11 February 2011

Oscar Zone Vol. II; Part III: Writing!

As we keep moving closer to the biggest Movie Night of the year, the Oscar Ceremony February 27 (8:00 pm EST on ABC) we must prepare a few things. First we need to prep our eyes and ears for four hours of self-indulgent congratulations as well as the best-looking Corporate Synergy you'll see this year (Imagine Christina Hendricks' diamonds! Also watch Mad Men). We've also got to needle into every possible scenario and determine exactly who is going to bring home statue. Because what's the fun in a surprise? After going over the least important category last week (Acting, clearly), we move on to something slightly more less important: Screenwriting.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen


Another Year (2010) by Mike Leigh
Anyone heard of this one? I haven't, which means it's probably a good script that has no following and no momentum going into the Academy Awards. This is the easy one to write off and narrow the option down to the remaining four nominees.
Chances of Winning: 1/5

The Fighter (2010): Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington
I have no doubts that The Fighter may sweep much of the Supporting Acting Nominations, but it's not dynamic enough of a screenplay to earn a Golden Boy here. A Sports Drama hasn't won here since Chariots of Fire (1981) and that flick had enough cajones to pull Best Picture, too. Screenplay tends to be a really quirky category, The Fighter is just way to typical to pull the upset.
Chances of Winning: 2/5

The King's Speech (2010): David Seidler
I would not be surprised if I'm way off and The King's Speech goes on a mad dash and sweeps most of its Awards. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) and The Hurt Locker (2009) both pulled off effective sweeps which included their writing categories and since The King's Speech's main competition (The Social Network) is in the Adapted slot, it would appear and open invite for Seidler to score here. What is interesting this year is that there isn't an obvious favourite for Best Picture so a sweep is more difficult to predict.
Chances of Winning: 3/5

The Kids Are All Right (2010): Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
There was this good streak in the later half of the past decade of tons of flicks just like this one nabbing Original Screenplay. The Academy seemed to love small, quirky indie, super-liberal stuff like Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Juno (2007) and Milk (2008). I picked this in my original bet to win, as of now I'm almost torn over its chances despite some recent history (And of course The Hurt Locker's win last year, tho that was still a small film). As of now, there's not a whole lot of momentum or hype over this Screenplay, tho both Milk and The Hurt Locker were decent surprises.
Chances of Winning: 4/5

Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan
I would call this nearly sealed up by now. Fresh of a WGA win, the Academy should apologize to Chris for snubbing him in the Director's spot (despite all his achievements, he only has a single Golden Globe nomination for Best Director to his name, also for Inception). He's been nominated before for Memento (2000), and he similarly handled the nuances of this screenplay with great talent. Of course, I thought the Academy would similarly award Tarantino last year the same way for Inglourious Basterds (2009) but I was off on that. Hopefully the WGA win pushes Inception in the right direction. Actually I do really believe the Academy has to find some way to honour a truly great Original Summer Blockbuster Idea that also made a ton of money. With this Summer already appearing to be ridiculous with its franchise overload, Inception was the one major brilliant highlight of 'Summer '010 and it was damn good.
Chances of Winning: 5/5


Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

127 Hours (2010): Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
Danny and Simon just snagged a statue for Slumdog a few years back but they won't repeat. 127 Hours is an interesting concept but the Screenplay isn't that exciting even with its gimmick film premise. It's much less interesting beat by beat than in a hot pitch room. In general it seems as though Critics and Academies have given this film the kind of standard Awards Love it deserves from the type of film it is, but the big prizes are reserved for some other seats come Oscar Night.
Chances of Winning: 1/5

Winter's Bone (2010): Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini
Winter's Bone! Winter's Bone! Winter's Bone! I'm going to just latch on to that joke.
Chances of Winning: 2/5

True Grit (2010): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
This is kind of like last year, isn't it? Actually it's a trend every year. You've got the Coen Film, the Pixar Film, the Film no one's heard of, then the Serious Contender. I always have to give the Coens some love because they write their dialogue so crisply and their actors just eat it up. With True Grit however, there really weren't a whole lot of changes from the original 1969 film, nor even the original Charles Portis novel. Do they deserve an award anyway for still making the screenplay into an interesting, fresh and very cool movie? Possibly. that's why they're number three today.
Chances of Winning: 3/5

Toy Story 3 (2010): Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
As I just mentioned, we're pretty deep in a little trend of Pixar releasing incredible films with spectacular screenplays. How long until they're recognized? It's not going to be Cars 2 (2011). They can rack up all the Best Animated Feature Awards we'll give them but at some point we have to start noticing that these are flicks that can stand on their legs against anything else in Hollywood. That said, an animated film won't win Best Adapted Screenplay this year. This is a shame because Animated Screenplays must contain a lot more information than normal films. Every direction needs to be put on screen. Actually in part that's the Director's job. I don't see an Animation Director winning against a live action one any time soon either. It's just too different an animal.
Chances of Winning: 4/5

The Social Network (2010): Aaron Sorkin
There's not a chance in hell The Social Network loses this. From its premiere the greatest facets people touted for this film were is Trent Reznor score and the incredible Aaron Sorkin dialogue. The first scene is beautiful. It puts every thing on display, the instant characterization, the clever wordplay and the inciting incident for the entire sequence of events that follows. It's probably one of the best-written films I've seen in years and it should win next year's award, too. Full of iconic lines and brilliant set-ups, blow-aparts and interesting scenes and characters, this is awesome. While The King's Speech may have trouble in its category, The Social Network is the kind of film that rules Original Screenplay. In the past decade 5/7 Best Picture Winners have also won Best Adapted Screenplay (The other three Best Picture Winners, 2/3 won Best Original. The losers, respectively have been Chicago [2003], Million Dollar Baby [2004] and Gladiator [2000]. None of these films were considered frontrunners for Best Picture [maybe Gladiator] and none of them have been thought of highly since [maybe Gladiator]). What I'm saying is that if The Social Network gets its Screenplay win I think it'll secure Best Picture.
Chances of Winning: 5/5

Stay tuned, dear readers, next week we'll take a juicy look at the Best Director Nominations!

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