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Entries in Screenplays (104)

Thursday
Jan082015

27th USC Scripter Nominees Turn the Page

Books, books, nothing but books.
Pages, letters, paragraphs and sentences,
Adjectives and syllables and
Consonants and adverbs-!

I said alright,
But it wasn't quite,
Cause he wasn't nominated
For a Scripter last night.

Glenn here, and while Into the Woods did not receive a nomination today from the USC Scripter organization, I just have the prologue stuck in my brain. Still. It will not leave, how about you?

The Scripters award both a film's screenwriter and the writer of the original work. They used to only be open to adaptations of novels, which meant - much like the WGA - certain films were not allowed to be nominated. In recent years I believe they have started to allow comic book adaptations and short films expanded to feature length (like District 9); they've never nominated a stage musical or play adaptation so I'm not even sure if they're eligible. The rules seem kind of vague. Like most organisations that started before the modern award season made for homogenised lineups, the group have some curious wins in their early years including in its first year a film that didn't even get any Oscar nominations (84 Charing Cross Road).

In 1997 they expanded to include nominees and since then have always been quite a respectable award to win (last year's nominations for What Maisie Knew and The Spectacular Now were particularly welcome). They still do not allow for foreign language films, but... well, baby steps, I guess. Last year's winner was 12 Years a Slave for John Ridley and Solomon Northup, but what do you think will take the prize this year? The hiking woman, the British code-breaker, the gone girl, the physisist's wife, or the stoned investigator?

  • GONE GIRL
    Author: Gillian Flynn; Screenwriter: Gillian Flynn
  • THE IMITATION GAME
    Author: Andrew Hodges; Screenwriter: Graham Moore
  • INHERENT VICE
    Author: Thomas Pynchon; Screenwriter: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
    Author: Jane Hawking; Screenwriter: Anthony McCarten
  • WILD
    Author: Cheryl Strayed; Screenwriter Nick Hornsby

These are the exact same five films that Nathaniel is predicting, although we're not entirely sure what methods this group use to find their nominees. Are they considering Foxcatcher, for instance, which uses a novel as its jumping off point? Presumably they didn't buy into the "Whiplash is adapted" from just the other day, either. And after they nominated Iron Man in the past, one must assume that Guardians of the Galaxy wasn't that far off. I must say, doesn't Wild feel like it could drop out of the Oscar lineup at any moment? Apart from Reese it hasn't caught on with awards, which can mean odd films with pockets of feverish love can surprise like an American Sniper (although with WGA that would hardly be a surprise anymore) or Guardians of the Galaxy or, gosh, maybe even Into the Woods? Maybe somebody knows the stats better than I, but how often do films only get actress and screenplay nominations? Was Frozen River the last one? Hmmm... food for thought?

Tuesday
Jan062015

Whiplash Screenplay Drama (Plus: My Personal Ballot)

This can't be good news for Whiplash by way of splintered votes. Mark Harris, who is married to an Academy Award nominated writer remember, reported on Grantland that on the e-ballot reminder list Whiplash is officially considered an Adapted Screenplay by the Academy. The film's campaign always listed it as an Original Screenplay (see FYC ad left). The confusion, as also detailed on Deadline, stems from the Sundance winning short of the same name, also made by Damien Chazelle and starring J.K. Simmons. The short, according to the team, was made solely to get the feature funded. So if anything the short is an Adaptation of the feature which was made later if you will.

But the Academy rules on this are ever blurry. And technically they aren't "rules". You can vote for anything you'd like after all on your paper ballot (where this isn't a "pulldown menu" of course) but if half of its fans vote for it in Original and half in Adapted it's simple math (if math can ever be simple in preferential ballots) that it's probably not going to get nominated.

[Sidebar: The Writers Guild of America announces its nominees tomorrow but they have such strict rules about who is eligible that many well written films each year are disqualified so it's rarely a very correlative award in terms of the Oscar race. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Better more movies celebrated than fewer.]

This seems as good a time as any to announce my own ballot for Best Screenplay(s) which includes some surefire nominees (like Gone Girl) some absolutely deserving but sure not-to-be Oscar nominated screenplays like Pride, Force Majeure (original) and some oddities like The Babadook (which I put in Adapted even though it's considered Original by many because it is inspired by derived from (whatever) this earlier embryonic short... also by the wonderfully talented Jennifer Kent (who we recently spoke to).

Monster - Jennifer Kent from Jennifer Kent on Vimeo.

 

...unlike the Whiplash situation where it's just the same thing. Only the short is yanked from the future feature. Categories? What are they good for!? ;)

Nomination announcements have now been made in Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Art Direction for this site's annual celebratory jamboree, the Film Bitch Awards. Now in its (gulp) 15th year.

Friday
Jan022015

Linkcatcher

Forbes a curious realization. Nearly half of the 20+ sequels coming in 2015 are sequels to 2012 films from Magic Mike XXL to Pitch Perfect 2 and beyond
Erik Lundegaard great movie quotes of the year 
Film Stage unused concept art for an Alien film from Neill Blomkamp (of District 9 fame)


Deadline talks to rising DP star Bradford Young (Selma, A Most Violent Year) about lensing black films 
Variety Selma will be screened for free in its titular city
/Film Yes, Emily Blunt is aware that the internet would like her to play Captain Marvel in the upcoming Marvel film
LA Times on Robert Elswit, another fine cinematographer with two films this year (Nightcrawler, Inherent Vice)
Boy Culture Mark Wahlberg pic (the headline for pic is A+)
The Feminist Spectator is justifiably miffed that Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game can't be bothered to pay more attention to women or pass the Bechdel Test (though I actually think Theory of Everything technically does due to that unintentionally hilarious "you should go to church. bye" scene) 
YouTube Avengers: Age of Ultron commercial. I know this is par for the course now but it never fails to amaze and amuse and depress me that commercials (all trailers are commercials) now get their own commercials (premiering on January 12th!) when they themselves are sequels to commercials (third trailer!). What a world. FWIW this ant-size commercial for the upcoming Ant-Man commercial is pretty clever.

a few more 'best of' lists
Kyle Turner's top 14 from Mommy to Gone Girl
Scott Feinberg's unusual top ten, critical hits of various ilk and... Magic in the Moonlight?  
Pop Culture Crazy's "foolhardy" top ten construction from Life Itself on upward 

Happy New Year NPH

 

Dave and Mark Schulz in Olympic timesOscar Campaign Pot Holes
Pretty much every website is writing about Mark Schultz absolute freak out over Foxcatcher (that links takes you to the fullest recap I've seen with his "Die! Die! Die! deleted tweets and all) so I figure it doesn't need its own post. But it is the juiciest current movie explosion going on now that the Sony e-mail hack story has slowed down. The former Olympian didn't seem to have a problem with the film in which Channing Tatum plays him until several months after he first saw it. Interestingly his U turn happened during Oscar voting. Hmmmm. He says he is contractually obliged to support the film making this very public rage even more complicated. His about face appears to stem from a delayed realization of the film's homosexual subtext... which we only very recently discussed on our podcast and weren't all that impressed with as a choice. Schultz has since apologized for the outburst but is sticking with his claims of total inaccuracy.

Variety suggests that what's going on with Imitation Game and Selma is smear campaigns but is it really? Disputes about accuracy of biographical pictures are plentiful throughout history no matter the subject or Oscar heat. But for what it's worth people are saying that Selma's depiction of LBJ is problematic (sorry Tom Wilkinson - not what we needed disputed if we want to avoid that Robert Duvall nomination!). Now even a former Presidential aide to LBJ is chiming in on the controversy. For what it's worth, director Ava DuVernay, who used to be a publicist so knows this game, is very smart about dodging these attacks and keeping a cool head with her statements.

Disputes over Selma's screenplay credit aren't half as gripping, if only because this just happened last year with 12 Years a Slave and it seemed a lot bitchier then. Remember Steve McQueen's airclapping when the screenwriter won his Oscar?

Wednesday
Dec172014

Female Screenwriter Tops 2014 Black List

Manuel here to share some of the best unproduced screenplays written by women (according to industry insiders).

The Black List, now in its tenth iteration, compiles an annual list of the most liked unproduced screenplays. Since 2004, some of the screenplays featured on here have gone on to become Oscar-winning films like Argo, Juno, and The King’s Speech, as well as modest successes like Lars and the Real Girl, Charlie Wilson’s War and 50/50. Even current Oscar-favorite The Imitation Game topped the list in 2011. Other titles like Recount, Things We Lost in the Fire, The Beaver and Snow White and the Huntsman have been featured. That is to say, it’s quite a mixed bag (this year includes a screenplay for Wonka, for example, “a dark, reimagining of the Willy Wonka story beginning in World War II and culminating with his takeover of the chocolate factory,” which… well, to each their own).

This is the first year a screenplay written by a woman has topped the list:

CATHERINE THE GREAT by Kristina Lauren Anderson
Sophia Augusta takes control of her life, her marriage, and her kingdom becoming Russia’s most celebrated and beloved monarch: Catherine the Great.

In terms of casting my mind immediately went to Keira Knightley but that might be the Anna Karenina flashbacks. Such beautiful, gorgeously designed flashbacks! While female monarch films (including former Black List entries, Grace of Monaco and The Other Boleyn Girl) have not been outright hits, wouldn't you love to see this on screen with... Alicia Vikander? Diane Kruger? Rebecca Hall? Who would you go with?

Though perhaps, like Elizabeth, this film would do well to introduce us to a fresh, exciting talent. A tall order, I know.

Three other female screenwriters made the Top Ten with decidedly genre entries: Aether (by Krysty Wilson-Cairns) is set in a near future London where a revolutionary technology can record sounds hours after they were made; Situation Comedy (by Cat Vasko) is about a young woman who stumbles into a mysterious courtyard where she is transported into a sitcom-like universe, becoming a major character on this “TV show,” and Tau (by Noga Landau) is about a woman held captive in the futuristic smart house of a serial kidnapper. Sadly, the rest of the list does not bear out that early promise. The full list of 70 scripts shared only features four other scripts written by women.

Do any of these films feel like the next Juno (still the most high profile female-written Black List vetted script)? Do you have any better suggestions as to who would/should play Catherine should Anderson’s film be produced?

Tuesday
Dec162014

Open Thread & Roundtable Madness

I have been comically beset by obstacles this year so even though I'm roughly three weeks behind, I have to laugh a little at the strange stumbles and ouchy falls and just go... okay, well then. This is an interesting view of the floor! (apologiez: Oscar chart editing functions are somewhat on the fritz. trying for workarounds to fix)

Angelina Jolie talking about directing plane crashes and visual effects. Mike Leigh, hilariously also in this shot.

One of the victims of this impossible season for me at least has been THR's roundtables. I literally haven't watched a single one of those sometimes highly enjoyable if aggravating celeb gatherings. Not even the Actress Roundtable! (I'm certain it was its vibe of "The Amy Adams Show: Episode 5"  that killed my will to press play on the only day I had 50 minutes free on weeks ago. Important distinction: Amy Adams the actress is often very exciting to watch. Amy Adams the celebrity is like wallpaper.)

So consider this an open thread in which you can complain about all the Oscar stories we haven't covered this past couple of weeks (the charts WILL be updates tomorrow, damnit) and which exact minutes of these roundtables you would recommend that everyone including your host here must watch RIGHT NOW. The Hollywood Reporters six awards season roundtables to date follow. All five plus hours of them in case you've missed one. Or all six like me.  Along with the videos after the jump are the single questions per roundtable that I am pretending they answered...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec132014

Team FYC: A Most Wanted Man for Best Adapted Screenplay

Editor's Note: We're nearing the end of our individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. Here's Amir on "A Most Wanted Man".

Anton Corbijn’s latest film, A Most Wanted Man, is one of the year’s best American films. It’s the type of work that is elevated above the trappings of its overly familiar genre with superb performances and intelligent observations on the real world conditions that give birth to its story. It is arguably the smartest film made about America’s increasingly troubled relationship with, and its definition of, terrorism. Yet, it is surprising to compare the film's screenplay, penned by Andrew Bovell, to its original source, the 2008 novel of the same name by John le Carré, and notice the dramatic improvement that the adaptation has made to the text. 

With densely plotted novels, particularly in the espionage genre, one of the biggest challenges of adaptation is the careful omission of narrative threads without disrupting the harmony or logic of the story. Le Carré’s book is one of his lesser works, a straightforward piece about Issa (Gregoriy Dobrygin), a Chechen fugitive in Hamburg, whose history of being tortured in his homeland is sufficient cause for authorities (German and American) to assume ties with terrorist organizations. Issa’s story is intertwined to three other protagonists who are afforded equal attention in the novel: a banker named Tommy Brue (Willem Defoe), a lawyer named Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams) and a spy named Gunther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman)...

Click to read more ...