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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

2016 Oscar Preview: Best Adapted Screenplay


- The Big Short (Adam McKay & Charles Randolph)
- Brooklyn (Nick Hornby)
- Carol (Phyllis Nagy)
- The Martian (Drew Goddard)
- Room (Emma Donoghue)

SHOULD BE HERE: Steve Job (Aaron Sorkin)

I completely understand why Steve Jobs received a "meh" response from America. It was the third movie released about Apple's co-founder since 2011 and the overt three-act, playwright, Sorkin-esque style of the film is initially jarring. But I found the style fascinating and bold in all the right ways.

Steve Jobs is a non-traditional biopic that explores Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) relationship with the most important people in his life throughout three separate product launches in his career. Each product launch (Macintosh in 1984, NeXT's "Cube" in 1988, and the iMac in 1998) not only explores Jobs' vision of technology, but the culmination of his life and the people in it. Of course Steve Jobs never had multiple heart-to-heart's and arguments with all of these people at the separate product launches, but it was a clever and interesting device in order to tell the life story of Steve Jobs. Certainly knowing the structure of film going into it helped me like the structure (and the film as a whole) more, but I thought Sorkin (and his dialogue) created an excellent script.


THE BIG SHORT: Michael Lewis, the author of the book The Big Short (as well as one of my all time favorite books Moneyball), wrote an excellent piece for Vanity Fair about the difficulties of writing a book about the complex realities and nuances that led to the housing bubble and financial collapse in the late aughts that he never expected that it would be made into a Hollywood movie. The fact that Adam McKay, a man best known for making Will Ferrell films, was able to tell this story in such a clever way without dumbing things too much was just incredible. Between The Big Short and his work re-writing Ant-Man, Adam McKay has proven that he's able to tell great stories that were thought to be untellable.

BROOKLYN: I love Brooklyn, and I love it in large part because it defies a lot of the traditional romantic story tropes.  Brooklyn tells the story about a girl who immigrates from Ireland to America in the early 1950's in search for a better life for herself. She soon falls in love with an Italian boy, and much of the movie is telling of this relationship. There are not a lot of rocky parts in the relationship, and that's part of the film's charm. To fill the void normally filled with dramatic expression-of-love monologues, Nick Hornby wrote scenes about immigrants gossiping around a dinner table. I thoroughly enjoyed Brooklyn and I'm personally glad it is nominated.

CAROL: Carol takes places around the same location and time period as Brooklyn, but tells of the relationship between two lesbians played by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. I enjoyed Carol a lot, but I feel like most of the reason it works is because of the direction by Todd Haynes and the acting by Blanchett and Mara. The pacing of the film is methodical (some, like my wife, would argue "slow"), but it doesn't create the requisite amount to really suck you into the feature. The film explores how tough it was to be homosexual in the early 50's in America, but I feel as if the film could have used that plight more to its advantage.

THE MARTIAN: I have heard so many people complain that they didn't like the movie because the book was better. While that's probably true, since I didn't read the book, I really enjoyed The Martian. I was given plenty of drama as stranded astronaut Mark Watney struggles to survive alone on Mars. Drew Goddard, who is no stranger of adding humor to his projects as shown by his work on The Cabin in the Woods and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, also successfully added humor to this story to make The Martian as well rounded as it is.

ROOM: Emma Donoghue adapted her own story to create an Oscar darling. Room is the story about a mother and her five year old son, told through the five year old's perspective, trapped in a 10x10 room. Joy (Brie Larson) was kidnapped in high school and had a son as a result of the daily rapes from her captor. It's incredibly dark story, but is unlike anything you've seen before.


- Beasts of No Nation (Cary Joji Fukunaga)
- The Big Short (Adam McKay & Charles Randolph)
- Brooklyn (Nick Hornby)
- Steve Jobs (Aaron Sorkin)
- The Martian (Drew Goddard)

WHAT WILL WIN: The Big Short



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