Categories One-by-One: Original Screenplay

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Original Screenplay

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:50 am

Since I just knocked off Django, it's only now I can discuss this.

Flight is a mediocrity that's lucky to be in this group. With no best picture nod or much of a cheering section, it seems like the fifth place finisher.

Moonrise Kingdom -- like almost anything from Wes Anderson -- has a built-in cheering section, but that's the only thing that faintly keeps it in the race. It may be the most writerly of the five nominees, and, had it managed a best picture nod -- even with nothing else, a la Four Weddings and a Funeral -- that might have been enough for a win. But falling short of a field of nine, even when it had the advantage of an early and successful run (bird-in-hand), suggests it didn't really break past a limited Academy universe.

The other three all seem genuinely possible winners -- though I have to say, it's only its wins from the Globes and BAFTA that make me rate Django all that high. As I said in the Django thread, I don't find this Quentin script nearly as inventive structurally/thematically as Inglourious Basterds, and I can't say even the dialogue has as much zing as his films usually provide. However, there may be some feeling that it's time Quentin won another -- belated guilt over denying him for Basterds -- plus a general feeling that the chit-chattiness of his characters amounts to more real screenwriting than its competition offers. So, it's in the hunt.

It's hard for me to even decide MY favorite of the remaining two, so it's hard for me to figure what those mysterious voters are going to end up selecting. I think Zero Dark Thirty is by leagues a better script than Boal's previous Oscar winner -- covering a tremendous amount of ground and content, building suspense around an event whose outcome we all know, anchored by a character who emerges as impressively complex despite her tendency toward the taciturn. I think Zero Dark is, overall, the best of this year's films, and I'd be happy to see it win this semi-major prize.

But I also wouldn't want Amour's quality to go unacknowledged. Alot of people seem to feel Haneke's more impressive work was as director, and, while I certainly admire his work behind the camera (esp. the variety he managed within such a limited space), I think the script is being undersold. The plot may not contain alot of surprises (until, very shockingly, it does), but the detail work is spot on (speaking as one who has some acquaintance with the subject). And much of the dialogue is surprisingly strong -- Trintignant, especially, has alot of very well-written, trenchant speeches.

Because people presume Amour only made the best picture list due to the expansion to ten, there's some tendency to brush off its very strong nominations showing as insignificant. I look at it this way: when this new system was set up, people speculated that foreign films (and documentaries) might start making their way onto the list...but in the first three years, nothing. Now one shows up, with all the accompanying categories (director/script/actress) characteristic of a solid contender. I'm not brazen enough to think Amour is going to snatch the best picture prize. But best original screenplay, an award that's been won by subtitled efforts three times previously? I see no reason why such a film can't finish first there.

Not that I'm ready to lock it into type. As I said, any of the last three. But Amour is my lean.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Original Screenplay

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:05 pm

Sabin wrote:. However when it comes to Amour, voters have not one place where they are assuredly going to check a box next to Michael Haneke's name, but three. Best Foreign-Language Film as well as Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (and I suppose Best Picture as well).


You have to attend screenings and see all the films if you're gonna vote for Foreign-Language Film plus Best Foreign Language Film does not technically go to the director, it goes to the home country despite the fact that it's the director who accepts and keeps the award, his name is NOT on that plaque. So technically most voters only have 2 places to honor Haneke. If there are enough Amour fans who wanna honor Haneke with his own trophy or are unable to go to the Foreign Film screenings to vote for Amour, they can definitely do so in this category or in Director.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Original Screenplay

Postby Sabin » Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:29 pm

People didn't dislike Jason Reitman because he is an asshole or because he is entitled. Jason Reitman lost the Oscar because he and "co-writer" Sheldon Turner were in a heated WGA dispute.

Sheldon Turner discovered the book Up in the Air in 2001 and did an adaptation for Dreamworks that sold in 2003. Years later, Jason Reitman found the book, convinced his father Ivan of its worth. Apparently, Ivan commissioned an adaptation from Ted & Nicholas Griffin while Jason did his own adaptation. Jason claimed to have worked independently of both Ted & Nicholas' screenplay. He also had no idea that Ted & Nicolas apparently worked off of Sheldon Turner's adaptation, who invented ingredients still in the film today like the Anna Kendrick character (though that character was male in his draft) and several written dialogue passages that remain in tact in the finished film. Jason Reitman claims to have never read any other written version of the screenplay and did not meet Sheldon Turner until after the film was finished. All of this was very suspect.

When the WGA holds arbitration, they look at several drafts written by the different writers and writing teams. Jason Reitman claimed to have worked entirely independently on the project and was insistent upon claiming sole writing credit. What was a mystery was how all of Sheldon Turner's ideas made it into Jason Reitman's finished screenplay. The likeliest scenario (and the WGA doesn't rule what happened but merely what the credit is) is Jason Reitman must have read Ted & Nicholas Griffin's script, thought that because his father had commissioned this adaptation from Ted & Nicholas Griffin, he will have some leverage over them to let him use it without requesting arbitration, and did not know that they read Sheldon Turner's script and incorporated some of his ideas. Which doesn't change the fact that Jason Reitman wanted to use other people's ideas and because of who he is and who his father is thought he could get away with it. But the producers of the film and Reitman himself recognized that all of this was bad publicity and reinforced an image of entitlement within him, so they appeared together at some screenings, and tried to make a joke out of it, but it wasn't incredibly convincing.

Whether or not this custody battle actually changed voters minds and forced them to choose Geoffrey Fletcher's adaptation of Precious instead is unclear. It's possible voters just liked that film more. But the combination of Jason Reitman's entitled persona and this custody battle probably didn't help.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Original Screenplay

Postby rolotomasi99 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:07 pm

Sabin wrote:Tarantino might come off as an asshole, but at this point? I think people know what they're getting into. And now with his historical riffs, he's officially part of the club.


Many people (though not me) seem to think UP IN THE AIR lost Adapted Screenplay because folks disliked Jason Reitman's personality. I am not exactly sure what he supposedly did to piss people off, but I personally think the Academy awarded PRECIOUS instead because the movie touched them deeply. However, if we believe some folks can win an Oscar because they are so likable (i.e. Sandra Bullock) it most be possible for some folks to lose because they are so unlikable.

I think DJANGO UNCHAINED is more likely to lose because of how uncomfortable some folks are with Tarantino's liberal use of the word nigger. I do not think he uses it in an irresponsible way, but there are going to be some awkward headlines if a screenplay that uses it 108 times wins an Oscar. Luckily for Tarantino, his biggest competition is a screenplay that has its own shit storm to deal with.

This is how I think AMOUR could pull a surprise win.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Original Screenplay

Postby Sabin » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:36 pm

My favorite category. Where the best nominated film gets its win, or where the best film left out gets its nomination. Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola wrote one of the best screenplays of the year. I think Wes Anderson's execution of the script occasionally gets in the way of the incredibly strong and inventive narrative he set out to make. A win would be incredibly deserving, and without much precedent. Designing Women won on its only nomination, but it didn't have to compete with three other Best Picture nominees.

Would these three films be nominated if the roster wasn't expanded? I personally don't think so. Amour, Django Unchained, and Zero Dark Thirty are all nominated for five Academy Awards, which indicates a lot of residual good will for all of them. Now, I am not a big believer in voters setting out to spread the wealth. However when it comes to Amour, voters have not one place where they are assuredly going to check a box next to Michael Haneke's name, but three. Best Foreign-Language Film as well as Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (and I suppose Best Picture as well). Are voters really going to vote for Michael Haneke down the line? I'm not sure. It certainly resembles a feat of brilliant directing more than brilliant writing, although because it's the work of an artist like Haneke the two are really interchangeable. I could see Best Original Screenplay being a place where they move on and honor somebody else.

That leaves Mark Boal and Quentin Tarantino. Three years ago, Boal beat Tarantino. This time, I think the opposite will happen. Obviously, we won't ever know the tallies from 2009's Oscar race, but Best Original Screenplay was perceived as between The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds. The Hurt Locker had momentum and won. Zero Dark Thirty is less of a competitor this go around. Django Unchained made a fuck ton of money and Tarantino has a recent past nomination for Basterds that could be fresh enough in people's minds. Tarantino might come off as an asshole, but at this point? I think people know what they're getting into. And now with his historical riffs, he's officially part of the club. It's probably time for a second Oscar.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Original Screenplay

Postby Big Magilla » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:14 pm

I wrote a longer post, but it disappeared.

In brief then, I don't think either Django Unchained and Flight have much of a chance.

A lot of people have affection for Moonrise Kingdom but I don't think there are enough of them for a win.

Hanke will be at the podium to accept Best Foreign Film, but that award goes to the country of origin rather than the director. They may want to give him an award of his own. I still think that will be for Best Director, with the added pull of votes from pissed off Affleck and Bigelow supporters.

I think the screenplay award will be Zero Dark Thirty's big win of the night.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Original Screenplay

Postby The Original BJ » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:03 pm

I don't think Moonrise Kingdom is in this race to win at all, and would be STUNNED if it trumped the three Best Picture nominees.

The last time a screenplay won on its only nomination was Designing Woman in 1957. (I had to look that up.)

I quite like that neither Amour nor Django were eligible for the WGA Award, because we won't remotely have any tip-off of how well either might fare here against Zero Dark Thirty before the Oscars.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Original Screenplay

Postby rolotomasi99 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:35 pm

FLIGHT would be the only winner that actually surprised me. The rest all have an equal shot to take the award, more-or-less.

Before the Oscar nominations were announced, I actually thought MOONRISE KINGDOM was the most obvious choice. It was nominated for the PGA, so I figured it had wide support. Plus it was a very accessible film from a usually inaccessible writer/director. Wes Anderson has a very passionate but small fan base. I thought maybe they would be able to band together to deliver this award to him. However, the fact the Academy settled for nine Best Picture nominees rather than nominate MOONRISE KINGDOM makes me think it was not as adored in the Academy as I thought. It is still a whip-smart screenplay, and might be able to be victorious in this four-way fight.

ZERO DARK THIRTY shows Boal improving upon his Oscar winning debut. He structures his film like the journalist he is, but this screenplay has some pretty wonderful dialogue. We are all well aware of the manufactured controversy about this film and it may lead to a complete shut-out on Oscar night. However, there are signs of the tide turning against those who have attacked the film, with Martin Sheen's very public mea culpa possibly helping the film win at least one award. If ARGO is going to win Best Picture, it is going to have to win Editing. Lead Actress is pretty much Jennifer Lawrence's to lose. Sound Editing usually goes to the action film, but SKYFALL is definitely more of the typical action film (although LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA won over its louder competition). This leaves Original Screenplay as the one category where folks might feel is a good place to acknowledge the film and show they were not swayed by the assholes who tried to destroy Bigelow, Boal, and the film in general.

DJANGO UNCHAINED has some great dialogue, but that dialogue also includes an alleged 108 uses of the word nigger. Will this controversy prove more damaging to Tarantino than the one Boal is dealing with? Others see this as a second chance for Tarantino after his previous loss to Boal. Folks have said Bigelow and Boal did a bad job of responding to their attackers, but Tarantino has come off as a real asshole. There is the now infamous rant he delivered to a reporter asking about the violence in the film. Even if he is tired of fielding this particular question, screaming at someone that you are not their slave is not going to win you any points when folks already feel your movie in question trivializes the experience of slavery in this country. Still, he is a talented wordsmith, and as FilmFan720 pointed out it has been a long time since he last won.

AMOUR is not usually the type of film that wins Original Screenplay. It does not have clever dialogue or a unique plot/structure. It is a simple story told in a very straightforward but powerful way. Obviously the best recent example would be TALK TO HER, however even that film had some interesting quirks that helped it stand out like the movie-within-the-movie. Also, it was the only chance to award Almodovar since the film was not nominated for Foreign Film (and he was not going to win Director). Given the strange rules about voting for Foreign Film can result in some shocking defeats for popular movies, there is no guarantee AMOUR will win in any other category. This could mean enough folks throw their support to the film's screenplay, particularly since it will be going to director Haneke.

I am in agreement with FilmFan720. Original Screenplay feels like the only category that pertains to feature films where there is an actual four way split. In other categories there is either one clear winner or two (or three at the most) movies battling it out. Here it could be any film except FLIGHT, and the WGA is not going to clear anything up. It will be an absolute mystery until the envelope is opened.
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Categories One-by-One: Original Screenplay

Postby FilmFan720 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:11 am

I haven't seen enough nominees in any category to chime in on a what deserves to win basis, but this is one race that no one is talking about that I find really interesting. So I thought I would start the thread.

A month ago this was a slam-dunk win for Zero Dark Thirty. It was the only serious Best Picture contender that was considered Original, and one of it's main highlights was the structure of the film. Then, the film came under a lot of attack for it's content (which has to go back to Boal's screenplay) and lost all momentum for a win. It feels like an also-ran right now.

The question then is, what wins here?

Flight was a surprise nominee (and those almost never win anywhere) and has no chance of winning here.

Quentin Tarantino hasn't won in almost 20 years, but he is a polarizing figure (and the content of Django has come under a lot of heat too...just not Congressional hearing level heat) and controversial screenplays tend not to win here.

Michael Haneke is nominated for multiple awards tonight, which can sometimes be a good sign that they want you to take something home, but he will probably be up on the podium for Foreign Language Film (even though it isn't his award to keep). Is that going to be enough to satisfy the Amour supporters? Winning here for a foreign-language film is extremely tough. Talk to Her did it a few years ago, and then you have to go back to a couple of films in the 1960s (Divorce Italian Style and A Man and a Woman). In all those cases, though, the competition was extremely thin. The two 1960s films had no Best Picture nominees to contend with, and Talk to Her only had Gangs of New York, which was never going to win a writing award (In fact, that year Original Screenplay was so thin that the WGA had trouble finding nominees and gave the award to a documentary). The competition is certainly weak here, but is it weak enough for a foreign winner to sneak by and win?

Moonrise Kingdom seems to be the film standing in its way, at least for now. It seems a strong possibility to win the WGA award, without Django or Amour to contend with, but the film hasn't done nearly as well this season as many people thought (no other Oscar nominations, no one breaking into an acting category, no wins up until now for anything) and Wes Andersen isn't a universally loved filmmaker either. This feels like the sort of film that gets nominated here year in and year out yet never wins.

So, where does that leave us? My gut tells me Amour could take this (and WGA won't clear that up at all), but nothing would suprise me right now.
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