Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Best of the Best Screenplay Nominees

So the Oscar nominations are out today. This is a blog about writing, so I'll concentrate on the nominees for Best Screenplay, both Original and Adapted.

However, as a quick aside, I'll opine that this new rule of allowing ten nominees for Best Picture is a shameless attempt at ratings for the telecast. However, it has allowed in a few nominees that might never otherwise have made it and that probably deserve it - like District 9. Genre movies are usually dissed by the Academy, but not this year! Also, I hope Kathryn Bigelow wins for Best Director on The Hurt Locker.

But on to screenplays! Here are the nominees:

Best screenplay (original)
The Hurt Locker, written by Mark Boal
Inglourious Basterds, written by Quentin Tarantino
The Messenger, written by Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman
A Serious Man, written by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Up, screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter; story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy

Best screenplay (adapted)
District 9, written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
An Education, screenplay by Nick Hornby
In the Loop, screenplay by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
Up in the Air, screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

One thing you'll notice - there's not a bad apple in the barrel. Avatar, nominated by both the Golden Globes and the WGA (!) did not get nominated by the Academy for Best Original. Thank goodness. That movie was a visual feast, but the writing was simply terrible.

I haven't seen all the nominees, so I'll have to skip talking in detail until I do, but I'll make fearless predictions now and wait to be proved wrong.

For Best Original - I think Quentin Tarantino's best writing days are behind him, that Joel and Ethan Coen (A Serious Man) are brilliant but not very well liked in Hollywood, and that The Messenger is too obscure to win. The contest then comes down to two fabulous nominees: Up and The Hurt Locker. I think this is The Hurt Locker's year, so I'll pick it, but I'd be delighted if Up won.

For Best Adapted: An Education and In the Loop suffer from being smaller movies that are a bit too obscure for the Academy. District 9 is sci fi and will ultimately be punished for that. Which leaves Precious (I refuse to type out that entire title again, it's just silly) and Up in the Air. I liked Up in the Air, but it's not the be-all end-all that some reviewers have led us to believe. However, I think it will win. Precious is a close second, but it's been over-hyped even more than Up in the Air and may suffer for that. I also think its pretentious too-long title is reason enough to vote against it. Part of writing is knowing when to stop.

So I'm stopping now.

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