Best Screenplay 2009

What were the best original and adapted screenplays of 2009?

The Hurt Locker (Mark Boal)
6
12%
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
7
14%
The Messenger (alessandro camon, Oren Moverman)
3
6%
A Serious Man (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
7
14%
Up (Bob Peterson, Pete Doctor, Thomas McCarthy)
1
2%
District 9 (Niall Blomkamp, Terri Tachell)
3
6%
An Education (Nick Hornby)
2
4%
In the Loop (Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Arnando Iannucci, Tony Roche)
6
12%
Precious (Geoffrey Flecher)
1
2%
Up in the Air (Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner)
14
28%
 
Total votes: 50

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Re: Best Screenplay 2009

Postby Heksagon » Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:57 am

In the Original category, I notice that the way I see this line-up is so close to what FilmFan is saying, and he expresses it better than I could, so I will just settle on saying that I second FilmFan in this one.

In the Adapted category, I have already discussed these film in the Best Picture poll, except for In the Loop which I find to be vastly overrated. How can anybody be impressed by this film when Yes, Minister is out there? My favourites here are District 9 and Up in the Air and my vote goes to the latter.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2009

Postby FilmFan720 » Sun Jul 20, 2014 9:29 am

On the Original side, there are really only 2 options that I can endorse; The Hurt Locker is a film I don't find very interesting or structurally sound, The Messenger is a wasted opportunity that never really goes anywhere and Up is a brilliant prologue to a dull and rote animated film. That leaves you with Tarantino and The Coen Brothers, two of our most interesting auteurs with films that in many ways feel like their most personal. Both are very solid films (although I admit to perhaps being too gentile for A Serious Man, and needing to revisit it), but I had to give my vote to Inglorious Basterds. It may not be quite as complete a film as the Coen Brothers is, but it's highs are amongst the best of the decade and I have to give it points for scope and ambition. For the non-nominated, Summer Hours is hands down the best screenplay of the year and should have been here (had it been eligible). I too was shocked and disappointed at the lack of (500) Days of Summer, and would have loved someone to recognize Big Fan, a much better screenplay than Robert Siegel's more critically embraced film a few years earlier.

The Adapted category also comes down to two films. Precious is mostly hurt by the horrible direction, but its screenplay isn't much better or subtler and it ranks as probably the worst winner in this category in a long time. District 9 is a film I never got, a great idea that is completely wasted and ruined by becoming a mediocre action film. I would have nominated An Education, but can't endorse a win for a film quite this slight. My number one and two, though, would be In the Loop and Up in the Air. Both are two of my favorite films of the year, and I am very tempted to give it to the hysterical line creations of In the Loop. Up in the Air is a film I love, though, and the way that it captures such a specific moment in American life and does it with intelligence, warmth and an anger that makes it a unique achievement. In the case of also-rans, this was an overall weak year for adapted material. I would have loved to see The Fantastic Mr. Fox get a nomination, as it is more original than most anything else in this category, and probably would have also endorsed a nomination for Star Trek, doing such a great job of reinventing a brand in a way that may anger some but also works as strong and intelligent summer fare.
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Re: Best Screenplay 2009

Postby ITALIANO » Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:06 am

It's not a secret that I don't watch cartoons (I know, I'm not in touch with my child side, etc - I will see a psychiatrist but in the meantime that's the way it is). So of course I haven't seen Up. Still, for once I've voted anyway. Not for a great screenplay, but for an intelligent one, which is almost as rare nowadays - A Serious Man. It sometimes looks as if it was written just for a small group of people - a group I'm not a part of - but even if I didnt get everything, I could still admire its - very Jewish - mix of humour and tragedy, and its intentionally fragmented structure, which seemed to mirror its leading character's fragmented, messy even, state of mind. You feel that, if it hadn't been written by the celebrated duo, such a script would have never become a movie, but then this is also true of some of the best scripts ever. A Serious Man isn't one of the best - it's not even of of the best by the Coens - but it's good and, again, intelligent.
And to be completely honest, the idea of The Hurt Locker winning here led me to cast a vote. The Hurt Locker is just another war movie. Expertly made, of course, but nothing in the screenplay seems in any way "different" or especially interesting. It's very traditional, politically reassuring (to those who are politically on that side, that is), and its only relatively "new" aspect is that it celebrates war, and those who make war, rather then condemning them. I prefer to make love. It's exactly the kind of movie which led Amy Adams to stand up and give her seat in a plane to a soldier who didn't need it - it belongs to an America which, unlike me, is dark and fascistic. The good thing is that it's been completely forgotten everywhe - except, sadly, on this board.

In Adapted, despite sone good alternatives, I could only vote for Up in the Air. It belongs to commercial American filmmaking, I admit it, but its humanity and even its bitterness are hard to find today in this kind of movies - another reason to appreciate it. That Precious won over it is a sacrilege of Sandra Bullock proportions.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2009

Postby The Original BJ » Sun Jul 20, 2014 3:40 am

My choice for best screenplay of the year in either category would have been (500) Days of Summer. It seemed to have plenty of hooks that would have appealed to the writers -- time-jumping chronology, terrific dialogue, inventive set pieces (like the musical number, or the fantasy/reality date), and a lot of heart to go along with the laughs. I was crushed it was overlooked.

On nominations morning, after (500) Days was eliminated immediately alphabetically, I quickly racked my brain trying to figure out what the alternative would be, and I couldn't. This isn't to say that I think The Messenger is a terrible nominee -- I found the first hour of the film very compelling, and thought the writers came up with a lot of interesting ways to differentiate the various scenes of characters finding out their loved ones had died. But as it goes on, the movie just feels like it has no idea where it wants to go, and though I found the ultimate resolution touching, there was too much aimlessness along the way.

I think the other four screenplays are all pretty excellent, and I myself am a bit torn over which one to choose. (I like the way it's shaken out in voting, though, with the scripts all getting about even support.) I mentioned before that A Serious Man was a movie that took me multiple viewings to warm up to, but now I just love it. The script is such a well-constructed snowball of bad things becoming very worse, all the while being so funny along the way. I feel a little bit more outside the movie than some of the Coens' films we have coming up in this game, so I'll hold off voting for the brothers here. But I wouldn't begrudge anyone who did.

I thought some of the early scenes in Inglourious Basterds were a little wobbly -- I think the movie takes a little while to establish an even tone. But the tavern sequence plays like gangbusters, and pretty much everything after that is Tarantino at his peak: wonderful larger-than-life characters, hugely original dialogue, and a narrative that wows you simply by the wizardry of the storytelling. The elements of historical revisionism also make this film one of Tarantino's most thematically complex works. But...it isn't quite his best film either, and there is a much more obvious place to vote for him in this category.

The opening sequence of Up, as has widely been acknowledged by now, is basically a perfect short film -- witty, visually dazzling, and just emotionally wrenching. The rest of the movie wasn't at that level, but I didn't think it was that far behind. It was a pretty delightful adventure yarn, with the usual only-from-Pixar imaginative flavors (a dog with a collar that speaks its thoughts?!) and a very well structured plot. And then, every once in a while, a moment would pop up that would just break your heart all over again ("Thanks for the adventure — now go have a new one" just destroyed me). But as with Toy Story 3, I sort of feel like voting it for Animated Feature is reward enough.

So I'm going to go with my beloved The Hurt Locker in this category as well. I can see the argument that the movie was more of a visual triumph than a verbal one. But I still think the writing here is pretty impressive -- richly researched and full of specific detail, structured so that each set piece feels like a natural progression from the one before, full of complicated ideas about Jeremy Renner's relationship to war and how he gets himself through it, and even possessing some horrifying black humor. This was my favorite film of the year, and given that I just narrowly passed on Mark Boal last time, I'll reward him here essentially as a tandem prize for this film and Zero Dark Thirty.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2009

Postby The Original BJ » Sun Jul 20, 2014 3:13 am

Some other good adapted options: A Single Man and Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Precious was basically a pile-on of misery. I half-expected Precious and her baby to get hit by a bus in the final reel, this girl's woes just kept increasing to a comic degree. The movie's entire lack of subtlety was a real turn-off for me, and the screenplay prize was the worst kind of Oscar win: a lousy choice you never saw coming.

District 9 had a very clever concept and opening act, but I feel like the folks who saw a complex cultural allegory here pretty willfully had to ignore the fact that, by its end, it had dipped into a much more generic summer action movie. It was definitely BETTER than many bigger budget entries of that type, but not so much so that it deserved to win here.

In the Loop has to qualify as one of the flat-out funniest movies of the entire last decade. The script is just one deliciously hysterical line after another, adding up to a pretty biting political satire. I don't think that, narrative-wise, it reaches the more emotionally complex heights the other two nominees do, but I was thrilled it made the cut here, and understand the impetus many of you have to vote for it.

I adore An Education. I think it's such a smart, warmly funny, and deeply moving coming-of-age drama, with so many perfectly scripted scenes -- Mulligan losing her virginity, the scene in the car when she finds out Sarsgaard's secret, Alfred Molina's beautiful words of encouragement after this, Sally Hawkins's brief but incisive appearance, pretty much every moment with Emma Thompson. This is very much a writer's movie, and I find it a pretty perfect little script.

But Up in the Air is my favorite script in the category. It, too, was quite funny, with a central trio of very memorable characters. And it was insightful in a very timely way, tapping into the struggles of recession America without ever feeling heavy-handed. And from a basic plot standpoint, the dramatic turn at the movie's climax caught me completely off-guard, and deepened and complicated the story we'd seen in memorable ways. It's possible the "who-actually-wrote-this" controversy of the credits cost the movie the prize...or maybe it just peaked too early, and voters catching up with it later were underwhelmed that it didn't reinvent the wheel as promised. But I found this to be a wonderful human dramedy, and am happy to give it the prize here.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2009

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:21 pm

On the adapted side, I'd have given nods to Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Informant!

Among the Academy's choices, voters actually managed to award the least deserving of the batch. Precious is not quite as bad as I'd been fearing -- mostly thanks to the actors -- but to choose such an earnest effort over the legitimate wit displayed in most other nominees shows a real Oscar-at-its-worst myopia.

District 9 is the sort of clever sleeper film writers' branch voters will slip in without a prayer of its actually winning. I think there was a desire to honor the imagination of the film's set-up -- the first half hour or so put all Hollywood equivalents to shame -- and perhaps there was willful blindness to the way the film dwindled in the final reel.

I think An Education has too much lightness about it to be a winner, but I find it a perfectly solid nominee. It actually reminded me quite a bit of the British films from the era in which it's set -- ones that would have starred Rita Tushingham or Lynn Redgrave. Lines like "Becoming a famous writer isn't KNOWING a famous writer" merit applause.

In the Loop is, yes, very funny throughout, with more one liners than you can keep in memory. But it didn't really go anywhere all that interesting...in fact, the denouement was a bit too predictable.

So, I go with Up in the Air, which also had a ton of memorable dialogue, but contained narrative surprises as well -- including an ending that blew me away. The film did suffer, as Sabin remembers, from not filling that film-that-rescued-the-year slot, but that shouldn't blind us to its manifest virtues.

Under original, sure, I'd have included the lovable (500) Days of Summer, and, going overseas, both The White Ribbon and, if it was eligible, Summer Hours.

Voters probably felt good about honoring the indie seriousness of The Messenger, but I find it a fairly weak effort, narratively. The film sets up some interesting things, but doesn't seem to know where to go with them in the second act...in fact, the latter portions of the film meander so much I question if Moverman even knew what his story WAS. Harrelson's monologue near the end is OK in and of itself, but it could have been plunked down in any number of scripts -- it had no particular relation to this specific story.

The discussions about Up feel like we've just had them. I'm in the camp of "first 15 minutes perfection; the rest just pleasant".

I presume many will recall my tepid reaction to The Hurt Locker, and especially my conviction that if anything made it memorable it was Bigelow's visuals (in tandem with her editor's work).

I rather casually noted in the 2012 thread that I'd like to trade the outcomes for the two years Tarantino & Boal competed for Oscars. This because I find Inglourious Basterds a significantly more interesting piece of writing than Django -- it's lumpy, for sure, with its parts not close to symmetrical, but it's full of bravura sequences (starting with Waltz's exceptional opening interrogation), and goes to unexpected places with a real sense the film has taken us on a journey. It seemed an obvious trade.

But I have to renege on that implied promise to Quentin, because it had somehow slipped my mind that A Serious Man was on this slate. And I think A Serious Man is just a brilliant piece of work -- the funniest and deepest comedy the Coen brothers have yet produced; a film that re-imagines the Book of Job as bleak but hilarious comedy, and also shows the continuum by which Jewish oral tradition became Yiddish theatre and ultimately vaudeville. This is the best script of the year -- the best film of the year -- and I can do nothing else but vote for it.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2009

Postby Sabin » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:25 am

One of my bigger surprises Oscar morning was seeing The Messenger nominated over (500) Days of Summer for Best Original Screenplay. Not because the latter is especially deserving (although it's quite charming) but the former's screenplay was a bit of a slog. Up is a little too rushed for my taste. It's wonderful at the start but then it loses the human angle that makes it so resonant. There's a lot to like in Inglourious Basterds and The Hurt Locker's screenplays. Basterds may have more flaws but its highs are just inspired. But they're both up against my favorite film of the year, A Serious Man. I might need to go back and check it out again to see if Inside Llewyn Davis has taken off some of its luster, but I'm sure A Serious Man isn't just the better written film but one of the Coen Brothers' best written films to date.

I think Up in the Air became overrated and then underrated because it was not the best film of 2009 everybody wanted it to be. That's because Jason Reitman is just a little too slick, but watch Up in the Air today on television and it's an entirely enjoyable experience. Geoffrey Fletcher winning the Oscar is one of the most shocking wins of my lifetime. An Education is an incredibly confused project. As I look at this lineup it occurs to me that this likely cannot be Nick Hornby's fault, as he is adapting his own work. Lone Sherfig (as well as the casting of Carey Mulligan) must have taken something substantially more caustic and gave it a tone bafflingly at odds with Hornby's intentions. District 9 is pretty cool but that's not because of the writing at all. My vote goes to the hilarious In the Loop.

NOTE: changing my vote to Up in the Air. Every year that goes by, I admire it more.

RANKINGS FOR BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY...
1. A SERIOUS MAN, Joel & Ethan Coen
2. THE HURT LOCKER, Mark Boal
3. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, Quentin Tarantino
4. UP, Pete Docter & Tom McCarthy
5. THE MESSENGER, Oren Moverman

ADAPTED...
1. UP IN THE AIR, Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner
2. IN THE LOOP, Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Arnando Iannucci, & Tony Roche
3. AN EDUCATION, Nick Hornby
4. DISTRICT 9, Neil Blomkampp
1,268. PRECIOUS, Geoffrey Fletcher
Last edited by Sabin on Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Best Screenplay 2009

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:18 pm

The Original BJ wrote:We've discussed the most recent years pretty thoroughly, so I imagine people will just want to get through discussion of these slates pretty quickly, but at some point we'll slow down, right? Two polls a week seems kind of daunting with ten movies to discuss every time.

That's the plan if I can find the time.

As we discussed, two per week through the start of the board awards in 1997 or 1998, then one per week until we get to the new awards season on 12/1 or sooner.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2009

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:09 pm

We've discussed the most recent years pretty thoroughly, so I imagine people will just want to get through discussion of these slates pretty quickly, but at some point we'll slow down, right? Two polls a week seems kind of daunting with ten movies to discuss every time.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2009

Postby mlrg » Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:04 pm

voted for The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air

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Best Screenplay 2009

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:51 pm

All five nominated original screenplays were worthy. My pick at the time was the Oscar winner, The Hurt Locker[i], but I would have been just as happy to see either The Messenger[/i] or Up win but any of the five would have been a decent choice.

In the adapted screenplay category I preferred the hilarious In the Loop to any of the other nominees.

I liked District 9 but didn't find its script particularly interesting. I found incredulity in both An Education and Up in the Air and found the Oscar winning Precious to be to much sturm und drang (storm and stress).


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