07 March 2010

Oscar Zone IV: A Closer Look at the Best Screenplay Nominees

Well, tonight's the big night everybody, in almost ten minutes now we'll see who comes home with the that little golden balden phallic man. For our final entry examining all the categories anybody cares about, we're checking out both the Original and Adapted Screenplay awards. Read on, then see if all of these are really just bullshit.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

The Messenger (2009/I): Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman
This is supposedly a fantastic movie, or at least Woody's pretty decent. I've never heard of it, going by those standards it doesn't have enough buzz to win. I love this self-indulgent theory.
Chances of Winning: 1/5

Up (2009): Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Thomas McCarthy
I love how animated pieces manage to cram so much more story into a limited running time than most live-action films. The opening sequence's significant arc could justify a win, but in general, Animated Films don't win awards like this. If Wall-E (2008) couldn't do it, I have some heavy doubts for Up's chances, but an honour here would be refreshing.
Chances: 2/5

The Hurt Locker (2008): Mark Boal
While The Hurt Locker's screenplay is very good, I think the acting and directing is better. While the research is significant, it loses points on its supposed innaccuracies depicting soldier life and combat. If this film becomes a sweeper like Slumdog Millionaire (2008) though, its a given they nail this one too. Well, probably not.
Chances: 3/5

A Serious Man (2009): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Who the hell knows what this movie was really about, but it's well-written and concisely told despite its obliqueness. It's unique in its wide-ranging array of problems, diagressions, and other complications afflicting the main character that are nonetheless tied together and maintained through good scene and beat structure. The Coens are no stranger to writing wins (2), but I think the insane ending holds this back. Or throws it forward, who knows.
Chances: 4/5

Inglourious Basterds (2009): Quentin Tarantino
The film works on just a handful of powerful scenes, plots thrust forward by long dialogue then sudden action, with immediately recognizable and identifiable characters, good and evil. It's the best choice for Screenplay, and its also a way to placate the Big Q without giving him as much credit as a Best Picture. It's essentially minimalist, giving much credit to the viewer to follow along, ignoring unimportant scenes and streamlining what could have been a very sloppy narrative. It should and will win. Basically, one of the only categories I'm going to be satisfied with.
Chances: 5/5

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

In the Loop (2009): Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
See, The Messenger.
Chances: 1/5

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Geoffrey Fletcher
Geoff doesn't even know how to write a good title, this thing can't win. It's a pretty tight and powerful film, but not exactly exceptional enough to win. There's an outside chance he gets it based on the film's sheer amount of nominations and little chances in some of the most major categories. It would be an interesting yet doubtful triumph.
Chances: 2/5

An Education (2009): Nick Hornby
What a delightful film, I guess. The subject material is that kind of smaller scoped, intimate story that tends to capture the Academy's attention, so there's always a chance. Screenplay seems to be a lesser award (if you haven't gotten my theories on Awards by now), one that either contributes to a ridiculous awards sweep (like The Return of the King [2003]) or one that highlights an otherwise marginally winning film (see, Milk [2008]). This kind of win, based on the fact that AVABAR's writing fucking sucked could contribute really to any of the nominees in this category.
Chances: 3/5

District 9 (2009): Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
I've heard a lot of good hype on this one's winning actually. It's just enough of that mixture of quality Sci-Fi, non-overwhelming Political and Social message, small obscured story and production and great box office success. It's already put Blomkamp on everyone's radar, this win more than any other (no way it gets Visual Effects, sorry. It should have any other year in the history of mankind, but there's no way.against AVABAR) would secure that.
Chances: 4/5

Up in the Air (2009/I): Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner
Reitman's already directed one Best Screenplay winner (Juno [2007]), and there's no reason he can't go 2-for-2. While its early great hype may be on the downslide, the intricacies of the plot and nuanced, flexed characters should elevate this screenplay above some of the others. Its easy relatibility and contemporarity may also help its chances while at the same time limiting its timelessness. It's possible it wins and then is forgotten, which wouldn't be the first time.
Chances: 5/5

Final Thoughts:

This will be a good ceremony. Oscar is shaking it up, dual hosts, 10 Best Picture noms and lots of crazy shit happening all the time. There's a few things I'm liking however. The first is the amount of mainstream films nominated for major awards, including things like Ass-Blood Prince (2009) getting a nom for cinematography and AVABAR for everything. This also gives credit to a lot of smaller films like Basterds, D-9 and The Locker having great summers (at least with word of mouth). To go with this trend, it's also cool that some summer films could maintain some momentum into the fall and winter. It's possible that timing has become less important (the last August release to win Best Picture was Saving Ryan's Privates [1998]). These two trends tend to buck some other recent Oscar trends that have built upon tiny-ass mid-fall releases and heavy studio pandering. Pumped to see more legit mainstream films do both commercial, critical and hopefully award success. I am disappointed by the lack of Moon (2009), which did really well at the BAFTAs (Well, it got one significant award), but not as disappointed as the lack of Gran Torino (2008) last year.

Well, here we go! Yee haw!

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