Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Oscars Central: Screenplay predictions

Well, I've finally sent my editor my predictions for all of the major Oscars categories... but you'll have to wait for this Friday's print edition of the Seattle Gay News to see who I picked for best actor & actress, supporting actor & actress, and director & picture. Meanwhile, let's take a gander at two of my favorite categories, Adapted and Original Screenplays.

Adapted Screenplay nominees: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, The Constant Gardener, A History of Violence, and Munich.

Who will win: The screenplay categories are usually great indicators of which film is likely to win best picture. Makes sense: the basis for a good movie is a good script, and vice versa -- the proof of a good script is a good movie. But this year all of the films nominated for best picture have a screenplay nom as well. This means we have to go with the awards history, and none of the 2005 films received more awards for its screenplay than Brokeback Mountain (including the all-important Writers' Guild award).

Who should win: Those who've read Annie E. Proulx's short story Brokeback Mountain have said that the movie is a faithful adaptation. I'm in love with the movie's pacing: the time spent introducing us to Ennis and Jack, developing their love story, and fleshing out their lives. The perfect marriage of story and narrative detail!

Who was robbed: This year saw a lot of interesting movies based on fictional works, but my favorite by far was Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, a very loose adaptation of Brett Halliday's noir novel Bodies are Where You Find Them. Writer-Director Shane Black used a ton of noir signatures, including chapter titles taken straight from Raymond Chandler books, and my favorite trick: having the narrator talking directly to the audience. I thought it was pure fun.

Original Screenplay nominees: Crash, Good Night, and Good Luck, Match Point, The Squid and the Whale, and Syriana.

Who will win: Just as Brokeback has already won most of the awards for Adapted Screenplay, this year's little engine that could -- aka Crash -- took home more Original Screenplay awards than any other. While many argue that the storylines intersect unrealistically, a la some whacked out Six Degrees scenario, I have to say I that I love it when characters discover some hidden relationship. I love it even more when only the audience discovers those relationships. Between that and the way the movie handled the topic of racism, Crash was easily this summer's most talked about film. I think it spurred even more dialogue than Brokeback.

Who should win: While Crash was certainly in my top ten films, I really, really want the award to go to Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale. This small movie is about the dynamics of a family going through a divorce, and it sure hit home for me. I was fidgeting in my seat when Walt (Jesse Eisenberg, Roger Dodger) told his parents (Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels, robbed-robbed-robbed!) that he had, in fact, written the song "Hey You" (from Pink Floyd's biggest album, The Wall), and I was downright squirming when he performed it at his high school talent show. Bravo for the most underrated film of the year!

Who was robbed: One month after the nominations were released and I am still in shock that The 40-Year-Old Virgin received zilch, nada, nothing from the Academy. Judd Apatow and Steve Carrell deserve an award for making this movie charming instead of sleazy and juvenile. Oh it's got its share of sleaze - it's just not juvenile sleaze. When you rent this one make sure you watch the extras.

Stay tuned to this blog for more predictions during this crazy pre-Oscar week! And drop by the SGN Oscars shindig at Manray (516 E. Pine) this Sunday, "Ain't No Brokeback Mountain High Enough." The party starts at 5:00 pm!

Brokeback Mountain photo courtesy of Focus Features; Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang photo courtesy of Warner Brothers; Crash photo courtesy of Lions Gate Films; and The 40-Year-Old Virgin photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

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