Another Oscar Preview: Part 5

Our obsession about that silly little award show coming tomorrow won’t stop. So in that vein, I am continuing my previews of 13 categories I care about in the next 6 days. Today, we move to the writers, both those that adapted and those that concocted.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Keep it Simple, Stupid
: Coen Brothers, “No Country for Old Men”. The Coens made Cormac McCarthy relevant by taking his book and making a blockbuster out of it. The Brothers made Anton Chigurh stay just as horrifying, if not more, and they built suspense as if it was McCarthy doing it himself. Most importantly, the Brothers are winner’s of the Scripter, so they’ve already won for this script.

The Main Competitor
: P.T. Anderson, “There Will Be Blood”. Imagine Anderson’s thinking. He reads Upton Sinclair’s “Oil!”, a grand book about an entire industry that really surpassed the gold rush. He decides to adapt it, and in a genius decision, decides that only the first 150 pages of the novel are worth adapting. In doing so, Anderson creates a masterpiece.

If They Split the Vote: Ronald Harwood, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”. I’m going to quote WHAP’s Brett here, “And I know this won’t happen, but The Diving Bell and the Butterfly deserves to beat out No Country for adapted screen play.  I read the book for “Diving Bell” and although it was touching, I have no idea how someone made a movie out of it, it was only 130 small pages with big type, probably somewhere in the ball park of only 20,000 words.”

Bryan’s Preference: Christopher Hampton, “Atonement”. Think about the difficulty that the book Atonement would provide. Hampton himself said that someone told him it would be impossible. You need to navigate your main character through three time periods in her life, and you need the third to completely surprise the audience. The way this movie builds momentum at the end is beautiful.

Bryan’s Pick: P.T. Anderson. Look, the movie is going to win some awards, no matter how you slice it. While I don’t rule out the possibility of “No Country” sweeping almost every big award, my gut feeling says they go with Anderson here.

Best Original Screenplay

Keep it Simple, Stupid: Diablo Cody, “Juno”. Despite all the criticism Juno has taken since being nominated, Cody remains the favorite. She has won everywhere, most recently at the BAFTAs, and she’s one of a few sure bets on Oscar night. Some find Cody off-putting, but if you just focus on the script, her brilliance is undeniable.

The Main Competitor: Tony Gilroy, “Michael Clayton”. You can bet the Academy, who loved Michael Clayton, would like to award Gilroy for something. He’s obviously not a contender in the directing field, so this would make the most sense. Gilroy is a writer by trade, so while Michael Clayton was a nice entry into the field of directing, he’s most at home writing characters that turned out very well across the board.

If They Split the Vote: Tamara Jenkins, “The Savages”. I just didn’t love this movie and its characters like everyone else, but outside of Cody, Jenkins is the other to make the indie feel-good movie. Jenkins has lost to Cody in most places, but here’s another example if Cody and Gilroy both split some votes, Jenkins could really do well.

Bryan’s Preference: Diablo Cody. I feel so bad for Diablo that she has taken so much shit since “Juno” was nominated, and I feel bad that people would much rather talk about her stripping past than her script. Look, ignore everything else, and tell me anyone that created a more domineering main character and integrated her into an ensemble that is perfect. No one.

Bryan’s Pick: Diablo Cody. She’s going to win.

[Coming tomorrow: We’ll finish things off by getting technical.]

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