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By Renee Stock · November 4, 2014
Woe is the screenwriter who doesn’t also direct, at least this year. No, this was not the year for the singular screenwriter, 2014 was the year of the writer-slash-director. Of course there is one major exception, but by and large that rule holds true. What follows is a list of who we were talking about this year when we were talking about writing for the screen.
Editor’s Note: expect to see some of these names on our Screenplay Oscar coverage soon…
Photo: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
10. Jon Stewart, Rosewater
Jon Stewart wrote a movie, y’all! Is that news to you? No, it’s not, because everyone was talking about his directorial debut this year. He not only directed but he also adapted the book it’s based on into a screenplay. He said his biggest challenge as a writer was reworking the structure of the story to make real life bend more into a narrative arc. That is a big challenge for any writer working from real life, but even more so for a man working on such serious material when his natural sweet spot is making us laugh.
8. Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Chazelle said in an interview that he sent this script out and the people who read it passed it on. HINT: People do that with good scripts. It was featured on The Black List in 2012 and as a result had people talking about it two years before it even got made. The story of how Whiplash came to be is a classic tale of what can happen when you write well about something you care about. The reviews have been stellar and Chazelle should expect to be landing on many award nomination lists at the end of the year.
7. Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, Interstellar
The always ambitious Christopher Nolan delivers another massive film, this time about space travel, Earth and fatherhood. Few people are writing about these massive topics and getting their work made. Nolan is a writer interested in making us think larger, grander, nudging us to look a little beyond the horizon when making all our human plans. That being said, you can thank Jonathan Nolan for typically crafting the initial story structure to all of Christopher’s films.
3. Alejandro Gonzalex Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, Birdman
Was there are more anticipated film this year? The previews were mysterious, but one thing was clear, Michael Keaton makes a triumphant return thanks to a writing team lead by Iñárritu. Writer/directors are the tender spot this year and their imaginations and singular visions have dominated all the conversations about the scripts that are the foundations for everything else that happens after the words FADE OUT.
1. Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
So many screenwriting “gurus” tell you if you want to be a screenwriter start by writing a book. It’s bad advice, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t ever work. No one got more attention for their screenplay than Gillian Flynn, which probably enraged almost every struggling screenwriter while reading about her on the internet instead of working on their script. It’s rare for a novelist to write their own screen adaptation, but she had a clause added into her book option that gave her the right to take a shot at the first draft. Whether or not you thought she pulled it off is always up for debate, but there was no other script this year that was examined more closely, no ending that was more anticipated and no arguments on the internet that were more ferocious than the ones surrounding this script.
Editor’s Note: expect this to take the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy