What Screenwriter Will Immediately Draw You to a Movie?

What Screenwriter Will Immediately Draw You to a Movie?

Apr 21, 2014

One movie premiering this week at the Tribeca Film Festival that has gotten a lot of attention is In Your Eyes. The reason isn't necessarily because of great buzz (though it's getting decent reviews) or who stars in it (Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl-David) or who directed it (relative unknown Brin Hill) or even because it was just announced as being immediately available to rent through Vimeo On Demand following its debut in New York. The biggest reason for its attention is who wrote it: Joss Whedon.

It's not that common these days for writers to be the main draw for a movie, not unless they're also the director. Consistently notable scribes like Woody Allen, Quentin Tarantino, the Coen brothers, Sofia Coppola, Mike Leigh, David Mamet and many more who also helm their own scripts are simply seen as draws for being auteurs. Some of them started out writing for others but rarely do so since they got established as full filmmakers. 

One of those rare occasions previously occurred two years ago with Whedon's coscripting of The Cabin in the Woods, a movie many of us anticipated because of his involvement. This year I'm not alone in being very excited about Unbroken, not so much because it stars and is directed by Angelina Jolie but because the screenplay was cowritten by Joel and Ethan Coen (from prior drafts by names in their own right, Richard LaGravenese and Willliam Nicholson). 

And now that it's been revealed that Steven Spielberg had a hand in writing the story for The Goonies 2, the long-delayed sequel suddenly has an unexpected appeal that should make us more interested. Not that Spielberg is really thought of as a screenwriter, and this doesn't quite count anyway, back in the '80s it was likewise a draw to see his name as a writer on Poltergeist and the first Goonies. If he's as involved with this as he was those, it almost might as well be an actual Spielberg movie.

It has been a while since a newcomer arrived on the scene as solely a screenwriter of note the way Charlie Kaufman did 15 years ago, but while they also direct, Phil Lord and Chris Miller should be recognized for the way they elevate expectations for their creative contributions to properties we wouldn't otherwise be interested in. Rumor of them being attached to Ghostbusters 3 built that sequel's anticipation level, though it would have been much higher had it be announced they were writing the script, regardless of whether they were directing.

I have to name one foreign favorite who has written a number of great Brazilian films and has yet to make his directorial debut (if that's even of interest to him): Braulio Mantovani, best known for scripting City of God, its TV spin-off City of Men, Elite Squad, Elite Squad 2, The Year My Parents Went on Vacation, the documentary Bus 174 and its narrative remake Last Stop 174


Which screenwriters will immediately draw you to a movie?

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