The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword: Best Screenplays

84th Annual Academy Awards Preview Part I

Van Gogh not included.

I’m a huge movie fan, as if you couldn’t tell by the majority of my reviews here on nandake..? And in hand with that, I love the Oscars. Some people say awards shows are unnecessary, circle jerks and popularity contests, but I still love this Hollywood tradition. So over this week I’ll be putting up a little preview guide to the upcoming Academy Awards.

We’ll start with the writing categories. Screenplays are hard to judge, in my opinion. I’m not sure how the Academy does, if they get to read the screenplays or they go off what I do and watch the film. The reason I find it hard to judge screenplays is because what you see on the screen is not what is always written in the pages. Having said that, I do my best to read between the frames and see what’s on the page.

Best Original Screenplay.
The Nominees
The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius
Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo
Margin Call,
J.C. Chandor
Midnight in Paris,
Woody Allen
A Separation,
Asghar Farhadi

All of these screenplays are very strong, and I’m thrilled to see Bridesmaids nominated. Comedies are notorious for not getting nominations from the Academy, but when a truly great piece comes along, they’re not shy about it; we saw this with Little Miss Sunshine and Juno. Unlike those comedies though, Wiig and Mumolo are probably the least likely to win this year. The problem this year is that Woody Allen has really stepped his game up. Of course Allen is a genius, a mainstay, and a veteran at creating screenplays (15 nominations and 2 wins), but his last few haven’t been up to snuff. However, this year’s Midnight in Paris shows Allen how he should be remembered, as an auteur. While Allen’s screenplay is great and original, for me something like The Artist just stands out so much. The concept and the execution is just so top notch.

Favorite: Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen
My Pick: The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius
No Way: Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo


Best Adapated Screenplay.
The Nominees
The Descendants, Alexander Payne & Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
John Logan
The Ides of March,
George Clooney & Grant Heslov & Beau Williams
Steven Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin & Stan Chervin
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,
Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

Like the original category, adapted screenplay is full of great writing. The team of Zaillian, Sorkin, and Chervin had the hardest job here. How do you adapt a book about sabermetrics in an entertaining, enthralling, just plain good piece of film? I’m not sure how they did it, but they did. John Logan’s take on children’s masterpiece The Invention of Hugo Cabret is also a stand out. The original book is almost entirely made up of pictures to tell the story, with pages of prose only printed sporadically throughout the novel. Sadly the throwaway here is the adaptation of John le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. While not bad in any shape, it’s just up against too many really strong screenplays here.

Favorite: Moneyball, Steven Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin & Stan Chervin
My Pick: Hugo, John Logan
No Way: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

So there are the rundowns for writing this year at the Academy Awards. Woody Allen is already on a hot streak, picking up the Golden Globe and the Critics’ Choice award this year. But Hanazavicius came out on top at this year’s BAFTAs, so the race is still open.

One response to “The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword: Best Screenplays”

  1. Robert Chan says:

    Moneyball baby. intense subjects and PSY ripping it up! Also, I look forward to Li Bingbing being fucking hot as usual.

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