The Write Formula

Step aside Batman & Robin, Woody & Buzz, Han Solo & Chewbacca. The real dynamic duos of Hollywood aren’t even on screen.
Screenwriting teams. They’re the real dynamic duos of Hollywood. Without them, there would be no film. They’re the ones who give birth to the film itself, creating every scene you see unfold before you, agonising over every word you hear. They are arguably Hollywood’s most undervalued asset – but we know their worth, which is why we’re shining the spotlight on five of our favourite contemporary writing duos…

The Coen brothers

Suburbicon

What makes this team one of Tinseltown’s greats is their ability to sit outside the system. The Coen brothers and their films don’t fit expected conventions. They actually redefine them – by mashing genres together and throwing distinctive characters into unorthodox predicaments. In their latest incarnation, Suburbicon, Joel and Ethan Coen have assembled another flawless cast including Matt Damon and Julianne Moore, and inserted them into a seemingly idyllic 1950’s suburb. Of course, picture-perfect living is not what is going on here and in delicious, witty and bewildering ways we are taken on one hell of an unexpected ride. Add Director George Clooney (a long-time fave of the Coen Brothers) into the mix and this satirical thriller as a must-see. 

The Farrelly brothers

There's something about Mary
Image source: Twentieth Century Fox

They may have been born in the same era as the Coen brothers but Bobby and Peter Farrelly make vastly different movies. These brothers are all about humour: crazy, unexpected gags, slapstick antics and an obsession with bodily functions – think the toilet scene in Dumb and Dumber and the ‘hair-gel’ in There’s Something About Mary. They are bold, fresh and embrace the space between low-brow comedy and big-hearted fun. Their underdog heroes are some of Hollywood’s more endearing characters (Eddie in The Heartbreak Kid, Ted in There’s Something About Mary, Rosemary in Shallow Hal) and their road trips are a hilarious celebration of discovery and dumb stuff (Kingpin, Fever Pitch, Dumb and Dumber To). Bobby and Peter Farrelly have the audacity to be gross, funny and somehow sentimental – a style emulated by Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin) and Todd Phillips (The Hangover). May they never grow old and lose their sense of the inappropriate!

The Wachowskis

The Matrix

The Wachowskis have forever etched their names into Hollywood history with their mindblowing Sci-Fi thriller, The Matrix. It was a critical and commercial sensation and together with its two sequels, grossed over US $1.6 billion. The Wachowskis were originally comic book writers and their films embrace classic elements of them, together with staggering special effects and martial arts (V for Vendetta, Speed Racer, Jupiter Ascending). They are also fascinated with creating alternate realities and exploring mindbending realms. 

The Nolans

The Dark Knight

Brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan were just kids when they traded copies of Dark Knight comics, shot films on their father’s Super 8 camera and aspired to one day be professional filmmakers. Then in the late 1990’s, after Jonathan took a University psychology class about amnesia, the idea for Memento was born. Jonathan wrote the story, Christopher the screenplay. It was the film that garnered them an Academy Award nomination and launched their Hollywood careers. By 2008 they had reinvented the Batman franchise with The Dark Knight, a film credited with making the superhero genre suddenly Oscar-worthy. It was serious and spectacular with characters (like Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning, The Joker), masterfully reinterpreted. By the time the Nolans came to write Interstellar, it was clear that the notion of time and memory were signature themes in their writing, along with the promise of an astonishing cinematic experience. 

Phil Lord & Chris Miller

The Lego Movie

Phil Lord and Chris Miller have forged a formidable partnership in screenwriting and directing. They are frequently hailed for their vision and courage, especially when fighting for their script ideas. In 2004, after a year working on the screenplay for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, they were sacked and replaced with new writers. After that team was also sacked, Lord and Miller were re-hired and given the freedom to write imaginatively and boldly. The madcap animated comedy became an international smash hit, grossing over US $243 million. And just to prove they really did have the “write stuff”, the pair made the triumphant leap to live-action films with 21 Jump Street – a transition few filmmakers survive. Thanks to their next animated blockbuster The Lego Movie, everything was awesome for the duo and their inventive brilliance was rewarded with worldwide success.

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