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Movie Reviews

10 Best Movies Written By Star Wars Writers Outside Of The Franchise

Some of Hollywood’s brightest screenwriters have worked on the Star Wars saga. George Lucas, of course, created the saga, and since he sold his company to Lucasfilm, hugely talented writers like Jon Favreau, Rian Johnson, and Hossein Amini have contributed their own tales to a galaxy far, far away. The storytellers behind the films and TV shows of the Star Wars universe have also written great scripts outside of Lucas’ serialized space opera.

Lucas wrote the classic coming-of-age comedy American Graffiti, Johnson wrote the masterfully crafted whodunit Knives Out, and Favreau kickstarted his own career with his screenplay for Swingers.

A little under two decades before he worked on a few episodes of Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries, Stuart Beattie wrote the riveting, character-driven screenplay for Collateral.

Directed by legendary action filmmaker Michael Mann, Collateral is an intense two-hander starring Jamie Foxx as a cab driver and Tom Cruise as the ruthless assassin who commandeers his taxi for a night of brutal hits around Los Angeles. Beattie’s script keeps the tension high and the characters compelling from start to finish.

Before he took on the thankless task of co-writing The Rise of Skywalker with director J.J. Abrams to conclude the Star Wars sequel trilogy, Chris Terrio won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for writing Argo. Directed by its star Ben Affleck, Argo also won Best Picture.

A geopolitical thriller with a sense of humor, Argo tells the astounding true story of a CIA agent who managed to sneak some hostages out of Tehran by pretending to scout locations for a fake science fiction movie.

Like many struggling actors, Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau kickstarted his own career by writing a starring vehicle for himself. Swingers stars Favreau and a then-unknown Vince Vaughn as a pair of aspiring performers living in Los Angeles during the swing revival of the 1990s.

The premise of single guys hitting the town is pretty familiar, but Swingers is a cut above its peers thanks to the wit and earnestness of Favreau’s script. Unlike most “bro” comedies, Swingers doesn’t ignore its characters’ feelings.

Writer-director Rian Johnson’s next movie after The Last Jedi polarized critics and audiences was much more universally praised. Knives Out is a masterfully crafted murder mystery starring Daniel Craig as an American Poirot assigned to solve the murder of a prominent mystery writer.

Knives Out brought back the whodunit genre in style with a protagonist who’s easy to root for, a gaggle of potential suspects, and a series of unpredictable plot twists.

Michael Arndt co-wrote the script for The Force Awakens with Star Wars saga staple Lawrence Kasdan and director J.J. Abrams. Arndt’s first produced script, Little Miss Sunshine, won a cabinet’s worth of awards, including the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

It’s a deeply moving family road trip story about a family hitting the road to make their youngest child’s dream of competing in a beauty pageant come true. Along the way, they all experience their own profound, life-altering epiphanies.

Hossein Amini was attached to Obi-Wan Kenobi way back when it was a movie. After it was retooled as a limited series, Amini received writing credits on a handful of episodes. Before that, Amini made his name scripting Nicolas Winding Refn’s slick neo-noir Drive.

Adapted from the novel of the same name by James Sallis, Amini’s Drive script avoided the temptation to veer into full-blown action movie territory. Ryan Gosling’s brooding antihero, “The Driver,” famously has very few lines of dialogue in the movie. Amini had the challenge of telling his story visually.

Dubbed “the Queen of Space Opera,” Leigh Brackett was a renowned pulp novelist who also penned a few screenplays. These scripts included a couple of classic film noirs and Howard Hawks’ seminal western Rio Bravo, a dialogue-driven hangout movie about a Texan sheriff getting to know his new recruits as they wait for their prisoner’s gang to arrive for a showdown.

Brackett worked on an early draft of The Empire Strikes Back before her death in 1978, and some of her contributions survived to the final shooting script. Han and Leia’s romantic tension in Empire calls back to the flirtation between John Wayne’s John T. Chance and Angie Dickinson’s Feathers in Rio Bravo.

Long before he contributed to the scripts of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s last couple of episodes, Andrew Stanton wrote some of Pixar’s most popular movies and also directed a couple of them. Stanton made his solo directorial debut with the jaw-dropping oceanic adventure of Finding Nemo.

The beautiful animation takes audiences to the deepest depths of the ocean and back again, but the universally relatable story of a parent’s desperate search for their missing child keeps the movie grounded in human emotions.

1973’s American Graffiti was the coming-of-age hit that earned George Lucas the clout to get his weird little space movie off the ground. The only reason Hollywood would take a chance on Star Wars was because Lucas had scored one of the biggest box office hits of the decade with American Graffiti. Lucas co-wrote the film’s vignette-driven screenplay with regular collaborators Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck.

A precursor to Dazed and Confused, American Graffiti is a nostalgic hangout movie with a sprawling ensemble cast set over the course of a wild night in Lucas’ hometown of Modesto, California, in 1962.

Before Lawrence Kasdan worked on the scripts for The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, and Solo: A Star Wars Story, he wrote for a different George Lucas franchise. Kasdan helped to introduce moviegoers to archeologist-turned-adventurer Indiana Jones with his screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark, drawn from a story by Lucas and Philip Kaufman.

Kasdan’s unique seven-act story structure laid the groundwork for Steven Spielberg’s sharp direction, John Williams’ breathtaking music, and Harrison Ford’s ice-cool performance to make Indy an instant cinematic icon.

NEXT: 10 Best Non-Marvel Movies Written By MCU Writers

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