Best Screenplay 2005

1998 through 2007

What were the best original and adapted screenplays of 2005?

Crash (Paul Haggis, Robert Moresco)
No votes
Good Night, and Good Luck. (George Clooney, Grant Heslov)
Match Point (Woody Allen)
The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach)
Syriana (Stephen Gaghan)
No votes
Brokeback Mountain (Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana)
Capote (Dan Futterman)
The Constant Gardener (Jeffey Caine)
A History of Violence Josh Olson)
Munich (Eric Roth)
Total votes: 49

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Re: Best Screenplay 2005

Postby FilmFan720 » Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:11 pm

Overall, this is one of the stronger slates of the decade.

In Adapted, I think that Brokeback Mountain is pretty far above the other nominees and an easy vote. I gladly endorse three other nominees: A History of Violence and Munich (besides the fact that both falter pretty badly in the last reel) and Capote, which is a film I adore pretty heartily. For a fifth nominee, I would have loved to see a foreign nod for Downfall, one of the most captivating films of the year, especially over the dull ramblings of The Constant Gardener.

Original also has three nominees I would cite: Match Point, The Squid and the Whale and Good Night and Good Luck. They would be my Top 3 in the category, and I would probably throw the award to Woody Allen (this would have been a much better third win for him than Midnight in Paris). The other two screenplays are both pretty horrible, jumbled pieces that should have been replaced by Michael Haneke's Cache and Mike Binder's lovely The Upside of Anger.
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Re: Best Screenplay 2005

Postby Heksagon » Sun Aug 10, 2014 1:26 pm

Surprise, surprise, another year when the Adapted slate is a lot better than the Original.

Nonetheless, my favorite film of the year is running in the Original - Good Night, and Good Luck, so it’s an easy choice. Match Point has some good ideas, but like most of Woody Allen’s recent efforts, it’s far from being a complete screenplay. The rest are just disappointing.

In the Adapted category, on the other hand, only The Constant Gardener did not impress me at all. It just feels artificial and lifeless to me; it may be that my expectations before seeing it were too high as well. Capote is decent, and the rest are good. My vote goes to Brokeback Mountain.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2005

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:08 pm

Continuing the speed-date...

Adapted was a reasonable field. The only replacement I'd insist on is Mysterious Skin.

To make room, I'd remove Capote, for roughly the reasons BJ cited. It wasn't a bad movie, but it piggy-backed on In Cold Blood to a surprising degree, and it took itself too seriously (Infamous seemed just as insightful about Capote while being much more fun).

The next three exist on a roughly parallel plane for me. A History of Violence was very intriguing most of the way, when you didn't know if Mortensen's character was simply a good man driven to extremes or a cold-blooded killer in disguise. Answering that took a lot of the juice out of the narrative, and the final sequence with William Hurt seemed like it was wrapping up a different movie. A worthy work, but flawed.

Regarding The Constant Gardener, I'm with BJ again, both in his ultimate disappointment in the narrative and his comparison to Michael Clayton. In each film, the story and characters got me gripped and appeared to be headed somewhere interesting, but went splat in the final reel.

Munich, too, has its late issues (chiefly that risible sweaty-sex and terrorist-flashback scene). But it works on a grander canvas than the others, and creates a very compelling police procedural for most of the way. Not a great movie, but another sign (along with Lincoln) that Spielberg hasn't reached the end of his tether quite yet.

But I, like most here, end up going for Brokeback Mountain. Brokeback, by contrast, for me has its problems at the beginning: I saw nothing in the day-to-day interaction between Ledger and Gyllenhaal that made their sudden decision to toss off all societal restraint and become lovers; that introductory segment, which set all the rest in motion, felt like the important steps had been left out. However..if I posited that such a sequence had been successfully rendered, I could perfectly easily live with the film that followed as a sensitive, gritty, insightful unfolding of that story. Really, I hugely liked most of the film, and it gets my vote as the strongest entry in this category. But I'll always wish it had been the fully realized work I was promised (and that many others seemed to see).

Original's a whole other thing. I'm enthused over several subtitled efforts -- The Best of Youth, of course, was likely ineligible, but as far as I know Look at Me and Cache were credible candidates, and I'd go for both over most of this field.

Yeah, I suppose Crash is first to go, though I didn't hate it to the depths of my soul the way many here did. Had it not pulled its infamous upset (or, better, not been nominated at all), I'd remember it as a mediocre film with some decent high spots. But as a major award winner, it's awful, with many of the worst aspects of the script (the wildly coincidental Dillon/Newton second meeting, the "magic protective vest") already highlighted here.

But I didn't think much more highly of The Squid and the Whale, which I thought was just as overrated by critics as Crash was by Academy folk. Chiefly, I hated the way the Jeff Daniels father character was drawn: it seemed to be Baumbach working out his rage at his father, because he just didn't cut the guy a break anywhere -- he was a phony, a philanderer, a predator of students, and to top it all, untalented. Compare this with the father in Look at Me, who fails in all sorts of ways as a parent, but is at least allowed the courtesy of being considered a good writer. It struck me that this movie's milieu -- the literature-educated NY Jewish upper middle class -- was right in the wheelhouse of many of the NY critics, and they fell for it way overmuch.

I've never understood the complaint about Syriana that it's confusing. It may be that I'm just such a regular reader/viewer of such stuff (for years my wife and I never missed BBC Mystery Monday), but I found it all perfectly comprehensible. My issue with it would be that it didn't add up to enough for its vast canvas (though more than Constant Gardener did). I'd view it as a respectable, three to three and a half star movie, and that's not enough to get my vote.

Good Night and Good Luck was my favorite film of this underachieving year, and it's a good enough script that I'd have been perfectly pleased to see it win (like BJ, I'd had the early hope that this would be Clooney's token win). But I more think of the film as a directorial achievement, and I prefer one film in the screenplay area...

...which is Match Point. I've told the Woody story many times. By the time he got through Curse of the Jade Scorpion and Anything Else, I thought the Woody of Manhattan and Crimes and Misdemeanors was as long gone as Tennessee Williams had been during that last sad decade or two of his life. For Woody to then re-emerge with this immensely clever, utterly surprising noir-ish thriller was a complete kick. I grant, the vague outlines of the plot came from Dreiser, but that end-twist -- where the fateful bounce of the ring seems to take the story one direction and ends up swerving another way -- was one of the most startling narrative surprises I've encountered in recent years. So, a vote for late, and not-as-great. but still in the game Woody.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2005

Postby The Original BJ » Sun Aug 03, 2014 3:21 am

The Best of Youth obviously towers over all of the nominees in Original. Of eligible options, I think I prefer the script to Junebug to anything nominated as well, and am surprised it didn't get more traction in this category.

Although my dislike grew as the season went on (culminating in the big nightmare), I didn't especially care for Crash when I saw it on opening day. The dialogue was full of bluntly obvious theme statements, there were too many scenes of characters behaving in completely ludicrous ways (worst of all, the Terrence Howard/Ryan Phillippe standoff) and the level of crass manipulation (at its worst in that invisibility cloak scene) really wore on my nerves. This win -- in tandem with Little Miss the next year -- marked a real nadir for this category after a pretty sterling run of winners.

Syriana was less actively bad than Crash, but I can't say I enjoyed it much either. Frankly, I found portions of it difficult to follow; at the time, I remember Richard Roeper arguing that it was the best movie of the year DESPITE the fact that you didn't know what was happening all the time. Well, sorry, but I think basic narrative coherence is a pretty fundamental aspect of great screenwriting. And for me, this script featured a lot of material that amounted to a vague sense of pessimism toward conflicts in the Middle East, but failed to articulate ideas in a specific enough manner that would have interested me.

When I started seeing Woody Allen movies in the theaters, they ranged from the minor to the dreadful, and I essentially assumed that the filmmaker's golden period was a thing of the past. In this context, Match Point came as a real tonic, especially for me -- I had seen some of Allen's earlier comedies, but none of his heavier stuff, so to see Allen's wit return in a twisty plot worthy of Hitchcock provided real pleasure. The movie obviously borrows elements from earlier works (both Allen's own as well as obviously An American Tragedy), but it still managed to surprise me several times as it headed towards its conclusion, and overall I found it to be a deliciously cynical, controlled piece of writing. But I'll be voting for Allen quite a lot in his heyday, for work that feels more quintessential, so I'll hold off here.

I thought The Squid and the Whale had kind of an obnoxious trailer, and I went into the movie a bit skeptical. But it won me over. Obviously, the slice-of-life story of a family of bourgeois New York authors is the kind of thing that would be catnip to the writers' branch, but the script has all kinds of interesting details and character beats, and it's full of both a lot of witty humor and human poignancy. There are definitely moments where it feels a bit writerly -- like the "let's explain the title of the movie" scene -- and it has a shaggy dog quality to it that isn't always my favorite style, but there's quite a bit about this script that I really admired.

But this is an easy vote for me for Good Night, and Good Luck, which I thought would take the Oscar in this category up until it lost the WGA. Clooney and Heslov take a snapshot of history and manage to make it feel relevant for contemporary times, pack a ton of detail into a short and economic script (that even takes place in only a few rooms!), and allow the film to feel gripping despite the fact that we know its ending and its villain only exists in stock footage. Perhaps not the wildly original candidate we have on option in some prior recent years, but a very worthy distillation of history, and the category Clooney deserved to win on Oscar night this year.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2005

Postby The Original BJ » Fri Aug 01, 2014 3:02 am

The Adapted slate is pretty strong this year. I'd argue for Mysterious Skin most among also-rans.

Capote is probably my least favorite of the nominees. I'm not down there at Damien's level of dislike -- I think it's a decent enough piece of writing, and it presents an interesting angle on a familiar story. But I think Infamous has far more life and humor to it, the kind of humor that seems more appropriate to a story about as outlandish a personality as Truman Capote. I find this script respectable enough but a little bit on the dull side, and wouldn't consider voting for it.

Critics cheered really loudly when The Constant Gardener opened that fall. When I saw it, I thought it was quite good, but I didn't exactly see God in it either. I think the flashback-laden structure is pretty consistently engaging, and Rachel Weisz's activist is a rather smashingly written character. But, sort of like Michael Clayton's similar evil pharmaceutical saga, the actual story resolves in a bit of a ho-hum way for me. So, points for intelligence and style, but some of the more familiar elements of the plot leave me less blown away than some.

Munich is a very ambitious movie that is structured like a consistently tense thriller (the Eric Roth influence?), but which contains a ton of fascinating thematic ideas and moral ambiguity (the Tony Kushner influence?) I really admired the way the movie doesn't decide that its protagonists are necessarily doing the right thing -- they're responding to horrific violence by continuing to perpetuate this cycle of violence, which can have its benefits but also requires severe moral compromises. Still, I think the rush to release allows some seams to show -- there are portions of the script that don't seem as streamlined as they might be, and I don't think the movie is quite sure how to end either (probably how that bizarre, sweat-drenched sex scene ended up in the movie). It's a film that bites off a lot, but I've already honored Kushner for tighter work, and will do the same for Roth down the line, so no vote this time.

I just about loved the first two-thirds of A History of Violence. I find its set-up hugely fascinating, and the way the characters are all forced to confront Mortensen's potential past is both satisfyingly tense, emotionally affecting, and even full of some great jet-black humor. Everything about the writing feels so controlled and precise. But...I thought the story took a pretty hard left turn once William Hurt showed up -- not only did the air of mystery just get let out of the balloon, but I felt the narrative devolved into a much more standard revenge movie finale, complete with a couple of bad laughs. Overall, I would still rate the movie very highly, but my disappointment in its ending is definitely a deal-breaker here.

So, I end up voting for the obvious choice. For me, Brokeback Mountain is the most fully successful script of the bunch. As with Away From Her, I thought the film did a very compelling job of expanding an already well-written short story into a very full film. There isn't really a ton of plot, but scene after scene is full of smart, restrained exchanges between a group of very well-drawn characters, and the collective impact is, if not emotionally wrenching, deeply poignant by film's end. And I think the way the film uses traditional western conventions in very modern ways allows it to feel fresh even though forbidden love stories aren't exactly groundbreaking movie narratives. The best script prevailed in this category.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2005

Postby ITALIANO » Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:54 am

Original isn't easy - none of the nominees is truly impressive - though none is actually bad either. Even the much-hated Crash has its moments, after all (some might say that it has too many "moments" in fact - sublety isn't its chief quality). I'm politically close to Syriana, but politics doesn't make me blind, and that script, while intelligent, sadly lacks a strong dramatic growth, an emotional urgency. As for the celebrated Squid and the Whale - an interesting personal effort, but I remember that when I saw it I found it full of intriguing touches but on the whole not completely successful. I've voted for Good Night and Good Luck, which isn't probably the most exciting piece of writing ever but is compact, focused, and (by today's standards) unusally true to the era it is set in.

Adapted is better this time. I think it's between Munich and Brokeback Mountain, but with the possible exception of The Constant Gardener they are all at least interesting. After seeing Munich I read the book it's based on, and was very disappointed - it's just a well-informed but very one-sided account of the Mossad agents reaction to Black September - and they are of course simply seen as total heroes. So I appreciated even more how the movie makes them more human, and how its approach is so much more problematic and even at times profound. Brokeback Mountain has the advantage of a much better original source, but that was a short story and the screenplay - while not perfect - is a very good example of adaptation for the screen. I've decided to vote for Brokeback Mountain, because in the end it's the better movie, but I admit that it hasn't been an easy choice.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2005

Postby mlrg » Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:57 pm

voted for A History of Violence and Match Point

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Re: Best Screenplay 2005

Postby Sabin » Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:37 am

The Squid and the Whale is by far my choice for Best Original Screenplay. Noah Baumbach's style has evolved from this film and it's no longer his best film (Frances Ha is) but it's beautifully written, personal, and brisk affair.

2. MATCH POINT, Woody Allen
3. GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. George Clooney & Grant Henslov
4. SYRIANA, Stephen Gaghan
5. CRASH, Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco [screenplay], Paul Haggis [story]

I voted for Munich in the categories of Picture and Director. In terms of writing, I always find the last act of the film disconnectedly disorienting. I have no problem tossing Brokeback Mountain a bone here for expanding Annie Proulx's short story.

1. BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana
2. MUNICH, Tony Kushner and Eric Roth
3. CAPOTE, Dan Futterman
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Re: Best Screenplay 2005

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:51 am

I am abstaining from original screenplay as I think that they are all mediocre at best and deserve to be in a 'which is the most overrated original screenplay of 2005?' thread of their own.

Brokeback is my pick whilst the only other adaptation of note is The Constant Gardner.

Was 2005 really such a bad year for screenplays in the English speaking world. Well, it's wasn't a stellar year but it wasn't that bad. Mysterious Skin, Palindromes, Loggerheads, Shopgirl, Happy Endings, Duma, The Ballad of Jack and Rose are all English language screenplays better then the 8 nominated. None of them stood a chance because none of them were 'promoted' to lazy Academy members who need to be spoon feed on what to watch.

I can't be bothered to check out non-English language films that may have been eligible but I imagine there would we a wealth of deserving nominees among them.
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Best Screenplay 2005

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:26 pm

I still don't get the adulation for the overwrought and overbearing Crash which at best deserved an original screenplay nomination, but not a win. My choice is Clooney and Heslov's urbane and engrossing Good NIght, and Good Luck., with Baumbach's witty script for The Squid and the Whale my second choice.

Of the also-rans, Woody Allen's script for Match Point remains the best of his later career but my choice for the fifth slot would be Millions, not Syriana, which was considered adapted by the WGA or for that matter, the WGA picks of Cinderella Man and The 40 Year-Old Virgin which they nominated in place of Syriana in original as wellas Match Point.

Beyond the fact that Brokeback Mountain was the year's best adapted screenplay, it was a real treat to see Larry McMurtry thirty-four years after his first nod for The Last Picture Show and forty-two years take home an Oscar. WGA carry-overs Capote; The Constant Gardener and A History of Violence were all excellent nominees as was the WGA ignored Munich.
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