Best Screenplay 1998

1998 through 2007

What were the best original and adapted screenplays of 1998?

Bulworth (Warren Beatty, Jeremy Pikser)
3
6%
Life Is Beautiful (Vincenzo Cerami, Roberto Benigni)
0
No votes
Saving Private Ryan (Robert Rodat)
0
No votes
Shakespeare in Love (Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard)
9
18%
The Truman Show (Andrew Niccol)
12
24%
Gods and Monsters (Bill Condon)
11
22%
Out of Sight (Scott Frank)
7
14%
Primary Colors (Elaine May)
1
2%
A Simple Plan (Scott B. Smith)
2
4%
The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick)
4
8%
 
Total votes: 49

The Original BJ
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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby The Original BJ » Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:42 pm

ITALIANO wrote:
The Original BJ wrote:(I might even say that Benigni parading in on that neon green horse is...what's the right word to use...perhaps a little bit...infantile? :D)


:)

Movies CAN be a bit infantile. It's film criticism which can't be. :wink:


Hahaha. Nice.

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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby ITALIANO » Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:09 pm

The Original BJ wrote:(I might even say that Benigni parading in on that neon green horse is...what's the right word to use...perhaps a little bit...infantile? :D)


:)

Movies CAN be a bit infantile. It's film criticism which can't be. :wink:

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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby The Original BJ » Fri Sep 12, 2014 2:56 pm

I'm a bit less enthused about the Original slate overall. I have would liked nominations for the three candidates Mister Tee offered up -- Pleasantville, Happiness, and The Opposite of Sex.

I think Bulworth has a creative premise, and there are definitely laughs along the way -- the story of a political candidate who essentially becomes unhinged, and is therefore able to tap into what really irks his constituents about the seeming hopelessness of the political process, has some pretty biting observations along the way. But count me in the group that also finds the movie pretty scattershot -- it felt more to me like an early draft of an interesting idea than something with a narrative that had been carefully thought through.

Life is Beautiful is definitely an ambitious movie, and given both the subject matter and the film's unique approach to it, not something that can be quickly dismissed. But it, too, seems like a script with interesting ideas that weren't as finely calibrated as they might have been. For starters, although the first half of the story has its charms, I think it gets way too silly for the tone shift that follows. (I might even say that Benigni parading in on that neon green horse is...what's the right word to use...perhaps a little bit...infantile? :D) I found the second half considerably more compelling -- the idea that a man would make up a fantastical game to shield his child from the horrors of their surroundings has genuine power to it -- but I think the movie could have used some more skepticism toward this father's approach. When Benigni mis-translates the guard's commands to the other prisoners, I could only think, this is information the rest of these people might need to STAY ALIVE, are we supposed to admire that his actions are putting other people in real danger? Similarly, when he swaps out the camp's music for an opera song, it's played as a sweet romantic gesture for his wife, but if he'd been caught, he and his entire family could very likely have been slaughtered, no? I didn't think Benigni and his cowriter quite mined their conceit for the moral complexity it merited, and so I ultimately find the movie problematic in a lot of ways, despite admiring how much it bites off to chew.

I really like Saving Private Ryan, but I'll echo what I wrote about The Thin Red Line, though to an even stronger degree -- it just isn't a writer-centric enough movie to get my vote given the competition. This is not to disparage Robert Rodat's contribution, as I think one of the elements I like best about the movie (the almost black comic sensibility that runs through many of the scenes, as our heroes begin to find this mission more and more ridiculous) seems to be pretty squarely his influence. But beyond the fact that so much of the film owes its success to Spielberg's superb visualizing of the battle scenes, it's also easiest to blame the few bumps in the movie on its script, especially the surprise of the old man's identity (at exactly the wrong spot for a "gotcha!" moment), and the subsequent "Have I lived a good life?" speech, which feels like the conclusion to a far more sanctimonious movie than the one we'd been watching up to that point.

My vote comes down to the remaining two movies, and I could make an argument for choosing either. Shakespeare in Love is probably the more script-dependent of the two. It's full of so much witty dialogue ("The show must, you know..." "Go on...") a joy of a narrative that's very cleverly worked out, and the kind of storytelling allusions to Shakespeare's work that give the film an extra level of inventiveness. I like what Mister Tee wrote, that the movie is almost a modern version of an untold Shakespeare comedy, full of frivolity but with a deeply human sensibility, and a lot of insight on life, love, and the artistic process. Shakespeare in Love may not be a landmark film -- John Madden isn't what you'd call a visionary director -- but I think it's a total delight, and its script is much of the reason why.

But I cast my vote for The Truman Show, another movie which I think is full of huge imagination, from the dazzling tv world set up in its opening, to the manner in which Andrew Niccol just runs with this narrative in surprising and inventive plot directions, to even the way what begins as an enjoyably breezy comedy reveals itself to be something far more emotionally resonant by its conclusion. (I love the way Christof, the film's de facto antagonist, even gets a beautifully written speech near movie's end that shows that, in the end, he really does have an almost fatherly love for the hero of his show.) But I think the script ultimately clinches my vote for the way it tapped so perfectly into the zeitgeist at the time, for examining the burgeoning reality television boom as the outpouring of people's desires to observe the realities of other humans' lives, to see "the real world" in a manner that's structured enough to give it some kind of meaning, to have a collective narrative experience that we all share in an increasingly diffuse global media landscape. I, too, remain surprised The Truman Show missed the Best Picture lineup -- it's the kind of outstandingly reviewed Hollywood hit that would seem to have an easy path to recognition -- but it definitely deserved the nomination it earned in this category, and I'll go even further to give it my vote.

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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:03 am

Okri wrote:The book also has one more MAJOR moment after that the movie doesn't have (re: champagne).

You know, it's so long since I saw the movie -- and a year or two before that I read the book -- that I forget some of what made it in translation and what didn't. But, assuming what I'm thinking of is what you mean -- a near-climactic scene -- then, yes: the book got substantially darker and bloodier than the film.

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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby Okri » Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:04 pm

The book also has one more MAJOR moment after that the movie doesn't have (re: champagne).

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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Sep 11, 2014 4:46 pm

The Original BJ wrote:A Simple Plan .... (I feel like we've covered this before, but for those of us who haven't read the book, what's the big major change in the adaptation?)

Okay, anyone who doesn't want to know, go away now.




Gone yet?


So...at some point in the narrative -- not the very end; maybe at the three-quarters mark -- the character played in the film by Bill Paxton comes to the realization that his brother (the Billy Bob character) is such a loose cannon that he's going to give away the game at some point. He has this realization at a moment when he already has a shotgun in his hand, and, without giving it alot of thought, pulls the trigger and kills his brother.

It's a moment that, while horrifying, feels oddly rational/inevitable. I wonder if today, when audiences have seen Walter White take similar horrific actions, Raimi might have let Smith stick to the original.

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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:16 pm

Hyperbole alert: I think the 1998 Adapted Screenplay roster is one of the most impressive that category has ever yielded, with a very exciting, diverse slate of candidates.

It's the rare category where I don't even have an alternate to propose. (At some point, I will probably give The Butcher Boy another try, because I know Mister Tee responds so highly to it. I think it has exciting parts, but on first viewing it struck me as too uneven in storytelling to approach greatness.)

I'm not entirely sure where to rank The Thin Red Line in this field. I think it's by far the best MOVIE of the bunch, a gorgeous-looking, emotionally draining and deeply thoughtful war epic. And when any film reaches the heights this one does, I have to recognize the quality of the writing, especially its beautiful voiceover, a crucial element to Malick's filmography, and yet still one that might be a bit underrated in terms of its centrality to the success of his work. And yet, the movie's greatest strengths are so obviously visual/aural, rather than verbal/narrative. In a year without other options, I could have happily voted for it simply based on enthusiasm for the film. But this year, it just doesn't feel right to choose it over more obviously writer-centric work.

Scott Frank is a former student of my father's, so I knew him growing up as that guy who worked at the shoe store who wanted to write movies one day. Out of Sight was a big breakthrough for him -- even more than Get Shorty -- in precisely the way Sabin describes. It's not that the movie isn't a lark; it certainly is more escapist than profound. But, like Shakespeare in Love, it was entertainment of the most clever and well-crafted kind -- very funny, romantic in an almost classic movie way, but full of contemporary grit, and a nifty plot that's the obvious work of a screenwriter in full control of his material. I'm not quite as high as the National Society critics in thinking it was the best of '98, but I'd love for there to be a bunch more movies like it in any given calendar year.

Primary Colors was a real surprise for me. I knew it was a thinly veiled political comedy about the Clintons, but I went in expecting something along the lines of Wag the Dog, which (spoiler alert for '97) I thought had funny moments, but was so over-the-top I couldn't take it remotely seriously. Primary Colors, though, while full of very funny dialogue, was grounded in more serious ideas about the actual costs that result when one chooses to engage in the American political process, the way optimistic idealism must give way to Machiavellian ruthlessness. Kathy Bates's entire plot line is representative of the movie in microcosm -- wildly funny at the start, but revealing itself to be rather startling in its power by the time it reaches its conclusion. Not as singular an achievement as the script which gets my vote, but one of the best examples of political comedy in recent film.

A Simple Plan is a corker of a thriller, and the experience of watching it is akin to viewing a small snowball roll slowly down a hill, gathering weight until it becomes an unstoppable avalanche. From a plot standpoint, it's just wound magnificently tight, and makes for a hugely gripping watch, but it's also full of appealingly grim cynicism, and, in Billy Bob Thornton's character, a moral compass that elevates what could have been a simple suspense story into one of great tragedy. (I feel like we've covered this before, but for those of us who haven't read the book, what's the big major change in the adaptation?) This is the kind of screenplay -- situations go from bad to worse like falling dominoes -- that I typically respond to very well, and A Simple Plan is, if not a mold-breaker, a very effective example of that kind of craft.

But I think the Damienite choice was the right one this year, and I echo the Academy's support for Gods and Monsters. It's a smallish movie, but one that covers a lot more ground than I expected, incorporating Whale's war memories and filmography into the narrative in fascinating ways, while telling a very moving story about the unexpected friendship between two different people. Even the third major character -- Lynn Redgrave's eccentric housekeeper -- feels like such a unique presence in this plot, and is full of wonderful shadings of backstory, that she feels like almost another mini-movie within a story that does seem like it juggles a lot despite its seeming simplicity. This is one of the best film biographies of recent years, likely because it focuses its narrative on such a specific anecdote, while finding imaginative ways to reflect a fuller portrait of its protagonist's life. It's a very competitive category -- I truly wouldn't have problems with any of the nominees as victor -- but I see no reason to take Bill Condon's Oscar away.

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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby ITALIANO » Wed Sep 10, 2014 12:29 am

Mister Tee wrote:Well, obviously I'm in accord that people managing to survive concentration camps is a hopeful thing, but it's hopeful in a sort of generic way, not specific to the characters in Life is Beautiful. And this gets to my overall problem with the film: I think Benigni's ambition exceeds the depth of his talent. If yu're going to do something risky like stage comic vignettes inside a (realistic) death camp, you'd better have more to fall back on "and some of them survived" as your ending". What I saw as I watched the film was a woman who was leading a flavorless life until this man came along to light it up...and then a son, produced by their marriage, whose entire life seems knit around the joy his father brings into it. To be told, at the climax, that removing the life-force father from the scene (by martyrdom) creates an at least marginally uplifting ending rubs me wrong: I don't even recall a scene between the mother and child that would lead me to feel that the two of them surviving together means much of anything beyond "a mother's love" -- another fairly generic trope that didn't connect specifically to this set of characters. I wasn't expecting O'Neill, but I was hoping for something more unique, given the grandeur of the concept.



Well, I'd say it''s a bitter-sweet ending - "marginally uplifting" because at least two of them survive. And the death camp isn't exactly realistic.

Emotionally important characters die all the time in movies, even realistic movies. The others survive, and I don't think any viewers think their life is worthless now. And applied to real life this (interresting, I admit it) way of thinking is probably culturally understandable in America, but a bit less so in the part of the worldI I live in and that movie comes from.

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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:23 pm

Well, obviously I'm in accord that people managing to survive concentration camps is a hopeful thing, but it's hopeful in a sort of generic way, not specific to the characters in Life is Beautiful. And this gets to my overall problem with the film: I think Benigni's ambition exceeds the depth of his talent. If yu're going to do something risky like stage comic vignettes inside a (realistic) death camp, you'd better have more to fall back on "and some of them survived" as your ending". What I saw as I watched the film was a woman who was leading a flavorless life until this man came along to light it up...and then a son, produced by their marriage, whose entire life seems knit around the joy his father brings into it. To be told, at the climax, that removing the life-force father from the scene (by martyrdom) creates an at least marginally uplifting ending rubs me wrong: I don't even recall a scene between the mother and child that would lead me to feel that the two of them surviving together means much of anything beyond "a mother's love" -- another fairly generic trope that didn't connect specifically to this set of characters. I wasn't expecting O'Neill, but I was hoping for something more unique, given the grandeur of the concept.

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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:21 am

Mamma mia, we are sensitive, arent we? :)

And the Oscar was for "most American thought" - Europeans are eligible too, if they try hard...

Now, seriously, Mister Tee - Life is Beautiful isn't a play by Eugene O'Neill, you can't apply to its characters the same kind of psychological logic you'd apply to characters in a realistic American drama, come on :) And honestly, even in American dramas, isn't surviving - even without an important person - better than being sent to a gas chamber?! I mean - in LIFE, even!!! I respect most of what you write, don't get me wrong, and I certainly read every post you write carefully, because they are always interesting - but I'm glad that sometimes the American in you comes out with surreal things like this, so please don't stop - I want more Oscars for you in the future! (Heksagon is less prolific).

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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:04 am

ITALIANO wrote:
Mister Tee wrote: And the ending, while seemingly “happy”, really jarred me: the Benigni character seemed to be the only person who gave meaning to either his wife or son’s lives; how is his dying to bring them together a satisfying finish?


And the Oscar for the most American thought of the year goes to... Mister Tee!!!!! (Congratulations - beating Big Magilla and Heksagon wasn't easy).

I presume this is meant to be condescending, but, apart from that, I have no idea what point it's trying to make. If you care to engage on the subject, I'll be glad to explain further, but if you're simply doing hit-and-run snark, don't waste my time.

I d wonder how Heksagon feels about being called American.

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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Sep 09, 2014 4:05 am

Mister Tee wrote: And the ending, while seemingly “happy”, really jarred me: the Benigni character seemed to be the only person who gave meaning to either his wife or son’s lives; how is his dying to bring them together a satisfying finish?


And the Oscar for the most American thought of the year goes to... Mister Tee!!!!! (Congratulations - beating Big Magilla and Heksagon wasn't easy).

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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:29 pm

In 1998, the writers’ branch came up with strong, praiseworthy slates, but somehow managed to omit my top choice on each side.

My winner under adapted, it should surprise no one here, would be my favorite film of 1998, The Butcher Boy – the rare case where a high-quality novel is made into an equally impressive film. The story’s context, early 60s cold war childhood, matches my life almost precisely (except for the fact I grew up in a Queens Irish neighborhood rather than in Ireland itself), and catches much of the heartbreak of both the era and the time in lifebeautifully.

I’m not among those who’ve gone back and changed his opinion on The Thin Red Line (I find I rarely feel differently about films on second viewing – even some I’ve revisited after 30-40 years leave me with largely the same impressions). I think the film works dramatically through the entire taking of the hill, but collapses into incoherence thereafter. And even during the impressive segments, the film is far stronger visually than verbally (quotations from Homer notwithstanding).

Dirty personal secret: I’ve never really got the widespread acclaim for Elmore Leonard. I’ve read a HUGE number of contemporary mystery novelists over the past few decades – Lawrence Block, Dennis Lehane, Ian Rankin, Laura Lippman, Sara Paretsky, Jo Nesbo – and I’m generally a soft touch for them. But the two or three Leonards I’ve tried (including La Brava, which I’ve heard touted as his best) have failed to engage me beyond a minor level. I’ll say this for Out of Sight: it very much recaptures the feeling I’ve had reading his novels – a feeling of “that was okay, but what is it people are getting excited about?”

A Simple Plan was an enjoyable, doom-y thriller on the page, and Raimi’s film kept most of its flavor intact. Scott B. Smith did make one significant change from his novel (that made the film a tad less fatalistic), but otherwise transferred the story pretty well. It’s a minor work, but worthy of note.

I think Gods and Monster has its weaknesses. The opening striptease/interview feels stagy in the extreme, and the final encounter between McKellen and Fraser doesn’t work for me at all (I have no idea what I was supposed to feel about the scene). But there’s a lot of wonderful stuff, as well: using Whale’s wartime memories, and his film work, as counterpoint to his diminished life, creates a dimensional portrait of an artist past his time playing out the string till he can bear it no more. The final moments of the film are deeply touching. I had no great objection to the Academy’s choice.

But, going off on (apparently) my own, I cast my vote for Primary Colors. This may be another case (like with Mystic River) where I appreciate the film particularly in contrast to its source novel, which I found pretty unmemorable. The events remain the same (Klein hadn’t exactly invented them, either – replicating 1992 reality in thinly disguised form), but May and Nichols (together again!) find something essential at the core: the idea that politics can indeed be a brutal, cruel, unseemly arena, but that someone’s going to win at it, and lives depend on who that winner is. The Stantons are far from pure characters, but the film sees them as at least caring about outcomes for ordinary Americans, and willing to endure the sludge they’ll have to wade through to make those outcomes better. It’s a film at once very cynical about politics and appreciative of those who make the fight regardless. (A friend of mine says that the late-night scene at the Pie House, Stanton listening to a low-wage employee’s complaints, was the side of Clinton that the cynical press could never believe in, but was key to his success) I found this take on the political gestalt more interesting than anything the other nominated films had on offer.

On the original side, my vote would probably have gone to Happiness had it been an option (though it would have been close with another contender). Solondz’s script is a true original, one many people are likely to find ugly (I learned early on not to recommend it to most). But it’s often incongruously hilarious, in almost a Woody Allen vein had he continued in his 70s/80s vein, and an extremely accomplished piece.

I could also easily see The Opposite of Sex, or even Pleasantville, nominated in place of some actual nominees.

As I said in the last thread, I didn’t show up here till the days after the ’98 presentations, so my opinion of Life is Beautiful owes nothing to group pressure. I don’t find it a bad movie – I admire ambition, and dealing with a concentration camp in near-farce style is risky if nothing else. But I don’t find the film successful enough in balancing tones to label it any kind of triumph. The film’s first half, I’ve said before, struck me as almost a sequence of skits knit around posed images – The Brightly Colored Horse, etc. The remainder – the camp sequences – require a major suspension of disbelief (that this con of his son could have kept on as long as it did; that no one would have said “Hey, screw your game, we’re fighting for our lives here”). And the ending, while seemingly “happy”, really jarred me: the Benigni character seemed to be the only person who gave meaning to either his wife or son’s lives; how is his dying to bring them together a satisfying finish?

Saving Private Ryan has some decent script ideas (especially in the first half) – the graveyard humor of looking through dogtags; the plane that crashed from failure to calculate extra weight. But most of the film’s virtues are visual/visceral, and not the product of the screenwriter. Had the film not been the best picture bigfoot it was, the script would never have been nominated on its own.

What others are complaining of in Bulworth may be what I like most about it: it’s raggedness. The film has a really out-there premise, and it never does much to reel itself in – going in every more zany directions, trying to capture (in very different fashion from Primary Colors) the insanity of the political process, and how far it feels from many people’s lives. I’m not voting for it – in the end, I prefer two films that are better-grounded – but I salute it for its inventive quality.

The Truman Show had a bit too much pre-release hype – from Frank Rich as political columnist, among others – which may be why, despite strong reviews and excellent grosses, it withered as an Oscar candidate (I was shocked Thin Red Line & Elizabeth topped it on the best picture slate). I never saw whatever Twilight Zone episode it’s supposed to have echoed; for me it was fully original, and quite praiseworthy – easily my favorite among Peter Weir’s directorial nominations. The only flaw is an ending that feels a bit abrupt and deflating; the film needed to end on a high, but instead floated into a pillow. Still, in many years I could have chosen it.

But my favorite of the group is the Academy’s choice, Shakespeare in Love, and I’m frankly surprised at the disdain with which it’s viewed by some here. Nearly everyone I knew loved the picture – not thinking of it as major work, perhaps, but dazzled by the sheer cleverness on display, and the richness of the interwoven themes. For me, it had something of the quality of Shakespeare’s comedies themselves: knit around classical plots, but finding bountiful human observation in among the laughter. It would have been very tight between this film and Happiness for the year’s best original; with Happiness sidelined, Shakespeare is an easy check-off for me.

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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby Heksagon » Wed Sep 03, 2014 1:13 am

Both categories have a lot of respectable, but not great nominees. Overall, there is only film here which I really don’t like - Shakespeare in Love, which is currently winning its category with heaps of praise in the comments. I just don’t understand the admiration it has.

Even so, in the Original category there is only one film that I’m really enthusiastic about, namely The Truman Show. Saving Private Ryan is a good film overall, but it’s really a direction achievement; the screenplay is not that great.

In the Adapted category, Gods and Monsters, Out of Sight and The Thin Red Line are good, A Simple Plan is borderline good, and Primary Colors is mediocre. My vote goes to Out of Sight.

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Re: Best Screenplay 1998

Postby Sabin » Mon Sep 01, 2014 3:34 pm

My first year here. My first posts written from my Father's office on a Pentium that wasn't much longer for the world. And as I've grown, so have the movies from 1998. I was rank and file with the conventional wisdom of the time that Saving Private Ryan was the year's clear best. I totally didn't get The Thin Red Line, and Rushmore was already burrowing deep in my mind but I certainly hadn't thought it anything great yet. I'm not sure I'd seen Gods and Monsters or Out of Sight yet. I wasn't grown enough to appreciate it yet, but 1998 was a year of heavenly movies. Movies to get lost in and watch again and again. Most of what are now my favorite films of the year are represented in these lineups and for the most part, the Academy did a very good job in rewarding them.

Firstly, I join the Academy in lauding the writing of Shakespeare in Love, a wonderful film then, a wonderful film now. Had it not beaten Saving Private Ryan, I think audiences today might acknowledge the two films as relative equals, even though they're not. Brokeback Mountain's loss solidified its greatness because just when it was starting to appear mainstream calculation (white elephant even), it was locked in injustice. Saving Private Ryan is much the same. Justifiable criticisms against its writing problems, its clumsy flashback structure evoking Titanic which wasn't even nominated for its writing, its archetype usage, etc, were immediately dismissed. Had Robert Rodat (who?) triumphed over Shakespeare's script, now that would be injustice! I haven't seen Saving Private Ryan more than once or twice more since its release but I've returned to Shakespeare in Love at least six or seven additional times. Certainly, it's wise to the era, but it's also contemporary in a way that should play insufferably but feels invigorating. Everybody is in a desperate, funny, often selfish panic (Will must spend a fifth of the film running away from enemies) in direct contrast to Stephen Warbeck's noble score. If the Academy has carved out a responsibility in honoring the best of middlebrow year in and year out, they've done much, much worse than Shakespeare in Love, and to be honest in the past twenty years they've rarely done better.

The minute Being John Malkovich came out, The Truman Show seemed much, much older indeed. It's a very good film that I don't think I've managed to quite love because its third act just doesn't seem as transformative as it should. For such a confident, imaginative, and funny film, it never seems smarter than its concept and that's because the third act should climax with Truman breaking free of his world rather than simply end. It ends up feeling like it's patting itself on the back. Ironically, this is a major writing problem, and Andrew Niccol's subsequent career makes it seem all the more evident. Still, a good, entertaining film, although admittedly one that no longer seems unjustly robbed like it once did. And if The Truman Show seems dated, my God, watch Bulworth today! Actually to be honest, I have not too terribly long ago and much of the film feels a weird combination of under- and over-thought (which is to say very Beatty in that you can virtually hear him pacing back and forth in his Mansion cobbling this film today; whatever the draft was prior to the one that was shot, that was the one). It's a very well-shot, well-acted film that is most memorable for its speeches, but it's not as substantive as it should be and is most memorable and rousing for its speeches...which is kinda what Warren Beatty is fighting against. These days, I find Bulworth quaint. It's been some time since I last watched Life is Beautiful, but I remember liking the script enough. It has the staging of a strong narrative and there are some very entertaining set-pieces, all of which involve strong wordplay.

The Thin Red Line is the best film nominated since Goodfellas, maybe even better. It's a great, great film that I was utterly wrong about when it first came out in thinking that it was a bit of a mess or worse: incomplete. I've voted it Best Picture and Best Director, and if we keep going with categories I'll likely give it more award than anything else in 1998, but I'm not sure I can honor its writing. Marco writes that Saving Private Ryan is more a director's film than a writer's film. Certainly, Terrence Malick is both writer and director (and my God, a thinker!) but he's just operating within a different paradigm than these writers, and considering I've already honored his directing (which is to say his "vision"), there's no need to extend onward in this field especially if one enjoys the writing of Elaine May, Scott Smith, Scott Frank, and Bill Condon -- and I do immensely.

A very difficult choice between Gods and Monsters and Out of Sight. I began by calling 1998 a year of heavenly films and Out of Sight is close to rapturous and an example of what Hollywood can accidentally do. With the right casting, directing, and absolutely the right script, they can back-asswards their way into an amazing piece of escapism full of rich characters and scenes. I've seen Out of Sight countless times and Scott Frank is a very intelligent writer who was at the top of his game here. He gets my vote.

The best screenplays of 1998, in my opinion:
1. Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson, Rushmore
2. Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard, Shakespeare in Love
3. Scott Frank, Out of Sight
4. Bill Condon, Gods and Monsters
5. Ed Decter & John J. Strauss [story & screenplay] and Peter & Bobby Farrelly [screenplay], There's Something About Mary
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver


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