March 4, 2018
There are plenty of amazing storytellers working in film, so what makes Billy Wilder so special?
What makes a screenwriter good? Is it their ability to structure an effective and efficient story, to write snappy dialogue, or to build dimensional characters? Is it the quality of being an unpredictable, multifaceted, transgressive risk-taker? Or, is it all about being entertaining to as many movie lovers as possible?
I mean, it depends on who you ask, but for the most part, I think people would say the answer is—all of those things rolled into one supreme superwriter. But who possesses all of these qualities and quite certainly many, many more? Well, if Vulture’s recent list of the 100 Best Screenwriters of All Time indicates anything it’s that director, screenwriter, and all-around cinematic legend Billy Wilder does.
In this video essay, Sage Hyden of Just Write explores the many potential reasons why 40 of today’s top screenwriters voted Wilder to be #1 on the list, from his versatility to his incredibly clever and economic storytelling.