Ah, 1998, for so many here our FIRST year together...
Now everyone will start shouting again - or maybe not, we are all a bit older after all - but yes, I think that Life is Beautiful is a good screenplay. Like it or not, it has a strong central idea and, once you accept the (obvious) fact that it's not a realistic or dramatic movie, it's done with a lightness of touch, a grace even, which reminds one of the great comic movies of the past (though, of course, the movie itself may be not as great). I've seriously thought of voting for it. After all, I found Bullworth very boring, and Saving Private Ryan is certainly more a director's than a writer's movie. Then there's The Truman Show, which also has a strong central idea, but it never really knows how to develop it - and especially from the emotional point of view, it's quite flat while it could have been much more involving.
So I didn't vote for Life is Beautiful only because there's Shakespeare in Love here. And Shakespeare in Love isn't a great or memorable movie, yet its script - with all its metaphors on acting (on stage and in life) and its tribute to the great Elizabethan theatre - is quite smart, cleverly constructed, not very profound of course but the most technically and expertly constructed of these five.
The Thin Red Line is, for once, a movie written by someone who not only has read books - but most importantly has read the right books, the great books. The classics. When I heard Nick Nolte in the movie quoting Homer in Greek ("eos rhododactylos"...) I almost applauded. The richness, the depth - even TOO literary sometimes, but never too much for me - the way individual characters, each with its own voice and destiny, merge into a collective, complex portrayal of War (and in this case yes, a capital w must be used)... I mean, this is obviously an award-caliber script (and no, I dont care if the voice-over was added later or whatever - we judge all these scrreenplays in their final form, the movie itself). And honestly... I dont want to start a fight, but I've read so many - sometimes even intelligent - posts here praising the virtues of scripts for cartoons, fantasy movies, Eternal Sunshines... and of course they usually win on this board, and I accept it but... I mean, don't you realize how infantile these movies are? And how, by praising them, you become also a bit infantile? I'm worried, really - for America, because honestly - no, no, no, there's a critical limit that objectively can't be crossed, there IS a difference between a video game - even intelligently conceived - and Art. Real art. The Thin Red Line belongs to Art.
If you really don't want to vote for The Thin Red Line, the only alternative is A Simple Plan. Intelligent, well-made, quite entertaining yet not superficially so, and with some interesting characters. Not bad I'd say.