We kicked off this new informal mini-series about key scenes we love in this year's movies chatting with Demián Bichir from A Better Life. Let's move on to another early release that is fighting for year end "remember us?" honors as precursor season begins. If Thomas McCarthy's well liked Win Win will compete anywhere it's likely to be in Original Screenplay category which still appears to be a free-for-all. Precursor prizes will undoubtedly narrow Oscar's focus but right now several combinations of the year's well received originals seem possible there.
I was stunned to hear directly from Amy Ryan at a party that my favorite scene in the movie, wasn't even in the first version of the script. McCarthy added it later knowing something was missing and his instincts were spot on. So when I received the screenplay in the mail this weekend (swag pictured to your left) I opened immediately to see that it was there in the "official" screenplay.
Up until this point in the movie Jackie, the plain spoken wife of Mike (Paul Giamatti as a lawyer/high school wrestling coach) has been trying and failing to make a connection to the young wrestler (Alex Shaffer) who is staying in her basement. They finally bond over tattoos after she sees several of his at the wrestling match. The dialogue in the scene (which I'd already transcribed) is mostly the same as in the official screenplay though the actors were obviously encouraged to play it as naturally as they could so there are a couple of different beats on screen.
Jackie: Okay so I gotta ask. Those tattoos must have hurt, right?
Kyle: Not really.
Jackie: Don't lie to me. Look.
Jackie lifts her pant leg. She has a small tattoo on her ankle.
Jackie: I got it on Spring Break. Hurt like hell.
Kyle: What does it say?
Jackie: "JBJ". Jon Bon Jovi. I'm a fan.
Jackie: Yes, really. I'm a Jersey girl. You got a problem with that?
Kyle: No. I do not.
Jackie: That was fun today. You're good. I'm glad you started wrestling, again.
Kyle: Yeah, me too.
Jackie: No quitting this time, got that?
(The actors must have added the endearingly sarcastic "Really. Yes, really" exchange since it's not in the screenplay.)
At this point in the scene Kyle explains that he didn't quit his old wrestling team but was kicked off after stealing a teacher's car. After telling him how stupid that was Jackie registers that Kyle already knows this. She softens and you can see in Amy Ryan's terrific performance (ordinary people portrayed with this much verve is all too rare at the movies) that she knows that he's basically a decent kid and feels pride in finally connecting with him.
Jackie: Hey, we all do stupid things. The good news is you got another chance. And you're kicking butt. That's the way to do it.
Kyle: Yeah, I guess.
Jackie: Oh it totally is. You know who would agree with me?
Jackie: No. JBJ.
That scene sure is a winner. The next cut is to a wrestling meet, and we see Jackie newly enthused about the team and cheering Kyle on (to the tune of Jon Bon Jovi's "Have a Nice Day"). It's a perfect coda that plays way less sappy than it sounds; you want to pump your fist right along with her and JBJ.