Top Screenwriters

In no particular order, these are screenwriters I consider to be the best, many of them being among my favourites.
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1.
Billy Wilder
Originally planning to become a lawyer, Billy Wilder abandoned that career in favor of working as a reporter for a Viennese newspaper, using this experience to move to Berlin, where he worked for the city's largest tabloid. He broke into films as a screenwriter in 1929, and wrote scripts for many German films until Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933...
 
2.
Richard Linklater
Director, Before Sunset
Self-taught writer-director Richard Stuart Linklater was born in Houston, Texas, to Diane Margaret (Krieger), who taught at a university, and Charles W. Linklater III. Richard was among the first and most successful talents to emerge during the American independent film renaissance of the 1990s. Typically setting each of his movies during one 24-hour period...
“ Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight ” - scarangel
 
3.
Ethan Hawke
Actor, Gattaca
Ethan Hawke is an American actor, writer and director. He has been nominated for four Academy Awards, both as an actor and a writer, and a Tony Award. Hawke has directed two feature films, three Off-Broadway plays, and a documentary, and wrote the novels The Hottest State (1996) and Ash Wednesday (2002)...
“ Before Sunset, Before Midnight ” - scarangel
 
4.
Julie Delpy
Actress, Before Sunset
Julie Delpy was born in Paris, France, in 1969 to Albert Delpy and Marie Pillet, both actors. She was first featured in Jean-Luc Godard's Détective at the age of fourteen. She has starred in many American and European productions since then, including Disney's The Three Musketeers, Killing Zoe...
“ Before Sunset, Before Midnight ” - scarangel
 
5.
Spike Jonze
Producer, Her
Spike Jonze made up one-third (along with Andy Jenkins and Mark Lewman) of the triumvirate of genius minds behind Dirt Magazine, the brother publication of the much lamented ground-breaking Sassy Magazine. These three uncommon characters were all editors for Grand Royal Magazine as well, under...
“ Her ” - scarangel
 
6.
Charlie Kaufman
Avid reader Charlie Kaufman wrote plays and made short films as a young student. He moved from Massapequa, New York to West Hartford, Connecticut in 1972 where he attended high school. As a comedic actor, he performed in school plays and, after graduation, he enrolled at Boston University but soon transferred NYU to study film...
“ Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ” - scarangel
 
7.
Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin grew up in Scarsdale, a suburb of New York City where he was very involved in his high school drama and theater club. After graduating from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater, Sorkin intended to pursue a career in acting. It took him only a short time to realize that his true love...
“ The Social Network, A Few Good Men ” - scarangel
 
8.
Diablo Cody
Writer, Juno
Diablo Cody is originally from Chicago, Illinois, and moved to Minnesota to live with her Internet boyfriend, Jonny who later became her husband. While there, she decided on a whim to take up stripping as a hobby of sorts. She was working at an ad agency and got a promotion. The job wore her ragged and was something she did not particularly care for...
“ Juno ” - scarangel
 
9.
“ Beasts of the Southern Wild ” - scarangel
 
10.
Cameron Crowe
Certainly idiosyncratic as a writer, Cameron Crowe has created a series of scripts that, while liked by the critics, were considered offbeat and difficult to market. Cameron Bruce Crowe was born in Palm Springs, California, to Alice Marie Crowe (née George), a teacher and activist, and James A. Crowe...
“ Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire ” - scarangel
 
11.
Nora Ephron
Nora Ephron was educated at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. She was an acclaimed essayist (Crazy Salad 1975), novelist (Heartburn 1983), and had written screenplays for several popular films, all featuring strong female characters, such as anti-nuclear activist Karen Silkwood (Silkwood, co-written...
 
12.
Christopher McQuarrie
Christopher McQuarrie is an acclaimed producer, director and an Academy Award® winning writer. McQuarrie grew up in Princeton Junction, New Jersey and in lieu of college, he spent the first five years out of school traveling and working at a detective agency. He later moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film...
 
16.
Quentin Tarantino
Writer, Pulp Fiction
Quentin Jerome Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. His father, Tony Tarantino, is an Italian-American actor and musician from New York, and his mother, Connie (McHugh), is a nurse from Tennessee. Quentin moved with his mother to Torrance, California, when he was four years old. In January of 1992...
 
17.
Joss Whedon
Writer, The Avengers
Joss Whedon is the middle of five brothers - his younger brothers are Jed Whedon and Zack Whedon. Both his father, Tom Whedon and his grandfather, John Whedon were successful television writers. Joss' mother, Lee Stearns, was a history teacher and she also wrote novels as Lee Whedon...
 
18.
Woody Allen
Writer, Annie Hall
Woody Allen was born Allan Stewart Konigsberg on December 1, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York, to Nettie (Cherrie), a bookkeeper, and Martin Konigsberg, a waiter and jewellery engraver. His father was of Russian Jewish descent, and his maternal grandparents were Austrian Jewish immigrants. As a young boy...
 
19.
Noah Baumbach
Born in Brooklyn in 1969 Noah Baumbach is the son of two film critics, Georgia Brown and Jonathan Baumbach (also a writer). His studies at Vassar College were the subject of his first film (made as he was 26 years old), Kicking and Screaming. His second major picture, made ten years later, The Squid and the Whale was no less autobiographical but went back further in his personal history...
 
21.
Simon Beaufoy
Born in Keighley, West Yorkshire. He attended Malsis School in Cross Hills Ermysted's Grammar School at Skipton, later he attended Sedbergh School in Cumbria. He has read English at St Peter's College, Oxford and graduated from the Arts Institute at Bournemouth. In 2009 he won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire, also winning a Golden Globe and a BAFTA award.
 
22.
Paddy Chayefsky
Writer, Network
Author, producer and composer who earned a Bachelor of Science degree from CCNY, then a Purple Heart during World War II while serving in the US Army. Joining ASCAP in 1955, his chief musical collaborators included George Bassman and Harry Warren. His popular-song compositions include "Marty" and "Middle of the Night".
 
23.
William Goldman
Screenwriter, novelist, playwright, non-fiction author. Born in Highland Park, Illinois, USA, began his career as a novelist in 1957. Started writing screenplays in 1965 with "Masquerade". A two-time Academy Award Winner, he is one of the most successful screenwriters and script doctors in Hollywood.
 
24.
Sofia Coppola
Writer, Somewhere
Sofia Coppola was born on May 14, 1971 in New York City, New York, USA as Sofia Carmina Coppola. She is a director, known for Somewhere, Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette. She has been married to Thomas Mars since August 27, 2011. They have two children. She was previously married to Spike Jonze.
 
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26.
Ben Affleck
Producer, Argo
American actor and filmmaker Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt was born on August 15, 1972 in Berkeley, California, and was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His mother, Chris Anne (née Boldt), is a school teacher, and his father, Timothy Byers Affleck, is a social worker; the two are divorced. Ben has a younger brother...
 
27.
Matt Damon
Matthew Paige Damon was born on October 8, 1970, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Kent Damon, a stockbroker, realtor and tax preparer, and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early childhood education professor at Lesley University. Matt has an older brother named Kyle who is now a sculptor. His father is of English and Scottish descent...
 
29.
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola was born in 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up in a New York suburb in a creative, supportive Italian-American family. His father, Carmine Coppola, was a composer and musician. His mother, Italia Coppola (née Pennino), had been an actress. Francis Ford Coppola graduated with a degree in drama from Hofstra University...
 
30.
Mario Puzo
Mario Puzo was born October 15, 1920, in "Hell's Kitchen" on Manhattan's (NY) West Side and, following military service in World War II, attended New York's New School for Social Research and Columbia University. His best-known novel, "The Godfather," was preceded by two critically acclaimed novels...
 
31.
Gary Ross
Gary Ross is an American writer, director and actor born November 3rd, 1956 in Los Angeles, California. His father was screenwriter Arthur A. Ross (1920 - 2008). After writing for television series The Hitchhiker in 1986, Ross broke through by penning the Tom Hanks hit Big, his first screenplay to be made into a feature film...
 
32.
Christopher Nolan
Born in London in 1970, Christopher Nolan began making films at the age of seven years using his father's Super-8 camera and an assortment of male action figures. He graduated to making films involving real people, and his Super-8 surrealistic short 'Tarantella' was shown on P.B.S.' 'image union' in 1989...
 
33.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Anderson was born in 1970. He was one of the first of the "video store" generation of film-makers. His father was the first man on his block to own a V.C.R., and from a very early age Anderson had an infinite number of titles available to him. While film-makers like Spielberg cut their teeth making 8 mm films, Anderson cut his teeth shooting films on video and editing them from V.C.R. to V.C.R...
 
34.
Dalton Trumbo
Writer, Spartacus
Dalton Trumbo, the Oscar-winning screenwriter, arguably the most talented, most famous of the blacklisted film professionals known to history as the Hollywood 10, was born in Montrose, Colorado to Orus Trumbo and his wife, the former Maud Tillery. Dalton Trumbo was raised at 1124 Gunnison Ave. in Grand Junction...
 
35.
Orson Welles
His father was a well-to-do inventor, his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died (he was seven) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr...
 
36.
Herman J. Mankiewicz
Writer, Citizen Kane
Herman J. Mankiewicz, now known primarily as the man who co-wrote Citizen Kane with Hollywood's greatest wunderkind, Orson Welles, was one of the highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood and the head of Paramount's screen-writing department in the late 1920s and early '30s. He reached the pinnacle of his craft soon after arriving in Hollywood...
 
38.
Oliver Stone
Director, Platoon
Oliver Stone has become known as a master of controversial subjects and a legendary film maker. His films are filled with a variety of film angles and styles, he pushes his actors to give Oscar-worthy performances, and despite his failures, has always returned to success. William Oliver Stone was born in New York City...
 
39.
Wes Anderson
Wesley Wales Anderson was born in Houston, Texas. His mother, Texas Ann (Burroughs), is an archaeologist turned real estate agent, and his father, Melver Leonard Anderson, worked in advertising and PR. He has two brothers, Eric and Mel. Anderson's parents divorced when he was a young child, an event that he described as the most crucial event of his brothers and his growing up...
 
40.
Charles Brackett
Writer, Sunset Blvd.
Charles Brackett, born in Saratoga Springs, New York, of Scottish ancestry, followed in his attorney-father's footsteps and graduated with a law degree from Harvard University in 1920. He practised law for several years, before commencing work as drama critic for The New Yorker (1925-29), in addition to submitting short stories to The Saturday Evening Post...