BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Nicole Holofcener - Enough Said
Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig - Frances Ha
Sebastian Lello, Gonzalo Maza - Gloria
Spike Jonze - Her
Destin Cretton - Short Term 12
Despite the futuristic vision of Her and even the "voice of a generation" Girls-ness of Frances Ha, these are five exquisitely written scripts about small-scale stories. Of unexpected love paired with neurotic doubt. Of personal and professional and existential crossroads. Of late-in-life DGAF-ness in South America. Of the limits of our idealized notions of love amid technology. Of makeshift families and the degree to which we allow people to care for/about us. If these all feel like airy concepts, they may well have been without the work these writers put into them. That Her represents the only crossover with the Oscar nominations is, frankly, insane.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
John Ridley - 12 Years a Slave
Sofia Copolla - The Bling Ring
Abdellatif Kechiche, Ghalia Lacroix - Blue Is the Warmest Color
Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope - Philomena
Scott Neustader, Michael H. Weber - The Spectacular Now
I honestly did come very close to nominating The Butler; for as many detours into odd Presidential vignettes as it took, there were some chewy ideas about Cecil acknowledging his place in the racial/political ecosystem and his ambivalence about it. Alas, it finished sixth to the skillful balancing of humor and righteousness in Philomena, the smart plotting of relationships in both The Spectacular Now and Blue Is the Warmest Color, the sly humor in The Bling Ring, and the flexed storytelling muscles in 12 Years a Slave, a script that's packed rather full of ideas a lesser writer might otherwise have found unnecessary.
Noah Baumbach - Frances Ha
Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity
Paul Greengrass - Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave
Sarah Polley - Stories We Tell
I'm still so proud of Noah Baumbach for setting aside his usual acidity towards humanity in telling the story of Frances Ha. Gerwig's influence, perhaps, but ultimately it was Baumbach who was able to adapt his style to this newfound lack of bile. Greengrass and Cuaron were both able to deliver smart and thrilling films within the boundaries of classic blockbuster filmmaking, and we'd all be better off if they became the norm. Steve McQueen made a film that doesn't rely on simply emotional or cerebral appeals, knowing that there is no shortage of ways that we can, or should, approach the horror of slavery. And Sarah Polley managed to turn the potentially solopsistic Stories We Tell into something almost humble, if it wasn't also so innovative.