Greatest Movie Screenwriters

Criteria: These movie screenwriters are ranked according to acclaim they recieved for their craft, influence they had on writing of movies. Also considered are popularity, influence and acclaim of movies they have written.

Disclaimer: This list is strongly influenced by the Western canon of films. This means that in the broader scope of a global cinema certain regions may be underrepresented, among them Russia, India, China, Africa and Latin America.
Movie Screenwriters
1. Billy Wilder
(Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, The Apartment, The Lost Weekend)
2. Woody Allen
(Annie Hall, Manhattan, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Hannah and Her Sisters)
3. Jean-Claude Carrière
(The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoise, That Obscure Object of Desire, The Tin Drum)
4. Joel & Ethan Coen
(Fargo, No Country for Old Men, O Brother Where Art Thou?)
5. Ben Hecht
(Scarface, Angels Over Broadway, Spellbound, Twentieth Century)
6. Robert Towne
(Chinatown, The Last Detail, Shampoo, Greystroke)
7. Ingmar Bergman
(Wild Strawberries, Through a Glass Darkly, Cries & Whispers)
8. William Goldman
(Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, All the President's Men, The Princess Bride)
9. Preston Sturges
(The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story, The Great McGinty)
10. Ernest Lehman
(North by Northwest, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Sweet Smell of Success)
11. Quentin Tarantino
(Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Inglorious Basterds)
12. Jean Renoir
(The Rules of the Game, La Grande Illusion, La Bête Humaine)
13. Federico Fellini
(La dolce vita, Rome Open City, La Strada, 8 1/2)
14. I. A. L. Diamond
(Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Cactus Flower)
15. Charlie Kauffman
(Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation.)
16. Francis Ford Coppola
(The Godfather, The Conversation, Patton)
17. Cesare Zavattini
(Bicycle Thieves, Umberto D., Shoeshine)
18. Paul Schrader
(Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Affliction)
19. Frances Marion
(Dinner at Eight, The Champ, The Big House)
20. Tonino Guerra
(L'Avventura, Marriage Italian Style, Blow-Up)
21. Akira Kurosawa
(Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Ran, Yojimbo)
22. Stanley Kubrick
(Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Barry Lyndon)
23. John Huston
(The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Asphalt Jungle)
24. Mike Leigh
(Vera Drake, Secrets & Lies, Topsy-Turvy)
25. Joseph L. Mankiewicz
(All About Eve, A Letter to Three Wives, The Barefoot Contessa)
26. Paddy Chayefsky
(Network, Marty, The Hospital)
27. Luis Buñuel
(The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoise, Un Chien Andalou, That Obscure Object of Desire)
28. Oliver Stone
(Born on the Fourth of July, Platoon, Midnight Express)
29. François Truffaut
(400 Blows, Jules and Jim, Day for Night)
30. Anita Loos
(The Women, Saratoga, His Picture in the Papers, Intolerance)
31. Sergio Amidei
(Rome Open City, Paisan, General Della Rovere)
32. Bo Goldman
(One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Shoot the Moon, Scent of a Woman)
33. Sonya Levien
(Interrupted Melody, Drums Along the Mohawk, State Fair)
34. Ennio Flaiano
(La dolce vita, La Strada, Nights of Cabiria)
35. Shinobu Hashimoto
(Rashomon, Ikiru, Seven Samurai)
36. Paul Thomas Anderson
(There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights, The Master)
37. Charles Chaplin
(City Lights, The Kid, The Great Dictator)
38. Suso Cecchi D'Amico
(Bicycle Thieves, Rome Open City, Miracle in Milan)
39. Aaron Sorkin
(The Social Network, A Few Good Men, Moneyball)
40. Satyajit Ray
(Pather Panchali, Nayak, Pratidwandi)
41. Orson Welles
(Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil)
42. Tulio Pinelli
(La Strada, 8 1/2, La dolce vita)
43. Steve Zaillian
(Schindler's List, The Irishman, Gangs of New York)
44. Alvin Sargeant
(Julia, Paper Moon, Ordinary People)
45. Yasujirô Ozu & Kogo Nodu
(Tokyo Story, Late Spring, An Autumn Afternoon)
46. Samson Raphaelson
(Heaven Can Wait, The Shop Around the Corner)
47. Richard Brooks
(Elmer Gantry, In Cold Blood, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)
48. Charles Brackett
(The Lost Weekend, Sunset Boulevard, Ninotchka)
49. James L. Brooks
(Terms of Endearment, As Good as It Gets, Broadcast News)
50. Carl Foreman
(High Noon, Bridge on the River Kwai)
51. Buck Henry
(The Graduate, What's Up Doc?)
52. Herman J. Mankiewicz
(Citizen Kane, The Wizard of Oz, Dinner at Eight)
53. David Mamet
(The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Untouchables, Glengarry Glenn Ross)
54. Charles MacArthur
(The Front Page, Gunga Din, The Scoundrel)
55. Jean-Luc Godard
(Breathless, Alphaville, Week-end)
56. Lawrence Kasdan
(Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Body Heat)
57. Robert Bolt
(Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, A Man for All Seasons)
58. Isobel Lennart
(The Sundowners, It Happened in Brooklyn, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness)
59. Betty Comden & Adolph Green
(Singin' in the Rain, The Band Wagon)
60. Nora Ephron
(When Harry Met Sally..., Sleepless in Seattle)
61. Robert Benton
(Kramer vs. Kramer, Bonnie and Clyde, Places in the Heart)
62. Julius J. Epstein & Philip G. Epstein
(Casablanca, The Man Who Came to Dinner)
63. Howard Koch
(Casablanca, Letter from an Unknown Woman, Sergeant York)
64. Waldo Salt
(Midnight Cowboy, Serpico, Coming Home)
65. Eric Roth
(Forrest Gump, The Insider, A Star Is Born)
66. Ryûzô Kikushima
(High and Low, Yojimbo)
67. Abbas Kiarostami
(Close-Up, Taste of Cherry, Where Is the Friend's Home?)
68. Pedro Almodóvar
(Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Talk to Her)
69. Wes Anderson
(The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom)
70. Lamar Trotti
(Young Mr. Lincoln, The Ox-Bow Incident)
71. Neil Simon
(The Odd Couple, The Goodbye Girl, The Heartbreak Kid)
72. Norman Krasna
(The Devil and Miss Jones, Fury)
73. Melvin Frank & Norman Panama
(The Court Jester, Knock on Wood)
74. Sidney Buchman
(Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Here Comes Mr. Jordan)
75. Jules Furthman
(Mutiny on the Bounty, The Big Sleep)
76. Spike Lee
(Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, 25th Hour)
77. Paul Mazursky
(An Unmarried Woman, Harry and Tonto)
78. Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
(Sideways, About Schmidt, Election)
79. Dudley Nichols
(Bringing Up Baby, Stagecoach, The Informer)
80. Frank Pierson
(Cool Hand Luke, Dog Day Afternoon)
81. Robert Riskin
(It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town)
82. Dalton Trumbo
(Spartacus, Roman Holiday, The Brave One)
83. Donald Ogden Stewart
(The Philadelphia Story, Love Affair)
84. Albert Hackett & Frances Goodrich
(The Thin Man, The Diary of Anne Frank)
85. Irving Ravetch & Harriet Frank Jr.
(Hud, Norma Rae)
86. Horton Foote
(To Kill a Mockingbird, Tender Mercies)
87. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
(A Room With a View, Remains of the Day)
88. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
(A Matter of Life and Death, The Red Shoes)
89. Michael Wilson
(Lawrence of Arabia, A Place in the Sun)
90. Krzysztof Kieslowski & Krzysztof Piesiewicz
(Three Colors, Dekalog)
91. Andrei Tarkovsky
(Andrei Rublev, The Mirror, Nostalgia)
92. Frank S. Nugent
(The Searchers, The Quiet Man)
93. Charles Lederer
(His Girl Friday, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Spirit of St. Louis)
94. Hayao Miyazaki
(Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke)
95. Peter Morgan
(The Queen, The Last King of Scotland)
96. Richard Curtis
(Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones's Diary)
97. Pete Docter
(Toy Story, WALL-E, Up)
98. Leigh Brackett
(Rio Bravo, The Long Goodbye, The Big Sleep)
99. Mel Brooks
(Blazing Saddles, The Producers)
100. Edward Anhalt
(Becket, Panic in the Streets)
101. John Lee Mahin
(Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, Captains Courageous)
102. George Lucas
(Star Wars, American Graffiti)
103. Richard Linklater
(Before Sunrise, Boyhood)
104. Alan Jay Lerner
(An American in Paris, My Fair Lady)
105. Garson Kanin & Ruth Gordon
(Adam's Rib, A Double Life)
106. Francis Veber
(La cage aux folles, Le dîner de cons)
107. Kenneth Lonergan
(You Can Count on Me, Manchester by the Sea)
108. Martin McDonagh
(Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, In Bruges)
109. Jacques Tati
(Playtime, Mon Oncle)
110. Jacques Rivette
(Celine and Julie Go Boating, Out 1: Noli me tangere)
111. Harold Ramis
(Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day)
112. June Mathis
(The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Blood and Sand)
113. Hideo Oguni
(Ikiru, Throne of Blood)
114. John Cassavetes
(Faces, A Woman Under the Influence)
115. Age & Scarpelli
(Big Deal on Madonna Street, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)
116. Jean Cocteau
(Beauty and the Beast, Orpheus)
117. Bernardo Bertolucci
(The Conformist, Last Tango In Paris)
118. Robert Bresson
(A Man Escaped, Au hasard Balthazar)
119. Jean Gruault
(Jules et Jim, Mon oncle d'Amérique)
120. Casey Robinson
(Captain Blood, Dark Victory)
121. Paul Haggis
(Million Dollar Baby, Crash)
122. Michael Haneke
(Funny Games, Amour)
123. Pier Paolo Pasolini
(The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Salò)
124. D. W. Griffith
(Intolerance, The Birth of a Nation)
125. Walter Reisch
(Gaslight, Song of Scheherazade)
126. Cameron Crowe
(Almost Famous, Say Anything)
127. Frank Darabont
(The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile)
128. Andrew Stanton
(Finding Nemo, WALL-E)
129. Christopher Hampton
(Dangerous Liaisons, Atonement)
130. Yoshikata Yoda
(Ugetsu, Sansho the Bailiff)
131. Ronald Harwood
(The Pianist, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
132. George Miller
(The Road Warrior, Babe)
133. Paul Osborn
(East of Eden, Wild River)
134. Bertrand Tavernier
(A Sunday in the Country, Round Midnight)
135. David Webb Peoples (Blade Runner, Unforgiven)
136. Anders Thomas Jensen
(Adam's Apples, Flickering Lights)
137. Nunnally Johnson
(The Grapes of Wrath, The Dirty Dozen)
138. John Hughes
(The Breakfast Club, Home Alone)
139. John Logan
(Gladiator, Hugo)
140. Elaine May
(Heaven Can Wait, Primary Colors)
141. Robert Altman
(McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Short Cuts)
142. George Seaton
(Miracle on 34th Street, The Song of Bernadette)
143. Tom Stoppard
(Brazil, Shakespeare in Love)
144. Jay Presson Allen
(The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Cabaret)
145. Joss Whedon
(The Avengers, Serenity)
146. Wong Kar-wai
(In the Mood For Love, Chungking Express)
147. Jacques Prévert
(Les Enfants du Paradis, Port of Shadows)
148. Nicole Holofcener
(Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Lovely and Amazing)
149. Callie Khouri
(Thelma & Louise)
150. John Michael Hayes
(Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much)
151. Gérard Brach
(Repulsion, Jean de Florette)
152. Rainer Werner Fassbinder
(Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, The Marriage of Maria Braun)
153. Wu Nien-jen
(A City of Sadness, The Puppetmaster)
154. Blake Edwards
(The Pink Panther, The Great Race)
155. Jean-Pierre Bacri & Agnès Jaoui
(The Taste of Others, Look at Me)
156. Alex Garland
(Ex Machina, Annihilation)
157. W.C. Fields
(The Bank Dick, It's a Gift)
158. Charles Burnett
(The Killer of Sheep, Sleeping with Anger)
159. Terence Malick
(Badlands, Days of Heaven)
160. Mark Boal
(The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty)
161. Tom McCarthy
(Spotlight, The Station Agent)
162. John Carpenter
(Halloween, They Live)
163. Gary Ross
(Big, Seabiscuit)
164. Carl Mayer
(The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Sunrise)
165. David Lynch
(The Elephant Man, Mulholland Dr.)
166. Jay Cocks
(Gangs of New York, The Age of Innocence )
167. Louis Malle
(Au revoir les enfants, The Fire Within)
168. Werner Herzog
(Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo)
169. Jim Jarmusch
(Stranger than Paradise, Dead Man)
170. Claude Chabrol & Paul Gégauff
(Le boucher, Le beau Serge)
171. Leo McCarey
(An Affair to Remember, Going My Way)
172. Philip Dunne
(How Green Was My Valley, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir)
173. William Rose
(Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Ladykillers)
174. Brad Bird
(The Incredibles, The Iron Giant)
175. Mario Puzo
(The Godfather, Superman)
176. Jo Swerling
(The Pride of the Yankees, It's a Wonderful Life)
177. Éric Rohmer
(My Night at Maud's, Claire's Knee)
178. Barry Levinson
(Diner, Wag the Dog)
179. Harold Pinter
(The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Trial)
180. James Poe
(Around the World in 80 Days, Lilies of the Field)
181. Charles Bennett
(The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps)
182. Guillermo Arriaga
(Amores Perros, 21 Grams)
183. Stewart Stern
(Rebel Without a Cause, Rachel, Rachel)
184. George Axelrod
(The Seven Year Itch, The Manchurian Candidate)
185. Budd Schulberg
(On the Waterfront, A Face in the Crowd)
186. William Nicholson
(Shadowlands, Les Misérables)
187. Melville Shavelson & Jack Rose
(The Seven Little Foys, Houseboat)
188. Stanley Shapiro
(Pillow Talk, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels)
189. Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel
(Splash, A League of Their Own)
190. Calder Willingham
(Paths of Glory, The Graduate)
191. Adam McKay
(Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The Big Short)
192. David Lean
(Brief Encounter, A Passage to India)
193. Alfonso Cuarón
(Children of Men, Roma)
194. Samuel Fuller
(Pickup on South Street, Shock Corridor)
195. Sidney Howard
(Gone with the Wind, Dodsworth)
196. Ring Lardner Jr.
(Laura, M*A*S*H)
197. Fritz Lang & Thea von Harbou
(Metropolis, M)
198. Theo Angelopoulos
(The Traveling Players, Landscape in the Mist)
199. Warren Beatty
(Reds, Bulworth)
200. Christopher McQuarrie
(The Usual Suspects, Edge of Tomorrow)
201. Larry McMurtry
(The Last Picture Show, Brokeback Mountain)
202. Terry Gilliam
(Brazil, Monty Python)
203. John Patrick Shanley
(Moonstruck, Doubt)
204. Robert E. Sherwood
(Rebecca, The Best Years of Our Lives)
205. Salim–Javed
(Sholay, Deewaar)
206. Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne
(Le Fils, Rosetta)
207. Béla Tarr & László Krasznahorkai
(Sátántangó, Werckmeister Harmonies)
208. Tennessee Williams
(A Streetcar Named Desire, The Rose Tattoo)
209. Terry Southern
(Dr. Strangelove, Easy Rider)
210. Daniel Taradash
(From Here to Eternity, Picnic)
211. David O. Russell
(Silver Linings Playbook, Three Kings)
212. Burt Kennedy
(Seven Men From Now, The Tall T)
213. Sam Peckinpah
(The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs)
214. John Sayles
(Lone Star, Passion Fish)
215. John Cleese
(Monty Python, A Fish Called Wanda)
216. Andrei Konchalovsky
(Andrei Rublev, Siberiade)
217. Wim Wenders
(Wings of Desire, Paris, Texas)
218. Ettore Scola
(A Special Day, We All Loved Each Other So Much)
219. Jean-Paul Rappeneau
(That Man from Rio, Cyrano de Bergerac)
220. John Steinbeck
(Viva Zapata!, Lifeboat)
221. Jay Dratler
(Laura, Call Northside 777)
222. Daniel Mainwaring
(Out of the Past, Invasion of the Body Snatchers)
223. Norman Wexler
(Serpico, Joe)
224. Yuri Arabov
(Mother and Son, The Sun)
225. Mardik Martin
(Mean Streets, Raging Bull)
226. William Inge
(Splendor in the Grass, Bus Stop)
227. Lars von Trier
(Breaking the Waves, Dogville)
228. M. Night Shyamalan
(The Sixth Sense)
229. Christopher & Jonathan Nolan
(Memento, The Prestige)
230. Nancy Meyers
(Something's Gotta Give, What Women Want)
231. David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, & Jim Abrahams
(Airplane!, The Kentucky Fried Movie)
232. Diablo Cody
(Juno, Jennifer's Body)
233. Bong Joon-ho
(Parasite, Memories of Murder)
234. Noah Baumbach
(Marriage Story, The Squid and the Whale)
235. Judd Apatow
(The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up)
236. James Cameron
(The Terminator, Titanic)
237. Albert Brooks
(Lost in America, Modern Romance)
238. Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens & Fran Walsh
(The Lord of the Rings, Braindead)
239. István Szabó
(Mephisto, Sweet Emma, Dear Böbe)
240. Stephen Gaghan
(Traffic, Syriana)
241. Scott Frank
(Out of Sight, Logan)
242. Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski
(The People vs. Larry Flynt, Ed Wood)
243. Martin Scorsese & Nicholas Pileggi
(GoodFellas, Casino)
244. John Milius
(Apocalypse Now, Dirty Harry)
245. Dan O'Bannon
(Alien, The Return of the Living Dead)
246. K.A. Abbas
(Awaara, Shree 420)
247. Charles Spaak
(La Grande Illusion, La Belle Équipe)
248. Claude Lelouch & Pierre Uytterhoeven
(A Man and a Woman, And Now My Love)
249. Guiliermo del Toro
(Pan's Labyrinth, The Shape of Water)
250. Tony Gilroy
(The Bourne Trilogy, Michael Clayton)
251. Brian Helgeland
(L.A. Confidential, Mystic River)
252. Aki Kaurismäki
(The Man Without a Past, The Match Factory Girl)
253. Lesser Samuels
(No Way Out, Ace in the Hole)
254. Costa-Gavras
(Z, Missing)
255. Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale(Back to the Future)
256. Hal Roach
(Our Gang)
257. Terry Rossio & Ted Elliott
(Shrek, The Pirates of the Caribbean)
258. Frank Tashlin
(The Girl Can't Help It, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?)
259. Alejandro González Iñárritu
(Birdman, The Revenant)
260. Stirling Silliphant
(In the Heat of the Night, The Towering Inferno)
261. Gus Van Sant
(My Own Private Idaho, Elephant)
262. Eleanor Perry
(Diary of a Mad Housewife, David and Lisa)
263. Kevin Smith
264. Graham Greene
(The Third Man)
265. Tony Kushner
266. Frank Capra
(It's a Wonderful Life)
267. Jacques Demy
(The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort)
268. Roman Polanski
(Rosemary's Baby, Repulsion)
269. Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg
(Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz)
270. Richard Maibaum
(Goldfinger, Dr. No)
271. Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
(Kick-Ass, Kingsman)
272. Noël Coward
(Brief Encounter, In Which We Serve)
273. Jane Campion
(The Piano, An Angel at My Table)
274. James Gunn
(Guardians of the Galaxy)
275. David S. Ward
(The Sting)
276. Asghar Farhadi
(A Separation, About Elly)
277. William Faulkner
(To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep)
278. Melissa Mathison
(E.T the Extra-Terrestrial)
279. Andrew Niccol
(The Truman Show)
280. Richard Matheson
(House of Usher, Pit and the Pendulum)
281. Jeanie MacPherson
(The Cheat)
282. Tom Shulman
(Dead Poets Society)
283. James Agee
(The Night of the Hunter)
284. Jordan Peele
(Get Out!)
285. John Ridley
(12 Years a Slave)
286. Rod Serling
(The Planet of the Apes)
287. Steven Spielberg
(A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Close Encounters of the Third Kind)
288. William Monahan
(Kingdom of Heaven, The Departed)
289. Shane Black
(Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
290. Jerry Lewis
(The Nutty Professor, The Ladies Man)
291. Ni Kuang
(One-Armed Swordsman)
292. Agnès Varda
293. Kôbô Abe
(The Woman in Dunes)
294. Christopher Guest
(This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman)
295. Lana & Lilly Wachowski
(The Matrix, Bound)
296. John Waters
(The Pink Flamingos, Hairspray)
297. Todd Haynes
(Far from Heaven, I'm Not There)
298. Walter Hill
(The Warriors, 48 Hrs.)
299. Greta Gerwig
(Ladybird, Little Women)
300. Sophia Coppola
(Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides)
Billy Wilder
Woody Allen
Joel & Ethan Coen
Ben Hecht
Jean-Claude Carrière

Last Updated: 2020-08-01