Best Screenplay 2007

1998 through 2007

What were the best original and adapted screenplays of 2007?

Juno (Diablo Cody)
4
9%
Lars and the Real Girl (Nancy Oliver)
6
13%
Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy)
2
4%
Ratatoullie (Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco)
4
9%
The Savages (Tamara Jenkins)
6
13%
Atonement (Christopher Hampton)
5
11%
Away from Her (Sarah Polley)
7
15%
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (David Harwood)
0
No votes
No Country for Old Men (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)
9
19%
There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
4
9%
 
Total votes: 47

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Re: Best Screenplay 2007

Postby Heksagon » Fri Aug 08, 2014 12:42 am

Adapted category is way better than Original this year.

In Original, my votes goes to The Savages, which is barely a good screenplay, but the only one here which didn’t disappoint me. Lars and the Real Girl is has some clever stuff in it, but it’s so very far from being a complete screenplay.

In Adapted, I’m going for There Will Be Blood, my favorite film of the year.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2007

Postby FilmFan720 » Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:11 pm

I can't vote in Adapted (I still haven't seen The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) but the other four are all excellent adaptations and worthy for consideration. I would probably lean towards Away from Her.

For Original Screenplay, the only one of these films I would nominated would be Juno. It is a very smart, funny film that manages to pull the heartstrings just enough but never overdo it. Sure, it may start out a little trite (especially the entire Rainn Wilson sequence) but as Juno grows up so does the film, and I think the indie quirk is fitting of where Juno starts and where she goes to. None of my also-rans were really on the Academy radar, but I would have loved to see recognition go towards Dan in Real Life, 12:08 East of Bucharest, The Lives of Others or Waitress. My vote overall would have gone to Dan in Real Life.
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Re: Best Screenplay 2007

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Jul 26, 2014 4:37 am

The Adapted slate is quite good this year, though it could have been improved by the inclusion of The Assassination of Jesse James... and Zodiac, the latter of which I thought had a pretty decent shot after its WGA nod.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a strong movie, but definitely more on the direction/cinematography side than the screenwriting. This wasn't to say it was an unworthy candidate -- I actually think the movie does a pretty decent job at making such a limited premise (i.e. a protagonist who can only blink one eye) engaging. But I just don't find enough invention in the narrative or its ideas to consider it here.

Atonement gets pretty far on the fact that it was based on a wonderful novel. Given that so many similarly impressive books haven't translated at all to the screen, it's important to give recognition to the fact that this movie doesn't totally screw it up. But what it doesn't do either is really find much in the way of inspiration -- it's a solid adaptation, but it doesn't have that extra special wow these other movies provide.

I think the remaining three nominees are all excellent scripts -- I'd have chosen any one of them over the '08 options. There WIll Be Blood is a hugely ambitious and powerful work, full of inventive storytelling and a lot of great dialogue for Day-Lewis's larger-than-life antihero (including one phrase that even became surprisingly famous). But, as others have said, it's even more of a visual/directing achievement than a written one, and I've also recognized Anderson with a vote in that category.

No Country for Old Men is one of the best winners in this category in the last couple decades -- spare and almost mythic in its plot construction, yet also full of elaborate details throughout, from the wonderful dialogue to the odd accents of humor that punctuate this thriller. It was also among the more emotionally resonant of the Coen brothers' films -- Tommy Lee Jones's last monologue has such a sense of sadness to it, it serves as a tremendously compelling emotional button to the film as a whole. I haven't read No Country, but I'm familiar with Cormac McCarthy's other work, and the film felt to me like the perfect blend of McCarthy's lean prose and the Coens' stark worldview. A terrific winner.

But I feel that the strongest piece of writing in the category was Sarah Polley's work on Away From Her. "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" is a powerful short story in its own right, but Polley expanded Munro's work narratively in ways that felt completely of a piece with the original story, all while deepening it emotionally. I think this movie contains one scene after another of beautifully scripted exchanges -- sometimes the characters speak words of great insight, other times the film expresses their thoughts through the silences that no words can fill. So, for breaking my heart with such sensitivity and restraint, Away From Her takes my prize.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2007

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:39 pm

As everyone has said, the categories are quite lopsided this year, and it's pretty slim pickings under Original. I would rank I'm Not There and 4 Months, 3 Weeks, & 2 Days higher than any of the actual nominees.

I went into Lars and the Real Girl assuming it would be a one-joke movie. And I thought it was quirkier and more sensitive than that. But I didn't think it was much more than maybe a three-joke movie, and as Mister Tee says, compared to the way Her continues to expand upon and deepen its core premise as it goes on, Lars just seems even slighter in hindsight.

I'm afraid I respond to The Savages in much the same way folks who don't like Alexander Payne films respond to his work. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, Payne was an exec producer on this.) I like elements of the movie -- mostly the acting -- and a general intelligence to the writing, mostly in the more dramatic scenes. But I find a lot of the humor to be borderline condescending, and there were times the movie felt to me like a version of Away From Her played for laughs, which just seemed like a completely miscalculated goal to me.

Mister Tee pretty much summed up my feelings on Michael Clayton: I think it has a cool structure, some crackling dialogue, and a handful of very compelling characters. All of these elements made it a worthy nominee. But I just find the overall story to be so simple -- I assumed there would have been at least one more plot turn (ideally, two or three) to complicate the scenario. Though the movie is stylish and well-done, I find it hard to vote for something that feels this rote at its core.

I think Juno is a far better script than Little Miss Nothing -- I found Diablo Cody's dialogue clever, if occasionally overwritten, and I think the dramatic arc of the story is touching enough that I didn't feel the movie was completely disposable. But, time and again, I think back to one of Cody's post-awards speeches, and her comment "It doesn't feel like an Oscar movie to me." I'd have to concur with that statement, and say that a screenplay prize for what was essentially a more appealing than usual teen movie seems like an exaggeration of the script's merits.

Not everyone can write a great screenplay. But a great screenplay can come from anywhere. Even from a goddamn cartoon. And I think Ratatouille is by far the best written movie on this list -- cleverly plotted, full of memorable lines, brimming with set pieces both delightful and touching. I also think it's a very insightful piece of work about the creative process, and the often uneasy but necessary relationship between artists and critics. There are many years this decade when Pixar would come close to getting my screenplay vote, so consider this a vote to collectively honor that studio's many recent achievements, and for shaming the writing in so much of what counts as populist entertainment these days.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2007

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:24 pm

Big Magilla wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:The adapted slate is pretty solid. I only regret there wasn't room for Zodiac (my memory's telling me it was noted by the WGA; am I correct?).


Yes, as I noted below.

Sorry: I read your piece when you first posted it, and had forgotten that detail by the time I got to writing my take.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2007

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:12 pm

Mister Tee wrote:The adapted slate is pretty solid. I only regret there wasn't room for Zodiac (my memory's telling me it was noted by the WGA; am I correct?).


Yes, as I noted below.
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Re: Best Screenplay 2007

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:52 pm

The adapted slate is pretty solid. I only regret there wasn't room for Zodiac (my memory's telling me it was noted by the WGA; am I correct?).

My least-favorite would be The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which had some decent directorial flourishes but just wasn't that compelling as a piece of screenwriting. I never understood why so many mainstream critics seemed to consider it profound work.

Atonement has the good fortune of splendid source material, and a director who only partially fails to make the most of it. The outlines of McEwan's novel remain (except of course for the re-imagined finale), and make this a more than respectable nominee.

Away from Her is touching, elliptical work. I found it somewhat less compelling in the second half, dealing with the Pinsent/Olympia Dukakis faceoffs. That was at least partly due to the absence of the luminous Julie Christie presence, but also because, having invested so much time into her story, I didn't want it mostly resolved off-screen. I'm sure the intent was to recreate what Pinsent's character wold be experiencing, and it works on that level, but I would have preferred a slight cheat that showed just a bit more of how the Christie/Murphy relationship evolved. So, as much as I like the film, I can't advocate for it as the best script in the category.

I've never read the Sinclair source novel, but I'm told what Anderson did in There Will Be Blood was halfway to an original screenplay. It's certainly powerful work, though for me it most dominantly exists as a directorial achievement (with a towering central performance). I gave Anderson my best director vote, but I'll split the prizes here...

...because I think No Country for Old Men is just an exceptional script: layered like fiction, but dramatically compelling every moment along the way. This is the movie that accomplishes what Atonement could not: it doesn't feast off its source; it enhances it. The NY Critics had it right: whether adapted or original, this was the year's best screenplay.

About the originals, I'm much less enthused.

There are Pixar films whose screenplays do rate consideration as the year's best -- Wall E and The Incredibles are the two toward which I'd lean. Ratatouille isn't a bad effort, but more middle of the pack -- in Finding Nemo territory.

Lars and the Real Girl (who now seems like an earlier draft of Her) is charming enough, and delicate about its borderline subject. But it's a bit too wispy for my vote.

Michael Clayton is a movie I'd love to have loved -- it has the ambience and construction of a movie I WOULD love. But the core story -- pharma company tries to cover up defective drug -- is a complete wheeze at this point, and, however well the film is put together, the emptiness at the center makes it evaporate upon completion.

Juno did have the advantage of being the Searchlight quirky comedy following Little Miss Sunshine, a film I'd found so over-rated that most anything would be a pleasure in comparison. There are a decent number of memorable lines in the film (and also some trying-so-damn-hard efforts, like "Honest to blog", and Eric's favorite). I didn't hate the win, but I took no pleasure in it, either. (I found Cody's work on The United States of Tara FAR superior)

I'd like to be able to say that, at least, there's The Savages to redeem the slate...but, truth is, I was somewhat disappointed in that, as well. It did have the asset of dealing with human characters, and two powerful actors at the center selling the material. But I found the dramaturgy a bit stodgy/Playhouse 90-ish, and the dialogue not so outstanding as to transcend that framework.

So, what do I do? I could abstain, but I just did that a year back, and I don't want to fall in that habit. So: I've voted for my least-unfavorite, which is The Savages..and now I'm uncomfortable seeing I helped push it into the lead.

Oh, well. Better luck next (last) year.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2007

Postby ITALIANO » Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:06 am

The Original BJ wrote:
ITALIANO wrote:For once I can vote even if there's a cartoon (do they ALWAYS have to nominate cartoons in this category lately?!).


I always knew you had an inner Damienite inside of you after all. :D



I guess you are right.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2007

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Jul 23, 2014 5:56 pm

ITALIANO wrote:For once I can vote even if there's a cartoon (do they ALWAYS have to nominate cartoons in this category lately?!).


I always knew you had an inner Damienite inside of you after all. :D

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Re: Best Screenplay 2007

Postby mlrg » Wed Jul 23, 2014 4:07 pm

Juno and Atonement

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Re: Best Screenplay 2007

Postby ITALIANO » Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:55 pm

For once I can vote even if there's a cartoon (do they ALWAYS have to nominate cartoons in this category lately?!). Because - surprise - I HAVE seen Ratatouille (or let's say most of it) at my 4-year-old nephew's insistence one day when I basically had to babysit him. What can I say? It's well-made, even rather charming... and my nephew adored it. But I'm not a bright 4-year-old and "movies" like this are definitely not for me. I find embarassing even just discussing them. Juno was THE film of the moment, so it had to win, but I've always found it more "smart" than really relevant. My vote goes to The Savages. It's probably MY kind of script - for the simple reason that it's about real people. You feel it; you feel that the writer has met them, that they exist, and this is honestly something that doesn't happen often in recent American cinema. It's a script "with a heart", but a quiet heart, and I appreciate that. It also helps that these characters are more or less my same age - an age when you are officially "mature", but often not exactly mature. These people arent "winners", by American standards, but they arent losers either - they are normal people, with their little but very human flaws and failures, and it's so rare now to see an American movie so "unforcedly" dedicated to people like this, that even just for this reason I must pick it. It's a little but very interesting movie.

In Adapted I voted for No Country for Old Men. Out of laziness, I admit it. It's objectively a good, inventive script, with a wider appeal, I guess, than most movies the Coens had written till then (True Grit hadn't come yet) - yet definitely not a compromise, still very much a "Coen movie", intelligent, quirky. To paraphrase Big Magilla, I see no reason to take the Coens' well-earned Oscar away from then - and it happens so rarely that I agree with the Academy in the writing categories. Still, I'm sure that if I spent more energy I could find very good reasons to vote instead for Away From Her, which is also about "real" people, and obviously a deeply-felt personal prooject. But as I said, I'm lazy.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2007

Postby Sabin » Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:51 pm

Come on, Eric. That's how all the kids talk nowhere never.

I haven't seen Juno since it first came out, but I feel like I would still like it okay. In retrospect, I chalk its success with the Academy more towards the Jason Reitman phenomenon than the Diablo Cody one. Daddy knows a lot of voters. If Juno is as Fox Searchlight a film as has ever been released, it certainly has more personality than Little Miss Sunshine and thus less a chance at a nomination. It had to be up against Julian Schnabel's art-on-its-sleeve The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Sean Penn's even more hipster affair, Into the Wild.
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Re: Best Screenplay 2007

Postby Eric » Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:54 am

Big Magilla wrote:I see no reason to take Diablo Cody's well-earned Oscar for Juno away from her.

No?

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Re: Best Screenplay 2007

Postby Sabin » Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:13 am

Best Original Screenplay for me is between The Savages and Ratatouille. It's so strange to think today that Tamara Jenkins' sibling dramedy was the critic's consensus choice for Best Screenplay across the board, but it's a strong film with some of the best acting of Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman's career. The former, especially, seemed like a far stronger contender going into the Oscar race not just for a nomination but her first win, and the latter is unusually gracious, naturalistic, and subtle on-camera, effortlessly conveying years of not listening to his sister. But I will be voting for Ratatouille, one of PIXAR's strangest, most thoughtful, and most delightful films. I suspect both of these films would have been nominated were the roster expanded.

RANKING
1. RATATOUILLE, Brad Bird
2. THE SAVAGES, Tamara Jenkins
3. JUNO, Diablo Cody
4. MICHAEL CLAYTON, Tony Gilroy
5. LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, Nancy Oliver

For Best Adapted, it's really hard to say between There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men. Like Sarah Polley's screenplay for Away from Her, There Will Be Blood is more the product of Paul Thomas Anderson's mind than the page. Because I've given him directing laurels this year and the Coens deserve something for their film, I'll go with No Country for Old Men. I have very mixed feelings about the ending of the film but I think I would like the epilogue a lot more on the page than on the screen.

RANKING
1. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, Joel & Ethan Coen
2. THERE WILL BE BLOOD, Paul Thomas Anderson
3. AWAY FROM HER, Sarah Polley
4. THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, Julian Schnabel
5. ATONEMENT, Christopher Hampton

(NOTE: Totally wrong about The Savages cleaning up. The New York Film Critic's Circle gave their Best Screenplay award to No Country for Old Men with Juno as their Runner Up.)
Last edited by Sabin on Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Best Screenplay 2007

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jul 23, 2014 9:56 am

Comedy rules in this year's nominations for Best Original Screenplay.

I actually liked Ratatoullie despite my revulsion for the film's subject, but I'm not sure I'd nominate it here. Still,it's a better choice than the WGA's selection of Knocked Up.

I really, really liked Lars and the Real Girl, but I see no reason to take Diablo Cody's well-earned Oscar for Juno away from her.

As for the drama nominees in this category, Michael Clayton was an OK suspense drama, but not all that special. The Savages was a real chore to sit through.

The five nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay were all deserving, although an equally strong case could be made for WGA nominees Into the Wild and Zodiac nominated in lieu of the ineligible Away from Her and Atonement.

I have a slight preference here for Away from Her but I'm fine with any of the other choices.
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