To get good at anything, you need to study it and practice it. If you want to be a screenwriter, you need to not only write screenplays, but also watch and study movies.
The more movies you can study, the more you’ll understand how to tell a story in film. Quentin Tarantino used to work at a video rental store so he could spend all his spare time watching movies for free. Unless you’re already rich, watching movies in a theater will likely be way too expensive. Besides the high cost of theater tickets, most of the latest movies are simply not worth watching. Instead, it’s cheaper and easier to wait for people to tell you whether a movie os good or not, and then if enough people seem to like a movie, then go see it in a theater. Seeing a movie in a real theater lets you immerse yourself in that story.
I saw “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Hurt Locker” in a theater and those visual images were far superior to watching them on a regular TV screen through a DVD. Still, going to the theater is expensive, so unless you rent movies from Redbox or Netflix, here are some free alternatives: Crackle and Hulu all offer a variety of bad movies along with an occasional great movie from the past. With both sites, you can watch movies for free (as long as you can tolerate the ads), but if you see a movie that you like, watch it quickly because they constantly rotate their selections.
Another free source of movies is your public library. The library has both VHS tapes and DVDs in varying states of wear and tear.
Since Hollywood cranks out so many movies every week, you probably don’t want to watch a movie at random because chances are good you’ll waste your time watching a bad one. To help find good movies, just use Wikipedia to search for each year’s list of Academy Award nominated movies. Look for the movies that were nominated for Best Picture along with Best Actor/Actress and Screenplay.
By studying Oscar-nominated films, you can spend more time watching and examining quality films and less time watching garbage films. By using the list of past Academy Award nominated films, you can easily find the better movies to watch whether you find them at your library or on sites like Crackle or Hulu.
The lesson is that old movies have a lot to teach you, so study the best of the old movies, avoid the latest barrage of garbage films every week, and be selective. There’s only so much time in the world, so you can either watch great movies or waste your time watching crappy movies.