Best Screenplay 2006

1998 through 2007

What were the best original and adapted screenplays of 2006?

Babel (Guillermo Arriaga)
3
6%
Letters from Iwo Jima (Iris Yamashita, Paul Haggis)
6
13%
Little Miss Sunshine (Michael Arndt)
3
6%
Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro)
6
13%
The Queen (Peter Morgan)
5
10%
Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, Dan Mazer, Todd Phillips)
0
No votes
Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby)
11
23%
The Departed (William Monaghan)
7
15%
Little Children (Todd Field, Tom Perrota)
2
4%
Notes on a Scandal (Patrick Marber)
5
10%
 
Total votes: 48

Heksagon
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Re: Best Screenplay 2006

Postby Heksagon » Sat Aug 09, 2014 12:52 am

In the Original category, Letters and The Queen are the two best nominees over-all this year, and the only good nominees in this category. Letters is the better film of these two, but that is perhaps more because of the direction rather than the screenplay. But after some thinking I decided to vote Letters anyway.

The rest of the nominees feel sub-par. I must admit that I don’t understand the admiration for the screenplay of Pan’s Labyrinth in here (and elsewhere). Visually and technically it’s a splendid film, but the story and the characters feel like they are lifted from a second-rate comic book.

In the Adapted category, none of these films are as good as Letters or The Queen, but on the other hand, I feel that only Borat is a really weak nominee. The rest are at least respectable, even if I’m not hugely excited about any of them. My vote goes to The Departed.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2006

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Aug 03, 2014 11:16 pm

Mister Tee wrote:Once again I've fallen way behind, so I'm operating in terser-than-usual, catch-up style. (We are cutting back to one a week soon, aren't we?)


After 1998.

Here's the schedule:
This week: Wed or Thurs - 2003; Sat or Sun - 2002.
Next week: Wed or Thurs - 2001; Sat or Sun - 2000.
Following week: Wed or Thurs - 1999; Sat or Sun - 1998
Week after that: One per week, probably over the weekend.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

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Re: Best Screenplay 2006

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Aug 03, 2014 11:01 pm

Once again I've fallen way behind, so I'm operating in terser-than-usual, catch-up style. (We are cutting back to one a week soon, aren't we?)

This was by and large a good batch of selections by the writers' branch, and far more inventive than I remember expecting going into the recitation of the nominations. On both sides, I'd have nominated most of the same films, with maybe one substitution only.

In original, my replacement would have been Volver -- not Pedro's best, but well above most people's average. And it would have kicked out the cursed winner, Little Miss Sunshine, which I found the most overrated indie of the era. I'm very fond of most of the actors involved, but I felt sorry for them having to deal with this patchwork of a script, full of too many ideas (grandpa dies, brother discovers his color-blindness will keep him from his dreams, dad's business collapses -- all in one weekend!), a number of bad ones (most centered around the unlikely beauty contest), and a non-ending.

I stand with BJ in the "Babel's better than its rep" camp, but not enough to vote for its script. I see the film as a triumph of visuals over interesting but not fully realized script.

I think Letters from Iwo Jima is one of the two best movies of this group, but I give most of the credit to Eastwood, for his elegiac tone. Haggis' script is better than the one he provided for Crash, but has its clunker moments.

Pan's Labyrinth is the other "best", and it gets closer to taking my vote. But it, too, is a visual feast, and, though its story is well worked out, I can't recall any memorable dialogue.

The Queen DOES have memorable dialogue, as well as a canny take on the Diana death-circus that shows how it fits into the last half century of monarchial history. So, despite the fact that The Queen is smaller in scope than the two previously mentioned, and thus a lesser film, I think simply judging in terms of script, it'd have to be my choice.

Over in adaptation, I don't think Borat's nomination is all that deserving -- it felt like some writers trying to be cool -- but I can't come up with anything that particularly deserved to displace it.

Perrotta's Little Children was a very problematic novel, but he and Field managed to make it more palatable with some of the alterations and omissions. It's still a lumpy thing, but clearly intelligent, and full of interesting elements. Not enough to get my vote, but admirable.

The remaining three are all very strong nominees. It may surprise some, who know my overall adoration of Children of Men, to see that I'm not voting for it here. It's for some of the same reasons that I cited with Pan's Labyrinth: I think it's a beautifully worked out story, not just a directing feat, but I don't feel it's a film where a writer's voice dominates. What dialogue there is is piquant, and serves the story perfectly, but there are few rhetorical flourishes to make one appreciate it as pure screenplay. There are years where I might have voted for it, but not here.

The Departed has more flashy dialogue, and it's fun to listen to, but the story felt a bit trivial to me. A contender, but not my choice.

I know a great many people would make the same triviality pronouncement about Notes on a Scandal, but there I thought the level of wit was so high that it truly seemed to be carrying the movie. It's the candidate in this group that most made me feel I was in the hands of a scriptwriter. So, in a close call, it gets my check mark.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2006

Postby mlrg » Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:55 pm

voted for the departed and Little Miss Sunshine

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Re: Best Screenplay 2006

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:05 am

My top two this year in Original would have been Volver and The Science of Sleep. The latter, of course, was more of a personal preference, but I went into nominations morning thinking the former would make it. I think both movies may have been hurt by comparison to the even stronger scripts that won their respective filmmakers this prize in recent years.

There is one nominee in this category that I think is genuinely lousy, and of course, that was the one that ended up winning. I think Little Miss Nothing is a pretty ridiculous piece of storytelling -- from the fact that that girl never would have won any kind of beauty pageant, to the coincidence of Steve Carell running into his ex-boyfriend on a road trip (in a moment that brings new meaning to the phrase "convenience store"), to leaving grandpa in the trunk of the car, I think the whole thing is just completely removed from anything that resembles reality. The silliness of the plot might have been more acceptable if the whole thing had just been more fun, but I didn't laugh very much at all. Most people in my real life react with surprise when I express that I actively disliked this one, but I can only show similar bewilderment that anyone would find this a noteworthy piece of writing.

I find the other four nominees acceptable, though there isn't one that strikes me as great-great. Pan's Labyrinth was full of imagination, and compelling dramatically as a portrait of a young girl's attempt to journey into fantasy to escape the horrors of her reality, only to find it impossible to truly remove herself from the tragedy of her real-life situation. But, of course, the movie derives most of its pleasure from the fantastic visual world del Toro and his collaborators bring to life; I think the script is pretty low on the list of the movie's achievements.

Letters From Iwo Jima is easily my favorite movie on this list, and I voted for it in the Picture/Director races. And I can see why people are voting for it here -- it is indeed unusual for an American war film to tell the story of "the enemy" and present it in such an emotionally sensitive manner. This is also a far more delicate, nuanced script than the one that brought Paul Haggis the prize a year earlier. But...at the end of the day, I feel that this movie, too, is more a triumph of visual imagery and tone than writing. It's the kind of script that I'd probably think was solid if I read it, but which I think became something really special once I saw what Eastwood had done with it.

On Oscar night, I was desperately hoping for The Queen to prevail, as the most likely upset candidate. And it was definitely an admirable piece of writing, which took a recent historical tragedy we all witnessed on non-stop news cycles and distilled it into both the story of one family's reaction to a sudden death, as well as the changing role of the monarchy in England. The script has moments that are quite touching (like the little girl letting Mirren know the flowers are for her) as well as some unexpectedly witty dialogue. But the script wasn't startlingly original either -- as many said at the time, it felt a lot more like a top-notch cable movie than something bracingly cinematic.

That brings me to Babel, a film which I know is widely loathed around these parts. And I will agree that the movie isn't a slam-dunk -- González Iñárritu has a tendency to dwell on misery, and the melodrama does become a bit much in the final reel. But I think that the film is way more interesting than just another Crash (this time with subtitles). I think the movie's ideas about the human struggle to communicate are articulated in ways that don't always feel obvious or expected, and the manner in which the stories are connected feels compelling to me thematically -- the film puts its examination of the globalization of the world in the post-9/11 era above the kind of gimmicky plot turns to which many interconnected/time-jumping ensemble dramas fall prey. Overall, I think Babel has the most ambitious script in terms of scope and narrative, and given that I think it succeeds at its aims far more than many do, I'm going to stick up for it here and give it my vote.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2006

Postby Sabin » Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:17 am

Pan's Labyrinth edges past Letters from Iwo Jima for me.

RANKING
1. PAN'S LABYRINTH, Guillermo Del Toro
2. LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, Iris Yamashita [screenplay], Paul Haggis & Iris Yamashita [story]
3. THE QUEEN, Peter Morgan
4. LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, Michael Arndt
5. BABEL, Guillermo Arriaga

For Best Adapted Screenplay, I remember thinking Children of Men was my filmgoing experience of the year pretty much from the second I left the theater and in retrospect it certainly seems harbinger of the Why-so-serious? comic book blockbusters that followed. Its screenplay however was admirable as an act of straightforward narrative that allowed for Alfonso Cuaron's technical virtuoso. Looking at how many writers it had, this project's narrative clearly zigged and zagged over the years. On the other hand, The Departed was my runner up for 2006, the kind of stupidly entertaining movie that is bound to look better than most of the films nominated for Best Picture -- that just happened to get nominated! Eight years ago, I remember finding its plottiness to be evidence of its great writing. Now I wonder if anybody but Martin Scorsese could make all that connective tissue remotely entertaining or even clear. Plotlines here and there go nowhere, such as what on earth Frank was doing with those microchips. It's hard to conceive of either film working at all without their directors -- but should that be to the screenwriter's detriment. The Departed benefits from stronger dialogue and some shockingly black turn of events along the way. My vote goes to William Monaghan and his two and a half hour dick measuring contest.

One of the biggest surprise of the year was Jason Reitman's omission for Thank You For Smoking.

RANKING
1. THE DEPARTED, William Monaghan
2. CHILDREN OF MEN, Alfonso Cuaron & Timothy J. Sexton and Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby
3. NOTES ON A SCANDAL, Patrick Marber
4. BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN, Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham & Dan Mazer [screenplay], Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynham, Anthony Hines, & Todd Phillips [story]
5. LITTLE CHILDREN, Todd Field & Tom Perrotta
Last edited by Sabin on Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best Screenplay 2006

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:59 am

For Original there's only one possible choice according to me: Letters from iwo Jima - one of the best war movies in recent memory (not that there are that many to choose from), and I think one of the few American movies of this kind to see the facts from the point of view of the "enemy" - and it actually does so with genuine empathy and compassion. Very good movie, quite strong script.
I dont think that Babel is actually so confused and confusing - despite its different locations and its narrative structure, it has that reassuring Stanley-Kramerish feel about it. It's just not as deep as it thinks it is. And Pan's Labyrinth is one of those international co-productions made with the American audience in mind - never a good sign. It's a fairy tale, even dark but still a fairy tale, and I can't take it more seriously than a cartoon.

In Adapted, Children of Men will easily win here. I wonder why, since especially its script doesn't seem to me especially deserving. It's the old story of the good guys escaping from the bad guys - as always in this kind of movies, the moment a character isn't necessary anymore from the narrative point of view, it's conveniently killed off or brutally kidnapped and disappears forever. Yes, I know, the world in this movie is infertile and one of the fugitives is a pregnant girl. This led to many critics and would-be critics, even on this board, to devote their most florid prose about how this isn't "just a movie", but an important "message to humanity", etc. It is, needless to say, just a movie, and not even a very good one. If I must find something interesting in this screenplay, I'd say that some minor characters - like the one played by Pam Ferris, or the gypsy woman - are rather nicely written.
I ended up voting for The Departed, though I haven't seen the original movie which it is based on, so I don't know if it's just a copy or an inventive develpment of it. But it's an entertaining, reasonably intelligent script, not a masterpiece but I guess the best of these five.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2006

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:49 am

The writers did a pretty decent job nominating this year. Of the also-rans on the Adapted side, Infamous would have been my main substitution.

Borat is such a weird nominee. It's in a genre Oscar doesn't usually want to touch, and to top it off, so much of the movie was seemingly improvised, to say nothing of the non-scripted reactions from bystanders. I thought the movie was pretty funny -- the nude wrestling bit was especially one of the funnier scenes in movies this decade -- but I wouldn't remotely consider it award-level work, and to cite its writing seems almost unfair to all those scribes who by comparison slaved over their plots and dialogue to bring their films to the screen.

I enjoyed Notes on a Scandal, but mostly as a goof. Watching two first-rate actresses such as Dench and Blanchett act to the hilt was entertaining, even when the story became ridiculous (or maybe, in this case, BECAUSE the story became ridiculous). The movie seems to know what kind of a potboiler it wants to be, and I think it succeeds well enough on that level -- I just about howled through the "we used to stroke each other" scene. But I can't take it seriously enough to give it my vote.

The double-mole premise to The Departed is pretty killer, and it, too, was pretty terrifically handled for this type of crime entertainment, full of rollicking plot energy and a lot of really funny dialogue. I think it's a solid enough winner, but it wouldn't be my choice, mainly because I thought the movie existed more as a very well-done entertainment than something with all that much weight to it. I also thought it went on too long, and there are places, particularly in the final reel, when I thought the script could have used some tightening.

I know Little Children has some pretty vocal detractors, and I do admit that the script has its flaws, mainly some too-obvious voice-over, and the fact that, once the movie reaches its ending, it just sort of stops, without really bringing the narrative threads together in a resonant way. But I still thought the movie was one of the year's most interesting efforts, a haunting suburban drama that's a clear descendant of American Beauty, but which forgoes that film's sense of satire for something more painfully bleak. I think there's quite a lot to chew on in this adaptation, and I definitely admire the script's ambition even if I wish it had been a little less messy.

But Children of Men is the best film of the year, and even if its script wasn't its most-praised element, this nomination still gives me a chance to honor the movie in a major way. The narrative is tremendously tight, setting up the details of the premise in the opening moments with great efficiency, before barrelling into the major thrust of the action. It's also full of dialogue I found more clever than anticipated, and by the end, the story peaks with great emotional power. The final escape sequence is an astounding feat of virtuoso camerawork, but the reason the scene works so well, as the military officials with guns react with awe as they one-by-one see the baby, is because it provides such killer narrative payoff for the journey we've been witnessing. After reading the novel, which I enjoyed, but which I didn't adore in quite the same way as the film, I was even more impressed by this group of writers' accomplishment at taking P.D. James's fantastic premise and mining it for even more impressive filmic gold. Children of Men gets my vote.

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Best Screenplay 2006

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Jul 27, 2014 12:43 am

I liked the screenplays for both of this year's winners. I thought the screenplay for Little Miss Sunshine was a breath of fresh air and I thought The Departed was as adept Americanization of the Hong Kong based Infernal Affairs as one could wish for. That said, I liked the scripts for the year's two best films, Pan's Labyrinth and Children of Men more.

Among originals, Letters from Iwo Jima and The Queen are also fine choices, but Babel sticks out like a very sore thumb. There was nothing about that film I liked, least of all the confused and confusing script. Betters choices would have been two other films nominated by the WGA in place of Pan's Labyrinth and Letters from Iwo Jima, namely United 93 and the very funny Stranger Than Fiction, but four out of five strong picks isn't bad.

Among adaptations, I liked Little Children and Notes on a Scandal, but found Borat to be just a bunch of stuff and nonsense, certainly nothing worthy of an Oscar nomination in any category. Fortunately this was its only one. The Devil Wears Prada and Thank You for Smoking, both of which were nominated by the WGA over Children of Men and Notes on a Scandal would have been better choices, but they are all also-rans next to Children of Men and The Departed.
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