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Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber: the most underrated writers in Hollywood

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There are tons of screenwriters in the business that have been unjustly passed over for awards attention before, but few have been as unjustly snubbed in their careers so far as the team of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber have. They’ve given us two instant classics in (500) Days of Summer and last year’s The Spectacular Now, with next week bringing their highly anticipated adaptation of the YA sensation The Fault in Our Stars. I’m embargoed currently from saying too much about that title, but the focus of this piece should serve as a hint about what kind of work I think they have on display when that movie opens. For my money, not only are Neustadter and Weber the most underrated scribes in the business, they may be well on their way to becoming the best as well.

In all fairness, they’ve been aided each time out by talented directors such as Marc Webb, James Ponsoldt, and Josh Boone, but the core of each film has been their screenplays, which are near perfect examples of how to take very specific romantic stories and make them feel universal. Whether it’s been about how our perception of a relationship can be different than the reality, how a relationship can allow us to grow, or how it can be the one thing that literally allows you to look death in the face, Neustadter and Weber have been aces so far. They’ve created a brilliant original work in (500) Days of Summer and an amazing adaptation in The Spectacular Now. They’re adapting again with The Fault in Our Stars (written by literary superstar John Green) and next week you all will get to see their words in action again.

It’s basically a cinematic crime to me that this pair have yet to be recognized with Academy Award nominations. They were likely in the number six spot for Best Original Screenplay with (500) Days of Summer that year, while last year the campaign for The Spectacular Now to get them a Best Adapted Screenplay never quite took off, despite some precursor attention. This year they’ll get a chance to try it again in that category, though it’ll potentially be a tougher road with more competition this time around. It’s going to happen for them soon, and it’ll be a welcome citation when it does happen.

Going forward, Neustadter and Weber have two more adaptations in the works that could very well get awards attention as well. They have Rosaline, which has roots in Shakespeare, as well as another Green adaptation in Paper Towns. They have a special talent for making their characters sound like real people, so I’ll basically follow them wherever they want to go next. They’ve yet to let me down, and yes, I am aware that they also helped co-write The Pink Panther 2 as well.

I’m sure there’s a case that can be made for a bunch of scribes to be labeled the best in the business, but no one hits me as hard and as consistently as these guys have. That’s a rare skill and they’re only getting better as time goes on. I’ll have more to say about The Fault in Our Stars next week, but for now, consider my claim about Neustadter and Weber. Maybe I’m being a bit on the hyperbolic side, but I stand by my thesis here. Few in the industry are better than them, and I don’t think anyone is quite as underrated. Hopefully that changes soon though…

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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