Donovan's 2011 Oscar PicksSubmitted by ryandonovan at 2011-02-23 01:28:49 EST
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DONOVAN’S OSCAR PROGNOSTICATION 2011
In the weeks before the Academy Awards, you decided to stop caring because all the races were determined long ago. There’s no drama or suspense, since you know who’s going to win every award.
Or do you? A month ago, The Social Network was the heavy favorite for Best Picture. Now hasn’t The King’s Speech gained ground, and possibly surpassed it? Melissa Leo was a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actress after sweeping the major awards. Now on the heels of a gauche ad campaign, doesn’t Hailee Steinfeld seem a lot more likely?
You think you know? 20 years ago, Trent Reznor was the least likely person on the planet to sell out. Now isn’t the Nine Inch Nails frontman nominated for an Oscar?
You know nothing.
But I know everything. Read on for my 12th annual predictions.
SHOULD WIN: Inception
WILL WIN: The Social Network
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: How Do You Know
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: The Other Guys
I must be dreaming. Apparently I am one of the few people who truly believe that Inception deserves to win Best Picture. All the critics, pundits, “experts”, and voters all seem to fall squarely into camps for The King’s Speech or The Social Network. I just don’t get it. Great films, to be sure, but how is it not completely obvious to everyone on the planet that Inception is the best movie of the year? I feel like screaming, “How is this acceptable? How come everybody else is okay with this?” – just like whenever somebody cuts a line without reprimand, or when Kellogg’s stopped making Cinnamon Crunch Crispix. It’s the first (non-porno) movie in a long time that immediately made me say, “I need to see this again, ASAP.” Maybe that’s part of the problem, that voters are lazy, because the film absolutely requires multiple viewings. But to me, “I don’t feel like watching it twice” is not an acceptable reason to vote against a film.
Based on the number of interpretations that there are of Inception, director Christopher Nolan essentially creates dozens (if not hundreds) of films, based on viewer perspective. Even more impressive is that most of the interpretations are valid (while Nolan has one specific interpretation in mind for himself, he’s left it open for others as well). Granted, he’s not the first director to create a film with multiple interpretations, but his is one of the most stunning and most debated. Beyond the incredibleness of the film, there's HOW he does it. He doesn’t rely primarily on CGI and green-screen as crutches, as many (most?) directors would. Instead he opts to conquer many of the scenes with old fashioned tricks, stunts, ingenuity, engineering, and attention to detail. (Perhaps my favorite effect is the fog-horn sound that can be heard when characters go into Limbo – clearly stolen from the Keurig coffee machines found in many offices. Every time I watch those scenes in the movie, I instinctively think, “Oh, coffee’s ready.”) The film is truly an achievement, and worthy of Best Picture.
If I have to choose between The King’s Speech and The Social Network for what should win (since that what this race has boiled down to), I settle with The Social Network. Network is riveting in a way that Speech isn’t. It does a pretty great job of instilling the viewer with the foreboding yet compelling buzz that the characters must have felt. The film literally had me leaning forward in my chair as I watched (no small thanks to the Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross score, which actually make it sound more like a thriller).
An interesting parallel between the two films is that they both underscore the importance of communication, regardless of the era. In Speech, one man’s communication breakdown with his family early in life prevents him from speaking to an entire nation. In Network, all the men who have a hand in creating one of the biggest communication revolutions are in fact undone by their own poor communication. Adding to the paradox in Network is the fact that all of the characters in Aaron Sorkin’s script are hyper-articulate. If we could all be as eloquent as Sorkin’s characters, we’d be a lot more fun to misunderstand.
For voters who are leaning toward Speech, I can understand the perspective that it’s the easier film to like between the two. There is a triumph, there is a single viewpoint, there is no ambiguity, there is a clear resolution. Network has none of those traditional appeals. In fact, there is not even joy in watching the film (other than maybe schadenfreude) – even when the characters are creating a multi-billion-dollar juggernaut, reaching a million users, scoring with girls, or bulldozing the entire business world. On the other hand, part of the genius of Speech is that the film is able to conjure immense joy from watching a simple oration. There is also joy in watching the unlikely friendship between two men flourish (written, not accidentally, as if it is a romance). Network could struggle with some older viewers who just don’t understand social networking, and therefore find the subject matter boring or unfamiliar. Network has also faced some backlash due to criticism that it is largely a work of fiction. Director David Fincher and Sorkin have done a good job of promoting it as a narrative completely subject to the principals’ perceptions – effectively rendering the “truth” as meaningless in this case – but that may be seen as a poor excuse by some. Personally, my biggest beef about the story is that after all his plotting and empire-making, Mark Zuckerberg lets the bitch win.
So which film will actually win Best Picture? After much hemming and hawing, I’m predicting The Social Network. It’s what my gut tells me – even though all logic tells me that The King’s Speech will win. (And I’ve been betrayed by my gut before, no doubt.) So if you’re trying to win an office pool, Speech is probably the way to go. Most of the handicappers are saying Speech at this point, based on one important fact: Speech won the main Producers Guild, Directors Guild, and Screen Actors Guild awards. A single film has swept those awards six times in the past, and in five of the cases, the film also won the Best Picture Oscar (the exception was Apollo 13). It’s a strong case, but there are three flaws: 1) It is a very small sample size; 2) None of those awards are for the “best picture”, so there theoretically shouldn’t be a correlation (for example, the SAG award is for best cast acting; nobody disputes that Speech deserves that – after all, it grabbed three acting Oscar nominations); 3) The SAG award has matched Best Picture less than half the time in its history.
Thoughts on some of the non-contenders…
There have been a lot of arguments about The Kids Are All Right, and whether it is a novelty act. I’ve heard the rationale that the only reason it gets any attention is the fact that it is about a lesbian couple – otherwise, it is just a story about a family and an affair, nothing special. (Which, by the way, is part of the point: the filmmaker, Lisa Cholodenko, is illustrating the fact that lesbian couples aren’t that different.) But the argument that the lesbian element is a gimmick collapses on itself. The reason any movie is made to begin with is because it is about something extraordinary. If it was simply ordinary people in ordinary situations, it would not be worth making a movie about. If Luke was just a farmer and never leaves his home, there would be no movie; but he wasn’t and he does, and as a result we have Star Wars. Looking at the nominees, we’d have a pretty lame group if they each didn’t have a “gimmick”: 1 Hour, The Anti-Social Nitwit, Beige Swan, Inconsequention, The Kids Are All Average, The King’s Pleasant Speaking Voice, No Story 3, The Pacifist, True Lack Of Integrity, and Winter In The Ozarks.
If you cried during Toy Story 3 – especially if you don't have kids – you probably have a hard time coping with reality. I've got news for you – there are a lot of things in life that are sadder than getting rid of children's toys. I can't imagine how you react when your property tax bill arrives.
My feelings on 127 Hours are similar to my feelings on Into The Wild: Moron + Wilderness + Dire Situation = No Pity From Me.
Black Swan faces extremely long odds of winning, if for no other reason than the fact that it was the only nominee that was not nominated for a Screenplay award. Normally, this is not a deal-breaker for Best Picture hopefuls, but this year it is, considering how closely the categories align.
For my Snubbed choice, I’m saying The Other Guys is the second-best movie of the year, despite tepid reviews. In fact, it may be the best Will Ferrell movie since Elf or Old School. (Let the debate begin.)
SHOULD WIN: Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
WILL WIN: Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: Jake Gyllenhaal (Love And Other Drugs)
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: Robert Duvall (Get Low)
Tell you what, let’s list the reasons why Colin Firth SHOULDN’T win the Oscar for The King’s Speech: Hmm, let's see... well... I heard he slaughters puppies to wear their pelts as moccasins. No? Forget it.
Jesse Eisenberg gets a lot of crap for always playing the same sort of wimpy, unassertive, sensitive, unconfident, sputtering, Michael Cera-knockoff character. (Though I would argue that he staked out the territory before Cera did, but didn't have the Arrested Development platform at his disposal.) So his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network has been derided as not much of a stretch. But I would argue that the character is novel for Eisenberg, at least at the end of the film. He convincingly arcs into someone who is assertive and insensitive, and dips into a reserve of vitriol when needed. It's a great, unexpected, controlling performance, which will open a lot of doors for him. Now Cera will be stuck with the roles HE passes on for a change. And maybe someday he’ll become more famous than his cherubic Pepsi-hawking sister.
People are incredibly fascinated by James Franco, who is deservingly nominated for his portrayal of self-amputee Aron Ralston in 127 Hours. Fans and the media alike have been trying to figure out what makes this man tick, why he’s so enigmatic, and why he takes on so many varied non sequitur projects (mainstream movies, indie cinema, documentaries, Broadway plays, short stories, General Hospital, degrees at several universities in different subjects, Oscar host). I think the answer is simple: trucker pills. Joaquin Phoenix would do well to study how to conduct career performance art the right way.
Javier Bardem is nominated for Biutiful, that one movie from Alejandro González Iñárritu that’s bleak, somber, and depressing (a real departure for the filmmaker). If Bardem wins (and by the way, he won’t), I think they’ll actually call Julia Roberts’ name, since it was solely her underhanded campaigning and bribery (and not Bardem’s unseen performance) that secured him a nomination. If she would use her powers for good instead of evil, we might have a couple pandemic diseases cured; instead, we have countless trite romantic comedies and Bardem at the Oscars. Influencing the nomination process is one thing, but you can’t outright rig the Academy Awards (I mean, this isn’t the Golden Globes, where payola is standard procedure), so not even the considerable power of Julia and her teeth can force a victory for Bardem.
SHOULD WIN: Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
WILL WIN: Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: Reese Witherspoon (How Do You Know)
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: Hilary Swank (Conviction)
I’m sure the first thing Annette Bening thought when she heard the list of Best Actress nominees was “Thank Christ that bitch Hilary Swank wasn't nominated.” Swank, of course, twice edged out Bening for an Oscar, in 2000 (Swank for Boys Don't Cry, Bening for American Beauty) and 2005 (Swank for Million Dollar Baby, Bening for Being Julia). I don’t really think Swank should have been nominated this year – I haven’t even seen Conviction – but I wanted her to get a nom, just to see Bening crap her pants. Bening has a chance at winning for The Kids Are All Right (aided by an extremely pivotal, well-placed close-up shot in the film), but it’s a slim one. There is something to be said for a nuanced performance, but if she wins, it feels like it would be more of a lifetime achievement award.
The obvious choice here (the broadest, showiest, most intense, most physically demanding, most mentally complex – you name it) is Natalie Portman for Black Swan. And of course, she gives herself full credit. She said that director Darren Aronofsky gave her complete control for the last take of each shot – “Do one for yourself” – which freed her and enabled her to fully realize the performance, making it truly Oscar-worthy. What she didn’t realize, however, was that Aronofsky didn’t use any of those takes in the film, and simply used the device as a way to coddle and manipulate her childish ego. (On one particular take, she misunderstood and heard “Do yourself” – and THAT take made it into the final cut.)
Jennifer Lawrence is the latest unknown to score a nomination in this category, for Winter’s Bone. She is, of course, part of the Lawrence family acting dynasty, which includes her brother Joey, mother Vicki, and father Martin. She strikes me as an alternate-universe version of Renee Zellweger – a universe where Zellweger is young, sober, not annoying, and actually a good actress.
Nicole Kidman, a previous winner, should not pose a threat in the race for her role in Rabbit Hole. During her Oscar campaign, she finally came clean about using Botox (the world was shocked – shocked!). If she truly wants publicity, I think she should come clean about some other things: her sham marriages, her closeted lesbianism, her habitual newborn thievery, her rampant meth use, and the fact that she’s not actually Australian.
Michelle Williams made the cut for her role in Blue Valentine (a title that I don’t like as much as the original: “Idiots Deserve Each Other”). Williams has made it known in the press how badly she wants the award, saying, “What do I have to do to win, have a semi-accidental drug overdose?” To further improve her chances, she is currently seeking a role in a Terry Gilliam film that she can leave unfinished, and told Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Ferrell to clear their calendars.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
SHOULD WIN: Christian Bale (The Fighter)
WILL WIN: Christian Bale (The Fighter)
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: Justin Timberlake (The Social Network)
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine)
Christian Bale will take home this award for The Fighter, but I believe it will be closer than anyone thinks. Geoffrey Rush will get his share of votes for The King’s Speech, as he is excellent and undoubtedly has supporters. But while Rush’s character is still plainly Geoffrey Rush, Bale becomes (in every nutso Method sense of the word) a completely different person. Nobody thinks, “Oh yeah, that’s Batman up there.” The best part of his victory will be his speech – or more specifically, trying to figure out what the hell the mush-mouthed Welshman is saying in his speech. Better get closed captioning for this one. He can say whatever he wants and nobody will have any idea. I can see it now: “Ah thana motavy perinda oomiza or. Thkya.” (Translation: “I think the mother of every person in this room is a whore. Thank you.”) Thunderous applause.
Seeing “charactor” (it means ‘character actor’ – I just made it up) John Hawkes get a nomination for Winter’s Bone is a surprise to everyone – except me. He’s not a known name, but his face is one you’ve definitely seen around. The trick is that you may not even recognize that face, since he disappears so deeply into his roles (check out his filmography on IMDB – you might be astounded). And this film might be the most extreme example of that. It’s the first time that he’s forced me to sit up and really take notice of him. Typically more of a wallflower player, he takes appropriate charge of all his scenes. Bonus points for one of the best lines of the year: “I already told you to shut up once, with my mouth!”
With my Ingloriously Snubbed choice not spent on Hawkes, I award it to Rob Corddry in Hot Tub Time Machine. Oscar-worthy? Probably not. But hilarious? Yes, every single word that comes out of his mouth in that film. I can’t hear a Motley Crue song now without yelling, “No fucking way!” (Apologies to Honorable Mentions Andrew Garfield for The Social Network and Tom Hardy for Inception.)
As for Gloriously Omitted, Justin Timberlake in The Social Network. At least he meets the primary casting requirement for playing Sean Parker: douchey.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
SHOULD WIN: Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
WILL WIN: Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: Cher (Burlesque)
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: Dale Dickey (Winter’s Bone)
Melissa Leo and her hair will probably win for The Fighter, but she runs the risk of being undone by the sneakiest of adversaries: herself. After winning the Golden Globe and the SAG (along with scads of other awards), she was thought to be close to a lock. But her self-promotion (taking out her own Variety ads featuring glam shots) seems to be turning people off. What might have been a fairly shrewd move appears to be backfiring. But if people evaluate her for her performance and not her bravado, she should still prevail.
If Leo does in fact lose, the next in line is True Grit’s Hailee Steinfeld. A victory by the surprisingly confident 14-year-old would not be a huge upset. Bonus: Her uncle is “Body By Jake” Steinfeld. No joke.
A huge upset would be victory by the eccentric (that’s putting it nicely) Helena Bonham Carter, for The King’s Speech. If she had a couple more nominations (and subsequent losses) under her belt, I think she would make a strong run as the sentimental favorite. But with one previous nomination, she has just as many as Leo, and one fewer than Amy Adams (another also-ran in this race, for The Fighter). Her performance in Speech is generally unremarkable. What is remarkable, as my wife pointed out, is the contrast between her stately Speech character and her role as a psychotically maniacal witch in Harry Potter (she filmed both roles simultaneously, and the films were in theaters at the same time). What is most remarkable of all is the fact that in real life, she appears to be more similar to the psychotic witch than the refined royal.
Ingloriously Snubbed goes to Dale Dickey in Winter’s Bone. If you had shown me her scenes and told me it was a documentary about that region of Missouri, I wouldn't have doubted it for a second. If there’s a face that says “hardscrabble”, she’s got it – the performance is the epitome of unflattering, unselfish acting. She has been recognized with an Independent Spirit Award nomination, at least – which is almost as prestigious as being given a $5 Starbucks gift card.
Honorable Mentions for Snubbed: Edward Burns' latest attempt at recapturing indie lightening in a bottle (Nice Guy Johnny) doesn’t yield a lot of spark, but he does illuminate a great discovery, Kerry Bishé. And The Town’s Blake Lively isn’t about to win any awards, but she does a hell of an impression of an 80s-era Ellen Barkin.
Cher is a good actress (her Oscar for Moonstruck was no fluke), but these days she bears a closer resemblance to her drag queen impersonators than to the real thing. In fact, she’s looking less like Cher in Mask, and more like Eric Stoltz in Mask. Her work in the laughable Burlesque gets the Gloriously Omitted from me.
SHOULD WIN: David Fincher (The Social Network)
WILL WIN: David Fincher (The Social Network)
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: James L. Brooks (How Do You Know)
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: Are you kidding me? Christopher Nolan (Inception)
There is no doubt in my mind that years from now, Christopher Nolan will be considered one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation. And he STILL doesn't have an Oscar nomination for best director. Passing him over for Inception might be the most egregious snub of all time (and frankly, I’m still seething about the Memento snubs). It’s a bit ironic that Nolan was left out, since the Academy essentially changed the rules for him last year. The expansion of the Best Picture category to 10 nominees (a.k.a., “The Dark Knight Rule”) was designed to include more mainstream movies in the mix – to honor guys like Nolan, who were bringing art-house sensibility to crowd-pleasing Hollywood fare. And so far, Nolan has received none of the benefit: The Dark Knight was passed over in the field of five in 2009; Inception didn’t need additional slots to get a Best Picture nomination (it would have made it even if there were only five nominees); and Nolan has been excluded from Best Director for his entire career. So if the AMPAS announces that there will be 10 nominations for Best Director next year, we’ll know why…
Since I have to choose from the nominees for my Should Win choice, I’ll take David Fincher for The Social Network. (Ugh, I can barely type Fincher’s name next to Should Win, when it so clearly belongs to Nolan. Whoever wins, I hope he feels like the award is unwarranted – as if he’s living a lie, like in a Nicole Kidman marriage). In all fairness, Network is a great film, and sits near the top in Fincher’s canon. But honestly, if I never see another movie with a math equation written on a window or mirror, it will be too soon. Network is a stronger bet in this category than it is for Best Picture. Generally everyone agrees (even the daffy BAFTA voters) that Fincher will win here, regardless of who wins Best Picture. The only dissenters are the members of the DGA, who chose Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech (and that fact shouldn’t be ignored, since the DGA is historically the most accurate of all Oscar bellwethers). The biggest issue facing Tom Hooper is: Who is Tom Hooper?
David O. Russell was overrated for Three Kings (ditto Mark Wahlberg), was underrated for I <HEART> Huckabees (ditto Mark Wahlberg), is generally regarded as an egotistical asshole (ditto Mark Wahlberg), slaved passionately to get The Fighter made (ditto Mark Wahlberg), and for his efforts is nominated for an Oscar this year (ditto... um, never mind).
The Academy’s infatuation with the Coen brothers is getting a little excessive. It’s gotten to the point where even they themselves have hinted that they didn’t deserve a nomination (at least, not over Nolan). They seem to simply be going through the motions this year with True Grit, like “We were nominated again? Really? Do we have to go to the award ceremony? Can’t we just be creepy in the comfort of our own homes?”
With all the performances that Darren Aronofsky has coached to Oscar nominations (four and counting), I’m glad to see him score one himself, for Black Swan. He’s a director that I’ve been a fan of for years, and I feel compelled to see each film of his that comes out (though I find the fact that he wears a scarf indoors a bit off-putting). He certainly has a knack for intense characters and gut-punching situations (I doubt Jennifer Connelly will forget chants of “Ass-to-ass!” anytime soon). While he doesn’t have a chance of winning this year, I feel pretty confident he’ll get one someday. His choice for his next film is a curiosity: The Wolverine. My initial reaction was: “Hey, that’s an unfortunate title for whatever forceful mind-wrenching yarn he has cooked up, considering it will be easily confused with the X-Men movies.” My next reaction was: “It IS an X-Men movie? Must be a different Darren Aronofsky then.” I still can’t really wrap my head around it: Darren Aronofsky is making a mainstream superhero comic franchise movie (and the series’ sixth installment, no less). Is it a sell-out move, or a savvy one? Will he make an Aronofsky film, or a Marvel flick? The fact that he is using almost the same exact title as the previous film worries me a bit (on the other hand, some have argued that it’s an attempt to wipe the slate clean for the franchise). Considering his track record with big-budget potential tent-poles (namely, The Fountain), it is a surprising choice for all parties involved. At the very least, I think we can expect tales of temper, chaos, and death threats from the set. It’s safe to say that at least a few people involved will regret the venture for the rest of their lives.
So why does How Do You Know keep popping up in my Glorious Omitted choices? I know that James L. Brooks is a talented guy, with some seriously impressive films (Terms Of Endearment, As Good As It Gets) and an impeccable track record in TV (The Simpsons, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi), but the trailer for How Do You Know alone is painful. It seems like he is ripping off all of his own clichés and cramming them into a shell of a script. Maybe it’s the tone that’s all wrong. I realize one of Brooks’ trademarks is walking a fine line between drama and comedy (which requires extremely talented actors in top form), but this time I think he zigzags too much on his walk. Part of the problem is casting: he got three actors (Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson) who have been doing more broad comedy (at least recently), and assumed they would strike the right balance between yuks and gravitas. Bad assumption.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
SHOULD WIN: Christopher Nolan (Inception)
WILL WIN: David Seidler (The King’s Speech)
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: James L. Brooks (How Do You Know)
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, John J. McLaughlin (Black Swan)
The screenplay categories are where The King’s Speech vs. The Social Network battle can play out amicably – since they are nominated in separate categories. Voters don’t have to think much; they can simply punch those two in their respective categories, and be done with it.
In a different year, the other scripts might give voters pause. This year is not terribly exciting, however. There are no left-field, pleasant surprise nominees like there usually are, like I Love You Phillip Morris or Get Low (Another Year is the only non-Best-Picture nominee in the screenplay groups, and that was far from a surprise). None of the nominees in this category feel like a writer’s achievement necessarily; they have all been primarily lauded for other strengths: acting, directing, and/or spectacle (and as a highly improvised film, Another Year has been criticized by some as having very little writing at all).
So, without a clear-cut writer’s showcase, and as a potential consolation prize if it doesn’t win best picture, voters will make the lazy (but not completely reprehensible) choice of The King’s Speech.
It shouldn’t be that easy, of course. Primarily because Inception deserves to win Original Screenplay over The King’s Speech. I won’t extol Inception’s virtues further – what makes it a feat in directing also makes it a feat in writing. As the writer-director, Christopher Nolan performs both duties seamlessly (which is the best way), so that the writing and the directing are intrinsically meshed together. One could not be done without the other, and they are both genius.
An interesting wrinkle to this race is the fact that Inception (rightly) won the Writers Guild Award. How did it pull off such an upset over The King’s Speech? And since this award is one of the most accurate predictors (including the last seven years in a row), what does it mean for the Oscar race? The answers are: “It didn’t,” and “Nothing.” The King’s Speech was not even nominated for the WGA – it was not eligible since the production did not meet the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement rules, or the rules of affiliated international guilds (this actually happens to some big films every year, and is why a few other scripts were ignored by the WGA: Toy Story 3, Winter’s Bone, and Another Year). So the WGA victory will be rendered irrelevant, and The King’s Speech will prevail.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
SHOULD WIN: Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network)
WILL WIN: Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network)
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: Ben Affleck, Peter Craig, Aaron Stockard (The Town)
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: Nikolaj Arcel, Rasmus Heisterberg (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
There are two key differences between this category and the Original Screenplay category this year: 1) In this category, voters will view one script in particular as a writer’s achievement; 2) In this category, the screenplay that will win is the same as the film that should win. The script in both of these points is The Social Network, by Aaron Sorkin.
Surprisingly, Sorkin had been previously nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay three times, but never for an Oscar. What makes this interesting is that there are only five Globe screenplay nominations each year, while there are 10 Oscar screenplay noms. So it is (theoretically) twice as hard to get nominated for a Globe as it is for an Oscar. Therefore it’s uncommon for a script to be nominated for a Globe but not an Oscar, yet it’s happened to the same guy three times. The name “Aaron Sorkin” has become a brand name that carries a certain cachet (deserved or not), known for words that lend themselves to filibustering and cadences that dictate a unique tone (not unlike David Mamet, on all counts). Such a brand name is rare for a writer who does not act or direct (not yet, anyway – his directorial debut is forthcoming). That fact, plus the fact that many voters will also support it for Best Picture (and those that don’t will vote for it here as a consolation) will propel The Social Network to an easy Adapted Screenplay victory.
The Coen Brothers also tote a brand name, but since theirs is not just for writing, but for directing and overall film production as well (in addition to the fact that True Grit has not been placed on the pedestal that No Country For Old Men was), they will not challenge for this award.
Winter’s Bone is a refreshing choice for a screenplay nomination. It’s like a backwoods noir – which is not the first of its kind, but is still a very novel way to tell what is essentially (at least structurally) an old-fashioned detective tale. For aspiring screenwriters, this is a great, clear example of flawless fundamentals. The protagonist has a clear objective, pursues that objective to the best of her ability, and has a conflict where she either wins or loses, IN EVERY SINGLE SCENE. When the objective is resolved (achieved or lost), the movie ends. Simple, but often-forgotten principles.
The writing in127 Hours has received kudos, primarily for cracking the nut of how to tell a compelling story about a guy, when nearly the entire thing takes place in a rock crevice where the main character can’t move. On the other hand (no pun intended), the writing has gotten some knocks for the same reason, with detractors arguing that the script took easy and contrived (but nevertheless necessary) ways out. Also, this has been seen as James Franco’s show (not to mention it being Franco’s year), more so than Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy’s script or even Boyle’s film. So it stands no chance of winning in this category. Heck, it was not even a sure thing for a Best Picture nomination.
In a move that will surely be met with raised eyebrows, I’m naming The Town as my Gloriously Omitted film. I like the movie – the acting is extremely strong, the directing is deft, and the pacing is terrific. The execution is excellent overall. But the story, at its core, is silly. Therefore I have to bag on the script (and in turn, I suppose I'm bagging on the original book – which in fairness I have not read). So, a bank robber takes a hostage, develops a crush on her, asks her on a date, hits it off with her, and becomes her boyfriend, all while hiding his identity from her and hiding the romance from his accomplices? Really? I had to actually pause the DVD to stop laughing at one point (and it is not intended to be funny). If this was the 60s, the movie would have been a madcap screwball comedy starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day. “Oh boy, if the gal finds out that he was her kidnapper, it's gonna be a knee-slapper! How's he gonna get out of this pickle?! Where’s Tony Randall?” As far as the authenticity of the accents... if that's what REAL Boston accents sound like, then they are even more annoying than I previously thought.