Au Revoir, Les Enfants
Hope and Glory
This is a strange year for me when it comes to screenplay in that there’s at least one film that has a screenplay I like in service of a film that leaves me fairly cold. Naturally, there are a few films that I think should have been included in the line-up that were ignored. Among those snubs are a pair of comedies that have managed to stay funny for the last 30 years: Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Raising Arizona, both of which have masterful scripts. On the Oscar-unloved horror front we have Evil Dead II and Near Dark, neither of which could have gotten a nomination in this or any world, but both of which are great. The Lost Boys might chart as well, but I don’t know if it qualifies as an original screenplay. Withnail & I fits the mold better and possibly could have wrangled a nom. As for Eddie Murphy Raw, it deserves a bit of love even if Oscar would never go there.
Weeding through the Nominees
5: Hope and Glory is a film I wanted to like a lot more than I did like it. I liked it fine, but there isn’t a great deal of there there. I guess, ultimately, when I look at something like a screenplay, I’m looking for something akin to a plot, which is exactly what Hope and Glory lacks. I actually don’t mind this film being nominated for Best Picture, which it was, but I don’t understand its nomination here. There were better options.
4: With Broadcast News, we have a film that I find much less than the sum of its parts. I don’t like this film that much even though I like a great many of its component atoms. I don’t know where the film goes off the rails for me exactly. Everything seems like it should work. The characters should work, the situation should work, and it just kind of doesn’t. The fault may well be in the screenplay; at least that’s the most likely spot for it. I sort of like the screenplay regardless, but I think the fact that the film doesn’t completely work is evidence of some flaws.
3: I don’t want to be guilty of stereotyping here, but is there a large number of people of Italian ancestry in the Academy? Moonstruck is a nearly perfect encapsulation of the stereotype of an Italian family—lots of overemotional shouting, speaking with the entire upper body, everybody pissed off at everyone else for not conforming to what they want at all times. Maybe, if I grew up Italian, I’d get it. I didn’t grow up Italian, though, so I see this only as a massive stereotype and not as something approaching my reality. And it won? I don’t see it.
2: I hemmed and hawed a lot with this post and changed the order multiple times. The most difficult decision I had was whether or not Au Revoir, les Enfants should be one of my choices or something that just missed (and in fact I changed my mind halfway through writing this paragraph). Ultimately, I put it here. This is a great film, though, and much of its greatness comes specifically from the screenplay. There’s a lot to see on the surface here, and a lot going on beneath it, and what happens below the surface is specifically something that comes out from the masterful screenplay. As it happens, while this isn’t my choice, I wouldn’t be terribly upset if it won.