Monday, July 2, 2018

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Adapted Screenplay 2004

The Contenders:

Before Sunset
Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby
The Motorcycle Diaries
Sideways (winner)

What’s Missing

In a world where I get to make all of the nominations, I think it’s likely that only one or two of the actual nominations would make it. There are a chunk of films from 2004 that I would love to see nominated for this Oscar, even if I know in my heart that most of them would never come close enough to even sniff a nomination. In that category are super hero movies like Hellboy and Spider-Man 2 as well as horror movies like Dawn of the Dead. An action film like The Bourne Supremacy and Layer Cake are long-shots here as well. Films that might be suggested that I probably wouldn’t include are A Very Long Engagement, The Manchurian Candidate, and Head-On. Limit me to a single change, and I’m going with Downfall, which really deserves to be here.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. Million Dollar Baby is a film that just barely scraped over the “I liked it” line on my Letterboxd page. It’s not a film that I’ve ever felt the need to watch a second time. I don’t dislike the performances here; in fact, it is the story itself where I have the biggest problem. I knew exactly where we were going to go with this story, and all of those moments that were supposed to trigger some significant reaction in me simply didn’t because I knew they were coming. That’s not a good thing, and while I’m not surprised this was nominated, I don’t think it should have been.

4. I could say pretty much the same thing about The Motorcycle Diaries, a film that more or less washed over me without having a lot of impact. Again, this isn’t a movie that I specifically disliked, but it’s not one that I cared much about. I feel like if I hadn’t watched it, m life wouldn’t really be that different, since it left so little of an impact on me. My take on this was that I was expecting something special or at least interesting, and aside from the spectacular scenery of the Andes mountains, there’s just not much here.

3. My personal burn out on Johnny Depp might be affecting the position of Finding Neverland, but I honestly don’t think that is the case here. And I’m sound like a broken record here, but my issue with the film is that it didn’t make much of an impact on me. J.M. Barrie was an odd person, and there are at least rumors surrounding his possible penchant for pedophilia. There’s at least the potential for an interesting movie in there, but Finding Neverland wasn’t it. Outside of this being the first major role for Freddie Highmore, there’s not much here.

2. Gun to my head, I can’t say I’m terribly upset that Sideways won this Oscar, even if it wasn’t my pick. It’s a very good film, and while much of that rides on four monumentally good performances, all of those performances have the benefit of this screenplay as a starting position. Sideways is also notable for containing one of the most soul-crushing moments of film of its decade. It’s a worthy pick and while I would go elsewhere, I can’t say that Oscar screwed the pooch completely. Still, the Academy wasn’t right.

My Choice

1. Based on the five nominations, I’m going with Before Sunset, a film that I find builds beautifully off the first movie in the series and does a great deal with the two characters that we are given. I like where this goes, and I like how natural the relationship between our two characters works, picking up so naturally and clearly from the first movie. In an open field, Before Sunset would have mighty competition from Downfall, and in a perfect world, they’d both be challenged by Hellboy, but really, I think you could do a lot worse than putting your vote here.

Final Analysis


  1. Agreed about Downfall, a great film, even if it did inspire a bunch of Youtube parodies. (For the record, I found many of them hilarious). But it's still a powerful film.

    Also second the nomination for Spider-Man 2, one of the best superhero films ever and a great film in its own right.

    1. As much as I love Spider-Man 2, my superhero heart will always belong to Hellboy.

  2. Before Sunrise is a great choice with wonderful dialogue, I honestly thought it was original screenplay until I checked. It's well worth tracking down what partially inspired Sideways, the Italian Jean-Louis Trintignant road movie Il sorpasso (1962)-I rated it 9/10

    1. I'll take a look. I just scanned the IMDb page for it, and since it stars Jean-Louis Trintignant, it's already got a lot going for it.