Tuesday, March 11, 2008

One Category at a Time - Part 8 - Original Screenplay

Some interesting scripts have been written for this year's crop of movies. It was real difficult trying to anticipate just five. I'll probably change my mind dozens of times before making my final, inaccurate predictions. Let's start things out with last years awards magnets:

Burn After Reading (Joel Cohen, Ethan Cohen)
It seems unlikely that this movie will be the Cohen's proverbial second bolt of lightning, but I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see them nominated. They've never written a screenplay I didn't like, and their upcoming comedy about a personal trainer (Brad Pitt) who stumbles upon the secret memoirs of a former CIA agent (John Malkovich) promises to be quirky and entertaining as usual. Now if it can only survive a dreaded mid-September release date.

Milk (Dustin Lance Black)
For a category called “original” screenplay, you often find a lot of nominated films based on actual people and events (The Queen, Good Night and Good Luck, The Aviator). I'm always amazed at how these writers can find fresh and original ways to examine a real person's life. Dustin Lance Black will try to do the same with Milk, based on the life of the first open homosexual to hold public office in California. With the likes of Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, and Emile Hirsch heading up the cast, me thinks it won't take much for this script to get noticed.

WALL-E (Andrew Stanton)
Like I mentioned in my post on animated feature, WALL-E could pop up in a few BIG categories, this one included. In recent years, Pixar films have become a popular choice in this category. They've accumulated four total nominations in their history; Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille. Unfortunately, that's as good as it gets (the existence of prejudiced Academy voters like the Reel Geezers will always keep these gems from actually winning). The real question about WALL-E is if it can compare to its predecessors without employing the witty and charming dialogue that helped make them so memorable. Voters will have to make their judgment based purely on the story.

Changeling (J. Michael Straczynski)
Long-time TV writer J. Michael Straczynski penned this mystery about a woman (Angelina Jolie) who gets back her abducted son, only to realize that it may not be her son at all. The relative ambiguity surrounding this project so far only makes it more enticing. This could turn out to be a very unconventional sort of movie, in which case, I'm game! But will Oscar “be game”, so to speak? Until we see the movie and can decide for ourselves, I'm going rely on the ole “Clint Eastwood factor” to give this movie an edge.

Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman)
Now here's a curious one. Oscar winner Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) writes and makes his directorial debut in this movie about a director (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who wants to build a life-size set-piece of NYC. How's that gonna work? Given that it's Charlie Kaufman, we can assume that it'll not only work, but it'll be deliciously creative and highly amusing. And that's not even taking into account the crazy talented cast they've got lined up to perform this peculiar play. I'll be camping outside the theatre for this one.

What scripts are you looking forward to the most?

Tomorrow, best visual effects.

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