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« Toni Collette, Ethan Hawke, and "Roma" Conquer Chicago | Main | The 2018 Animation Contenders: Tito and the Birds »
Saturday
Dec082018

Blueprints: FYC Original Screenplays

Following the first major award nominations of the season, Jorge takes a chance to remind any Academy votes to keep in mind some of the best screenplays of the year… 

Historically, Best Original Screenplay has been the category in which the Academy takes some of its biggest risks. Or maybe where it likes to think it does. This is the place where more daring, inventive, or “non-traditional” movies tend to get a shout-out, perhaps as a recognition of the overall novelty of the film without going as far as honoring those edgier achievements with a Best Picture nod or win...

Some recent examples include last year’s winner Get Out, and nominations for films like The Lobster, Ex-Machina, Straight Outta Compton, Her and Bridesmaids. We'd like to submit five films of this past year into consideration for the category; five films that have not been getting as much award traction as their screenplays deserve to.

American Animals
Written by: Bart Layton

Better remembered as the movie that MoviePass really pushed just as it was on the brink of its demise, American Animals is actually another stand-out heist movie in year of great heist movies. Based on the real-life events of four college students that planned the heist of a rare book from their college library, the film mixes interviews with the real-life subjects with fictional recreations of the robbery.

While it may initially seem like a fairly run-of-the-mill crime thriller, it’s actually a complex exploration of how people remember (or misremember) major events in their life, the reasons why they did the things they did, and how they cope with the trauma and aftermath. 

Bad Times at the El Royale
Written by: Drew Goddard

You can’t blame Drew Goddard for underachieving. Straight out of his Oscar nomination for screenplay for The Martian in 2015, his follow-up film tells the story of seven strangers in the 1960s spending one night at the El Royale, a mysterious hotel standing literally in the middle of the California-Nevada border. All of them hide secrets. No one is who they say they are. They might all be there for the same reason. 

While I have argued that this would actually have made a pretty fantastic (and overall superior) mini-series, Goddard does a magnificent job of creating vivid characters in an even more vivid world. Each person gets his or her own backstory in flashback chapter form; each of them a dissection of what it’s like to live in an in-between. 

Private Life
Written by: Tamara Jenkins

It took Tamara Jenkins eleven years to give us their follow-up to The Savages. And even though it may be cliché to say it, the wait was well worth it. In this painfully melancholy exploration of the desires and expectations of a marriage, Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti play a couple desperately trying to get pregnant, and failing at it. 

A new opportunity comes in the shape of a young girl who agrees to be their egg donor, which puts into perspective everything they ever wanted, or what they thought they wanted. The script is elevated by two career-best performances from Hahn and Giamatti. I dare you to look at an Applebee’s the same way again. 

 

Thoroughbreds
Written by: Cory Finley 

Whimsical, precocious teenagers spitting over-stylized dialogue is not anything new. It hasn’t been since Winona Ryder played croquet. But with Thoroughbreds, Cory Finley manages to get a fresh take on the genre, daring you to empathize with two girls in the border of psychopathy; one who feels too little and one who feels too much.

The script followed the unexpected friendship between Lily and Amanda, two teenagers that bond over the idea of killing one of their stepfathers. It’s dark, it’s stylish, it’s delicious. [More on this screenplay here]

Tully
Written by: Diablo Cody

Whenever Jason Reitman gets together with Diablo Cody and Charlize Theron, magic happens. The three of them reunite after the explosion that was 2011’s Young Adult, in what may be considered its spiritual sequel, about a woman learning to let go of her old self. Tully follows the journey of Marlo into new motherhood, and the relationship she forms with the titular Tully, a night nanny that’s been hired to look after her.

The movie is not about what you initially think it is, and it’s not until fully reveals itself that you understand the depth and complexity of what this threesome has achieved. Juno was about being forced to grow up. Young Adult was about refusing to grow up. Tully is about learning to. [More on this screenplay and its wonderful figures of speech.]

Other original screenplays to consider: A Quiet Place, Hereditary, Sorry to Bother You, Support the Girls, Unsane…

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Reader Comments (6)

Dang. Great picks. American Animals is my #4 for the year and I will always be here for Thoroughbreds and Private Life love.

December 8, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterchasm301

Thank you Jorge - I am definitely behind "Tully". I haven't seen the others.

December 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Damn I loved American Animals glad to see it listed here.

Bad Times got pretty sniffy reviews here so I skipped it...maybe I should give it a chance?

Private Life sounds good. I'm shocked Jenkins hasn't followed up Savages till now...although there was a similar gap before that as well. I lot of the difficulties of that film and her career are documented in Ted Hope's incredible book Hope for Film.

I wonder when this new one will come here...

December 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEoghanMcQ

Oh, it's premiered on Netflix. Don't know whether to be pleased or disappointed....

December 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEoghanMcQ

The academy will nominated...

Green Book - Roma - The Favourite - Vice - First Reformed

and what they should nominated are:

The Favourite - Tully - Eight Grade - First Reformed - Shoplifters

Shame on u, academy! And the "awards industry train" too!

December 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Jon: Eighth Grade? For screenplay? The film was bad, and I especially don't get the love for that script. Payoffs without setup, multiple pairs of scenes that trip over each other in terms of meaning, a comedy scene that didn't work in a DreamWorks movie more than a decade ago and bringing up EVERY modern topical idea it can while saying little or NOTHING about any of them. That's Eighth Grade.

My preference would probably end up being:

1. First Reformed
2. Roma
3. Isle of Dogs
4. Private Life
5. Mandy/Tully/Assassination Nation

December 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

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