Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June Oscar Buzz and Predictions - Screenplays

     The case with the screenplay categories is usually an embarrassment of riches on the Adapted side and a few shoo-ins among the Originals with the remaining slots left for that year's up-and-coming auteurs.  This year there are more heavy hitting arguably overdue writers working in Original, which promises to be an interesting novelty if nothing else. As always, the buzz leads each category with my thoughts and predictions following after.

Adapted Screenplay
  1. Before Midnight
  2. The Monuments Men
  3. August: Oslo County
  4. The Wolf of Wall Street
  5. The Butler

  6. Foxcatcher
  7. Labor Day
  8. 12 Years a Slave
  9. Captain Phillips
  10. The Great Gatsby

     It seems odd to me that Before Midnight lands in Adapted just because it is a sequel, but that's how the rules work at present.  I would like to post the disclaimer that I expect August: Osage County to be one of those ensembly Picture nominees with no Screenplay nod (think: The Help).  Tracy Letts showed talent with Killer Joe, but it was no masterpiece of a script.  There are relatively few Oscar veterans in serious contention in this category, but I still think experience counts...

  1. Before Midnight - Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke (0 wins out of 1 nomination)...This film has been celebrated even more exuberantly than the previous installment that earned this trio a nomination - seems like a gimme.
  2. Foxcater - E Max Frye (never nominated) & Dan Futterman (0 wins out of 1 nomination)...If this film works at all it will rely heavily on a strong screenplay.  Futterman was previously nominated for Capote.
  3. The Wolf of Wall Street - Terrence Winter (never nominated)...Mr. Winter may have never been nominated for an Oscar, but he's worked on some of the most cinematic television shows imaginable (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire) and Scorsese would never have signed on for a screenplay that didn't have the goods.
  4. Monument's Men - George Clooney & Grant Heslov (0 wins out of 2 nominations in writing categories)  Third time COULD be the charm for this pair whose film sounds almost TOO Oscar baity.  Still....
  5. 12 Years a Slave - John Ridley (never nominated)...Yes, Mr. Ridley's most impressive previous cred by a mile is Three Kings, but that WAS a very good screenplay and I can't imagine that Steve McQueen is going to follow up Shame with (pardon the expression) some crap.

  6. Labor Day - Jason Reitman (0 wins out of 1 nomination in writing categories)...Reitman is a very talented auteur, but Young Adult proved that he can wax too dark for the Academy's tastes and this is his first effort without comedic elements.  We will have to wait and see.
  7. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - William Nicholson (0 wins out of 2 nominations)  Arguably one of the most overdue names on this list, Mr. Nicholson was previously nominated for Gladiator and Shadowlands.  He is also backed by the Weinstein Company.
  8. The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet - Jean-Pierre Jeunt & Guillaume Laurant (0 wins out of 1 nomination)...The writing pair that brought you Amelie, working in English, backed by the Weinstein Company...nuff said.
  9. The Butler - Lee Daniels & Danny Strong (never nominated in writing categories)...The Paperboy is not exactly the most convincing former writing credit (remember Daniels only DIRECTED Precious), but Harvey Weinstein is pushing this as a Best Picture nominee.  Still, could be another victim of The Help syndrome.
  10. Snowpiercer - Joon-ho Bong & Kelly Masterson (never nominated)...Yes, it's science fiction, that's why I put it last.  Still, the writers separately penned Madeo (or Mother, which surely would have been nominated if it was in English) and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead so I have very high hopes.

     Also in the mix:  August: Osage County (Tracy Letts, never nominated), Captain Phillips (Billy Ray, nn), The Fifth Estate (Josh Singer, nn), A Most Wanted Man (Andrew Bovell, nn), Much Ado About Nothing (Joss Whedon, 0/1), Oldboy (Mark Protosevich, nn), Philomena (Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope, nn) & The Spectacular Now (Scott Neustadter & Michael H Webber, nn)

Original Screenplay
  1. The Counselor
  2. Inside Llewyn Davis
  3. Fruitvale Station
  4. Gravity
  5. Nebraska

  6. American Hustle
  7. The Past
  8. Captain Phillips
  9. Blue Jasmine
  10. The Immigrant

     This category is PACKED this year, with some very celebrated screen writers in contention.  I wouldn't count out ANY of the buzzed about films listed above, but I DO have a few films I feel strongly about that didn't make it.  MY list looks more like this...

  1. Inside Llewyn Davis - The Coen Brothers (2 wins out of 5 nominations in writing categories)...I'm not saying they'll win (previous wins for No Country and Fargo sort of make the notion of being overdue silly), but with raves out of Cannes, a nomination seems all but assured.  There are three names that should never be underestimated in the Oscar world.  Pixar, Weinstein...and Coen.
  2. Fruitvale Station - Ryan Coogler (never nominated)...It may seem odd to place a rookie at number two with so many experienced sharks in the water, but the film has been seen, was well received, and has Weinstein pushing it hard.
  3. Blue Jasmine - Woody Allen (3 wins out of 15 nominations in writing categories)...I would add Allen to the list of names to never bet against except that in a career as prolific as his you have to have a lot of misses to only score (ONLY?) fifteen nominations in over forty years of film making.  Early buzz indicates this is not one of them.  I wouldn't vote against it.
  4. The Counselor - Cormac McCarthy (never nominated)...It may be Mr. McCarthy's first script, but he IS one of the most celebrated novelists of the twenty first century, whose work has often adapted beautifully to screen.
  5.  All Is Lost - JC Chandor (0 wins out of 1 nomination)...I had a really difficult time picking between number five and number six here, but this film has already been seen to strong reviews and Chandor is one for one ( with Margin Call) with the Academy.  Robert Redford's performance ensures that even the most curmudgeonly Academy members will watch their screeners and have the movie in mind.

  6. American Hustle - David O Russell (0 wins out of 1 nomination) & Eric Singer (never nominated)...That being said, its hard to bet against Mr. Russell.  However, he has gained above the line notice on his last two films (Silver Linings Playbook was JUST last year and incorporated most of the same primary actors) and unless this film is REALLY something special, AMPAS might decide that it is someone else's "turn" as it were.
  7. Gravity - Alfonso Cuaron (0 wins out of 2 nominations in writing categories) & Jonas Cuaron (never nominated)...This film and Elysium are in kind of the same boat.  In both cases, I have great confidence in the previously nominated writer's abilities, but in both cases the films are science fiction (or at least employ certain sci-fi sensibilities) and that does not always bode well with the writer's branch. For now, I'll give Cuaron the edge due to the fact that he has already proven not to be a one trick pony (with nods for both Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men).
  8. Elysium - Neil Blomkampf (0 wins out of 1 nomination)...See what I said for Gravity.  Blomkampf's one trick was the brilliant debut effort District 9.
  9. The Past - Asghar Farhadi (0 wins out 1 nomination)...If The Past were not in French, I would probably place Farhadi MUCH higher on this list.  Still, he got here in Arabic with A Separation, so a nod is certainly possible.
     I never do this, but...
  10. Her - Spike Jonze (never nominated in writing categories)...I find it difficult to believe that the writer's branch has never honored him before, but it's true...
     (tied with)
        The Zero Theorem - Pat Rushin (never nominated)...I find it difficult to believe that the Academy has never embraced the film's of director Terry Gillam more than they have.  Maybe this is the year they FINALLY correct this.

     Plus...Ain't Them Bodies Saints (David Lowery, nn), The Dallas Buyer's Club (Craig Borten & Melissa Wallack, nn), Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach 0/1 & Greta Gerwig, nn), The Immigrant (James Gray & Rick Menello, nn), Mud (Jeff Nichols, nn), Nebraska (Bob Nelson, nn), Out of the Furnace (Brad Inglesby & Scott Cooper, nn), Rush (Peter Morgan 0/2), Saving Mr. Banks (Kelly Marcel, nn) & Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley, 0/1),
  Related articles: What "Cannes" We Tell So Far?, June Oscar Buzz and Predictions - The Aural TechsThe Visual TechsThe Genre CategoriesThe Help ReviewThe Perfect Para-Killer (Killer Joe review), Another Young Project (Young Adult review),  The Great Zac Efron Film Festival of 2012 (The Paperboy review), Dark Clouds Beautify "Silver Linings"Water and Earth Make "Mud"

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