Categories One-by-One: Adapted Screenplay

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Adapted Screenplay

Postby FilmFan720 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:38 am

BJ, you are more connected with the industry than most of the picket-line crossing going to play into this race at all? Will it hurt John Ridley?
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Adapted Screenplay

Postby ITALIANO » Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:18 am

Well, 12 Years a Slave may not win ten Oscars (including three acting ones) as some proclaimed as soon as it opened. But it will win at least one - and this is still the category where that should be.

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Categories One-by-One: Adapted Screenplay

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:10 am

I assume most folks think this is an open-and-shut race, and probably it is. I think part of the reason is, there really just wasn't much competition even for the nominations this year. I'd absolutely have included Blue is the Warmest Color, but beyond that and the actual Oscar nominees, I can't come up with anything I feel got terribly robbed.

I'd say Before Midnight is probably in last place. This is unfortunate, because I think it's one of the strongest pieces of writing nominated (in either script category), with scene after scene of sparkling yet raw and honest dialogue, in a story that carries with it the weight of the nearly two decades that we've spent with this couple. But, as the only non-Best Picture nominee, I think its creators will have to accept that this series is more of a writer's branch fascination, and the general membership will vote elsewhere.

Philomena, of course, scored a big upset at the BAFTAs in this category, though it's hard to know how much of that support came out of home town enthusiasm for the protagonist, as well as the British actor-writer who copped the prize. The Academy has often had an Anglophile streak, but I bet in this case they'll be less likely to embrace to the script than BAFTA was. I think this is the clear worst nominee here, with a tone that wobbles all over the place (no, you're not making jokes about AIDS at a time like this) and scenes whose intentions feel totally muddled (I have no idea why the man at the door so viciously refuses to let Philomena in, and why he ultimately changes his mind). I think the movie just barely made it into the Best Picture race, and don't rate its chances too highly here.

The Wolf of Wall Street's partisans are rabid, and the movie contains certain elements -- most notably DiCaprio's florid motivational speeches -- that make the film stand out in this arena. But the film's detractors are equally vocal, and some of their loudest gripes -- the overall crudeness of the language, simply the fact that it goes on too long -- can pretty easily be blamed on the screenwriting. I guess I'd give it an outside shot to upset, but not a very strong one.

Captain Phillips enters the race with the WGA prize, though of course that win comes with an asterisk because of the frontrunner's ineligibility there. I actually think a Wolf victory at the WGA might have made the race slightly more competitive, because that's the kind of more writer-driven movie that I could have imagined winning screenplay prizes if it had enough support. Captain Phillips has its merits -- it's engrossing throughout, and manages to sketch two reasonably well-developed central characters despite being far more of a plot-driven movie than a character-centric one. But on the whole, it's far more of a showcase for Paul Greengrass's direction and the technical elements than the writing. In a more competitive field, you could almost imagine it going the way Gravity did in the original race. I imagine its WGA prize just had a lot to do with it simply being the movie that Guild overall liked the best.

But, like most, I think the Academy will like 12 Years a Slave the best, and go for it here. That said, I COULD imagine a scenario where one of the other candidates came from behind to pull off an upset. 12 Years a Slave actually hasn't won many prizes for its script -- its frontrunner status mostly stems from its centrality to the Best Picture race, though I would definitely argue that's a pretty strong pull. Still, I've heard enough advocates for the movie acknowledge that they were more taken by the direction and performances than the screenplay, and if 12 Years has a really bad night, conceivably even this category could be lost. But I don't think that will happen -- 12 Years has a lot of memorable characters, some (like Alfre Woodard) who make an indelible impression even with brief screentime, in a powerful and gripping narrative. It's sort of the kind of movie where you can't necessarily pinpoint favorite passages within the writing, but the film's overall impact is so strong that many will (not incorrectly, in my view) still give credit to the sturdy scripted foundation at its core.

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