10 Best Screenwriters Ever

Movies have great impact on our world but that wouldn't be so without the best screenwriters. Without screenwriters, there would only be people standing on a big screen, doing nothing. This is a list of 10 of the best screenwriters that ever stole the silver screen with great words–and maybe a gun fight.

  1. Woody Allen. Allen has 13 Oscars. If that doesn't scream brilliance, then nothing ever will. Those are all deserved. He is quite possibly a cinematic genuis, without whom so much would never have happened.  Check out "Take the Money and Run" (1969), "Annie Hall" (1977), "Manhattan" (1979), "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986)," Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989), and "Match Point" (2005).
  2. James Cameron. If you don't know the name then you live under a rock. Cameron is a movie-making god. He took us to an age of cyborg villians in "The Terminator" (1984) and showed us what sank the "Titanic" (1998). Though he is most famous for directing, many popular movies were penned or developed by him first. That makes him one of the best. Ever. One more word: "Avatar."
  3. Francis Ford Coppola. "The Godfather" (1972) ring a bell? What about "The Godfather Part II" (1974)? No movie list of anything would be complete without at least one of his movies.
  4. John Hughes. Hughes' death was only a few months back and he will live on forever as the creator of movies for people who want a laugh, want a lesson and want to experience the little piece of magic that is found in every piece of his writing–not to mention his directing and producing. "The Breakfast Club" (1985), "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (1986), "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (1989), "Home Alone" (1990) and "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" (1992) are only some of his legendary movies.
  5. William Goldman. Goldman got his start in screenwriting through creative writing and novels. He researched 8 years before writing "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) and compiled several of his novels to write "The Princess Bride" (1987). Other great scripts include "The Stepford Wives" (1975), "Marathon Man" (1976) and "Misery" (1990).
  6. Ernest Lehman. Lehman is best known for his work on musicals, such as "The Sound of Music" (1965) and "West Side Story" (1961). He also wrote the classics "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966) and "The King and I" (1956).  He was the first screenwriter ever to be recognized for a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Academy of Film.
  7. George Lucas. Mr. Lucas, may the force be with you. With just one little phrase Lucas created a phenomenon that changed the power of movies, the love of characters and the use of convention centers everywhere. One can only wonder if Lucas knew that "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" (1977) would spur 5 follow-up movies and a fan-base that spans over decades. Power like that puts you on this list.
  8. David Mamet. Mamet is a playwright at heart and  his movies are famous for being actor-based, meaning without a great actor who can carry dialogue, the movie would lose power. His movies include "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1981), "The Untouchables" (1987), "The Verdict" (1982) and "Wag the Dog" (1997).
  9. Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino came to Hollywood in 1992 with "Reservoir Dogs." Two years later he won an Oscar and Golden Globe for "Pulp Fiction," putting him on the proverbial map. Over the next ten years he wrote hit movies like "Natural Born Killers" (1994) and "Kill Bill Volume 1" and "Kill Bill Vol. 2" (2003-4). His next huge writing project happened with "Inglourious Basterds" (2009), scoring him a Golden Globe nomination for best screenplay and two Oscar nominations for Best Screenplay/Best Picture.
  10. Billy Wilder. Wilder started his career in 1939 with writer Charles Brackett. The two wrote movies together for over a decade. Wilder established his directorial reputation with "Double Indemnity" (1944). He diligently wrote and directed comedies through the 1950’s including "The Seven Year Itch" (1955) and "Some Like it Hot" (1959) and satires such as "The Apartment" (1960) and the romantic comedy "Sabrina" (1954).


Filmsite's 101 Greatest Screenplays

Academy's Best Screenplays and Writers

James Cameron

George Lucas

Quentin Tarantino

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