Monday, February 28, 2011

OSCARS: 2010 Results Recap


Overrated

Social

Criminals

Are

Really

Stars





THE WINNERS:

Best Picture – Iain Canning, Emile Sherman & Gareth Unwin - The King's Speech

Best Director – Tom Hooper - The King's Speech

Best Actor – Colin Firth - The King's Speech

Best Actress – Natalie Portman - Black Swan

Best Supporting Actor – Christian Bale - The Fighter

Best Supporting Actress – Melissa Leo - The Fighter

Best Original Screenplay – David Seidler - The King's Speech

Best Adapted Screenplay – Aaron Sorkin - The Social Network

Best Original Score – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network

Best Original Song – Randy Newman - Toy Story 3 (We Belong Together)

Best Sound Mixing – Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo & Ed Novick - Inception

Best Sound Editing – Richard King - Inception

Best Visual Effects – Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb & Paul J. Franklin - Inception

Best Make-Up – Rick Baker & Dave Elsey - The Wolfman

Best Costume Design – Colleen Atwood - Alice in Wonderland

Best Art Direction – Robert Stromberg & Karen O'Hara - Alice in Wonderland

Best Cinematography – Wally Pfister - Inception

Best Editing – Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall - The Social Network

Best Animated Feature – Lee Unkrich - Toy Story 3

Best Animated Short – Shaun Tan & Andrew Ruhemann - The Lost Thing

Best Live Action Short – Luke Matheny - God of Love

Best Documentary Feature – Charles Feruson & Audrey Marrs - Inside Job


Best Documentary Short – Karen Goodman & Kirk Simon - Strangers No More

Best Foreign Language Film – Susanne Bier (Denmark) - In a Better World

We now continue with our regularly
schedule de-programming.


Friday, February 25, 2011

OSCARS: Best Picture



The Best and only "Oscar" worth anything.
Everything has been leading up to this category. Ideally the Best Picture should have everything: Best Director, Best Actors, Best Screenplay, Best Score, Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Make-Up, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing, but that’s hardly ever the case. For the most part the Best Picture Oscar is a completely subjective matter, one that is highly influenced by popular industry opinion. The problem with the Best Picture award is not only the hype that surrounds it, but also the absolute connotation that goes with it. To say that a film is, “The Best Picture of the Year,” is quite a claim by any standards. It creates an illusion of allure, an expectation of perfection, a reality that is rarely ever met, However, once in a while a film is made that is incontestably great and that is truly deserving of the honor and title of Best Picture.

Winner - Grand Hotel (1932)
- Best Picture -
Hole in One
To carry the title of Best Picture leads one to believe that the film in question is the best representation of filmmaking. That it showcases the best of all the categories, which from the start is a crock, unless it begins to sweep, which is not uncommon. Still, despite possibly not containing the best of all the aspects of filmmaking, the Best Picture should be able to hold its own among the nominees in that category, which may out perform it in certain aspects, but not as a whole. This is the more common case. There are only three films to win Best Picture and no other awards: The Broadway Melody (1929), Grand Hotel (1932), and Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). Of these three only Grand Hotel (1932) has the distinction of being the only film to only be nominated for Best Picture and win. As the categories became more expansive it allowed for certain films to gain more recognition, which in turn would increase its chances for winning Best Picture.

The two most nominated Best Picture winners are All About Eve (1950) and Titanic (1997) with fourteen nominations apiece. While it is common knowledge at this point that the Academy Awards favor dramatic films first and foremost they also have a penchant for EPICS. The three winners with the most awards honored are Ben-Hur (1959), Titanic (1997), and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) with eleven awards each. Return of the King also has the distinction of winning every nomination it received as well as the most awards for a single film, even though that sweep was honoring the entire trilogy. The Academy’s favoritism for epics as Best Picture has been scaled back a bit in recent years with films like Chicago (2002) and Crash (2004). But a rich dynasty shows a history of not only epic stories (and running times) being honored, but also epic productions. Films that pull out all the stops and push the boundaries of convention are generally rewarded, as long as they aren’t total abominations. Even Waterworld (1995) was nominated for Best Sound. The mentality is that a lot goes into the production of any film, so when the film is telling an epic story, with a lot of people involved in front of and behind the camera, then it deserves to be honored. It’s Hollywrong taking care of its own and patting itself on the back at the same time.

Winner - Peter Jackson
- Best Everything -
LOTR: The Return of the King (2003)

Aside from length and production scale, a good indicator of the Best Picture is the Best Director. Roughly 75% of the winners for Best Picture have also won Best Director and the DGA awards have predicted roughly 90% of them.

One thing you can’t take into account when considering the Best Picture is the films box office gross. On a whole, films that are nominated are generally financially successful, but it is a rare occasion when a blockbuster gets nominated for Best Picture. It is even more rare when one wins, with the above noted exceptions. Since the mid-1990s a new trend has been developing where smaller, independent productions have been claiming the top prize at the Oscars. These films, lacking the razzle dazzle of special effects focus more on character and story, in a word – Drama. It is because the Academy favors dramatic films so heavily that several other award ceremonies, such as the Saturn Awards (honoring Science Fiction and Fantasy films) have sprung up. There’s even an award honoring the worst achievements in film: The Golden Raspberry Award (commonly known as the Razzies).

Recently, as of 2009, the Academy has reinstated the ten-film nomination list for Best Picture. Not since 1944 (honoring 1943) has the nomination card exceeded five films. In an arena where the odds are already stacked in a certain films favor this seems like a useless and trivial scheme at poor marketing. If anything they should narrow the window of competition, but that would be good for box office. Alternatively they could stick with the five selections, but diversify the films and honor all of them as the Best Pictures of the year. There is simply too much structure in too obvious of a pattern for these awards to be the least bit entertaining or engaging. That is why they have to jazz up the show with jackass skits because they know that nobody in their right mind would want to watch up to four hours of rich people congratulating themselves. If you’re so interested in film then do yourself a favor Sunday night and start writing your own film and read about the Oscar results on Monday.



This year's nominees for Best Picture:
127 Hours – Danny Boyle & Christian Colson
Black Swan – Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy, & Brian Oliver
The Fighter – David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, & Mark Wahlberg
Inception – Christopher Nolan & Emma Thomas

The Kids Are All Right – Gary Gilbert, Jeffery Levy-Hinte & Celine Rattray
The King’s Speech – Iain Canning, Emile Sherman & Gareth Unwin
The Social Network – Dana Brunetti, Cean Chaffin, Michael De Luca & Scott Rudin
Toy Story 3 – Darla K. Anderson
True Grit – Ethan Coen, Joel Coen & Scott Rudin
Winter’s Bone – Alix Madigan & Anne Rosellini



HIGH POINTS:
-            On the Waterfront (1954).
-            Ben-Hur (1959).
-            In the Heat of the Night (1967).
-            The 1970s with the noted exception of 1977.
-            The strong competition of the 1990s, especially 1994 & 1995.
-            The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003) sweep.


LOW POINTS:
-            Star Wars (1977) losing to Annie Hall (1977). (I’m really not going to let this one go.)
-            Goodfellas (1990) losing to Dances With Wolves (1990).
-            Do The Right Thing (1989) not even being nominated for Best Picture.
-            Saving Private Ryan (1998) losing to Shakespeare in Love (1998).
-            2007 – and I’ll just leave it at that.
-            The Hurt Locker (2008) (aka Jarhead II: Junior’s War).


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

OSCARS: Best Director


Winner - Richard Attenborough
Best Director - 1982 (Gandhi)
"Spared no expense."
Filmmaking at its essence is a dictatorship. Much like the captain of a ship, the director calls the shots. They guide their crew through rough waters and, depending on how good they are, lead them to box office treasure or career misfortunes. It takes someone with vision, who is capable of directing others clearly, to take a stack of paper (the script) and see it through all the stages of development and all the departments of a production finalizing in something that people would want to devote their time to viewing. Conventionally everyone reports to the director on every issue from prop management to set construction to stunt coordination and all points in between. They oversee every aspect of the film through all stages of production (pre-production, principal photography, and post-production) up to the release.

Typically they are involved in the script, if not in the actual writing then they initiate re-writing that occurs on the set, or before filming commences. From there the director will work with the art director to develop the visual style of the film. This includes meeting with the costume designer as well as the make-up artist and visual effect team. Storyboards are drawn up so everyone can have a clear visual presentation of the film. Then the cinematographer is brought in to translate the illustration on the storyboard to actual shots when filming begins. The director also has first and final say on the casting of the film, especially on the lead and supporting actors. Once the project is filmed the director will work with the editor in assembling the film. During this time the sound editors are creating and capturing sounds to create the ambience audio to play under the dialogue. When all of this is in place the composer records the orchestral underscore for the film and then the sound engineer mixes everything and any final adjustments are made before the film is released. Only in extreme cases of failure or inexperience will the studio or producer interfere with the director, but otherwise it is their duty to provide them with whatever they need to get the film done.

Winner - William Wyler
Best Director - 1959 (Ben-Hur)
The Academy Awards have always recognized achievements in the field of directing. In the beginning, at the very first awards ceremony, there were two categories honoring achievements in directing. The first was for dramatic direction, which recognized Frank Borzage for Seventh Heaven (1928) and the other was for comedy direction, which recognized Lewis Milestone for Two Arabian Knights (1928). After the first Academy Awards the specification of comedy direction as a category was discontinued. Since then the Academy has generally favored dramatic films. There have been other genres, or at least elements of other genres present in the main, non-technical, categories – including Best Director and Best Picture throughout the history of the awards. Just as the other categories have their trends, this is one that is present in the Best Director category. Winners for dramatic combos in the past include Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for West Side Story (1961) (Musical-Drama), James L. Brooks for Terms of Endearment (1983) (Comedy-Drama), Jonathan Demme for The Silence of the Lambs (1991) (Thriller-Drama), and James Cameron for Titanic (1997) (Historical-Drama). This also presents the trend between the Best Director winners and the Best Picture winners.

There is also a strong correlation between the Best Director winners and the Directors Guild of America award for Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film Directing. The DGA has an almost uncanny ability to pick the winners of the Best Director Oscar, which follows the DGA announcements by about a month. Founded in 1936 as the Screen Directors Guild, the group changed their name to the Directors Guild of America in 1960. They have been presenting awards honoring achievements in their respective field since 1948 when Joseph L. Mankiewicz won for A Letter to Three Wives (1948). Throughout the history of the event there has only been six instances where the DGA did not agree/predict the Best Director Oscar winner. They are as follows:

1968 – Carol Reed won for Oliver! (DGA – Anthony Harvey – The Lion In Winter)
1972 – Bob Fosse won for Cabaret (DGA – Francis Ford Coppola – The Godfather)
1985 – Sydney Pollack won for Out of Africa (DGA – Steven Spielberg – The Color Purple) (He wasn’t even nominated for the Oscar that year.)
1995 – Mel Gibson won for Braveheart (DGA – Ron Howard – Apollo 13) (Howard was also not nominated for an Oscar that year.)
2000 – Seven Soderbergh won for Traffic (DGA – Ang Lee – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
2002 – Roman Polanski won for The Pianist (DGA – Rob Marshall – Chicago)

Winner - Clint Eastwood
Best Director - 1992 (Unforgiven)
& 2004 (Million Dollar Baby)
One of the highlights of this category, and all around great achievements in the realm of filmmaking, is when actors take up the reigns and wind up not only being nominated, but also become award winning directors. Robert Redford (1980), Warren Beatty (1981), Richard Attenborough (1982), Kevin Costner (1990), Clint Eastwood (1992 & 2004), and Ron Howard (2001) all began their careers as actors and managed to prove their talent on both sides of the lens. Other actors who have been nominated include Orson Wells for Citizen Kane (1941), Laurence Olivier for Hamlet (1948) and Kenneth Branagh for Henry V (1989).

Heavy consideration should be given not only to the competition, but also what the filmmaker has accomplished, endured, overcome and achieved with their work, not just in dollars and cents, but in a lasting emotional impact. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time to gage the latter. Most films in contention for awards are released at the end of the year, sometimes leaving only a month between their release and nomination. It’s bad news for most films that are released early in the year, as their relevance won’t be as strong as something everyone is talking about and has access too. Sadly this industry thrives on these virtually meaningless awards and fortunately the great ones stand the test of time.

NOTE: Both Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick never won an award for directing. Hitchcock won an Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1967 and Stanley Kubrick won an Oscar for the Special Visual Effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Think about that next time you’re watching one of Kathryn Bigelow’s timeless masterpieces like Near Dark (1987), Blue Steel (1989), or even The Weight of Water (2000).


This year's nominees for Best Director: 
Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan
Joel & Ethan Coen – True Grit
David Fincher – The Social Network
Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech
David O. Russell – The Fighter



HIGH POINTS:
-       Frank Capra’s triple score in the late 1930s.
-       William Wyler’s record 12 nominations resulting in 3 wins, tying with Capra.
-       Nominating Charles Crichton for A Fish Called Wanda (1988).
-       Oliver Stone winning for Born on the Fourth of July (1989).


LOW POINTS:
-       Woody Allen beating George Lucas in 1977 (I’m not going to let this one go.)
-       Kevin Costner beating Martin Scorsese in 1990.
-       Pretty much all of the above mentioned DGA upsets, especially 1995.
-       Christopher Nolan NOT being nominated for Inception (2010).

Think he saw that in his dreams?

Monday, February 21, 2011

OSCARS: Best Actor/Actress – Lead & Supporting Role



Winner - The Usual Suspects 1995
Best Supporting Actor - Kevin Spacey

If there was ever a single word in our lexicon that has been redefined by its physical manifestation and presentation it is “talent.” In this modern, Hollywrong age of filmmaking the word talent is often confused with the word celebrity, which itself is often confused with the word actor. Clearly there are people who’ve got talent and people who don’t; people who are born with it and people who work for it; people who want it and people who lie about it. It is this quest for celebrity that has caused an over abundance in the talent pool.

In regards to acting there are some clear attributes that people must possess to be considered not only good, but also talented. First and foremost a person must be believable in their performance. They must deliver every line, action, and expression with total sincerity. Much like a chameleon, actors must blend into their surroundings, completely immersing themselves not only into their character, but also the story. When you watch a movie, nine times out of ten you’re not seeing the character, you’re seeing the actor playing the character. It is only when they make the audience forget their worldly persona that they have done their job and showcased true talent. But charisma will only get an actor so far before they get typecast as a one trick pony with a pretty face. Nothing establishes talent better than a demonstration in diversity and development of range. Although there are several awards bestowed to actors each year, the four categories honored at the Oscars bring the most recognition in this field.

Achievements in the field of acting were acknowledged at the very first Academy Awards, held in 1929 (honoring the production years 1927-28). At the time there were only two categories honoring Best Actor and Best Actress. The contenders were also nominated not for a single performance in a single picture, but all of their work for that year. This is a unique aspect to the first awards ceremony and was redefined the following year. It wasn’t until 1936 that the supporting actor/actress categories were added. Even then the academy had not fully defined its rules regarding the nominations for these categories. In 1944 Barry Fitzgerald was nominated for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for the same role in Going My Way (1944). He won the latter nomination, losing Best Actor to his co-star in the film, Bing Crosby. After that the rules were changed to prevent such an occurrence from happening again.

Nominee - Chinatown 1974
Best Actor - Jack Nicholson
Best Actress - Faye Dunaway
Still, clarifying the rules did not prevent conflicts and controversies revolving around the awards from arising. Aside from the media making note, time and again, of actors who belong to minority groups winning these coveted awards, leading people to believe that the Academy is racist, which is purely subjective nonsense, there is the issue of the winners themselves. One pattern that can be seen by looking at all of the nominees and winners from the past is honoring actors for previous performances or accomplishments. This usually happens when two performances outshine the rest and the backlash from the loss earns the loser added recognition and attention for their follow-up work.

Noted examples of this happening are: Faye Dunaway losing Best Actress in Chinatown (1974) to Ellen Burstyn for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), but winning for Network (1976); Paul Newman losing Best Actor in The Verdict (1982) to Ben Kingsley for Gandhi (1982), but winning for The Color Of Money (1986); and Denzel Washington losing Best Actor in The Hurricane (1999) to Kevin Spacey for American Beauty (1999), but winning for Training Day (2001). That is not to say that these achievements aren’t worth their awards, but simply that you only hear about them because of the award, in spite of previous superior performances. Even Sean Penn’s win for Milk (2008) could be chalked up to overlooking Into The Wild (2007) the previous year.

There is also the longstanding tradition of sneaking leads into the Best Supporting category and supporting roles in the Lead category. Anthony Hopkins only has about 22 minutes of screen time in Silence of the Lambs (1991). Granted it is a powerful, scene stealing 22 minutes of screen time, but hardly a “Lead” performance, which he won an Oscar for that year. By contrast Whoopi Goldberg had a leading performance in Ghost (1990), but was nominated for and won Best Supporting Actress. The same goes for Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects (1995). It leads one to suspect that there is an air of favoritism mixed with commercial appeal to both the nominees and the winners, with a minority reserve for novelty performances.

Overlooked - Johnny Depp
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas 1998
Of course the most overlooked actor of the last twenty years has to be Johnny Depp. His performances in Ed Wood (1994) and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) should have at least garnered him nominations for Best Actor, but it took the commercial success of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) to gain recognition for his talents. This led to critical attention and Academy recognition for his follow-up performance in Finding Neverland (2004). Even his role in Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), which would have gone unnoticed a decade earlier, was nominated for a Best Actor award.

All of this just goes to show that if there is one thing the acting categories manage to overlook it is mastery of the craft. They continually lean towards tragic, dramatic performances. If the character is based on a real person, preferably with a disability (including insanity), requiring the actor/actress to use an accent, it’s almost a lock. Women are typically awarded for playing strong or tragic (usually both) historical characters. Sophisticated comedy, which relies heavily on delivery and timing often gets overlooked, as do performances in thriller/horror films, which require a great deal of emotional and psychological energy from the performer. The worst thing is when a performer gets a taste for the gold and locks themselves into a rut, trying to recapture that acclaim, like Tom Hanks (5 nominations – 2 wins) and Russell Crowe (3 nominations – 1 win). At least Charlton Heston figured out that the Oscars are not a measuring stick for talent and that once you’ve won an award there’s nothing left to prove so acting can be fun again.



This year's nominees for Best Actor in a Lead Role: 
Javier Bardem - Biutiful
Jeff Bridges – True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network
Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
James Franco – 127 Hours

This year's nominees for Best Actress in a Lead Role: 
Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman – Black Swan
Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine

This year's nominees for Best Actor in a Supporting Role: 
Christian Bale – The Fighter
John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner – The Town
Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech

This year's nominees for Best Actress in a Supporting Role: 
Amy Adams – The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter – The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo – The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit
Jacki Weaver – Animal Kingdom



HIGH POINTS:
-                 Ellen Burstyn winning for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974). – Best Actress in a Lead Role
-                 Ruth Gordon winning for Rosemary’s Baby (1968). – Best Actress in a Supporting Role
-                 George C. Scott declining his award for Patton (1970) - Best Actor in a Lead Role
-                 Kevin Kline winning for A Fish Called Wanda (1988) - Best Actor in a Supporting Role
-                 Martin Landau winning for his performance as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood (1994) – Best Actor in a Supporting Role


LOW POINTS:
-                 Regulating achievements in the field of acting primarily to dramatic roles. – Best Actor/Actress – Lead & Supporting Roles
-                 Leonardo DiCaprio not winning for his performance in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) – even if he did “go full retard.” Best Actor in a Supporting Role
-                 Not nominating Uma Thurman for her performance as “The Bride” in Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003). – Best Actress in a Lead Role
-                 Philip Seymore Hoffman winning for Capote (2005) over Joaquin Phoenix for Walk The Line (2005). Best Actor in a Lead Role
-                 Not nominating Emile Hirsch for his performance in Into The Wild (2007). – Best Actor in a Lead Role

A couple of "losers."

Friday, February 18, 2011

OSCARS: Best Original – Adapted Screenplay

Winner - Casablanca 1943
Best Adapted Screenplay
Filmmaking, at its very essence, is story telling. It utilizes visual technology to manufacture and create an engaging, entertaining, and fulfilling story. But before the tickets are sold, the ads are run, the cameras roll, or the actors are cast, there must be a script. You wouldn't hunt for treasure without a map, nor would you build a house without a blueprint, and that's just what the script is, a blueprint. It allows the filmmakers to envision how the film will look in the end. It is what brings everybody involved in the production together. The script is the most important thing in the process of filmmaking, for without the tangible translation and presentation of ideas there would be nothing to film.

Achievements in writing have been recognized and honored since the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1928. At that time three awards were distributed: one for adaptation, one for original story, and one for titles. The award for title writing was retired after the first year. During the following two years a single award for "writing" was presented after which the award split, honoring Best Original Story, and Best Adaptation (or Screenplay). In 1940 the Best Original Screenplay category was created, making writing achievements eligible in three categories again. By 1957 the award for Best Original Story had been retired as well, in favor of the Best Original Screenplay category. From then on there have only been two categories for awarding achievements in writing: Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Nominee - Salvador 1986
Best Original Screenplay - 
Oliver Stone & Richard Boyle
An original screenplay is a work that is not based off of pre-existing, published material. That is to say it can include historical situations and figures, as long as the work is not based on an autobiography, or similar work. Since the material is 100% original it must incorporate all the elements of narrative composition. These include character development; physical description and personality traits, setting, plot, conflict, and a climax which resolves everything. The true mark of a great original screenplay is one that defies convention and avoids cliché, especially when it comes to the ending. The last thing an audience wants is to see the ending coming from the beginning. A big part in the undertaking of an original screenplay is inspiration. The aforementioned elements of writing require a sense of creativity with the end result being a work of art. Unless of course the author is just out to make a buck, in which case the work is probably not that original.

The best results from this classification come from established filmmakers, usually a writer/director combo. They know what they want and how to get it. Their inspiration derives from a greater ambition and understanding of presentation. Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, John Landis, Oliver Stone, John Carpenter, Wes Anderson, Mel Brooks, Frank Darabont, and Christopher Nolan, just to name a few, all play an intrical role in the screenwriting process of the films, whether it is an adaptation or original idea. Even Alfred Hitchcock would direct his screenwriters on how to develop and shape the stories for his films. Many writers, such as William Peter Blatty, John Patrick Shanley, and David Koepp developed into directors over the course of their careers. It allows for a greater control over the project; regardless of success, it is their vision that endures. Of course the lone writer, the true wordsmith, is someone who can never be forsaken. It is their creative spirit that drives the industry, either through original content, or purchased assets and developments. Not every director is a writer; look at Clint Eastwood, or Steven Spielberg. They can tell a story, they can even write a little, but their strengths lie elsewhere, in other departments and fields, which creates the need for solo writers who do nothing better than understand the elements of narrative composition.

Winner - The Departed 2006
Best Adapted Screenplay - 
William Monahan
When it comes to adapted screenplays the writers thrive on ambition and a different kind of inspiration. They want to share a story that has inspired them rather than conjure something cheap and inadequate. The source material could be a book of fiction, or non-fiction, a short story, an article, a poem, a play, a song, even an earlier film, hence sequels. In that regard most of the work has already been done on the creative end. The characters, whether fictional or real, have been developed, the setting, plot, conflict, and climax have all been worked out and are in place. It is the screenwriter’s job to translate the text from prose into the correct format. In some cases they may have to add dialogue, create, combine, or delete characters to fit in the confines of a film. Another element that plays a substantial part in the success of an adapted screenplay is the relevance. Whether or not the subject matter is contemporary or dated and how well the writer manages to translate it for the filmmakers. The bottom line: there are almost always some liberties taken with adapted screenplays and with this category the best screenplay is not always the most accurate or faithful screenplay.

The harsh reality of screenwriting is that just like blueprints to a house, things can change within a blink of an eye. A screenwriter can sell their script to a studio, which may only want the premise; everything else will go through a series of rewrites. The characters, the dialogue, the setting, even the conflict and climax can all change from the time the pages come off the printer to when the frames pass through the projector. They may even make changes on set while filming. The dialogue that was painstakingly crafted may not work for the actors who have been hired to play the roles and it needs to be changed. The director may allow a lot of adlibbing on the set. A crucial location to the plot may be unavailable for filming, or manufacturing on the films budget and needs to be changed, causing a butterfly effect through the rest of the script. Even if everything on the page is filmed the story can still change in the editing process. Scenes, characters, subplots can all be cut out. The crime is when people win awards for work they did not do, or get ignored for work that they did do.  


This year's nominees for Best Original Screenplay: 
Another Year – Mike Leigh
The Fighter – Scott Silver (Screenplay), Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson (Story & Screenplay), Keith Dorrington (Story)
Inception – Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right – Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech – David Seidler

This year's nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay: 
127 Hours – Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network – Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 – Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, & Lee Unkrich
True Grit – Joel & Ethan Coen
Winter’s Bone – Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini



HIGH POINTS:
-          Red Balloon (1956). – Best Original Screenplay
-          Breaking Away (1979). – Best Original Screenplay

LOW POINTS:
-          Annie Hall (1977) beating Star Wars (1977). There simply isn’t anything “original” about a whiney, neurotic, insecure, sex-starved Jewish guy, who thinks that anyone who doesn’t like him is an anti-semite (trust me, it’s because his “schtick” is annoying), pining for love in NYC. – Best Original Screenplay
-          Again, Salvador (1986) and Platoon (1986), but especially Salvador (1986) losing to Hannah and her Sisters (1986). Best Original Screenplay
-          Little Miss Sunshine (2006), which is a film with good actors performing flat roles in a poor plot whose climax is essentially ripped off from Napoleon Dynamite (2004). Not too original. Best Original Screenplay
-          Brook Busey (aka Diablo Cody) winning for Juno (2007) – a film with arguably the worst dialogue that sends all kinds of wrong messages to its target audience. To be fair, Ms. Cody did live down to expectations by penning Jennifer’s Body (2009).Best Original Screenplay
-          Overlooking Sean Penn’s magnificent job of adapting and editing Jon Krakauer’s novel for Into the Wild (2007), which is a far superior job than the Coen brothers duct tape approach to screenwriting as of late. Best Adapted Screenplay


Winner - Breaking Away 1979
Best Original Screenplay - Steve Tesich