Even though high production value and an all-star cast can elevate your film or television series, the script, its direction and the meaning hidden in its lines of dialogue are what matters the most. With 2019 behind us, it’s time to look back at the greatest screenwriting achievements and the lessons we can learn from their creators.
While these names and their success stories are in no particular order, you can rest assured that each of them is worthy of standing on its own as a crown jewel of screenwriting for 2019. With that out of the way, let’s jump right into it.
- Edward Norton – Motherless Brooklyn
“Motherless Brooklyn” represents an adaptation of the 1999 manuscript by the same name about a detective with a Tourette’s syndrome and his life in New York. While Edward Norton is a famous actor with a very successful Hollywood career under his belt, “Motherless Brooklyn” represents a step-up from his comfort zone as the movie itself was 20 years in the making.
The passion with which Mr. Norton handles the screenwriting duty of a modern film-noir is nothing short of breathtaking. The writer cites Spike Lee as his main influence given the script’s subject matter and tone. Rounding out his cast of colleagues are Alec Baldwin, Bruce Willis and Willem Defoe to name a few, ensuring that the performance, atmosphere and message of “Motherless Brooklyn” resonate with the audience as much as they did with Norton himself.
- Krysty Wilson-Cairns – 1917
The Great War represents a very delicate and impactful subject matter when tackled with an artistic flair and empathy. With the release of past winter’s “1917”, screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns showcased both, transcending her duties as a writer and imbuing depth and compassion into this war story. Ms. Krysty cites Spielberg and Boyle as her main influences when it comes to historical accuracy (former) and stylistic approach (the latter) to the script.
Michele Steele, Head of Writing Department at Supreme Dissertations had this to say on “1917’s” script: “The amalgamation of different influences, passion for filmmaking and honor for historic accuracy can clearly be seen in “1917” through and through. With themes of camaraderie and horrors of war blended with artistic cinematography, it’s no wonder that Krysty Wilson-Cairns’ script fires on all cylinders (pun intended).”
- Jordan Peele – Us
The social status of African-American citizens has been a subject of both artistic and historic debate for decades – and for a good reason. While there has been some progress in creating a society of equality and understanding on the global level, we still hear of instances where race and color impact one’s ability to be a full member of modern society. This is what makes Jordan Peele’s “Us” such an impactful and important screenplay in 2019. Even though Peele is slowly becoming a master in the horror genre with his work on “Get Out” and “The Twilight Zone”, his work is layered with deep meaning and appreciation for society as a whole.
Themes of identity, individualism and one’s place in the world are carefully explored and tackled in a way which communicates Peele’s unrest with today’s public perception of racial equality. Matriculate script editing and writing such as this can also be achieved by aficionados such as you via dedicated platforms such as Best Essay Education and Evernote respectively. Regardless of what the future holds for Mr. Peele’s future screenwriting endeavors, pieces such as “Us” remind us that passion and social awareness come before commercial filmmaking which has become a staple of the modern Hollywood industry.
- Dan Hernandez & Benji Samit – Detective Pikachu
Video game adaptations have had a rough history in Hollywood for decades. The same can be said for properties which originated in Asian territories and tried to find an audience in the West via the big screen (such as the recent adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell” starring Scarlet Johansson). However, the dynamic duo of Dan Hernandez and his colleague Benji Samit managed to pull off the impossible and attract both Eastern and Western audiences to cinemas across the globe with “Detective Pikachu”.
While the Pokémon franchise is renowned for its games, animated TV series and manga, the live-action debut of Pikachu starring Ryan Reynolds became a smash-hit shortly after launch. The screenwriters found inspiration in the work of Mel Brooks and George Lucas, both of which have known to insert lighthearted comedy and themes of family and friendship into their creations. On top of that, they are fans of detective stories and mystery radio shows in general, which created the perfect mix of personal investment and the desire to communicate an inspiring message of hope and discovery to the audience.
- Todd Phillips & Scott Silvers – Joker
Comic book movies have taken on a life of their own in recent years, with titles such as “Avengers: Endgame” smashing box office records and making history while doing so. The Joker, who is Batman’s antagonist in DC properties, received his standalone movie in 2019 and managed to garner 11 Oscar nominations as a result. What makes “Joker’s” screenplay different from other comic book movies of the year? Director and screenwriter Todd Phillips (joined by Scott Silvers) set out to tell a stand-alone story of a man falling into the depths of madness, depression and loneliness.
Bolstered by Joaquin Phoenix’s stellar performance, this period piece serves a multitude of purposes on the film market saturated by commercialized products created for no reason other than to make a profit. Achieving a level of artistic originality and depth of storytelling in your own screenwriting activities can be achieved by relying on platforms such as WoWGrade and Hemingway to streamline your writing and make it more impactful. The film’s deep meaning unreliable narration and mysterious story managed to captivate both critics and audiences alike with its intimate and not-at-all cynical take on the popular villain’s backstory. Whether you are a fan of comic books or simply want to see a passionate filmmaker create an unexpected, disruptive work of art in today’s Hollywood climate, look no further than “Joker” in 2019.
The past year has been exceptional when it came to cinematic achievements, both on the big screen and on streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. With 2020 slowly underway, we can look forward to even more exciting screenplays adapted for our movie-going pleasure. Let us know about your top picks for the best screenwriters of 2019 in the comments section below! Until then, make sure to enjoy every movie or series you catch with a critical eye.