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50 Famous Screenwriters to Help You Learn Screenwriting

50 Famous Screenwriters to Help You Learn Screenwriting

Using scripts from famous screenwriters to learn can only help you in your screenwriting career. Reading scripts as a way to learn how to write and hone your craft can be highly effective for novices. Even if you’re a veteran in the craft, it’s important that you keep learning to become the very best that you can be. Think of it like how doctors continue to learn new practices and skills even though they’re already a seasoned doctor in the medical field.

There are many great screenwriting resources out there, but I want to focus on the 50 famous screenwriters that can teach you how to write by reading their scripts. These screenwriters are responsible for some of the most iconic films in history, and many of them are household names. Here is a list of 50 famous screenwriters, in no particular order:

1. William Goldman

First on the list of famous screenwriters is William Goldman. He wrote the screenplay for classics like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Princess Bride.

2. Francis Ford Coppola

One of the most acclaimed directors in Hollywood history, Coppola got his start as a screenwriter with films like The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.

3. Woody Allen

A renowned comedian and filmmaker, Allen has written and directed over 50 films, including Annie Hall and Manhattan.

4. Robert Towne

He wrote the screenplay for Chinatown, widely considered one of the best films ever made.

5. Oliver Stone

A controversial figure in Hollywood, Stone has written and directed some of the most iconic films of the past few decades, such as Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July.

6. Paul Schrader

Schrader is responsible for writing some of the most seminal works in cinema, including Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.

7. John Milius

A legendary figure in Hollywood, Milius has written some of the most iconic films of all time, such as Apocalypse Now and The Hunt for Red October.

8. Robert Bolt

A renowned British screenwriter, Bolt is responsible for writing classics like Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago.

9. James L. Brooks

One of the most successful writers in Hollywood, Brooks has won Oscars for films like Terms of Endearment and As Good as It Gets.

10. Nora Ephron

A highly acclaimed writer and director, Ephron is responsible for some of the most iconic romantic comedies of all time, including When Harry Met Sally… and Sleepless in Seattle.

11. Charlie Kaufman

An unconventional figure in Hollywood, Kaufman has written some of the most interesting and unique films in recent memory, such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich.

12. Ron Bass

A highly successful screenwriter, Bass has written such classics as The Joy Luck Club and My Best Friend’s Wedding.

13. Callie Khouri

The only woman on this list, Khouri is responsible for writing one of the most iconic films of the past few decades, Thelma & Louise.

14. Nancy Meyers

A prolific writer and director, Meyers is responsible for some of the most popular romantic comedies of recent years, including What Women Want and Something’s Gotta Give.

15. Elaine May

One of the most influential writers in Hollywood history, May is responsible for such classic films as The Graduate and Tootsie.

16. Diablo Cody

A relatively new figure in Hollywood, Cody burst onto the scene with her unique and interesting film Juno, for which she won an Oscar.

17. Quentin Tarantino

One of the most popular and acclaimed directors working today, Tarantino got his start as a screenwriter, penning such classics as Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.

18. Aaron Sorkin

Sorkin could never be left off a list of famous screenwriters. A highly successful writer and producer, Sorkin is responsible for some of the most iconic television shows of all time, including The West Wing and The Newsroom. He has also written several successful films, such as A Few Good Men and The Social Network.

19. Wes Anderson

One of the most distinctive voices in modern cinema, Anderson has written and directed such films as The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom.

20. Scott Alexander

One of the most prolific writers in Hollywood, Alexander has co-written such films as Ed Wood, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and Man on the Moon .

21. Alan Ball

A highly successful writer and producer, Ball is responsible for creating the iconic television show Six Feet Under, as well as writing the screenplay for American Beauty, for which he won an Oscar.

22. David O. Russell

One of the most acclaimed directors working today, Russell got his start as a screenwriter, penning such classics as Flirting with Disaster and Three Kings.

23. Jay Presson Allen

A highly successful screenwriter and director, Allen is responsible for writing and directing several classic films, including Cabaret and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

24. P.J. Hogan

A successful writer and director, Hogan is responsible for such popular films as Muriel’s Wedding and My Best Friend’s Wedding.

25. John August

A well-respected screenwriter, August has written such films as Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Frankenweenie.

26. Akiva Goldsman

A highly successful writer, Goldsman has won an Oscar for his work on A Beautiful Mind and also wrote the scripts for I Am Legend, Hancock, and The Dark Tower.

27. Shane Black

One of the most successful screenwriters in Hollywood, Black is responsible for writing such classic films as Lethal Weapon and The Predator.

28. Scott Neustadter

A highly successful screenwriter, Neustadter is known for writing the scripts for such popular films as (500) Days of Summer and The Fault in Our Stars .

29. Phil Johnston

A successful writer, Johnston is known for his work on the popular animated films Wreck-It Ralph and Zootopia .

30. Bob Gale

A successful screenwriter and director, Gale is known for his work on the popular Back to the Future film franchise, as well as co-writing the screenplay for Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

31. Phoebe Waller-Bridge

A successful writer, Waller Bridge is responsible for writing the popular TV series Crashing and Catastrophe.

32. Ehren Kruger

A successful writer and producer, Kruger is responsible for writing the scripts for such popular films as The Ring, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen , and Scream 3.

33. David Koepp

A successful screenwriter and director, Koepp is responsible for writing the scripts for such popular films as Jurassic Park and War of the Worlds.

34. Lawrence Kasdan

One of the most successful writers in Hollywood history, Kasdan is responsible for writing some of the most iconic films of all time, including The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark , and The Big Chill .

35. Anthony Minghella

A highly successful writer and director, Minghella is responsible for writing and directing such classic films as The English Patient and Cold Mountain.

36. Billy Ray

A successful writer and director, Ray is responsible for writing the scripts for such popular films as Captain Phillips and Shattered Glass.

37. James Schamus

A highly successful screenwriter and producer, Schamus is responsible for writing the scripts for such popular films as The Ice Storm and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

38. Horton Foote

A highly successful writer and actor, Foote is responsible for writing the scripts for such classics as To Kill a Mockingbird and Tender Mercies.

39. Susannah Grant

A successful screenwriter, Grant is responsible for writing the scripts for such popular films as Erin Brockovich and In Her Shoes.

40. Larry Karaszewski

A successful screenwriter, Karaszewski is responsible for writing the scripts for such popular films as Ed Wood and The People vs. Larry Flynt.

41. Carlyle Eubank

A successful writer, Eubank is responsible for writing the screenplay for the upcoming film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower.

42. Ronald Harwood

A highly successful screenwriter and director, Harwood is responsible for writing the scripts for such classics as The Dresser and Quartet .

43. Brian Helgeland

A successful screenwriter and director, Helgeland is responsible for writing and directing the Oscar-winning film L.A. Confidential and also wrote the screenplay for Robin Hood .

44. Brent Forrester

A successful writer, Forrester is responsible for writing the popular animated TV series The Simpsons and King of the Hill .

45. Christopher McQuarrie

A highly successful screenwriter and director, McQuarrie is responsible for writing and directing the popular Mission: Impossible films, as well as the Oscar-winning screenplay for The Usual Suspects .

46. Bruce Joel Rubin

A highly successful screenwriter, Rubin is responsible for writing such classics as Ghost and Jacob’s Ladder .

47. David S. Goyer

A highly successful writer, Goyer is known for his work on the Blade film franchise, as well as co-writing the screenplay for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

48. Christopher Hampton

A highly successful screenwriter, Hampton is responsible for writing the scripts for several classic films, including Dangerous Liaisons and Atonement .

49. Tom McCarthy

A highly successful writer and director, McCarthy is responsible for writing and directing such films as The Visitor, Win Win, and the Oscar-winning film Spotlight.

50. Sofia Coppola

Last on the list of famous screenwriters is Sofia Coppola. A successful writer and director, Coppola is responsible for writing and directing such films as The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, and Marie Antoinette.

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