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Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:07 pm
by FilmFan720
In the Original category, Almost Famous is a pretty easy selection for me. It is such a beautiful examination of youth and art, but others here have said things far more poetic about it than I can. In fact, it is probably the only of these films I would have nominated. Erin Brockovich is a strong screenplay, but mostly in the way that it does what hundreds of other movies have done better and a little smarter. I'm not the biggest Lonergan fan, but there is some to like in You Can Count on Me, just not enough for me to really embrace the script. Gladiator works on several levels, but it's screenplay is not one of them. Billy Elliot is a film I saw once, was bored with, and never felt the need to reconsider.

This is all sad for me because I think there were so many really lovely scripts this year that got overlooked: Nurse Betty is easily Neil LaBute's best film, and I"m a little shocked it couldn't sneak in here. Unbreakable is probably M. Night Shyamalan's best film, although I know it has a lot of detractors. Chicken Run is a film that may have done better in the following years when the Animated Feature Oscar came about and animated films could get into these categories a little easier. Throw in Girl on the Bridge, Best in Show, Shadow of the Vampire, Small time Crooks, Space Cowboys or Meet the Parents and there were so many better places to look.

As for Adapted films, it goes down to the same one-two punch that everyone else has. Traffic is an amazing example of construction and characterization, although not having seen Traffik, I don't know how much of the work was done for Stephen Gaghan ever got to work. Wonder Boys, though, is a modern classic that deepens and gets funnier each passing year. It takes a massive book and finds exactly the right film to pull out of it. I love that film so much, I love what Steve Kloves did to bring it to the screen, and I whole-heartedly vote for it here.

Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 3:43 am
by The Original BJ
Under Adapted, my preferred alternates would be the very sad The House of Mirth and the very funny High Fidelity, both of which seemed like they had a pretty good shot until year-end awards virtually ignored the movies entirely.

Chocolat, of course, is an utterly lightweight nominee. But even beyond that, I find its whole premise rather obnoxiously jerry-rigged: this is a movie about religious oppression where the protagonist is causing outrage in her community because she opened a CHOCOLATE SHOP. Gee, whose side am I going to be on there? The silver lining is at least the movie didn't get in Best Pic--oh, wait.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a movie I should probably give another try. I've been enthusiastic about many Coen brothers films (especially since then), but at the time, this (along with The Big Lebowski) had me come to the conclusion that I just don't respond as well to the Coens in broad comedy mode. I think O Brother is gorgeously shot, and has an awesome soundtrack, but when I recall the screenplay, I think of a lot of scenes of over-the-top slapstick and too-silly dialogue. But, I'd be willing to revisit to see if some of the wackiness has grown on me in a decade and a half.

I'm a pretty strong fan of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and I do think the script is very solid, both in terms of its overall structure (few movies have pulled off the long, mid-film flashback as well as this does) and the grace notes within the story (like the ambiguous ending). But, to steal a line I've remembered ever since I read it in EW's Oscar issue, words were not what made this tiger roar. It's visually and musically gorgeous, and those fight scenes are a blast of energy, but it just doesn't fly quite as high in the writing department as the best scripts available here.

My vote comes down to the remaining two movies, and I see we've sided pretty strongly with Wonder Boys. I can't say I'd argue AGAINST that tide -- I think Wonder Boys is a hugely enjoyable movie, one I've revisited numerous times over the years, always finding new details to admire. I've not read Chabon's novel, but the script feels like it captures the complexity of great prose, in the way it allows so many humorous and poignant shadings to emerge from these characters throughout a relatively short period of time. As the child of professor parents, I can also say that the film does about as great a job as any of capturing what life as a faculty member is like -- the parties with the same people you just have to go to, the students who come in and out of your life (as well as the ones who stick around), the feeling that this school is more your home than it is for any of the students passing through. I also think there's a lot of wonderful observations about the creative process as metaphor for life -- I love the scene where Katie Holmes tells Douglas that he always taught her that writers make choices but he didn't seem to have made any, to say nothing of the perfect final shot. Steve Kloves pretty much went straight to Harry Potter land after this; I'd like to see him tackle another project as rich as Wonder Boys some time soon.

But I'll stick up for the winner, which is another movie I've watched over and over again since 2000, and it has only grown in my esteem. Traffic is a hugely ambitious movie, overflowing with characters and plot lines, but it's also a remarkably well-structured script, where every narrative works smashingly, and all of the film's pieces gel in a manner that is both gripping and emotionally resonant. I like the way that the stories operate on different levels, too, from the blisteringly emotional drama of the Douglas/Christensen conflict, to the suspense and moral thorniness of Zeta-Jones's ruthless actions, to the relaxed cool of del Toro's righteous crusade. And it balances all of these with great aplomb, so that the shocking intensity of Zeta-Jones demanding the hit feels completely of a piece with that great, wordless beat of del Toro watching the baseball game at the film's finale. The script really feels like it's taking you on a big journey from beginning to end. I know many have said that the film isn't revelatory, that its take on the subject just isn't inventive enough as it might have been. I'm not saying that argument is WRONG, but for me, the film's panoramic view of so many different sides of the North American drug wars, and the way it links global cultural conflict to individual lives in such piercing ways, makes it hugely compelling to me regardless. I think it's a very impressive feat of screenwriting, and it gets my vote.

Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:06 pm
by Mister Tee
I had the same problem as BJ yesterday -- it took me half a hour and multiple efforts to post my response to his Violet post. And I could never tell why it would work one time and not another; I just held my breath with every "Submit". It makes posting such a chore it hardly seems worth it.

I'm really reluctant to completely clear my cache, because it means I'd have to re-sign in at a number of places (at some of which I'm not sure I recall my password). I tried deleting just some, but it didn't seem to make a difference.

And the fact is, this is not happening to me anyplace else on the Internet -- I post at at least a few other spots, and the issue has never arisen. It's here only.

EDIT: And now this post went through easy-peasy -- yet it's longer than the bits I tried to post yesterday. What the hell's making it happen?

Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 2:58 am
by Precious Doll
The Original BJ wrote:Do any of the board moderators have any insight into how we can figure out what this 403 ridiculousness is? Is it a setting on my computer or something larger? I think other people have experienced it too, right? I don't mean to sound like a whiner, but it took me FIFTEEN MINUTES from the time I finished writing to figure out how to split up that last post into chunks that the board would accept, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the length acceptable posts can be. And frankly, it's no fun to go through this headache every time you want to post something longer than a couple sentences. (Not blaming anyone here, obviously, it's clearly a technical thing, but maybe there's a way to at least figure out how to not trigger it?)

I was having this problem. I never got around to trying Magilla's suggestion because it simply stopped after I posted about the problem over a week ago.

Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 2:44 am
by Big Magilla
All I can tell you is I don't have this problem. Have you tried clearing your cache as I suggested several times?

Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 2:32 am
by The Original BJ
Do any of the board moderators have any insight into how we can figure out what this 403 ridiculousness is? Is it a setting on my computer or something larger? I think other people have experienced it too, right? I don't mean to sound like a whiner, but it took me FIFTEEN MINUTES from the time I finished writing to figure out how to split up that last post into chunks that the board would accept, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the length acceptable posts can be. And frankly, it's no fun to go through this headache every time you want to post something longer than a couple sentences. (Not blaming anyone here, obviously, it's clearly a technical thing, but maybe there's a way to at least figure out how to not trigger it?)

Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 2:28 am
by The Original BJ
I think 2000 is a much better year than it's generally given credit for, but I don't think the writers did such a great job of picking out the cooler entries as they usually do, especially on the Original side.

Had it been eligible, the lovely Yi Yi of course would have merited nomination. I'd also pitch two alternates from disparate ends of the spectrum -- the polarizing Dancer in the Dark, which I felt combined tropes of melodramas and musicals into a strange yet greatly moving whole, and the hugely witty Chicken Run, which seemed to have just missed the bandwagon of animated films receiving writing nominations that began soon after.

Gladiator, especially, is the kind of movie that the writers typically leave off, even if it places in the top categories. It's a totally unimpressive nominee, a typical revenge movie plot dressed up in period garb, and I actually thought a lot of its dialogue bordered on faux historical silliness. Not a chance it gets my vote.

As others have said, Billy Elliott is a totally standard triumph of the human spirit drama, without much in the way of innovation. But even beyond that, I don't even think it's that articulate about its own story. The film shows us Billy flailing around in the tub for comic effect, but very little of him actually excelling at dancing. When the teacher brought up the audition for the ballet school, I thought, seriously? Is this kid even any GOOD? It's not even really very clear WHY Billy is interested in ballet -- at one point, the character is even asked this question, and nope, the writer couldn't even come up with a good answer there either. Toss in some odd thematic messages (If only labor unions didn't stand in the way of good kids' dreams so much!) and you have another no vote from me.

I think Erin Brockovich is a better-than-average bio drama, mostly thanks to Soderbergh and Roberts. But I wouldn't want to count out Susannah Grant's contribution either -- the movie has a lot of good zingers ("They're called boobs, Ed" and "That's all you got lady, two wrong feet and fucking ugly shoes!" above all), and pacing-wise it moves along pretty economically. Still, it's not a script I'd rate terribly highly, as the basic structure and contours of the plot feel familiar from countless other similar righteous crusader stories.

My vote comes down to the remaining two scripts, though even saying that makes it sound like it's a closer race for my vote than it is. Still, I think my runner-up, You Can Count on Me, is a pretty wonderful movie. It's small, yes, but it doesn't feel slight to me -- the story feels like it covers a lot of ground, partly because it seems to explore years worth of the Linney-Ruffalo relationship even though, time-wise, the film actually transpires over a relatively short period of time. And tonally, it runs the gamut, from laugh-out-loud scenes ("Well, it's a sin." "Good. I think it should be!") to moments that pack a big emotional wallop (like the finale). The relationships between brothers and sisters are so rarely explored on screen, and rarely have they been depicted in as complicated a manner as Kenneth Lonergan does here. This is totally a writer's movie, full of wonderfully compelling characters and strong dialogue, and I wouldn't begrudge anyone who chose it in this race.

Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 2:27 am
by The Original BJ
But Almost Famous was another one of those right movie/right time situations -- it was my clear favorite of the year back then, and Cameron Crowe winning this prize (after being cruelly denied nominations in the top categories) made for the highlight of my Oscar night. It gets my enthusiastic vote here. I just now went to the IMDB page for the film to pick out a couple of the best quotes from the movie...but how could you? The whole script is just one glorious exchange after another, full of sharp humor, deep well springs of emotion, and wonderful commentary about growing up, and learning that the worlds that seem so exciting to you as a kid reveal themselves to be a lot more complicated as you become an adult.

Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 2:27 am
by The Original BJ
I've said it before, that this story about a guy only a year older than I was in 2000, when I was really starting to get into writing and music, was pretty much catnip to me on first viewing -- who knows if I'd love the movie as much if I first saw it now.

Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 2:26 am
by The Original BJ
But I'd like to think I'd still enjoy it quite a bit, and perhaps even its themes of nostalgia would play even more strongly, given my own nostalgia for the time when I first saw it, a time when I was starting to deeply fall in love with the movies, in essence "to truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts." To paraphrase the movie's final scene, what do I love about Almost Famous? To begin with, everything.

Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:08 am
by Heksagon
The Original category has one excellent film (Almost Famous), one good film (You Can Count on Me) and three sub-par entries. I actually appreciate Gladiator more than most people here, but mainly as a directing/producing achievement. I don’t understand the occasional admiration for the predictable and bland Billy Elliot.

The Adapted category is otherwise excellent, except for the unfortunate nomination of Chocolat, which is one of the worst screenplay nominations ever. If there was even a mediocre film in its place, this could well be the strongest screenwriting line-up ever. My vote goes to Wonder Boys, which is my favorite film of the year.

Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 12:25 pm
by Mister Tee
I can think of several adaptations I rank higher than most on the Academy’s list: the very funny High Fidelity, the piercing House of Mirth, and the moving The Virgin Suicides – still, I think, my favorite Sofia Coppola effort.

Chocolat is so obviously a trifling nominee it barely rates mention.

O Brother Where Are Thou? marked the moment the Coen brothers became perennial writers’ branch candidates – Fargo might have been a one-off; this unexpected citation began a stretch of recognition that continues to this day (though Llewyn Davis showed they can’t score every time). There was some mockery over O Brother getting in under adapted, since the brothers put it out that they’d never really read The Odyssey, but that seemed disingenuous to me. There was plenty lifted from Homer’s outline: the Cyclops, the Sirens, the suitors. For my part, I found the script a bit TOO mannered, even by Coen standards – after a while I was cringing every time Holly Hunter said “He’s bona fide”. I’ve voted for the team often enough, and this time I’ll pass.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a nice piece of work, dialogue included, but it’s clearly more a visual work, and my vote for Ang Lee’s directing covers most of my affection for the film.

Traffic is, scene-to-scene, well enough written, but as a whole it just doesn’t have the novelty or heft to do justice to its subject. I’ll always view the film as made worthy via Soderbergh’s world-class directing.

Sabin asks, is it heresy to say Wonder Boys is an improvement on Chabon's novel? Well, maybe "improvement" isn't quite the word, but Kloves certainly did a wonderful job making the story more suited to cinematizaton. When I was reading the book, at a certain point I said to myself, this would never make a movie; it's too diffuse. That moment occurred when Grady and company got to his family's home and took part in a family gathering. It was a perfectly well-written scene in the novel, but in dramatic terms it jumped the tracks: there were was no longer a clear forward motion to the narrative. Kloves' solution -- an inspired one, I thought -- was to have them arrive at the house and find it that the action of going back to the roots was preserved, but the storyline kept intact. Having the instinct to do that, as well as preserving the wonderful wit of the remainder of Chabon's novel, makes Steve Kloves my easy pick in this category.

Over on the original side, Yi Yi is the most obvious substitution, but I, like Sabin, view it as not really writer-centered. So, even were it available here, I wouldn’t be checking it off.

Gladiator has reasonably literate dialogue – by the standards of ancient Rome films – but its over-arching plot line is closer to summer action movie than is generally acknowledge.

Billy Elliott to me is indistinguishable from a dozen other “working class kid with a dream” films that the Brits have turned out over the past 10-20 years (probably Americans, too, though those don’t seem to get as much hype). Such films always seemed praised for their negative virtues – for not letting their cornball premises spill all the way over into cloying. No vote from me.

Erin Brockovich is another film Soderbergh, in his annus mirabilis, elevated way above the pedestrian nature of his script. Yes, the film is wittier/livelier than a TV movie on the same subject would have been…but I hope for a bit more than that in Oscar contenders.

You Can Count on Me is a pleasing piece of work – it nicely observes family relationships, and has some very funny dialogue. But It’s a truly wee thing: indie in the most limiting sense. I understand critics wanting to boost such well-meaning films, but I’d only vote for this if nothing more ambitious were available.

And Almost Famous is here, which gets my vote easily, being my favorite movie of the year, filled with witty observation. The coverage of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death gave me an opportunity to watch his final scene with Fugit again, and confirm my view it’s just a perfectly written scene (“I’m always home; I’m not cool”). The film teems with such scenes. It also captures what it would be like for a teenager to be thrown in among a group not a whole lot older than he, riding a wave of success and privilege beyond their imagining, but realizing in the end they’re really still more kids than grown-ups. Almost Famous is funny throughout, and as good a coming of age movie as American has produced in eons. I’m happy to give it my vote.

Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:44 pm
Four of the five nominees in Original are - maybe not very good but let's say respectable, especially from a technical point of view - Billy Elliott for example seems to have been written following every single rule in those typical Write-a-Screenplay books. I think the same can be said of Erin Brokovich. It's not like these two movies don't have their dose of emotional truth - but they are really mostly examples of professional writing. Almost Famous is obviously more personal, so it's a pity that its writer-director, though obviously involved, can't go much deeper than a pleasant surface. This leaves me with You Can Count on Me - not a masterpiece perhaps, but reasonably insightful and deeply-felt.

I realize now that I've never seen O Brother, Where Art Thou, which I guess I'd vote for otherwise, especially as the other Adapted screenplays aren't totally convincing. Of those four I'd probably pick Wonder Boys, but only by default.

Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:03 am
by Sabin
I hesitated at including it so low on my rankings, but if I'm not sure it's quite the year's best screenwriting, it is the year's best picture. 2000 arrived near the start of a run of good taste by the Director's Branch that began with Being John Malkovich's Spike Jonze of Being John Malkovich and continued with Mulholland Drive's David Lynch, Talk to Her's Pedro Almodovar, City of God's Fernando Meirelles (don't love it, but what a breath of fresh air that would have otherwise been gulped up by Anthony Minghella or Gary Ross), and Vera Drake's Mike Leigh. Although the Academy's love of Stephen Daldry is well-known now, I have to believe that you get enough voters in a room and make them watch Yi Yi, then there must be a chance. And were the late Edward Yang nominated for Best Director, it would result in one of the biggest landslides we've had.

Re: Best Screenplay 2000

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 6:45 am
by Big Magilla
Sabin wrote:My choices for Best Screenplay of 2000
1. Steve Kloves, Wonder Boys
2. John Cusack, D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink, & Scott Rosenberg, High Fidelity
3. David Mamet, State and Main
4. Cameron Crowe, Almost Famous
5. Edward Yang, Yi Yi (A One and a Two...)

Yi Yi was and is my favorite film of 2000, and a screenplay nomination as well as a direction nomination for the gone too soon Edward Yang would have been wonderful but the film was not eligible for Oscar consideration apparently because the producers didn't know they had to submit paperwork to the Academy.