Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Low Res Oscar Week: The Screenplays

Why, yes, it IS Oscar week. So glad you asked. I promise to to my level best to provide six full days of content, leading up to the big show on Sunday. It's my chance to pretend I'm a real, live blog.

So anyway, there are enough places on the internet where you can find analysis of the current Oscar nominees and who's going to win. Places that do it much better than I do. So while I plan on tossing up a predictions column by the end of the week, the bulk of my postings will be presenting my own personal ballot for the best of the year. Why? Because this blog is all about meeeeeee!

And if you thought I could resist calling these Low Res movie awards the Rezzies, well, you obviously overestimated me.

Next up, we've got Best Original and Adapted Screenplay.

Half Nelson
Little Miss Sunshine
Stranger Than Fiction
United 93

Matches with Oscar: 1/5. Hmm. They've got Little Miss Sunshine, like I do, but then they prefer Babel, Pan's Labyrinth, Letters From Iwo Jima, and The Queen.

Previous Rezzie Winners: 2005: Syriana; 2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; 2003: Lost in Translation; 2002: Adaptation; 2001: The Royal Tenenbaums

Why These Five? Brick started with a gimmick and ended up with a story, working hard to make the film not an intellectual exercise in genre-swapping but an exciting and inventive mystery. Similarly, Stranger Than Fiction took a gimmicky concept and made you feel for the characters. Half Nelson and Little Miss Sunshine drew some vivid characters and trusted its actors to do the rest. United 93, while a largely visual triumph, handled the most sensitive of subject matters on the screenplay end and silenced its detractors without backing away from the event itself.

Who Wins? I'm actually changing this at the last minute. I loved Stranger Than Fiction's script, but I keep going back to how moved I was by United 93 and the way its characters didn't appear motivated by heroism or any of these Hollywood mythmaking ideas -- the sheer "what do we do now?" mindset of the characters, dealing with events moving far too fast for them to keep up with and no room to think beyond what was directly in front of them. I expected to be moved by the film, but not in this way.

Children of Men
The Departed
The History Boys
The Last King of Scotland
Notes on a Scandal

Matches with Oscar: 3/5. Oscar fell under the Borat spell and also honored the unseen-by-anyone-between-the-coasts Little Children, whereas I preferred (or at least SAW) The History Boys and The Last King of Scotland.

Past Rezzie Winners: 2005: Brokeback Mountain; 2004: Closer; 2003: American Splendor; 2002: The Hours; 2001: Memento

Why These Five? In a stronger year, I might not have been as impressed by The History Boys' sparkling dialogue, or The Departed's slur-a-minute energy, or even Scotland's cult of personality horror story, but they're all quite good. In any year, I think I'd have found the prying-eyes menace of Notes on a Scandal to be highly entertaining. And I loved every other aspect of Children of Men, which includes the script.

Who Wins? Patrick Marber picks up his second imaginary award given by a pissant blog that nobody reads. Congratulations! I'm one of the rare people who appreciated Notes on a Scandal both for its camp appeal AND on its wicked, wicked merits.


jessica said...

STILL no Little Children in Buffalo? How very sad. It's like they assume no one outside the movie industry would even care to see it.

On a totally unrelated note, are you going to do an Idol vote-off contest again this year? 'Cause that was killer. Not that I'm asking you to pile on to your already bursting calendar with more meaningless crap, or anything, but ... well, yeah, I guess I am asking that.

Joe R. said...

I actually think Little Children opened somewhere around here just this week, but since a) I'm mad busy, and b) I already had these posts written up, I didn't see it. They just waited too long and now I'm holding a bit of a grudge. I'm sure I'll see it on DVD.

As for an Idol contest, not this year, I don't think. I'm in a pool this year and all my mental energy has to go there.

NYOne said...

I'm glad to see someone giving some love to United 93, even if it's not the Academy. I didn't think I wanted to see that movie at all, and yet I ended up blown away, bawling my eyes out and then (after a glass of whisky) calming down enough to recommend the film to anyone who would listen to me. I loved it precisely for the reasons you mentioned, and also that they cast people "as themselves" without it feeling cheap or pandering.

Mark said...

I've been meaning to ask, what was Borat adapted from? Da Ali G Show?