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By Christopher Osterndorf · February 26, 2018
With February almost over, it’s safe to say that 2018 is well on its way, and so is the year in film. Sundance has concluded, launching a few movies that’ll surely make waves in the months ahead, and with mere days until Oscar night, the annual cycle of buzz, acclaim, and awards for the new year has been intense. For writers, it’s crazy to think that the big scripts of 2018 are already out there, but of course, that’s the way the industry works.
The following is a list of names you can expect to hear big things about in the next year, not all of whom will even have movies released. But based on the work they’ve already done, these are the writers whose scripts are going to float around Hollywood as the hottest tickets in town, likely to either get made or generate future work. Cheers to them, and to someone reading this right now ending up on next year’s list.
Here are the top ten (okay, thirteen) screenwriters to look out for in 2018:
As the daughter of NYPD Blue and Deadwood creator David Milch, Olivia Milch was basically screenwriting royalty from birth. In June, the first film Milch co-wrote, and one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, Ocean’s 8, will hit theaters, which is a pretty auspicious way to start a career. But Milch isn’t just working in blockbuster territory. 2018 will also see the release of Dude, a comedy which she not only co-wrote but directed as well.
Geneva Robertson-Dworet’s slate for the next couple of years is nothing short of staggering. First, there’s the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, due to bow on March 16. Then 2019 will see the arrival of Captain Marvel, the Brie Larsen-led superhero movie likely to be the next big franchise-launcher in the MCU. But that’s not the only comic book project Robertson-Dworet is involved with. She’s also set to pen the DC adaptation, Gotham City Sirens. On top of all that, Robertson-Dworet is also attached to Sherlock Holmes 3, Dungeons and Dragons, and several other high profile projects. With so many projects on the horizon, it’s safe to say that no matter how Tomb Raider is received next month, you’re going to be hearing her name for a while.
Joe Robert Cole has been around for a couple of years, cutting his teeth on Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story, as well as writing and directing the indie Amber Lake in 2011. But this is the year his career is likely to explode, thanks mostly to what is sure to be one of the biggest movies of 2018, this month’s Black Panther. In addition, Cole’s name has been attached to two films in development called ROM and Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light — both titles that have also been linked to (that’s right!) Geneva Robertson-Dworet.
The first team to appear on this list, Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan’s Chappaquiddick, arriving in theaters April 6, already premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. A rrecounting of the fatal 1969 car accident that (for a time) derailed Senator Ted Kennedy’s career, the movie isn’t the first project to try to tell this notorious story. However, others, like the dreadful Kennedys: After Camelot, have mostly failed. Given how shocking and fascinating the real events were, it seems time that Allen and Logan’s work should succeed where predecessors haven’t.
Matthew and Ryan Firpo’s Nazi revenge film Ruin topped the Blacklist in 2017, but even before that, they had been working as filmmakers for years, making shorts and documentaries. One of the things that makes their partnership interesting is that they’re one of the few sibling teams who work on films alone and together. With Ruin currently in pre-production, it’ll be interesting to see how their careers either diverge or fuse together assuming the movie gets made.
Another Blacklister, Daniel Stiepleman’s On the Basis of Sex will arrive in theaters later this year. The film tells the story of the early days of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Felicity Jones starring in the lead role. Stiepleman was probably the perfect writer for this project, given that he’s actually Ginsburg’s nephew.
Dorothy Blyskal has been working in Hollywood for years, but prior to 2018, had only one previous credit as a writer, on a 2014 pilot called That’s Entertainment. Her profile is about to raise significantly though, thanks to a Clint Eastwood film called The 15:17 to Paris, which she penned the script for. The story of three Americans who stopped a terrorist plot on a train in 2018, the movie has gotten attention for casting the real life heroes as themselves.
Another writer who gained attention for a script about a feminist icon, Sarah Ruhl’s My Life on the Road portrays Gloria Steinem’s rise to prominence in the ‘60s and ‘70s. A playwright up until this point, Ruhl had good source material for her first script, adapting it directly from Steinem’s book of the same name. The project is currently in pre-production, with Julie Taymor set to direct and Julianne Moore attached to star.
Samuel V. Franco and Evan Kilgore currently have two hot scripts in development. The first is Mayday 109, which made the Blacklist in 2015. The film chronicles a young JFK during WWII, and Ansel Elgort is attached to star in it. The second is The Keeper of the Diary, which made the Blacklist last year and tells the story of Anne Frank’s father’s attempts to publish her work. Kenneth Branagh is attached to direct and star.
Andrew Heckler has been working as an actor for years, but he made a splash at this year’s Sundance with his debut as a writer/director, Burden, which won the Audience Award in the Dramatic competition. Starring Garrett Hedlund, the film tells the true story of a Klansman named Mike Burden who decides to leave behind his hateful ways. Another former actor, Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water, and Wind River) has become one of the hottest screenwriters in town in recent years, so it seems entirely possible Heckler could do the same.