathe. From a Hollywood perspective, Tony Gilroy scripts do this really effectively, especially the Bourne films. From an indie perspective, Kelly Reichardt’s films — Old Joy and Wendy And Lucy — I find very precise in their use of language.”

Sarah Radclyffe, producer, UK

“It has to be The Social Network, a totally engaging and intriguing film about characters I personally was predisposed to dislike intensely!”

Jonathan King, Participant Media, US

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind [Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, Pierre Bismuth]. It operates on so many levels of meaning and metaphor it transcends the bounds of its premise. The script touches countless points of love and pathos, exhilarating joy and crushing despair. It’s so human. I laugh and cry just thinking about it.”

Allan Hunter, Screen critic

Talk To Her by Pedro Almodovar, which won him the Oscar and the Bafta. A beautifully written piece of storytelling with an ingenious interwoven structure, compelling, emotionally involving characters and an originality that never falters.”

Mace Neufeld, producer, US

“I wondered how anyone could make a feature based on the Aron Ralston story and keep me totally involved. Then I saw Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours [Boyle and Simon Beaufoy] and read the screenplay. It was a revelation.”

Dan Fanairu, Screen critic

“Michael Haneke’s Hidden is probably the best example of a highly sophisticated piece of writing, dismantling the facade of a mystery thriller to create a masterful portrait of guilt tormenting Western civilisation.”

Brent Simon, Screen critic

“I’ll say Sideways. It’s rare, the film so perfectly bittersweet it can put a smile on your face even as it simultaneously puts a bit of a lump in your throat or a pang of wincing recognition on your face. But that’s the case with Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne’s work, which exists at the perfect intersection of snappish fun and modulated gravity.”

Fionnuala Halligan, Screen critic

“I am going to say The Social Network [Aaron Sorkin]. It’s so damned good, it’s breathtaking. It raises the art to a new level and will almost definitely be regarded as a high-water mark, like, say, its namesake Network.”