Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pretentious Film Awards 2009--Best Original Screenplay

and the innovative scribes are...

Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Webb for (500) Days of Summer
When you start with the acknowledgment that the romantic-comedy subgenre is tired, hackneyed and rehashed to death, you almost have no choice but to be creative. And that's what was done here. The script is one of many from 2009 to feature flourishes and experiments that, while not always landing, achieve something quite remarkable.

Steve McQueen and Enda Walsh for Hunger
Even ardent fans of this little sleeper seem to be sleeping on the screenplay. Yes, the film contains portions that are largely absent of dialogue. But writing is more than dialogue. The specifically choreographed riot scenes, the emotionality communicated through character placement and simple actions...these are things that are often written. A great exercise in sparse, effective screenwriting.

Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker
A little episodic, yes. But Boal has crafted a terse, effective thriller that relies on few words to be effective. Bonus points for the specific character details that feel very real and observed--a hallmark of great writing.

Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds
Tarantino is at his best when he's at his most undiluted. He has never abandoned the Chapter structure, and it doesn't always work in his favor. Chapter Two is clearly the weakest. And yet, the script still makes it here because it's ardently, assuredly and specifically Tarantino. This is so vague because one scarcely knows where to begin. Let's just jump right into the basement bar standoff as a sterling example of impeccably written, slow burn suspense and leave it at that.

Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman for The Messenger
Each announcement of death from the two soldiers in this film is felt deeply and unflinchingly and that is a testament to the writing. I believed every line of dialogue, every action. There wasn't a false note here, even though some of the ideas don't fully connect. So unafraid this screenplay is to tackle a complex issue without resorting to pedantry. Kudos.

Jane Campion for Bright Star, Jim Copabianco Aley, Pete Docter, Thomas McCarthy and Bob Petersen for Up and Cary Joji Fukunaga for Sin Nombre each impressed greatly here and are just misses for this category, which is so rich with contenders. I love all of these screenplays.

Duncan Jones and Nathan Parker for Moon, Ethan and Joel Coen for A Serious Man

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