Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Adapted Screenplay 2010

The Contenders:

127 Hours
The Social Network (winner)
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

What’s Missing

2010 is one of those years where the vast majority of the screenplays that I really like are original rather than adapted. The five nominations are all really good and I don’t have serious complaints. I’ll make a few suggestions, though, even if I’m pretty content with the five that we have. The nomination of Toy Story 3 likely prevented the nomination of How to Train Your Dragon. I might consider the inclusion of Incendies here as well. In a lesser year, Kick-Ass might make my list, as might RED. I’d consider adding Shutter Island if I’d seen it; I’ve heard good things. Someone is going to suggest Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, so I’m going to shut that down right away. I genuinely don’t like that movie.

And yeah, I'm a day late on this.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. This is actually pretty hard. I like all of these movies and I like the screenplays, too. I’m going to put 127 Hours on the bottom only because I like the other four screenplays better. 127 Hours has the problem of sticking mainly in a single spot and dealing with a single terrible problem. Danny Boyle does everything he can with the film, but its limitations mean that it has more to overcome than the other nominated films. That stops it from moving up any further despite how well it was made.

4. True Grit had perhaps less to do than the other screenplays since it was based on a movie already. I like this version pretty well. In fact, I like this version more than I do the original, and that’s not something I say very often. I think the screenplay is a pretty good one and I don’t dislike the nomination, but it’s not a story that I genuinely like a whole lot. It’s fine. It’s a good western. In a year with more movies worthy of a nomination, I probably wouldn’t think to include it even as a possibility, though.

3. I think that Winter’s Bone is the sort of movie that isn’t really enjoyed by many people. It’s an impressive film in a lot of respects. It’s also in many ways the film that put Jennifer Lawrence on the map and confirmed John Hawkes as an actor who needs to be watched. It’s a very good screenplay, one that goes to some very dark places and do so effectively without becoming so dark that there is no way to see out of it. I like the film and I like very much that it was nominated, but it doesn’t rise to being my winner.

2. When an animated film is nominated for anything other Best Animated Feature, it means that it is a special film in a lot of ways. Toy Story 3 is a very special film, wrapping up the first two films beautifully and with a real sense of the entire sweep of the story. There is a moment near the end that hearkens back to the first film in a way I didn’t expect but that fits perfectly with the plot we are given and the series as a whole. It’s damn good writing, and I can see a lot of people wanting this to be the winner.

My Choice

1. No, Oscar got this one right. The Social Network is a film that works all the way through on every level. Yes, it takes a lot of license with the actual history here, but that’s not unusual when it comes to films that deal with the real history. In this case, a little dramatic license doesn’t hurt the film at all. While this isn’t my favorite movie from 2010, it is the favorite movie of a lot of people, and a lot of people really wanted The Social Network to win Best Picture. Whether or not it deserved to is a decision for another day, but when it comes to the screenplays, Oscar got this one as it should have.

Final Analysis


  1. I like all these screenplays but the two that really stick out for me are True Grit (the Coen Bros. version is A LOT better than the original) and Winters Bone (Which is "What if Philip Marlowe was a teenage girl living in the Ozarks?").

    1. I prefer the Coen's version of True Grit as well, but I think that's more the performances than the screenplay.

      If I'm honest, I think any of my top-3 would be a decent pick for this, but Oscar did get it right.

  2. This one is tough. I would have no issues with any of these winning. If you forced me to pick one, it would probably be Winter's Bone. It's a phenomenal movie, but so are TS3 and The Social Network. I'm one of those who loves Scott Pilgrim, but I totally get people hating it.

    1. I desperately hated all of the characters in Scott Pilgrim. I appreciate the style of it, but it's not a movie I'd ever want to rewatch.

      I don't tend to cross-link my posts here, but in this case, I think it's worth doing:

    2. As much as I love Scott Pilgrim, I wouldn't have given a nom to the screenplay.

      Best Editing? Absolutely. A visual effects category? Definitely. Best Director? Academy would never do it, though it's deserving. But as much as I think they did a really good job with the screenplay, I can't see nominating it over what's already here.

    3. I get that people love it, and it's probably a decent adaptation from the source, but I generally agree with you. The nominations are all pretty solid.

  3. I do love me some Scott Pilgrim, and I've also read all the graphic novels. It's a very smart adaptation--it's very different from the books, but both of them still work great independent from each other. That's a feat of adaptation that almost NEVER happens. If anything, I'd nominate it for that.

    However, I'm not sure which ones I'd drop from the nomination list, except maybe Toy Story 3. And between Scott Pilgrim and How to Train Your Dragon? I might actually give the nom to HTTYD.

    That being said, I still think the win goes to Social Network.

    1. I'm not going to beat my head against the wall of your love for Scott Pilgrim; it's a losing battle for both of us.

      How to Train Your Dragon really is a damn fine screenplay.