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« Lady Bird Eye Candy | Main | Months of Meryl: The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979) »
Thursday
Jan252018

Blueprints: The Nominees for Best Original Screenplay

With the Oscar nominations finally announced, Jorge takes a deep dive into the nominees for Best Original Screenplay.

We all rose to the crack of dawn on Tuesday morning to hear Tiffany Haddish give the most upbeat and energetic nomination announcements in recent memory. One of the best picked categories was Best Original Screenplay. Even though there were no real surprises, it showcases a range of diversity not often seen: among the nominees is a Pakistani, a Mexican, a black man, and three women. Three of those people were also nominated for Best Director.

So let’s do a quick roundup on the nominees, their writers, their past history with Oscar, and what scene might have helped land them that nomination... 

  • The Big Sick

(Read the full script here)

Written by: Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani
The elevator pitch: Based on their relationship, a stand-up comedian falls in love with a girl, who in place falls into a coma. Now he must face the tragedy alongside her parents.
Screenplay length: 113 pages
Oscar History: First nomination for both writers
Memorable scene: As a frat boy heckles Kumail during a show, Beth stands up for him, taking his side for the first time.   

 

 

  • Get Out

(Read the full script here)

Written by: Jordan Peele
The elevator pitch: In this satirical look at race relations in America, a black man goes to visit his white girlfriend’s family, where he will soon be unable to escape their evil machinations.
Screenplay length: 99 pages
Oscar History: First nomination for Jordan Peele
Memorable scene: Chris and Rose get pulled over by a cop on the way to her parent’s house. This scene takes on a whole different meaning on second viewing.

 

  • Lady Bird

(Read the full script here

Written by: Greta Gerwig
The elevator pitch: A coming of age story stretching over the senior year of high school of Lady Bird (a name given to her by her), as she deals with the painful realities of first loves, parents, and becoming herself.
Screenplay length: 114 pages
Oscar History: First nomination for Greta Gerwig
Memorable scene: Lady Bird and her mother go shopping for a prom dress, in which the difficult and complicated shades of their relationship are made evident. 

 

  • The Shape of Water

(Read the full script here 

Written by: Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor
The elevator pitch: In the middle of the Cold War, a mute woman discovers a strange experiment in the facility she works in. It’s a fishman that seems to be the only other creature that truly understands her, and an unusual romance ensues.
Screenplay length: 116 pages
Oscar History: First nomination for Vanessa Taylor. Guillermo del Toro was previously nominated in this category in 2007 for Pan’s Labyrinth.
Memorable scene: Elisa and her neighbor Giles have a fight about whether or not to save the creature, in which he has to meticulously translate her arguments.

 

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

(Read the full script here)

Written by: Martin McDonagh
The elevator pitch: A woman sets up three billboards to confront the police department about the unsolved murder of her daughter, which brings her head to head with the prejudices of the community.
Screenplay length: 83 pages
Oscar History: McDonagh won an Oscar in 2006 for his live action short film Six Shooter, and was nominated in the Original Screenplay category in 2008 for In Bruges.
Memorable scene: Mildred goes to confront Dixon about the questionable decisions of the police department.

 

Who Should Win: In all honestly, I would be excited with anything except for Three Billboards, as the other nominees display a more honest and immersive sense of identity and unique writing perspective. I have yet to see Lady Bird (I know!), but I think Get Out was one of the most transcendental pieces of art not only this year, but possibly ever. The way the script plays with misdirection, and audience’s expectation, and its mix of genres will be taught in film schools for years.

Will Win: This honestly would be anyone’s game. McDonagh won the Golden Globe, but that felt part of an uninspired sweep. This category is when the Oscars can get more creative and think outside the box (think Her, or Eternal Sunshine, or Juno). I’d put my money in either one of the fresh minds, Gerwig or Peele.

Tune in next week when I take a dive into the adapted category!

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Reader Comments (20)

I think Lady Bird should take it, if only for the beautiful, simple scene of Lady Bird in Sister Sarah Joan's office, and the Sister pointing out that maybe love and paying attention are the same thing. So insightful, so lovely, so understated.

January 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAustin

I'm honestly flabbergasted by all the 'Three Billboards' backlash on this site. I understand the reservations and issues taken with the nature of the story as it progresses, but for a film whose theme it most clearly and explicitly explores is forgiveness, I'm dismayed and disheartened by all the, in my opinion undeserving, hate.

January 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

Lady Bird but I see Get Out winning and may take Best Picture too.

January 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMARKGORDONUK

I love this category. I really liked Three Billboards, but even still, I don't want it to win here. It's by far the most "writerly" of the nominated screenplays, in that the dialogue and actions of the characters feel very predetermined and in some cases, not at all the way real people talk/act. The dialogue is great, but structurally it didn't work as well for me as the other nominees. Personally, this is where I'd reward Get Out, as most of the things the film does so well are all there in the script (e.g., EVERY SINGLE THING Rose says and does, which plays completely differently the second time through).

It's kind of amazing that Lady Bird's screenplay is one page longer than The Big Sick's, but feels so much shorter.

January 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDancin' Dan

Get Out should take this. I agree with Jorge. 3 Billboards is my least favorite and I wish Phantom Thread, I Tonya or A Quiet Passion would’ve replaced it.

January 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJess

I was quite perturbed by THE BIG SICK's presentation of south Asian women. They were all frivolous tryhards with no agency but a desire to get married. One of them grew up in the States all her life, yet had a thick accent whereas Nanjiani's character was the same, yet did not.

There's been quite a few pieces from south Asian female writers who feel Nanjiani threw them under the bus in his film, and it's hard not to agree.

January 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEmma

@Beau

Is it backlash? Or is it just that many people don't like the movie?

January 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKieran Scarlett

Should Win: Lady Bird
Will Win: Lady Bird or Get Out

January 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Actually really not feeling Three Billboards here, even if I'm still expecting it to win BAFTA in this category. Maybe meshed with wishful thinking, easily the worst part of a nasty movie. It's in the writing where McDonagh fills his story with horrendous false equivalences and ugly contrivances. Yuck yuck yuck.

I firmly believe one of the new talents will win as well. Peele or Gerwig, and my guess is whichever one wins here is the one to watch out for as the spoiler in Best Picture. For now I am slightly siding with Lady Bird.

January 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlexD

@Beau. Agreed - because we are living in a time where if you don’t like something or if something makes you uncomfortable, it is wrong, terrible, and evil. And Three Billboards wasn’t even remotely my favorite film of the year, but the vitriol and spite the internet has for this I haven’t seen since - well, since last year with La La Land. Whenever a movie is perceived as a frontrunner, the crazies come out and try to kill it.

The one screenplay that 100% doesn’t deserve this win is The Big Sick IMO.

January 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

The best thing about "Get Out " is the brilliant script- the writer obviously used Ira Levin's work a jumping off point- and nobody crafted better thrillers than the man who wrote "Rosemar's Baby" , "A Kiss Before Dying" and "The Stepford Wives" .

January 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I think it should easily go to Greta Gerwig or Jordan Peele. I found McDonagh's screenplay to be quite messy and tone deaf.

January 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMatt St.Clair

3BB might win this cat at Bafta, but Lady Bird or Get Out is winnin the Oscars. The other cat r way too stacked for them both, so I'll see tt the voters giving them the votes here (of cos, they truly deserve it too!!) so they won't go home empty handed.

Perfect scenario: Get Out takes this, n Lady Bird takes both Actress AND Supp Actress!!

January 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

Jorge - a belated thank you for the amazing Get Out "Blueprint" article during the comments-blackout!

To repeat what I tried to post then, I love the script and that reading excerpts of the script in text format HUGELY highlights how much Kaluuya and Williams bring to the table. I'm delighted for Kaluuya, though a little sad that Williams received no nominations throughout the season; she is absolutely his equal and delivers a remarkable performance (I'm still puzzled that so many see her as Supporting, when to me the film is entirely about a relationship between two people, hero and antagonist with both receiving lots of screentime).

Anyway, it's my pick for the win (and I think that it stands a great chance - surely only Gerwig can deny Peele the Oscar - which is a bit of a "win win" situation for everyone, rare in any Oscar race!)

January 26, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterkermit_the_frog

I'm glad to see the focus on scripts here -- thanks, Jorge -- but I find some of these examples to be rather weak moments in each of these movies. I thought the heckler scene in TBS and the cop scene in Get Out and this argument from TSOF to all be drawn really broadly. These examples inadvertently point out to me a problem I have with a lot of contemporary screenwriting which is the use of words like fuck to do the work of characterization. Fuck you! Fuck that! Fuck you fuckhead! I'm not some prude who doesn't swear, but sometimes I watch a film and think, they're relying on the impact of a "fuck" as a kind of shorthand to emotion.

This also reminds me that Gerwig's script doesn't do that -- all her moments have a delicacy and originality that feels very thoughtful. She thinks about how her characters' minds work and how they find the language for each moment (sometimes in the silence around what's not said). Gerwig for the Original Screenplay win!

January 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Damn this is a great lineup. Thanks for this amazing writeup.

Lady Bird for the win.

January 26, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

@Kieran-

It feels like a backlash, though I absolutely understand if people weren't keen to the film originally, especially if they take issue with the violence... even still, the wave of acclaim seems to have shifted the moment it became the frontrunner, like so many before it.

And, again, while I recognize the issues people might be having with the film (i.e. the narrative / personality of a particular character late in the film), I also appreciate and actually applaud its willingness to deal with these issues in such a direct and frank manner: are people able to be forgiven, and what is the threshold for forgiveness? Are there certain acts or actions that truly are unforgivable? Is it even for us to say if a person should or should not be forgiven, if we aren't the ones who've been slighted or wronged? If a person makes a shift similar to the character in the film, largely in due part to the faith and encouragement of another, aren't such actions / efforts / reparations to be commended rather than sneered at? The prior acts and actions and attitudes themselves ARE reprehensible, there's no defending that (and why would anyone in their right mind want to?). What I'm positing, if anything, is that if an arc does occur and results in one character bettering him/herself, changing their ways, is the appropriate reaction then one of snark and skepticism?

I recognize engaging in this type of dialogue isn't perhaps wise on forums, but it is a consideration / conversation that's been brewing in my mind lately. If one simply isn't able to BELIEVE the shift as it is written on the page, that's another topic. But scorning, mocking, or responding in a disparaging manner to the sincere and earnest efforts of a person trying to become better is disconcerting.

January 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

Beau, thank you for articulating this so well. I too am somewhat incredulous as to how widespread is the vitriol toward the movie. I feel that forgiveness and what that means is a major theme of 3BB. There is a chance for hope that people can change. Amid all the violence and chaos McDonagh orchestrates, that message lives.

January 26, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

It's not a backlash against THREE BILLBOARDS when the negative comments (like my own) came once people actually started seeing the film. It was the festival circuit that loved it. Once it actually was released, more people saw it and weren't as taken by it. Simple as that.

I really hope GET OUT wins. It feels so unique in cinema let alone Oscar history. I adore Greta's work, but compared to GET OUT it does feel... not necessarily slight, but just less of a resounding triumph of one-of-a-kind art and artistic expression.

January 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

The strongest scene in THE BIG SICK for me was when Ray Romano crashes at Kumail's apartment.

January 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJakey

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