Friday, February 20, 2015

Best Adapted Screenplay: Who's going to take Oscar home?


He's back; that tall golden drink of water, Oscar. And he's what I'll be doing Sunday. I mean, watching. Which I like to do quietly by the way, with just the family, who know when to chatter and when to shut the hell up. I thought I'd take a look at the Best Adapted Screenplay category, since that's what this blog is all about, you know, movies based on books. Also I've forgotten who the nominees are, I thought maybe you had too. I don't suppose you'll be surprised to be reminded it's an all-male bunch of nominees? So no matter what, Oscar is going home with one of the boys. I know a lot of you don't care about the buzzy-buzz that surrounds the Oscars but for the nominees and the winners it means a big old pay raise. They care. Yes indeed.

The nominees are ...
Graham Moore for The Imitation Game by Graham Moore, Paul Thomas Anderson for Inherent Vice, Anthony McCarten for The Theory of Everything, Jason Hall for American Sniper and Damien Chazelle for Whiplash.


First of all, Whiplash shouldn't even be in this conversation. Not because it's not a brilliant piece of writing, it is. The movie really is all those superlatives blurbed on the poster above. If you haven't seen the story of a young musician being pushed to his limits and beyond by an abusive maestro, you've got to see it. It's for everyone who has a creative bone in their body, illuminating the struggle to achieve, the role mentors and teachers play, the push, the drive to spur genius; it's fantastic. But it's an Adapted screenplay in name only. Writer/director Damien Chazelle created a short based on his own script in order to secure funding for his full-length feature film, and that's why the Academy, in all their wisdom decided it belonged in the Adapted Screenplay category.  My bro works for the Academy so that's all I'll say about that.  Sigh.


I loved Inherent Vice and think Paul Thomas Anderson deserves something for making such a novel-faithful film out of the Thomas Pynchon book. When asked how he did it—especially as it was his first time out doing an adaptation—Anderson said he put the galleys (he got his hands on Inherent Vice pre-publication) on a cookbook stand and typed out all the dialogue, to see where he could go from there, cinematically. Unfortunately few saw the film, and those that did, didn't much care for it. Except for me!


American Sniper is the only nominee I haven't seen. We have a screener sitting right over there on the  shelf below the TV but I haven't been able to bring myself to watch it. I'll do that before Sunday when I think owing to its mega-popularity AND the fact that it's directed by everyone's favorite cranky old man Clint Eastwood—and make no mistake, the Academy is FULL of cranky old men (sorry, Big Bro!) it has a serious chance of winning. Ugh, even though my son assures me it doesn't glorify Chris Kyle or the war, even if right wing nut jobs stand up and cheer for it. He tells me they've totally missed the point.


The Theory of Everything scripted by Andrew McCarten largely based on Jane Wilde Hawking's Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen Hawking was one of my favorite movies of the year. Hawking's genius, his determination and his wife's devotion and emotional bravery thrilled me. McCarten won the BAFTA where the movie was up against Sniper, The Imitation Game, Gone Girl (which should have been in this award conversation but Fincher doesn't get the love he deserves, he's too popular, and Gillian Flynn is a woman so er, forget that one) and Paddington. Paddington! Also Eddie Redmayne, the movies' star, has been taking the Best Actor nods meaning there's a lot of affection for the film which could translate into votes for the screenplay.


That leaves The Imitation Game, Graham Moore's adaptation of Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. It was a very good movie but rather safe and so far, while it's been widely nominated the movie hasn't been winning. Not even the BAFTA for Best British film — which The Theory of Everything won. Benedict Cumberbatch is almost always amazing, hitting the character nail on the head; he's also beloved and since he seems to have little chance of taking home the Best Actor award, it's possible the Academy will honor him and his film in this category instead. A consolation prize.

Honestly, I read something the other day where some old Academy geezer-type member said most of his colleagues don't have time to watch the movies and they ask their housemaids what to vote for. So there's that. Sadly, I wouldn't doubt the veracity of that for a moment. 

And the winner is ... 
Who the hell knows!? That's one thing about this awards season, in some areas the winners are pretty predictable —it's a sure thing that Julianne Moore will win for Still Alice and J.K. Simmons will win for Whiplash and Patricia Arquette for Boyhood — while other categories like Best Actor and Best Picture really are up in the air.

So we'll see Sunday, when I won't be live tweeting, I'll be watching and unless it goes on forever, enjoying. With Neil Patrick Harris hosting, that's at least something I can count on. Along with the fact that whoever wins Best Adapted Screenplay, it will be a man. Another no brainer.

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