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Best Drama Writers of the 21st Century – All the best films start with great screenplays. In the twenty-first century there are many fantastic writers who have turned their talents to writing for the silver screen. Without their work many of the best films in the last twenty years would never have been made.
In this blog, we’ll highlight some of the best drama writers of the twenty-first century and explore what makes their writing great.
Best Drama Writers of the 21st Century
Greta Gerwig is a twenty-first century renaissance woman. Acting, directing, writing; you name it, Gerwig does it. Today we want to focus on Gerwig’s exceptional talent with words. In recent years she has written a number of films that have been both box office and critical successes including Ladybird, Little Women, Mistress America and Frances Ha.
Gerwig’s writing is able to be dramatic, humorous and insightful all at the same time. With both Ladybird and Little Women, Gerwig hit her stride as a writer for the big screen. Thankfully, we can expect many more great lines to flow from her pen in the near future too!
Kenneth Lonergan is another jack of all trades. As a director, screenwriter and playwright, Lonergan has continually produced fantastic plays and films over the last twenty years.
His writing is often restrained, realistic and wrought with emotion. In films like You Can Count on Me, Gangs of New York and Margaret he demonstrated his immense skill with words. In 2016 he received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his film Manchester by the Sea. His notable works as a playwright include Lobby Hero, The Waverly Gallery and The Starry Messenger.
The Coen Brothers
Joel and Ethan Coen, known collectively as the Coen Brothers, are two of the most influential directors and writers in Hollywood. They have written the screenplays for all of their films including O Brother, Where Art Thou?, True Grit, No Country for Old Men. Their talents with the pen are often underrated but they have a talent for mixing comedy and drama and creating a strange, wonderful concoction.
The dialogue in all of their movies is bizarre, memorable and devoid of clichés. They have won two Academy Awards for screenwriting, for Fargo and for No Country for Old Men. And while they have been making movies for nearly forty years, they are still producing fantastically written films for the twenty-first century.
The British director Steve McQueen has made a number of brilliant films including 12 Years a Slave, Shame, Hunger, Widows and most recently Small Axe.
The breadth of Steve McQueen’s talent is apparent in the diverse subject matter of his films. He has written about the Irish Hunger Strike in Hunger; about the horrors of slavery in the United States in 12 Years a Slave; about modern-day sex addiction in Shame and in Widows he also displayed his ability to write a compelling crime thriller.
In his most recent work, a series of five films called Small Axe, McQueen explored the experiences of Caribbean immigrants in London during the 60s, 70s and 80s. Each film was different but they all had the ‘Steve McQueen’ identity evident in all the other films he has written.
The American playwright, screenwriter and television writer, Aaron Sorkin is one of the most talented writers working today. When he was young he made his name writing the play A Few Good Men, which he later adapted into the classic film starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. He further solidified his status as a writer for his work on the first four seasons of the TV show The West Wing.
In the last twenty years he has written a number of award-winning movies including Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network, Moneyball, Steve Jobs, Molly’s Game and The Trial of the Chicago 7. He’s received numerous awards for his TV and film writing, including the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Social Network in 2011. His style is instantly recognisable and always entertaining.
If you like your dramas to be abstract, intricate and melancholy then Charlie Kaufman is the writer for you. Like Sorkin and Gerwig, Kaufman’s writing has its own special flavour. With films like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind, Synecdoche, New York, and Anomalisa, Kaufman has created his own style of surreal drama.
He is one of the great American screenwriters still working today and has a devoted cult following that champions his films whenever they release. His most recent film I’m Thinking of Ending Things is also a testament to the way he is able to write complex characters and create tension with his own surreal style.
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