2013’s most promising original screenplays

Don’t listen to the jaded, nostalgic old man across the street, and spit out that Kool-Aid: original movies are not a dying breed. Stories from novels, games and comics are constantly being rehashed as movies, but a good story should be exposed to as many people as possible, not trapped in one medium. Originality does make for a more invigorating viewing, though, and more creativity never hurt anybody (though plenty of people have been emotionally scarred. Lemon party, anyone?). Here’s a guide to 2013’s most promising original screenplays.


The annual Sundance Film Festival was held in Utah a few weeks ago. Independent filmmakers from all around the world come to premiere their movies for various reasons. Most come in hopes that a major movie studio will pick the distribution for wider audiences. The various film festivals held around the world throughout the year are a deep and wide source of original movies.

The most popular movie to come out of this year’s Sundance is “The Way, Way Back.” It received a standing ovation and the rights for the movie were purchased for the most money spent at Sundance since “Little Miss Sunshine.” Fans of “Community” will recognize Jim Rash, the actor behind Dean Pelton (there’s a joke in there somewhere). He co-wrote and co-directed this comedy about a dysfunctional family.

Joseph-Gordon Levitt “” “Robin,” “Bike Messenger,” my secret crush, “Assassin” “” makes his directorial debut at Sundance with a movie he also wrote, “Don Jon’s Addiction.” Jon Martello (played by Levitt himself) is someone who objectifies everything in his life. But, not unlike the entire staff of the Trinitonian (joking of course), he has an addiction to porn that makes him dissatisfied so he goes on a mission to try to find meaning in his life.

It can be difficult to be certain which movies are truly original, but any film attached to Shane Carruth doesn’t need any research (not that I do that anyways). “Upstream Color” is about as different from “Primer,” Carruth’s last movie, as it is from any other movie ever. Explaining the story would require an article for the next dozen issues, but rest assured that those interested in microbial deities, pig farming and their minds being blown will be satisfied.


Sitting through movie previews lately has felt like being magically transported to a sad, smelly comic shop. It seems that superheroes and sci-fi have hit the mainstream. Now that these movies have collectively made a bagazillion dollars, Hollywood is far more willing to finance similar movies.

“After Earth” is an original screenplay, although everyone should be apprehensive: M. Night Shyamalan directed and “polished” the script for this movie. Someone call the Razzies.

Guillermo del Toro’s next film is all about giant robots fighting against giant monsters. “Pacific Rim” features every (appropriate) childhood fantasy. It also features GLaDOS from the “Portal” series.

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright’s third movie in their weird, crazy movie trilogy is finally here. “The World’s End” features a group of friends who decide to do a legendary pub crawl. The name of the last pub in the crawl is The World’s End, though the name becomes more apt as the night goes on.

It was tempting to create a new subsection just for “Elysium.” Neill Blomkamp’s movie after his brilliant debut, “District 9,” is set in a war-torn Earth with an off-planet paradise colony named Elysium. Matt Damon stars as a bald badass socialist out to equalize the unequal classes.

Regardless of what kind of movie you are looking for, there are outlets besides big Hollywood that are churning out exciting new material for everyone to enjoy.