Best Screenplay 2012

What were the Best Original and Adapted Screenplays of 2012?

Amour (Michael Haneke)
Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
Flight (Justin Galins)
No votes
Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola)
Zero Dark Thirty (Mark Boal)
Argo (Chris Terrio)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin)
Life of Pi (David Magee)
Lincoln (Tony Kushner)
Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)
Total votes: 56

Posts: 2619
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:28 pm
Location: Edmonton, AB

Re: Best Screenplay 2012

Postby Okri » Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:36 pm

I think my favourite adaptation that missed the line-up was Rust and Bone. Very smart adaptation choices in the merging of the two stories and it had a really organic flow to the storytelling that I enjoyed. I loved Anna Karenina more than most and would love a nomination for Stoppard’s work. Over on the original side, it’s Looper that I miss the most. Just great storytelling. I’m not sure I could ever go for a documentary in these categories, but The Imposter really has a terrific script

Overall, both categories are solid if not outstanding. Zero Dark Thirty is my easy choice in original screenplay. Much of Moonrise Kingdom’s charms comes from Wes Anderson’s lovely, dioramic direction though I’m glad his screenplay was singled out. Amour has sharp characterization (I like how angry it feels). Flight and Django Unchained are non-entities to me. Zero Dark Thirty is fascinating, more complex than many gave it credit for being and very ambitious.

Lincoln rather dwarfs the competition in adapted. It combines so many of Kushner’s greatest gifts into one beautiful, coherent whole. He really understands how to make the political personal. His superb characterizations, fantastic dialogue, and his storytelling his just peerless. The extent to which I admire him does border on the fanboyish, but this is beautiful work. That Argo’s relentlessly ordinary construction beat his work is one of the most galling screenplay decisions I can recall. Beasts of the Southern Wild is probably second in this race.

Posts: 1143
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 10:39 pm
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Best Screenplay 2012

Postby Heksagon » Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:39 am

There are two (or three) writing categories each year, so I imagine there is going to plenty of frustration over how one category has plenty of worthy nominees while the other one is a lot weaker.

This year, I found the original category to be the stronger one, only Flight is sub-par. Still, for me, it’s an easy choice with Django Unchained, which really did impress me.

The adapted category is not bad, but uninspiring, because even the better films feel that they are driven by their direction rather than the screenplay. This is especially the case with Life of Pi, whose screenplay is a bland adaptation of an inventive novel. After some thinking, I decided to go with Argo, even if I agree with the frequent comments here that the ending feels fake.

Posts: 3009
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 9:28 pm
Location: AL

Re: Best Screenplay 2012

Postby dws1982 » Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:34 pm

To me, Lincoln's nomination in Adapted Screenplay just shows the vagaries of the entire Original vs. Adapted Screenplay paradigm. I'm not one who usually has read the source material for films that are adapted from books, but I did read Team of Rivals, the book that Lincoln credited "in part" as its source material. I've said this before, but the Thirteenth Amendment gets just a few pages in the Goodwin book; the Tommy Lee Jones character, Thaddeus Stevens, gets one or two mentions. Lincoln is, for all intents and purposes, an Original Screenplay. I think it's also the best of the ten nominated screenplays, so I will definitely vote for it.

Life of Pi has that fundamental problem that it never reconciles two (probably irreconcilable) propositions: "This story will make you believe in God" as stated at the beginning vs. "People will believe whatever they want to believe". Any pleasure or value the film has comes from its handful of visually arresting moments. I liked Beasts of the Southern Wild, but its not a writerly effort. Zeitlin showed a lot of promise (wonder where his follow-up project is?), but it's in his creation of a unique atmosphere rather than anything he does as a writer. It's hard for me to remember much about the screenplay for Silver Linings Playbook without remembering David O. Russell's consistently awkward (and off-putting) remarks at every single awards show about how this one was for his bipolar son. I know I never really felt the characters in the film rang true as people who really even know each other. Argo is an efficient enough thriller, but it makes the cheapest, easiest jokes, never grants anyone a meaningful character arc, and it settles for a straight procedural retelling of the events without making any effort to place these events in any larger context. There's so much you could do here: You could make it about how cultural changes of the late 20th century affected West vs. East differently; The beginning of the divide between the Muslim world and non-Muslim world; A look at late 20th century globalization, and the way government interactions changed. But nope, Argo has but one theme--Hollywood saves the day. No wonder they loved it so much.

In Original, I'm about equally split on Zero Dark Thirty, Moonrise Kingdom, and Amour. The scope of what Boal attempts (and, in my opinion, achieves) pushes me in his direction, but I could go another way on another day.

The Original BJ
Posts: 4245
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Best Screenplay 2012

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:54 pm

On the Original side, it's equally tough to come up with too many alternates. I guess I'd say The Master, though truthfully, I think the screenplay is the weak link of that ambitious and compelling but messy movie. And, what the heck, maybe Wreck-It Ralph, which probably would have been more of a contender if its credits had included the Pixar logo.

Flight is the one nominee that I think definitely should NOT have been nominated. It has a terrific, frighteningly realistic opening sequence, but it settles pretty quickly into a more conventional addiction storyline, with a conclusion that's way too pat.

As I said in the Best Picture thread, Django Unchained has a lot of moments that show Quentin Tarantino's gift as a writer -- the characters are singular and memorable, and there's a lot of entertaining dialogue. But it's definitely one of his less disciplined efforts; the whole Candyland sequence just goes on and on, and that's even before the unnecessary fourth act kicks in. One of Tarantino's weaker movies, and not the place I'd vote to enshrine him.

I actually thought Moonrise Kingdom was among the more resonant Wes Anderson movies. He's a filmmaker whose voice and abilities I absolutely admire, but whose sensibilities can sometimes feel distant to me. (Which is to say, I often yearn for a character in his movies who talks and acts even remotely like a real person.) I didn't think Moonrise Kingdom hit the highs of The Royal Tenenbaums, but it came closer for me than many of Anderson's other films, and I enjoyed its amiable humor and sweetness, even if I don't think it's a major enough work to choose here.

My vote would come down to the remaining two movies, and it would be a very close call. I think I like Zero Dark Thirty a bit more overall, and I greatly admired the way Mark Boal handled both the broad swath of information relating to the hunt for bin Laden as well as the personal effect this mission had on a woman who spent essentially her entire professional life on it. But occasionally, I admit I could have used a bit more clarification on certain details -- there are times when the muddiness of red herrings and failed leads in our protagonist's search felt a little diffuse to me (even as I acknowledge that part of that was indeed the point).

As a piece of writing, I think Amour is just a slightly superior work, with several finely etched characters, some very sharp and insightful dialogue, one seriously surprising plot turn, and a sense of ambiguity that feels smart and disciplined rather than vague. It's such a wonderfully constructed, tight little script. And it's a movie of great power that isn't afraid to pull some tough punches. So I salute Michael Haneke for taking his usual propensity for shock value and employing it in an unusual (for him, at least) way, and he gets my vote here.

The Original BJ
Posts: 4245
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Best Screenplay 2012

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:42 am

I think I'm going to do these in two chunks, starting with Adapted.

This definitely wasn't a banner year in this category, though given the options the nominees were a pretty deserving bunch. I can't really come up with an alternate I feel was terribly robbed.

The love for Beasts of the Southern Wild felt a little excessive to me, though I did respect the movie as a strange, fairly unique thing. And I think a lot of what made Quvenzhané Wallis stand out was the entrancing voice-over the writers gifted to her. But the movie is too deficient in the plot department for my taste (i.e. it barely has one), and I wouldn't think about voting for it here.

Life of Pi, of course, is a gorgeous visual extravaganza, though I do salute the writing simply for taking a seemingly unfilmable novel with an outrageously limited premise and turning it into such a gripping movie. But those clunky bookend scenes, some of the worst written moments in any otherwise good movie this year, disqualify it from getting a vote in this category.

I found Argo to be a pretty disappointing winner, but mainly because of what it beat rather than any innate deficiencies. (A year prior, I might very well have voted for it.) I thought the script had an intelligence to it that made it a lot more resonant than today's typical action thrillers (and one thing I admired about the movie was that I DIDN'T think it depicted the Iranians as evil villains). But this is the kind of movie for which I'd want to use Damien's phrase, "it isn't about anything other than what it is about." It's an engrossing docudrama -- an admirable achievement, to be fair -- but not an insightful enough piece of writing to get my vote.

Silver Linings Playbook would have been a superior choice, and you can add me to the group of fans of the movie. I thought it had a lot of very well written scenes, both humorous (like Jennifer Lawrence telling off Robert De Niro) and powerful (the diner date). In the end, some of its romantic comedy conventions definitely threaten to overwhelm the grittier edges of the story, but I still think the script, on the whole, creates a very fresh portrait of two troubled individuals finding hope in one another, and I bought the movie's resolution pretty well enough, dance contest and all.

But Tony Kushner's script for Lincoln is the clear best of the nominees in my book. I think it's a wonderful piece of writing, for the way it takes a very momentous political event in American history and boils it down to a series of very personal struggles and successes. I think Lincoln is one of the best movies about the political process, and the personal and ideological consequences that go along with being part of it. This is the best kind of writing about history -- about another era, but feeling completely relevant for today. And I salute Kushner even more for giving the film such an unexpected sense of humor -- there's a lot of very funny dialogue in the movie, which provides the perfect counterpoint to Spielberg's sober, almost mythic images. I was really bummed this screenplay lost.

Posts: 3458
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 3:57 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: Best Screenplay 2012

Postby FilmFan720 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:52 pm

I'll start with Original, since it is oddly the weaker of the two categories this year.

Flight is a film that is probably a lot better than it is, but I also felt that wasn't due to the screenplay as much as beside it. That ending is way too ham-fisted, but before that even there is a lot of caricature that succeeds because of the great actors playing it.

Django Unchained is Tarantino's weakest full-length film, the first time that I really truly felt his work as being too in love with itself. The film is overly long with nothing original to say, filled with the thinnest of characters and which quickly becomes almost a parody of Tarantino films.

Zero Dark Thirty opens and closes with some exceptional filmmaking, but the middle portion of the film is muddy and feels almost incomplete. I won't begrudge a nomination, as even the weakest portion of the film has some great dialogue and interesting scenes, but won't vote for it in the end.

I almost voted for Amour, which is such a beautiful film with almost perfect pacing. If it were in a native language it might well get my vote, but it is also the kind of screenplay where I feel you really have to love the dialogue, which is hard to do reading subtitles. In the end, though, I had to vote for Moonrise Kingdom. It might not be Anderson's best film, but the film is structured so wonderfully, moving at a great pace and alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching.

For Adapted Screenplay, the lineup overall is much stronger.

First out for me is Life of Pi, although only because the screenplay couldn't overcome the inherent plot problems that the source material has.

Argo is a fine film, although I agree that the jokes don't always land and the script feels a little paper thin. It's success lies in a lot of other places rather than the writing.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a wonderful film, filled with original characters and a really great story. It is still a little too much of a first film for me to vote, but I heartily endorse this nomination.

Silver Linings Playbook is a movie I like a lot more than most of you (but not as much as Sabin), and I think David O. Russell's treatment of the source material is a big reason why. He creates a lot of really great characters, from the central relationship on down to the periphery, while also playing around with the genre expectations in a wise way. I love the way the film treats the dance contest in particular, toying with everything we are supposed to see and embracing it with such heart and gusto.

The great achievement of the year, though, is Tony Kushner's Lincoln. Kushner brings life into a possibly dull topic, finds humor where you don't expect it and makes the complex graspable. It is a film I love, and Kushner's achievement is a large reason why.
"Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good."
- Minor Myers, Jr.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15817
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Best Screenplay 2012

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:31 am

My votes went to Amour and Lincoln.

I found winner Django Unchained the least deserving of the nominees for basically the same reasons as Mister Tee. Flight as Tee says, lapses into banality in its final moments but is a compelling film up to that point.

Moonrise Kingdom, like most of Spike Jonze's films, The Grand Budapest Hotel excepted, is a series of interesting scenes interspersed with some not so interesting ones, the whole not especially worthy of the sum of its parts.

Zero Dark Thirty has a strong screenplay, but it has a lot to cover and I'm not quite sure I like all the coverage. Amour , on the other hand, has a very specific story to tell and tells it agonizingly well.

I still have no comprehension of whatever it is that people liked about the amateurish Beasts of the Southern Wild. Was the "play" on which it is based, co-writer Alibar's Juicy and Delicious, ever produced?

A lot of people love Silver Linings Playbook. I'm not one of them. I found it illogical and irritating, one of the most egregiously over-hyped films of all time. It gets no consideration from me.

The screenplay for Life of Pi is sparse but effective.

Argo was cleverly written but despite its claims that it was all true was factually not so. Its exciting climax was fabricated. A deserved nomination, but no win for me.

Lincoln was meticulously researched and brilliantly written, one of the great screenplays of all time. Everything else this year pales in comparison. Shame on the Academy for thinking Argo's screenplay was better.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

Mister Tee
Posts: 6572
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Best Screenplay 2012

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Jul 01, 2014 11:54 pm

I don't remember the clamor for doing this in reverse-time, but I guess I've been missing alot lately.

Adapted is a fairly wan competition. Beasts of the Southern Wild, even for those who like it, is more a director/atmosphere movie than a writers' showcase. Life of Pi likewise achieves most of its best moments visually. Argo does show a notable knowingness about the political history that led to the hostage situation, even if it falls into "rescue the Americans from the middle Eastern villains" by its climax. But I found the Hollywood jokes pretty routine -- a better screenwriter would have found ways to surprise me.

I'm closer to Sabin than many here in liking Silver Linings Playbook alot, and it does feature many strong dialogue scenes -- but its plot devices (a dance contest?) are a bit creaky. And the movie's buoyancy seems more generated by the way its actors play those scenes rather than the mere writing.

And, besides, Lincoln is a really impressive piece of work -- managing to synthesize much of what we know and appreciate about Lincoln into a chronologically tight, succinct narrative. Tony Kushner's best work yet for film, and a deserving winner.

Flight has some interesting moments along the way, but collapses into banality by its climax.

I have no idea why Django Unchained got such attention. I thought it had strong moments, many involving Waltz and DiCaprio, but the final sequences were pointless bloodshed. For me, Inglourious Basterds was a far better work, and I wonder if this was a bit of a make-up Oscar.

I enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom while I was watching it, but, like many Anderson films (Grand Budapest excepted) it left me with little afterglow. A worthy nominee, but not a contender.

Amour is certainly a solid choice, and a win for it -- here or at the Oscars -- would not have displeased me.

But Zero Dark Thirty is still, for me, the best movie of this almost-half-gone decade, and I salute its breadth and insight. If I could trade off the '09 Oscar Mark Boal won and give that to Tarantino, a similar swap this year would achieve almost perfect justice.

Posts: 7483
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am

Re: Best Screenplay 2012

Postby Sabin » Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:27 pm

For Best Original Screenplay, I voted for Moonrise Kingdom which I appreciate more and more upon every viewing. The choice to begin the film with the young lovers having already runaway is absolutely inspired. I can understand a vote for Amour, but I've spent years contemplating narratives about young runaways so Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola get my vote even though Amour is a better film.

1. MOONRISE KINGDOM, Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
2. AMOUR, Michael Haneke
4. DJANGO UNCHAINED, Quentin Tarantino
5. FLIGHT, John Gatins

For Best Adapted Screenplay, I think Argo's biggest problems stem from its screenplay. Lincoln is a pretty monumental undertaking on Tony Kushner's part simply in the act of crafting a narrative out of the passage of the thirteenth amendment that forwards with every scene. But I went Silver Linings Playbook because that was the movie of the year for me.

2. LINCOLN, Tony Kushner
3. ARGO, Chris Terrio
4. LIFE OF PI, David Magee
5. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
Last edited by Sabin on Sun Mar 19, 2017 7:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"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

Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Re: Best Screenplay 2012

Postby mlrg » Tue Jul 01, 2014 3:30 pm

Argo and Django Unchained

Posts: 4016
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 1:58 pm
Location: MILAN

Re: Best Screenplay 2012

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:59 am

Big Magilla wrote:OK, you asked for it, screenplay in reverse year order. I hope more than just a few of us take the time and trouble to vote. Comments would be nice. I'm saving mine for later.

The nominees are listed alphabetically, first for original screenplay, then for adapted. Please vote for one each. You can re-vote if you make a mistake or change your mind.

Very enthusiastic, our Big Magilla... :D

Unfortunately I couldn't vote for Best Original Screenplay, as I haven't seen Moonrise Kingdom yet.

None of the Adapted Screenplays is actually that impressve, but it's obviously between Argo and Lincoln. Argo hasn't much depth, but it's fast, reasonably entertaining, and it deals with a certain intelligence with an interesting moment in recent history. It's too much of an action movie for me - that ending at the airport! - but for an American action movie it's not stupidly written, let's face it.

I voted for Lincoln. Far from perfect, I know, but I appreciate its old-fashioned very traditional treatment of an important historical figure. It's probably too reverential, but then which movie on this subject wouldn't be? And yet Lincoln - the character, I mean - is dealt with wth a human approach from the writer which I quite liked. It's not a classic, not an example of Great Screenwriting, but its intentions are good and the results not disappointing.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15817
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Best Screenplay 2012

Postby Big Magilla » Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:40 am

OK, you asked for it, screenplay in reverse year order. I hope more than just a few of us take the time and trouble to vote. Comments would be nice. I'm saving mine for later.

The nominees are listed alphabetically, first for original screenplay, then for adapted. Please vote for one each. You can re-vote if you make a mistake or change your mind.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

Return to “81st and Other 9th Decade Discussions”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest