Search This Blog

Sunday, February 1, 2015

2015 Oscar Preview: Best Screenplay



- Birdman (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, et al.)
- Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
- Foxcatcher (E. Max Frye & Dan Futterman)
- Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)
- The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)

WHAT SHOULD BE HERE: Selma (Paul Webb)

Paul Webb first deserves all the credit in the world for calling his script Selma as opposed to obvious "King", or really anything involving Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's name. The film is not a true biopic of Dr King's life, but rather it just focuses on a certain time in his life protesting in Selma, Alabama. The title tells us this right off of the bat. One of the many problems with Lincoln was that the title lead us to believe we were getting an Abraham Lincoln biopic, when in fact we were just getting a perspective of Lincoln's life trying to get the 13th Amendment passed. There are a lot of similarities between Lincoln and Selma, but like most things, Selma stands head and shoulders above Lincoln. Further, Webb does a fantastic job of telling the audience the certain grunt work it takes to start a revolution, and by doing so, he not only created an entertaining film, but he managed to do so while only focusing on one major character. It's really hard to create a good film while writing so many two-dimensional characters as Selma had.

Lastly, I have no idea why Selma would have been considered an original script. I understand that Paul Webb didn't work off of a particular book, movie, or newspaper article, but he also didn't write this entire script from the top of his head either. Webb almost certainly looked through historical documents in order to tell even a half-accurate story. Movies like Nightcrawler and The Grand Budapest Hotel are works that are solely the product of a writer sitting down in a room and using their creativity to craft stories and characters. Webb had to do a touch more work than that.

Click here to read my full review of Selma


BIRDMAN (ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU, ET AL): While I wasn't a fan of Birdman and the specific directorial choices of the camerawork and the score were off-putting to me, I think the script is brilliant. The more I read reviews about the different layers that were at work and how the specific Birdman voice comes and goes, the more I fall in love with this film. The deeper I read into the script the more upset I get because I think there was a good film within Birdman but it wasn't the final product on the screen.

Click here to read my full review of Birdman

BOYHOOD (RICHARD LINKLATER): Richard Linklater did something sneakily brilliant in Boyhood in that he subverted almost every single Hollywood trope and cliche there is. There's a scene where kids are playing with a nail gun and you assume someone is going to get shot with it. There's a scene where some bullies pick on the main kid in a bathroom and you assume he's going to get his ass kicked. There's a scene where the main kid and a girl he just met have a beautiful moment together and it looks like they're going to kiss. Yet it doesn't happen. No one gets hit with a nail, no one gets their ass kicked, and the two don't kiss. None of this happens because real life doesn't work like a Hollywood movie, and that's the whole purpose of Boyhood. As it turns out, Hollywood cliches exist in order to create conflict in the film, and Boyhood is boring as hell without those cliches, yet I really liked the film so I think this Linklater cat may know what he's doing.

Click here to read my full review of Boyhood

FOXCATCHER (E. MAX FRYE & DAN FUTTERMAN): If you liked Foxcatcher or thought it was good, then you did so because of Bennett Miller's direction. On paper, this story is just two weird people hanging around each other, but on film, it's a creepy neo-noir tale about a messed up relationship that drove one of them mad. However, I hated Foxcatcher and I resent AnnaPurna Films for even distributing it. Worst of all, this is not a story that needed to be told on film. Out of the millions of crazy stories out there that deserve their own picture, this was not one of them. No nomination for you!

Click here to read my full review of Foxcatcher

 NIGHTCRAWLER (DAN GILROY): It's crazy that a dude who was best known for writing Rock Em Sock Em Robots, the crappiest Bourne movie, and a McConaughey movie before the McConaissance could write a film this freaking good and that worked on so many layers. Not only was it just a good, straight-forward Gyllenhaal creeper-fest, but it was also an indictment on the sensationalist nature our media has become while also making a statement on today's economic climate for those under 30.  The only reason Nightcrawler works as well as it does is because of its script, because it certainly wasn't because of Dan Gilroy's directing.

Click here to read my full review of Nightcrawler

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (WES ANDERSON): Even though I haven't seen The Grad Budapest Hotel yet, I feel like I won't be able to judge it fairly. Wes Anderson has a very specific style of writing (and directing) and you either like it or you don't. So far I have come down on the "don't" side of this argument. I've seen a handful of Wes Anderson films and I haven't liked a single one so far, so it's very doubtful that I'll have great things to say about his latest. So if I don't like The Grand Budapest Hotel it means nothing and he still deserves a nomination and if I enjoy the film then Wes Anderson absolutely deserves a nomination. Either way, hooray for Wes Anderson!


- Birdman (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, et al)
- Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
- Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)
- Selma (Paul Webb)
- The One I Love (Justin Lader)

WHO SHOULD WIN (ACTUAL NOMINEES): Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)
WHO WILL WIN: Birdman (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, et al)



- American Sniper (Jason Hall)
- The Imitation Game (Graham Moore)
- Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)
- The Theory of Everything (Anthony McCarten)
- Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)

WHAT SHOULD BE HERE: Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn & Nicole Perlman)

Holy crap what a deep category this is. From smart summer blockbusters like Edge of Tomorrow, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and How To Train Your Dragon 2 to prestige fall award contenders like Gone Girl and Wild to Indie favorites like Snowpiercer and Obvious Child, everything is based off of something these days. Ultimately though, the one major "snub" in this category has to be from the best film of the year. I understand that a Marvel superhero movie starring a walking tree and a talking raccoon wasn't going to be a huge Oscar contender, but at least the Writer's Guild of America was smart enough to honor one of the best scripts of the year with a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination. James Gunn's script was not only entertaining but it had heart and soul with three dimensional characters. I don't care that it had space action in it, Guardians of the Galaxy is just a really, really good film thanks to its wonderful script.


WHIPLASH (DAMIEN CHAZELLE): Wunderkind Damien Chazelle wrote a brilliant original script about the drive it takes to become the very best and the type of mentor is takes to get you there. He wrote Whiplash from scratch. He managed to get his script in the hands of J.K. Simmons who of course said yes. The duo filmed a scene from the film together in order to get funding and because everything about the script is fantastic, they managed to scrape together the three million dollars necessary to fund the entire project. Very late in the Awards Season voting process, and after the WGA and the campaign itself thought they had an original script on their hands, The Academy in their infinite wisdom declared Whiplash an adapted screenplay because they deemed the film to be based upon the "short film" the duo shot. That's utterly insane, because the film Whiplash is not based upon the scene and is not based upon a short film, it's based upon the original script Chazelle wrote. Therefore, this film is in the wrong category.

The irony of all of this is that there was no way Damien Chazelle was going to defeat either Birdman or Boyhood in the Best Original Screenplay category, but he has a legitimate chance of winning an Oscar by being in this category.

Click here to read my full review of Whiplash

THE IMITATION GAME (GRAHAM MOORE): The Imitation Game is one of the best films of the year and that's mainly because of the inventive script by Graham Moore. The industry has known about this wonderful script for years as it won The Blacklist back in 2011. The Blacklist is a website that compiles the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood and The Imitation Game was determined to be the very best that year. It's not hard to see why. Graham Moore managed to turn a generic, bland Oscar-bait dribble into an entertaining and deeply thoughtful piece about WWII and life in England during the 1940's. If Whiplash weren't in this category, Graham Moore and The Imitation Game would be my personal favorite to win this category.

Click here to read my full review of The Imitation Game

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (ANTHONY McCARTEN): Speaking of Oscar-bait dribble, you have The Theory of Everything. I appreciated the Stephen Hawking biopic focusing on his wife Jane (It was smart of the filmmakers to base this story after Jane Hawking's book) so it wasn't complete ripoff, but everything about The Theory of Everything is what I hate about The Academy as a whole.

Click here to read my full review of The Theory of Everything

INHERENT VICE (PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON): I haven't seen Inherent Vice, but after The Master, I'm not in any hurry to do so, especially considering all of the word-of-mouth reviews of the film is that it should have been called "Incoherent Vice". On the flip side, I think we all collectively might just be too stupid for what the film and P.T.A. have to say (myself included). After listening to Paul Thomas Anderson on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast, I realized that the man is just a genius and we need to give him ever award imaginable. Thomas Pynchon's original story is a complicated and tough read to begin with, and P.T. Anderson brought that complexity to life.

AMERICAN SNIPER (JASON HILL): After a record breaking opening weekend, it looks like my negative review of American Sniper is in the minority. However, I stand by my review, and the screenplay is the worst part of the film. It failed to properly introduce any other characters outside of those played by Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, it failed to make a point about this mass killer, and it failed to sucked me in to actually enjoy this story. It also poorly shoehorned this sub-plot about another enemy sniper. Worst of all, the film is just a collection of scenes without an overarching story. I may be wrong in not liking the film and I do believe its success and feedback justifies many nominations, but just not in this category.

Click here to read my full review of American Sniper


- Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn & Nicole Perlman)
- Obvious Child (Gillian Robespierre)
- Snowpiercer (Joon-ho Bong & Kelly Masterson)
- The Imitation Game (Graham Moore)
- Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)

WHAT SHOULD WIN (ACTUAL NOMINEES): Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
WHAT WILL WIN: The Imitation Game (Graham Moore)



If you would like to comment on this post, please visit our Facebook page