““To make a good film,” Alfred Hitchcock once said, “you need three things: the script, the script, and the script.” Yet while it’s easy to find (and argue over) lists of the greatest films ever, it’s difficult to find a list of the greatest screenwriters. We decided to remedy that — by polling more than 40 of today’s top screenwriters on which of their predecessors (and contemporaries) they consider to be the best. To compile such a list is to pose a question: What is the essence of the screenwriter’s art? Plot? Dialogue? Character? All that and more? We left that judgment to those who know best — the writers. Here are their selections (ranked in order of popularity, with ties broken by us), and representative testimonials for each. […]
16. George Lucas
Notable Scripts: American Graffiti (1973), Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)
Oscars: Best Original Screenplay, American Graffiti; Best Original Screenplay, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
Dialogue isn’t everything. For proof, look no further than the career of George Lucas, for whom human speech has served as an occasional stumbling block. Alec Guinness spent the bulk of his time on Star Wars complaining that his lines were “rubbish,” while Harrison Ford famously told Lucas, “You can type this shit, but you can’t say it.” No matter. A few clunky lines didn’t stop Lucas from dreaming up one of the most alluring and enduring universes in the history of cinema. In marrying the aesthetics of the pulp serials of his youth to formal lessons gleaned from Joseph Campbell, he quite literally created the template for 40-plus years of blockbusters. But his legacy isn’t limited to space operas. “Yes, the man created Star Wars, but want to see another side of his skills? Check out American Graffiti and weep because you’ll never be as talented as he is,” says Andrea Berloff.”
“The Voters: 1. Scott Alexander (Ed Wood, Man on the Moon); 2. Judd Apatow (Knocked-Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin); 3. Scot Armstrong (Old School, The Hangover Part II); 4. Andrea Berloff (World Trade Center, Straight Outta Compton); 5. Margaret Betts (Novitiate); 6. Mike Binder (The Upside of Anger, Black or White); 7. Mark Bomback (The Wolverine, War for the Planet of the Apes); 8. James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News); 9. Allison Burnett (Autumn in New York, Underworld Awakening); 10. Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Wonder); 11. Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, The Beguiled); 12. Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult); 13. Lee Daniels (The Paperboy); 14. Emily V. Gordon (The Big Sick); 15. David Gordon Green (All the Real Girls, Goat); 16. Paul Haggis (Million-Dollar Baby, Crash); 17. Joey Hartstone (LBJ); 18. Mark Heyman (Black Swan, The Skeleton Twins); 19. James Ivory (A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries, Call Me By Your Name); 20. Zoe Lister-Jones (Lola Versus, Band Aid); 21. Larry Karaszewski (Ed Wood, Man on the Moon); 22. Peter Landesman (Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House); 23. Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, I Don’t Know How She Does It); 24. Phyllis Nagy (Carol); 25. Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick); 26. Jordan Peele (Get Out, Keanu); 27. Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry, Stop-Loss); 28. Zak Penn (Behind Enemy Lines, X-Men: Last Stand); 29. Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Up in the Air); 30. John Ridley (U-Turn, 12 Years a Slave); 31. Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S., Professor Marston and the Wonder Women); 32. Melissa Rosenberg (Step Up, Twilight); 33. Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit); 34. Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, Munich); 35. Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Affliction); 36. Wesley Strick (Cape Fear, Wolf); 37. Danny Strong (Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Rebel in the Rye); 38. Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith (10 Things I Hate About You, Legally Blonde); 39. Michael Weber and Scott Neustadter (500 Days of Summer, The Disaster Artist); 40. Terence Winter (Get Rich or Die Tryin’, The Wolf of Wall Street)”